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Mario Party Superstars resurrects palm-shredding minigame from 1998

Now comes with a warning! As if anyone will pay heed ...

screen of 1998’s Mario Party showing four Mushroom Kingdom characters (Mario, vs. Yoshi, Wario, and Donkey Kong) in a tug-of-war
Mario Party’s Tug o’ War minigame drew the wrath of New York A.G. Eliot Spitzer six years before he got a heave-ho.
Image: Nintendo via Nintendo64Movies/YouTube
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Mario Party Superstars is bringing back a 23-year-old minigame — and a warning that harkens back to the old N64 controller’s analog stick.

Tug o’ War, a one-on-three game where players rotate an analog stick to pull the rope, is among the 100 minigames launching with Superstars next week. Back in the day, kids would use their flattened palms to wind the sticks even faster, which ended up simulating a rope burn.

Parents complained that their kids had gotten blisters, bruises, friction burns, and cuts playing Tug o’ War in Mario Party. It was bad enough that the Attorney General for New York State (the soon-to-be-disgraced, soon-to-be-ex-governor Eliot Spitzer) got involved.

As CNET reported way, way back in 2002, Spitzer’s office negotiated an agreement with Nintendo for the company to provide four (4) pairs of sports gloves to every Mario Party owner who wanted them. (This request had to be accompanied by some rather onerous proof of ownership and purchase information.) Very few parents were believed to have actually taken up Nintendo on this offer. Fewer than 100 complained directly to Nintendo.

It doesn’t look like a warning was ever slapped on Mario Party back in the day. (Kotaku pointed out that another minigame, Pedal Power, featured the same stick-input; it’s not included in Superstars, however.) At the time, said CNET, a recording on Nintendo of America’s hotline for Mario Party “recommends that players avoid injuries simply by manipulating the joystick with their thumb and forefinger rather than the palm of the hand.” Novel idea!

Tug o’ War’s warning in Mario Party Superstars explicitly says “do not rotate [the stick] with the palm of your hand.” But 2000s kids remember that, in the cold, cruel world of Mario Party, where you don’t get participation trophies, you had to be willing to sacrifice a hand. Now that they’re adults, I expect them to pass this lesson along to the next generation.

Mario Party Superstars launches on Oct. 29 for Nintendo Switch.