Crazy Cutters – Mario Party
Let’s get this list started off the right way with the original Mario Party. Filled to the brim with plenty of phenomenal mini-games, it’s pretty difficult to figure out which are the best, but I was finally able to discern the two or three that rise above the rest. Crazy Cutters is not the best mini-game to come out of the original Mario Party, but it’s pretty close, and so it deserves a spot on this list.
Each players has to carve the shape of a Mario enemy as quickly as they can. The timer doesn’t allow for any subtlety or planning, and players just have to go as quickly as they can if they want to finish. When the timer runs out, every player is graded based on how well they were able to follow the lines of the design.
It’s a pretty fun game all things considered. It tests one’s motor skills under pressure, and allows a player with a knack for detail to compete with one who has a knack for speed.
The only problem I have with Crazy Cutters is how the game determines the winner. Rather than award the gold to the player with the highest accuracy percentage, victory is gifted to any player that can score at least 90%. Initially, there may be only one or two players in a group of friends that can achieve marks like that, but sooner or later everyone will be able to grab at least 90%. It’s not very satisfying to be the player with a 97% and see the rest of your group score 94%, 92%, and 87%, and have to share victory with two other people.
Thankfully, the game would show up again in Mario Party 2 as a battle mini-game, fixing the mistakes of the original by solely awarding the win to the top player.
Fruit Cahoots – Mario Party 10
I was never a fan of Mario Party 10’s decision to have every player travel together around the board, as opposed to racing each other to collect stars and coins like in previous Mario Party games. However, Mario Party 10 has some of the best mini-games in the entire franchise.
Fruit Cahoots is all about psychologically messing with your friends, something that should be terrible but just feels so satisfying. The game is divided into 10 rounds where each player has the option of whether or not to move a conveyor belt lined with plates of fruit forward. Players are aiming for the plates with three pieces of fruit, but the plates with one piece are a nice consolation prize. You don’t want to end up with a Bob-omb. Sounds simple, right?
No. Because how much can you really trust your friends? Are they really content with that one piece of fruit? Are they sincere when they say they have no plans of screwing you over? Fruit Cahoots has some of the highest amount of potential for eliciting finger pointing, fake-outs, and backstabs of any Mario Party mini-game; and, let’s be honest, that’s what we all truly want anyway.
Sneak ‘n’ Snore – Mario Party 2
Ah, Mario Party 2. Eventually, I would go back and play the original game, but this was my first Mario Party. No one truly forgets his or her first, and the late nights filled with shrieking laughter that come with it. Most of the laughter in my group of friends came from this game.
Players are tasked with approaching a Chain Chomp who’s snoozing away. He wakes up intermediately and each player has less than a second to stop walking and hide in their barrel. It’s basically Red Light, Green Light. That half a second where the Chain Chomp has woken up and is turning around is one of the most stressful moments of any Mario Party mini-game. Do you play things safe and immediately drop down into your barrel, or do you dare yourself to take one more step and get a leg over your opponents?
It’s a terrifyingly tense 30 seconds of fun.
Burnstile – Mario Party 6
Burnstile is one of the fastest Mario Party mini-games out there, but that’s what makes it so fun. Players are tasked with jumping over a swinging spiked turnstile that speeds up with every passing second.
To this day, I still don’t know why the game is broken up as a two vs. two, as opposed to free-for-all, but it somehow works. Being the remaining survivor for your team is incredibly stressful, but the overwhelming sense of accomplishment if you pull off a victory feels fantastic. The emotion is only second to the sensation of your buddy smothering you in a victory hug.
Running of the Bulb – Mario Party
Of all the goodies that the original Mario Party has to offer, I can’t think of any that trump Running of the Bulb. This is mostly because Running of the Bulb, though a four-player mini-game, is a cooperative game as opposed to a competitive one.
One player is responsible for getting a light bulb to the end of the hallway, while the other three players are tasked with defending them from the ghosts that spring up and are trying to stop the bulb carrier. Ghosts can possess the three defenders if they aren’t careful, so sometimes a player will have to give their friend a good smack to knock the ghost out of them.
One giant Boo ensures that players are always moving forward, so no one can pause long enough to read the situation. Players just have to react and work in tandem.
Pushy Penguins – Mario Party 5
Traversing this onslaught of penguins takes almost as much luck as it does skill. One wrong move and you’re done. Navigating the maze of stampeding birds requires players to constantly look ahead, but not so far that they forget to dodge what’s right in front of them.
Then the giant penguins show up, and they just ruin your day.
Pushy Penguins is a classic, and there’s no way a group of friends can only play it once and move on to something else. The piano accompaniment is pretty damn catchy too.
Snow Brawl – Mario Party 6
Advertised as a one vs. three mini-game, Snow Brawl is actually a five vs. three. One player has four AI helpers, while the other three players are left to their own devices. Both sides engage in a snowball fight that ends when all of the human controlled players for a side are frozen solid.
The three players can strategize and only have one target that they have to hit, but the player who is by him or herself has four “shields” they can use to their advantage. It’s a pretty even split, all things considered, that leads to a frenzied, but good time.
Bowser’s Clawful Climb – Mario Party 10
Man, Mario Party 10 has great Bowser mini-games. Bowser’s Clawful Climb is the best though, and it’s one of the best mini-games across all Mario Party games to boot.
Four players have to scamper up a wall and try to escape from Bowser’s clutches, while the fifth player is in control of Bowser and trying to ruin everyone else’s good time. The four climbers ascend by mashing some face buttons in sequence. It doesn’t feel very natural. That’s not the case for the player in control of Bowser, who just has to press ZL and ZR buttons. Bowser climbs much more quickly, because the buttons to get him moving are much easier to press.
The result is a terrifying 10-second chase that invokes feelings of empowerment for the chaser and hopelessness in the four being chased. It’s really fun though, and I’ve found my friends and I playing the game several times in a row with different people in the role of Bowser.
Booksquirm – Mario Party 4
The premise for this one is pretty simple, albeit silly (as all good Mario Party games are). Players scamper across the page of a book, aiming to stand in the exact spot that will allow them to fit through one of the shaped holes in the opposite page that’s flipping over to smother them. Circles are pretty easy to gauge, but crescent moons and stars are a lot trickier. The game offers no leniency either. If a player’s foot doesn’t fit through a hole, then they’re out!
The result is a mad scramble across the pages of the book as players shove each other out of the way for superior positioning. That’s typically followed by accusations of betrayal as one of the players is forced to try and make it across the whole page at the last second, because their friend stole their spot. Spoiler alert: they never make it. It’s certainly fun to watch them try though.
Hexagon Heat – Mario Party 2
This is, without a doubt, the best Mario Party mini-game ever. No other mini-game forces players to have skill, luck, reflexes, and a willingness to screw over the competition like Hexagon Heat.
In Hexagon Heat, each of the four players is tasked with responding to the color of Toad’s flag, running and jumping to the hexagon that corresponds to the color. The rest of the hexagons descend into lava. If players calmly and collectively worked together to respond to Toad’s commands, the game could theoretically go on forever.
No one stays calm though. It’s a mad dash for safety as the platforms rise and fall with increasing speed. Consequently, players will accidentally jump on other players. This stuns the player who was stomped on and sends the player that did the jumping flying in some direction (usually to their death).
It’s a disaster to watch the human madness unfold, but it does more than enough to elicit laughter, insults, and hoots of triumph. Hexagon Heat is the classic of all classics. No other Mario Party mini-game has come close to surpassing how much fun it is to play, and I don’t think one ever will.