- Developer: M2H
- Publisher: M2H
- Release Date: 07/02/2020
- Price: $14.99 / £11.69
- Review code provided by M2H
Party Island, baby!
Do you ever have that feeling when you used to go and rent a game, or when you’ve been reading up on an up-and-coming release that you’re excited about, when you’re getting ready to go to a friend’s house to play that new game? That excitement in the air? I spent a great deal of my childhood into my young adulthood feeling these feelings. I LOVED the hype getting ready to play something crazy with friends during a hangout or sleepover. I can honestly say that it is one of my favorite feelings in my entire catalog of “things I have felt as a person”. But sometimes, after driving home from the rental place or even the electronics section, you come home to find that what you were so excited for isn’t as great as you were hoping for. Sometimes, the game is just ok.
So let’s talk about Marooners.
We Have Mario Party at Home
Marooners is an interesting beast, that much is sure. To get down to brass tacks, it’s essentially Mario Party style mini games with online capability. It’s fast, it’s crazy and it’s colorful. The cast of characters are put onto an island where they are whisked off to crazy challenges ranging from something as simple as “don’t fall off of this giant chunk of melting ice” to “climb up this crazy lava tube and don’t die”. As you play, with up to SIX players mind you, there are coins and gems to collect and mercilessly beat out of your opponents. These are tallied up and the winner is the person with the most money at the end. All in all, the set up is pretty regular. It’s standard mini-game fare.
It’s the actual gameplay that’s what we need to talk about here. Mainly, in the fact that it’s like a C-plus. Like the heading references, saying that you want to go home and play Marooners is like asking your mom for Mario Party and she says “We have Mario Party at home”. I mean, sure it’s mini games. Sure, it’s crazy zany antics as you smack your friends around, but the feeling is that this could have been something really alright and it falls apart every time you give it another chance.
How Do You Read This Map?
One of my biggest gripes about party games comes in how the games are explained to you. In the early Mario Party games, you had a bunch of text that explained everything and you could kind of try out movements and button mappings. As the series continued, they added in practice mode, which was lovely. See, the great thing about explaining a game in the right way to the players is that when I inevitably fail at the game I can say “Man! I suck pretty bad at this! I’m excited to try it again so I can win!” instead of saying “This game is crap! I have no idea what I’m doing!” When you start a mini game in Marooners, all you get is a brief screen saying “Do this! Don’t do this!” and then it sends you on your way. Couple this with no explanation anywhere in the game telling you what your controls are and you have a nice dose of “What am I even supposed to do here?”
One thing that Marooners does well, I will say, is the unlockables. As each round ends, all player-controlled characters put all of the coins they have gathered in what is essentially a level up meter. When this meter fills up, you either unlock a new character or a new weapon to equip your character with. The weapons are strictly cosmetic, but they’re all pretty fun to look at and unlock.
Troubles on the High Seas
While the core gameplay isn’t the worst, there are some things that are hard to get over. I’ve already talked about the frustration with the tutorials, the are a few things that really hold this game back from being good. The first of which is that as you play, there are a LOT of moments where controlling your character feels unresponsive and muddled. Several of the mini games that had my friends and I trying to stay alive on a platform ended with our character inexplicably falling into a chasm or just kind of floating in the air for a while. Just… you know… some odd stuff. Also, I need to mention that there are two, I guess “speeds” that you can play the game: Linear and Chaos.
Play the game on linear. I cannot express how jarring and frustrating chaos mode is. The difference is simply how long you want to play each mini game for. Your options are a: Linear – or “Play the game until it is finished” and b: Chaos – or change the mini game every 10 to 15 seconds. My friends and I made the mistake of starting on chaos mode, thinking that it would add some spice and pizazz to the game, and all it ended in was a jarring and honestly frustrating experience. You are better to just assume that there is one way to play the game: linear.
When it all comes down to it, Marooners is certainly something. It’s the off-brand party game that you thought was going to be amazing. It’s going to a friend’s house to play Mario Party, but all they have is Fuzion Frenzy. (Look it up, kids) It’s still fun, but it may not be the level of fun that you were hoping for.
- The craziness is fun with friends
- Unlockables are pretty cool
- It looks pretty good!
- Chaos mode
- Inability to pause on offline mode
- Lacks the staying power of better party games
Marooners is ok. You’ll play it for a bit, unlock some stuff with your friends and then probably move on to something else. The time I had was alright, but it misses more than it hits.