I have a lot of nostalgia for Mario Party, I admit. I spent a lot of time with friends as a youngster playing the earlier entries. Stealing stars and joking as we beat each other at minigames was a great time. I only really stopped as those days of sitting around a console after school ended. Now, Mario Party Superstars has reignited that feeling of fun. For the first time, we don’t even have to be sitting around the same console to party together.
For those who haven’t played any of the previous Mario Party games, the concept is fun but simple. Up to four players need to battle it out to get the most stars. This is done like a board game – roll virtual dice and move spaces. Each space has several fun (or not so fun) effects. At the end of each turn, all of the players will join a minigame and battle it out. There’s also a minigame-only mode.
Mario Party Superstars features 100 of these minigames. It’s a compilation of minigames from the entire previous series of games – sort of a ‘best of’ collection. While some use similar principles, there’s a ton of variety here. Minigames range from things like driving tanks and shooting each other, swinging on vines, hitting baseballs, punching each other away to take center stage, and far more. They’re all fairly simple and could be played by people of almost any age. Some of these can lead to some pretty amusing situations too; one time I saw Peach successfully rugby tackle Wario.
I’ve had fun with every minigame that I played and there’s enough variety that I rarely came across the same one over a few games. With so many of them and all feeling different, I’m glad that each one also comes with short instructions and a chance to try it out before starting.
Most minigames are each player for themselves. Some do team you up though, both in 2v2 or 3v1 situations. I did sometimes feel the balance was off with 3v1 minigames. In most cases, I almost never saw the 1 win. The exception to this was a game where 3 players have to hide, which was the opposite. Still, it was fun.
Back to Boards
There are a total of five boards in Mario Party Superstars. Unlike the minigames which come from the entire series, these all come from the earlier games.
As mentioned, you go around these boards in search of stars – specifically the player needs to head towards the star shop to buy them. There’s plenty to both help and hinder you in Mario Party Superstars though. Landing on spaces can do anything from giving you a few coins to triggering all sorts of events.
An example might help; I struggled through collecting coins and passed the item shop. Buying a special dice to let me move further, I used it the next turn and almost reached the star shop. Unfortunately, someone else triggered an event that swapped the star shop and the Bowser space that steals your coins. These sort of frustrating moments are the fun of Mario Party Superstars. It’s more fun when you’re doing it to someone else though!
The boards all feel well-designed. They have a good variety of spaces and events, with things always happening. Each board feels unique too, not only in theme but each with its own special events and unique features. One example of this is the space level, where running over a certain area multiple times triggers a giant laser. This blasts everyone in its path.
The only negative I have to say about the boards is that there’s not enough of them. With ten Mario Party games to draw from that each has multiple boards, it’s a pity that they stuck to five. It’s not too surprising as it’s been about that amount in previous games, but some of those had extra modes in addition.
One thing I really enjoy is the items. These add some basic strategy at times. At others, they’re just great to throw a spanner in the works. Items can be gained from the item shop or events. There are even special one-player minigames to get items.
Items can really change the way you play. From basic ones giving the player extra moves, to more random ones which swap the player’s position with another random player, they might completely throw a player off their game. Combining the right items such as triple dice to rush ahead, with a key to take a shortcut, and a card to buy two stars instead of the normal one allowed might push a player ahead.
I touched on this earlier, but my favorite feature of Mario Party Superstars is that you don’t have to be together to play together. All modes are accessible via online play, which is new and which is certainly needed in this day and age. You can play online with friends or random matches. With that said, you can still use local multiplayer or play alone with AI. The AI even has four difficulty levels, from Easy to Master.
You can make further adjustments too. Playing with someone who’ll have a hard time beating you? Handicaps are possible, giving certain players more stars. Want to compete on skill? It’s possible to use only skill-based minigames, filtering out those more reliant on luck. Only have a short time? The number of turns can be adjusted, so a game could be played in about 30 minutes. Mario Party Superstars is fairly customizable in that way.
One option that can really change the end of the game is being able to turn Bonus Stars off. These are awarded at the end of each full game, giving out a few stars for randomly chosen factors like who landed on the most negative spaces. I find they keep the tension up, but I imagine some will want them off to stop ‘unfair’ last-minute victories. I appreciate that it’s a choice.
Everything gameplay-related in Mario Party Superstars is unlocked from the start. This is a bit of a mixed blessing. It makes sense thematically since it’s a compilation of games many players may have already played. It does leave the player without much in the way of a feeling of progress though.
What it does include is stickers, encyclopedia pages, and audio tracks. Coins earned by playing can be spent to unlock these. As more experience is gained, more will be unlocked for purchase.
Stickers are the standout here, mostly due to online interactions. The player cannot communicate with others via the Switch itself, so stickers can be used. A well-timed “Bwahaha” Bowser sticker is good for a laugh when you steal a star from under Mario’s comically large nose. Of course, some people are nicer. When playing someone got a star, so I sent a “congratulations” stickers – They responded with a “thanks” sticker. I went from 0 stars to 3 over the course of a few turns in another game and completely turned the game around. Someone’s repeated ‘What!?” stickers when I got my third star made me laugh.
The other unlockables are achievements. These range from basic ones like collecting 3 or more stars during an adventure to more complex ones like getting chased by a runaway spaceship 3 times.
Graphics and Audio
Mario Party Superstars is bright and colorful, as would be expected of a Mario game. It’s still a Nintendo Switch game, so the resolution and level of detail aren’t amazing, but it all looks great. In terms of performance, it all runs without issue too.
There’s a fairly large selection of music included in the game. The standard high production values of Nintendo shine through in the quality of sound effects too.
Mario Party Superstars is a great return to the past of Mario Party titles. Featuring some of the best of the previous games and adding a few new features to modernize, it’s worth picking up. It could do with some more content for staying power, but it’s certainly a good time.
MARIO PARTY SUPERSTARS IS RECOMMENDED
Many thanks go to Nintendo for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.