The Mario Party series has brought countless hours of fun and arm-punching entertainment into my household for a long time. Ever since the GameCube days, when I played my first game, I have thoroughly enjoyed jumping into a two-hour round of salty family members hating each other for losing and winning stars. But the Mario Party series is old so many of us missed out on the original games and that is where Mario Party Superstars comes in.
Mario Party Superstars is a throwback to the entire franchise even if it acts as the 12th instalment in the series. It is not technically new given its direct copy-and-paste of boards and games from previous titles. However, everything in Mario Party Superstars has been rebuilt from the ground up to run on the Switch. If there was a “greatest collection” release, this would be it.
I do have some complaints about Mario Party Superstars though. The game boards, where you will spend most of your time, are taken from Mario Party one, two and three. There are five boards in total and while they have all been beautifully reimagined, they can’t hold up next to the likes of Megafruit Paradise from the other Mario Party game on the Switch.
Unfortunately, all five boards in Mario Party Superstars game kinda feel boring in comparison to other more recent entries in the series. Boards like Haunted Trial and King Bob-omb’s Powderkeg Mine, where the board literally changed around thanks to some impressive mechanics, make the five boards in this game feel old and dated. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot to love here but the boards got dry faster than I thought they would.
[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]the boards are smaller and lack the punch you expect from a Mario Party game[/perfectpullquote]Mario Party Superstars also includes over 100 mini-games scattered across the entire game. This means there are mini-games here that were carefully plucked from all past Mario Party games. If you’ve played any of the previous games, you’ll remember most of them. Some gems include Dungeon Dash from Mario Party 2, from Mario Party 3 and Tube it or Lose it from Mario Party 5.
You’ll even find games from the most recent titles like Mario Party 0 and 10. This is really the love letter to fans when it comes to the mini-games. Let’s be honest, the best thing about Mario Party are the mini-games and Superstars doesn’t hold back at all. Sure, there isn’t anything particularly new here but the old mini-games are brought back to life with new visuals that each of them look and play better than ever.
100 mini-games isn’t a drastic jump in comparison to other Mario Party games either. Most of them pack around 80 – 90 games so it’s not like this is the most robust collection of mini-games in the series. I know it is a long stretch but imagine if this included every single mini-game ever? We can dream, right?
The boards in Mario Party Superstars include Yoshi’s Tropical Island, Space Land, Peach’s Birthday Cake, Woody Woods and Horror Land. As I mentioned before, they are okay. After a few rounds into each board, the mechanics don’t really change much. Some pathways turn left instead of right in Woody Woods and in Horror Land the time of day alters what paths I was able to go down.
[perfectpullquote align=”left” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Nintendo has really stopped innovating its games due to the Switch Lite[/perfectpullquote]It isn’t that exciting, to be honest. Granted that back on the N64, the hardware limited how drastic these boards could get but then it makes me wonder why Nintendo chose these dated handfuls. Peach’s Birthday Cake let me plant a piranha plant seed that could either steal a star or coins. Space Land let me send a Thwomp and a Whomp at another player. While these mechanics are fun at first, after playing each board a handful of times, it was tough to choose which one to play on after a while.
Even though the boards are smaller and lack the punch you expect from a Mario Party game, they still make for a good time with friends and family. Stealing a star from the person on the couch right next to you has never been shadier and winning right at the end thanks to the bonus for landing on the most negative spaces still feels unfair. However, each gameplay session was still met with laughs and frustration at one another.
It also helps that Mario Party Superstars is the most accessible game in a long time. All mini-games are locked to using the actual buttons on your Switch. This is probably done due to the lack of Joy-Cons on the Switch Lite. There’s no swinging your arms around or anything of the sort. I can’t say I loved this approach. The Switch still offers a unique hardware experience and the Joy-Cons being boring controllers in a game like this felt underwhelming.
Nintendo has really stopped innovating its games these days due to the Switch Lite. Everything feels more handheld than ever. Even the most recent Wariowares game scrapped all motion support for buttons and analogue sticks.
Mario Party Superstars can last a long time. Game board sessions can go two hours long if you want them to. There’s also Mount Mini-Games where you can just play the mini-games with friends to beat a high score. Everything in the game rewards coins that are used to unlock new encyclopedia pages that give insight into games, characters and more.
You can also buy new wallpapers for your player card. This is a card shown to online players when you jump into their lobby. Yes, Mario Party Superstars is fully playable online. A feature that arrived a year after the last game’s launch. It is nice to have available and I was able to play a game during a special media session. It ran flawlessly. The game switches on some neat features that showcase the most popular boards, some online leaderboards and more. This way, you’ll never have to play the game alone.
I won’t say Mario Party Superstars is the best game in the series. Sure, it is the best collection of games to date but I wish we had different boards or even more of them available. The included ones play things safe and often overstayed their welcome after an hour session. Let’s hope Nintendo adds to this game because there is the potential to have this as the biggest Mario Party game in the series.
This Mario Party Superstars review is based on a code sent to us by Nintendo
Available On: Switch | Release Date: 29 October 2021 | Price: R1120