I’ve rediscovered the Mario Party franchise recently, mostly because one of my roommates brought that godless thing home from the suburbs with him (along with a Stormtrooper blaster and a transformable Megazord, both of which are cooler things). You remember Mario Party, don’t you? Presently one of the million waggle-fests on the giant paperweight known as the Nintendo Wii, it originally appeared on Nintendo 64 as Nintendo’s best attempt to create a new interactive board game, complete with mini-games, that you could play with your friends!
More accurately: They created a game that ruins friendships, leaves boyfriends on couches and has lately caused a significant uptick in sales of Jepson’s Malort in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood. I’m not sure what it is that’s so damn enticing about a game that is, if you’re playing it alone (the saddest of Mario’s parties), rigged to break your spirit in a way that would make most coolers at a casino blush. All I know is that it’s eminently replayable, even as rage and the crimson shades of mutual hatred begin to set in. I’ve managed to pare this down to five stages of anger, which I will now share.
The Five Stages of Anger in Mario Party
Mike Birbiglia once said of the Catholic church that “You come in with a really good attitude, and then they just beat it out of you.” This is even truer for Mario Party. After all, who doesn’t want to enjoy some time with their favorite platform-jumping, Technicolor-soaked gaming heroes of yesteryear, with some happy chiming music and Toad just waiting to give you a shiny gold star? After about an hour, the answer is “goddamn everyone.” It usually starts about five turns in, when you realize that everyone in the game is out to get you, including the counter block, which tends to put you too far ahead of chance time or directly on top of Bowser, so he can evenly distribute your coins among all players. (Remember, kids: Socialism is bad, because Bowser does it. Destroying your friends to get the most shiny stars is the truly noble pursuit.)
2) Acrimony/The Thunderdome
By now, it’s clear that the fix is in, and any denial you might be able to muster is folly and nothing else. During every game of “Bumper Balls,” everybody is trying to run you off the little island. The game keeps putting you in one-on-three games of “Bash N’ Cash,” in which your supposed friends hit you with hammers for your money while you’re trapped in a gigantic, unwieldy suit. Out of the budding hatred for your surroundings, and for Toad withholding a star from you because Boo the ghost just took forty coins from you (for no pay, and at the behest of your friends), you steel yourself. You are cold, ruthless. There is no God, or sun, there is only the thrill of the hunt and the raw exhilaration derived from feasting on the blood of your enemy. His coin is not his, it is yours, and should he withhold it you must prepare yourself to become the true Alpha and Omega. You are the destroyer of worlds.
3) Informing Wario that you’re going to kill his family.
He stands in the way of your seat at the right hand of the master.
4) The wild hunt.
The tiny Italian and the ape do not understand that the oracles prophesized your victory. (That, and the tiny dinosaur with the flag that appears five turns from the end, lavishing you with coin.) Their eye saw that the princess will be your concubine and that the fat man in purple and gold will be punished for having the hubris to claim gold from you. You were told as a child that Bowser was the enemy, but he is not. He is the king of the wild hunt. He takes what he desires and suffers no fools. It is sorrowful, then, that he must be destroyed to pave the path for a new world, but you shake the sorrow from your mind. His shell, once it is cut from his wan, frail mortal coil, will protect you from all those who dare stand in your way. You are deity, one with the shadow world.
The turns are complete. After 35 savage turns on this massive birthday cake-shaped battleground, it is time for Toad to decide who will fall and who will become legend. A halcyon day is nigh! The slithering, binding coils of memory will forever strangle your name into the history book-
And, Wario gets 3 end-of-game stars. Fuck this, I’m going to White Castle.