The online Mario Party we’ve all been waiting For!
If you're like me and you grew up as a Nintendo fan in the 90s, chances are you have played one of the 3 Mario Party games for Nintendo 64. They were so much fun, especially with 3 other people. Even getting blisters on the palms of our hands from playing the stick rotation mini games wasn’t enough to detract from our enjoyment of those games.
Whilst Mario Party did not invent the board game with mini games concept, the Dokapon series and Sunsoft’s Hebereke no Oishii Puzzle pre-date it for example, nevertheless the big N’s unique Mario-branded take on the genre was a stroke of genius on their part, and helped bring the genre into the mainstream.
Fast forward 20 years and Nintendo announces a new Mario Party for the Nintendo Switch; one that features the best of the boards from the first 3 Mario Party games, plus the best of every mini game in the series thus far. Having grown up playing those first three games and seeing the boards revamped with modern day graphics as well as being able to play online, I was sold. Suffice to say I bought a copy as soon as I could.
As soon as you start the game, you are greeted with an option screen asking how you would like to play: offline, couch play, wireless local play, or online play. This is probably the first time I've played a game, especially a Nintendo title, that gives you this option before you've even reached the title screen.
The game's style mimics a lot of the first Mario Party's presentation; from the title screen design and its music - a remixed version of the first game's title music, to the hub world where each option is represented by a house. These design choices made me incredibly nostalgic and put a big smile on my face. In the hub world you will find the shop, where you can purchase various customisation options and extra Emotes with coins earned from playing the game. You can also buy entries for the Encyclopedia, where you can view information on previous games in the series and see which characters were playable in each game.
Speaking of characters, whilst Mario Party Superstars doesn’t possess the biggest roster, it does feature the classic roster from Mario Party 1 and 2, as well as Waluigi and Daisy from Mario Party 3, and newcomers Rosalina and Birdo. Each character has their own set of emotes to greet other players, and to convey joy and despair, as well as a global set of emotes that any character can use. After selecting your playable character(s)/CPU characters, it's time to choose a game board. All 5 are revamped boards from the N64 era Mario Party titles.
Once you've chosen your board, you have the option of toggling the number of turns, mini-game assistance, player handicaps, and whether you would like Bonus Stars on or off. Bonus Stars are Stars given at the end of a game to a player who did a certain thing the most, such as land on the most ? Spaces or win the most mini games.
Now it’s time to start the game! If you are familiar with Mario Party, you know the drill: throw the dice, move around the board and collect Stars. In case you are only familiar with the more recent games in the series, classic Mario Party boards work in a more linear fashion, where 4 players individually navigate the board collecting 10 coins each time they complete a full lap. The goal is to acquire as many Stars as possible to place 1st and become the Super Star.
Coins can be used to purchase items and board-specific services that can help you or hinder other players. On the more difficult boards, there is a Boo space where you can have coins stolen from another player for free, or you can steal a Star for 50 coins. This and the Chance Time spaces can completely turn the tide of a game, potentially thrusting someone from dead last into first place. As you can imagine, this feature has a history of ruining friendships so try not to take it too seriously.
There are also blue Lucky Spaces which bless the player with coins, a free item or reduced cost of board exclusive services. Not so lucky are the Bowser Spaces where, once triggered, will warp the poor player straight to Bowser, where he will spin a ‘Wheel of Punishments’. These can range from taking 10 coins from the affected player to having every player’s coins distributed evenly between them. I guess Bowser is a Marxist.
After every player has had their turn, it's time for a mini game and there are plenty to whet your whistle. The colour of the spaces occupied by players on the board determines the mini game. For example, if everyone lands on a blue space it’s a 4 player Free-For-All. If three players are on a blue space and one is on red, it’s 1-vs-3. Though the boards are exclusively from the Nintendo 64 games, 100 of the best minigames from Mario Party 1 through 10 have been included. These range from luck based, counting, button mashing and skill based. There truly is something for everyone and every skill level. During the minigame explanation you can see which game in the series it came from, and it also gives players the opportunity to practice before pressing Start to ready up.
The winner(s) of the game will usually receive 10 coins, however some mini games are coin collectors and every player can leave with coins at the end.
When the game reaches the last 5 turns, the value of blue and red spaces double from 3 coins to 6. Players must use their remaining turns as strategically as possible to ensure victory. Better items start appearing at the shop later in the game, including a Golden Pipe that can instantly transport you to the Star. One could argue the game reaches peak excitement levels at this point.
Once all turns have been exhausted, it is time for the final results. Bonus Stars are issued (if the option is enabled) invariably in favour of a struggling player, which has the potential to alter the final standings dramatically . The criteria chosen for Bonus Stars in each game is randomly selected from a set of specific accolades, such as most mini games won, most coins held at one time, or most green ? Spaces landed on. Players that have tied both get Stars.
The winner is then revealed with a humorous slapstick skit exclusive to a certain game board, e.g. on Yoshi's Tropical Island, players will be swallowed by giant fish until the winner is left standing.
After the game, you’ll get a results screen and then be rewarded with coins to spend at the hub world shop. You can also gain experience depending on your performance which will increase your level to show off to other online players. You can also unlock titles that you can apply to your online profile, such as Mini Game Master or Coin Collector.
Mario Party Superstars, whilst not the best-looking Mario game on the Switch, is colourful, beautiful and runs at a buttery smooth 60FPS docked and undocked. The colours really pop on the Nintendo Switch OLED. Online play is usually without issues provided you have a good internet connection, although you will get the occasional lag spike and player dropout. Fortunately, Mario Party Superstars allows players to rejoin games should they lose connection.
Mario Party Superstars is just as fun as I remember Mario Party being growing up. It would be nice to see this game receive DLC in future. The standard in Mario Party is usually five boards, but with this being a Best Of The Series/Remaster, I would have loved to have seen a greater choice of boards to play.
If you love multiplayer party games like Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros., I’d definitely recommend Mario Party Superstars. It has tonnes of replay value and even the most casual of gamers can learn how to play in no time. The online mode ensures you’ll never run out of new people to play with, or find yourself restricted to playing with those you can easily get-together with.
For too long, Mario Party has been relegated to those occasional outings for when you have company; some may have even been deterred from purchasing a title in the series because they were worried that the game wouldn’t see enough frequent play. Mario Party will always be best enjoyed in a local group setting with others, but now you can take the party online whether you’re at home, or on the go. You might say, the party never has to stop.
Where to Buy
My Nintendo - £49.99 https://tidd.ly/3jmBFE9
ShopTo - £39.85 https://tidd.ly/3HSBrji
Currys -£34.99 (use code:SWFNDD at checkout) https://tidd.ly/3QE8VWm
Review written by Kyle Rhys Marsh
Edited by Paul L. Russell, Mark McAllister and Jen Griffiths
Review Graphic by Paul L. Russell