I haven't had a chance to play it yet but a review I read said it was heavily chance based just like the Mario party games were. Personally since i play with my 7 year old daughter I don't mind since she doesn't always have to lose (or I don't have to throw the game), but I could see where a lot of people would hate that.
There are definitely a few minigames that are just luck but a majority does require a little bit of skill. This is especially true with the 2 player coop gameplay. The family was enjoying it all weekend. The board game was a blast along with the wheel spin game.
From what I have read Wii Party is pretty much Mario Party replacement. Due to some of the creatures of MP leaving Nintendo. Or something along those lines. Either way I LOVED MP and have been anticipating. MP9 But it looks like there will not be another any time soon. I like the randomness. But as in MP there is more then likely an option to be able to pick the games you want to play. You will just have to do some random looking around for the right area. Good Luck
Wii Party may be Nintendo's replacement for the Mario Party series, but it is not from losing the rights to characters. If you heard something related to DKC Returns, it's most likely false. There are recent videos showing DK and Diddy are included in the upcoming Mario Sports Mix.
Also, I agree with you about wanting Mario Party 9. Nintendo should continue both franchises, but maintain different features or philosophies between them. I was a little annoyed that all of the minigames in Wii Party (in free play) are available automatically. I wish I could unlock them over a few hours by playing the main events, like Mario Party.