I've been an avid player of the Mario Party series, particularly with its involvement in a fierce rivalry between myself and my siblings. With that said, I am HAPPY with the adjustments that Nintendo has made to what has become a formulaic series.
Perhaps the biggest change longtime fans will recognize is that individual movement has now been reduced to all players riding in a car, traversing the board together. If it is your turn to roll the dice, you are the "Captain" and any space you land on will affect you, not the party (not always the case, however). Right off the bat, there are no coins to collect any more. Instead, you collect mini-stars which are scattered across the board (player with the most at the end wins) and are rewards for mini-games, which leads me to the next biggest change. Mini-games are now only played when a player lands on a designated minigame spot or lands on a spot that is hidden with a minigame (additionally, you the Captain choose the minigame, it is no longer randomly selected). I found this change odd at first, but the fact is, the pace is fast and quick, no longer subject to formula of roll, roll, roll, roll, minigame, repeat.
Players no longer circumvent the board continuously but rather strive to reach the end of the board now. The boards feature a mid-boss and a final boss: an enemy that all players attempt to beat while competing for mini-stars at the same time. The variety of bosses to choose is fun but I feel like they may become monotonous over time. The boards themselves are nothing new to the Mario Party franchise (Boo's Castle, Blooper Beach, DK's Jungle Ruins, and Bowser Station to name a few) but they are wonderfully designed with brilliant colors and enough variability to make them a joy to play through. A single-player campaign is added, which is probably the weakest point of the game, although, I have to question the critic who blasts this PARTY game for its single-player tediousness.
Now, probably the reason why you're even bothering to finish reading this review, is to know about the mini-games. I have not played every mini-game available (there are 80) BUT from the ones I have played, I can attest that
1) they're entertaining.
2) they're unique.
3) they're fun with a group of friends.
If you enjoy games that fit the criteria above, you will enjoy this game. Mini-games include free-for-all, one vs. three, Bowser Jr. (where two players cooperatively try to oust said Bowser Jr.), and a boss battle. Games include chopping wood, collecting hoola-hoops, fitting puzzle pieces, and racing to scale a wall. Like I said, the uniqueness of the mini-games makes the game refreshing and entertaining to play over and over.
Granted, this review is based upon about six hours of gameplay but from what I have played, this Mario Party is shaping up to be one of my favorite installments in the series. Yes, the game is different but it was exactly the jolt this series needed and it separates itself from the others.