How Mario Party ruined our friendships

I just came back from a game night at a local bar. It was a cozy little event the bartender cooked up for St. Patrick’s day and he had a friend bring over a Switch and set up Super Mario Party on a large TV facing three couches. Drinks were on the house. Everybody chipped in snacks and pizzas for the night.

The first game we played was a co-op river adventure, a collaborative time-attack boat rowing game with a ton of co-op mini-games to add more time to the counting-down clock. Everything was fun and giggles until we realized Shy Guy sucked at teamwork and he was causing the whole party to lose the game.

It was starting to get quite out of hand so we made the call to…not play co-op games anymore. So we instead played square off mode, which is basically a series of competitive mini-games that allow the first winner to pick a square on a 4-by-4 grid. The person with the most squares on the grid at the end is the ultimate winner.

Clearly, it was a huge mistake. If we couldn’t make peace with one another in a non-zero sum game, there’s no way in hell we could make peace in a zero-sum game.

By the 13th mini-game, we learned that only Shy Guy and Princess Peach were snatching all the wins and they were monopolizing the whole grid. Until this point, it was still fun and giggles as the other two players didn’t really make any comment whatsoever on the state of affairs.

Things changed quickly when the friendship-killing mechanics came into play. Suddenly, Yoshi snatched an unexpected win in a mini-game and the game decided to let Yoshi steal a square from other players. That means either from Peach, who was the forerunner, or Shy Guy, who was the second runner with only five squares in his color but he was planning on a huge flip in the middle row in his next win.

Out of the blue, Yoshi decided to listen to Peach’s nefarious whispering and sabotaged Shy Guy despite fervent objections from the rest of the group. At this point, he said he didn’t care anymore and just wanted the game to be over with; therefore he decided to help Peach win faster. Yoshi stole the square Shy Guy needed to advance his strategy and effectively ended all competitions against Peach.

This prompted someone in the group to speak out:

“Some people just want to watch the world burn.”

It was followed by a stray comment:

“Just like the Brexit voters.”

As soon as Brexit was on the table, everybody tossed every bit of restraints they had left out of the window.

At some points, Peach was gloating her massive lead in Shy Guy’s face when Mario, who was the party leader, just threw his hand up and kicked everyone out of the game because he could and started playing Stardew Valley by himself. Peach and Shy Guy continued duking it out in a game of Mikado. Yoshi dropped the controller and left, saying “F you guys, I’m out”, taking his two bags of popcorns in tow.

Afterward, the bartender decided to let me hold his beer while he steamrolled both Shy Guy and Peach in Mikado.

Needless to say, I was entertained.

Very entertained.

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