Since the early days of Mario Party, countless developers have played their hands at recreating fond memories with your friends where you can beat them senselessly and screw them over. Fast forward several decades to Marooners from M2H Games. This is a game that is unashamedly inspired by older party games, but tries to reinvent the wheel by taking the experience to a tropical setting and placing you in the role of multiple different characters.games, but tries to reinvent the wheel by taking the experience to a tropical setting and placing you in the role of multiple different characters.
However, with so many party games on the market (Steam especially), is there anything Marooners does to make itself stand out? Will it be forgotten within a few days? Keep reading to find our in depth thoughts.
Marooners is available now on Steam for $12.99.
Something I will give Marooners credit for off the bat is presenting itself as a wacky, tropical game. With so many party games to choose from, it's nice that M2H tried hard to make things a little different this time around. While the menus are a little basic and somewhat annoying to tinker with, the island setting makes for a more welcoming experience that I can look back on fondly.
Unfortunately, a lot of the quirky humor surrounding Marooners is left to its website and Twitter posts. It would've been nice to see more of this personality injected into the game, as all we're really shown is how these characters move and how the minigames function (but more on that in a bit).
Right away, I need to apologize if this section comes up a bit short. That's because there isn't a lot to Marooners. After you've played the game for an hour or two, you'll have seen everything the game has to offer. However, repetition isn't a terrible thing as long as the game plays extremely well (look at Lethal League).
Unfortunately, the handful of minigames that are present here don't exactly impress all the way through. While there are some highlights, like running away from a boulder Indiana Jones style or performing a free-for-all on top of a volcano. It's moments like these where the tropical setting factors into how fun the game can be. That being said, for every great minigame, there is one where you're likely to groan. Some will see you digging through blocks all the way down to the bottom of a cave as well as holding onto an idol that explodes in your face.
The game does try to make things a bit more interesting by allowing for different modes. There is Party and Arena. Party is the traditional mode where you'll progress through various minigames with the goal of obtaining the highest overall score. Arena is more or less the same thing, but instead you'll be directly fighting your friends with the game's combat system. Each mode also has a linear or chaos progression system. Traditional will have you move from one game to another in a sequential fashion, where you'll start one game after
Each mode also has a linear or chaos progression system. Traditional will have you move from one game to another in a sequential fashion, where you'll start one game after another stops. Chaos mode picks all games at random and will pause one minigame only for you to start another. However, the minigame that was paused will be returned to. It's in this mode where Marooners truly shines, as it keeps everything moving at a breakneck pace and forces players to stay on their toes. The goal in each mode is to collect the most gold.
Next comes how the characters themselves play. While everything moves like it should, the combat in Marooners is fairly basic and a little frustrating as a result. You move around with a control stick and attack with one button. That's it. The attacks seem inconsistent at best and you'll be asking yourself several times why you took the hit and your opponent didn't when you swung at the same time. When you're focused on moving to an objective, the characters feel much better to control.
Marooners also doesn't begin and end with just playing party mode. There is a progression system in place where you will gain levels for how much gold you collect in each minigame. Each level will reward you with a new character or weapon to choose from. That said, these unlocks are only cosmetic and don't change anything about the experience itself. I will say that the kinds of character you can choose from are wacky and enjoyable. One person could be playing as a viking while another would be controlling a deep sea diver.
It's also important to note that the party in Marooners doesn't begin and end with only 4 people. You can play with as little as 2 people or as much as 6. Speaking from experience, if you want to have the most fun, it's better to get as many friends over as you can. While playing with a few is still fun, you won't have as many great memories along the way, and isn't that what these party games are all about?
Despite some of these shortcomings, there is one aspect of Marooners that I really liked: the online mode. There are so many party games that could benefit from this, and M2H is ahead of even Nintendo by including this feature. Keep in mind that I didn't get to accurately test this mode because I had a hard time finding other players. That said, the experiences I did have were solid and without any damaging lag.
This brings me to another great point about Marooners. M2H knows that party games aren't exactly fun when you're just goofing around with bots. Because of this, they encourage your friends to get copies of the game as well (and not just with well-written notes). If you spend $34.99, you can receive four copies of the game to send to some of your compadres (normally, you'd spend about $52.99 for those of you who aren't good at math). Then, if you play the game for two hours, you will be awarded another code to send to a buddy. This isn't a model that many developers employ, and I have to give props here for M2H making this game more accessible to a large amount of people.
graphics & audio
In terms of graphics, Marooners takes a simple yet cartoony approach that's very pleasing to the eye. Everything looks clean and crisp, from the gentle waterfalls in the background to the many leaves you'll see hanging around. For how simple the game is, the visuals are actually quite nice. There's a nice contrast between each setting (save for maybe the cave sections) and the characters themselves stand out enough to be easily distinguishable.
Something I did appreciate in this department is that more than one person can be the same character. You simply have to pick a different color. That being considered, there are many options for coloring your little person. One character, in particular, had different patterns on his body depending on the color you chose, so it was nice to see that much variety there.
Audio in this game is passable. There are appropriate soundtracks for the minigames and a decent enough title theme, but you'll likely not be remembering any of it in the face of better soundtracks in other games. The sound effects likewise are just okay. They're not terrible, but they feel out of place at times and don't really mesh well with the vibe of the game.
Marooners doesn't have a lot of lasting appeal. With its small collection of minigames, lack of different modes, and only cosmetic unlocks, people aren't going to be playing it for a while (especially if you have no friends). However, if you're looking for a cheap and different party game, then you might want to consider Marooners. Not only does it move at a rapid pace, making play sessions a breeze to get through, but its tropical setting makes the experience inviting. Not to mention that it's easy to get other copies for your friends. The addition of online play is also a welcome function in the game.
In short, if you're hesitant on getting a party game, Marooners won't change your mind. But if you have friends and want something fast and easy to play, then this is the game for you.
|+ Cutesy art style||– Small amount of minigames|
|+ Tropical setting||– Not a lot of content|
|+ Wacky characters||– Easily repetitious|
|+ Online play||– Wonky combat|