Although it was Hudson Soft that created the Mario Party franchise ten long years, NDCube has been faring pretty well with it in recent years.

But Mario Party: Island Tour is a little disappointing, in that its moments of brilliance are diluted by poor mini-games.

Still, if you're looking for a public party in your pocket that doesn't involve being reported to the police then Island Tour could very well scratch that itch.

Cruise-control

As usual, Mario Party: Island Tour is a four-player boardgame-based experience in which Mario characters bomb around a board, using items on each other and participating in mini-games.

Being good at mini-games gives you the advantage, since you'll receive power-ups for playing well. But success in Island Tour is often dictated purely by luck, thanks to random dice rolls.

To Mario Party veterans this won't be an issue. This isn't really a series about winning - it's about having a lot of laughs along the way. And there are plenty of laughs to be had with Island Tour.

The boards this time around are all based on racing to the end, and there a huge amount of variety in the types of power-ups, spaces, and obstacles you'll encounter. Each board is a different length, too, meaning there's always a potential board available no matter how much time you have to play.

Download Play is quick and easy, allowing up to four 3DSs to play via just a single game cartridge or download, while the entire game is wonderfully presented. You'll be mimicking the various character voices throughout.

Board

Let's talk about the mini-games. Mini-games are the crux of the Mario Party experience, and it's essential that they are top-notch.

Island Tour's crop of games is quite mixed. A good number of them are genuinely clever and exciting - for example, the one in which players attempt to claim numbers on a grid while trying to guess where other players will go.

But these are regularly undermined by utter puddlewater-thin piffle, like the mini-game where all you have to is, well, play roulette.

Once you've exhausted the boards it's fun to jump directly into the mini-games - but Island Tour doesn't supply many methods for stacking mini-games up one after the other, and playing them individually is a massive pain, as you have to go back out to the main menu.

It goes without saying, too, that if you don't have any friends to play with Island Tour isn't worth forking out for. This is very much a multiplayer-only experience, regardless of the CPU bots.

Mario Party: Island Tour is a decent new addition to the series, but it doesn't come close to matching the quality of the first batch from all those years ago. Having produced more than a thousand mini-games during its lifetime, the series appears to be running out of ideas.