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The fourth title in the whimsical board game series that debuted in 1999, Mario Party 4 offers five new 3D boards and a lineup of 50 mini-games. Up to four players can choose from Mario, Wario, Donkey Kong, Peach, Daisy, Luigi, Waluigi, and Yoshi as they take turns moving around a series of colored spaces. After each character completes a turn, a mini-game is played, the nature of which (two versus two, three versus one, etc.) is determined by the space each character ends up standing on. Players once again earn coins by winning mini-games, which are used to purchase items and stars. Stars determine the game's overall winner after a finite number of turns.
The featured boards include Goomba's Greedy Gala, Shy Guy's Jungle Jam, Toad's Midway Madness, Boo's Haunted Bash, and Koopa's Seaside Soiree. Each features a number of interactive elements, such as roller coasters and giant roulette wheels. An additional board starring Bowser is also available after completing the single-player Story Mode. Other notable features in Mario Party 4 include special Mini and Mega Mushrooms giving characters the ability to increase or decrease in size to access different parts of the board, a handicapping system to balance play for partygoers with different skill levels, and a tag battle option allowing two teams to compete for stars instead of four individual players.
Examples of some of the featured mini-games include Paratrooper Plunge, where players freefall through the sky to collect as many coins as possible (all while avoiding enemies); Mario Speedwagons, a four-player drag race; Butterfly Blitz, where two teams race to catch valuable butterflies with their nets; Mr. Blizzard's Brigade, which has players trying to avoid being hit by snowballs while standing on a frozen pond; Booksquirm, where players look for holes in a giant book to avoid getting crushed by its continuously turning pages; Stamp Out, a game which has characters bouncing atop rubber stamps in an attempt to blot the most ink on a white sheet; and Candlelight Flight, where one player is left holding a candle while the other three players try to douse it with squirt guns.
Additional mini-games and modes of play can be earned by beating each of the boards using all eight characters, and players are free to compete in their choice of mini-games after first unlocking them in either the four-player Party Mode or single-player Story Mode. Records for each character and board are kept in the areas of number of games played, number of times won, highest number of coins earned, and highest number of stars earned. Top performances in the individual mini-games are also tracked and saved to a memory card. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide