On paper, lots of things hold great promise. The deeds to a new house, a marriage certificate, Hitler's signature on a pre-War scrap of paper. But the reality can often deliver nothing more than crushing disappointment.

On paper, Mario Party Advance sounds like the best video game in the world. More than 120 mini-games offering unbridled joy for you and three friends. Countless hours lost to high-jinks, fierce but friendly competition, glorious humour and gaming ecstasy.

Not quite. To begin with, Mario Party's multiplayer element only extends to around a tenth of the overall mini-game content. Then there's the implementation of these challenges which, stupefyingly, require players to take it in turn to try and beat each other's score (that's including when everyone’s connected via Game Link cables rather than sharing a single GBA) or to somehow crowd four hands around the controls to look after a quarter of an uninspiring task. Hardly a party, is it?

The singleplayer experience does fare a little better, with a solid, if lacklustre, dice and board game structure (from within which mini-games are accessed) bringing some much needed structure to an otherwise aimless affair. This is used to unlock the mini-games, enabling them to subsequently be played individually (either in single or, if you're a glutton for punishment, multiplayer mode). But the games themselves present another problem in that their quality varies considerably, ranging from the genuinely entertaining to the insultingly simple.

Insulting. That's as good a word as any to describe Mario Party Advance. Well, perhaps it's a little harsh. Let's settle on boring. And pointless.

Sure, the one-player game is reasonably accomplished, but the very essence of the game craves multiplayer involvement and, inexplicably, this isn't offered with any degree of conviction.