Mario Party's always flitted between two styles. The series began as a living board game, a benign Jumanji that preferred spawning tiny platforming bouts to bellowing, late-period Robin Williams. The focus was on competition: every mini-game was worth something, and sabotage, inside and outside the TV, was, if not encouraged, then certainly made available.
Somewhere along the line it began to aim for something else entirely: innovation. Mario Party 6 used the GameCube microphone, DS used the handheld's spiffier gubbins in their entirety and there was even a version made for glorified barcode scanner, the Nintendo e-Reader, that attempted to turn it into a physical board game.
Both approaches were flawed. The first came closest to true success, but the thick cloud of luck surrounding the boards tended to negate the effect of those skill-based mini-games. The second spawned games for which peripherals failed to work and players failed to care.
The latest entry is probably most notable for recognising that those two styles needn't be mutually exclusive. Island Tour aims squarely for the classic competitive spirit of Mario Party, but takes full advantage of the system upon which it has found itself, with regular nods to the 3DS's touchscreen, microphone and gyroscope-accelerometer tag-team.
Sadly, that's a pointed use of the word "aims", as it never quite hits the mark. After the vehicular shake-up of Wii's enjoyable Mario Party 9, Nd Cube's second roll of the Mario-endorsed dice is a little more traditional, but still sees the team trying to steer the ageing series into quirkier tech territory - and this lack of commitment to either approach means Mario Party's landed on the 'not quite there' square once again.
Game The System
The game divides broadly into two halves: the mini-games mode comprises more than 90 events (which can be played individually, or in tournaments), while the Party Mode includes seven separate board games, each of which is rated by its need for skill, luck, time to complete and how much it uses those mini-games as a part of play. It's perfectly presented, with easy access to every element and enough info for you to understand what you're getting into.