Losing was never Party the plan
The positivity of this review is largely thanks to my current status as the Mario Party World Champion of my flat. You see, I’ve not had the greatest luck with the old Mario Party games. I’ve played a few of them, but it’s usually been under the guise of “””content”””, as a matter of fact, you can watch myself, Harry and Dani play a bit of Super Mario Party here. Every time I’ve played a game in the franchise, it felt like I was cursed to see the very worst, most random elements of the game.
“Oh, you get a random star for habitually smashing the A button when it wasn’t your turn, congratulations, you won!”.
I love board games. I can’t get enough of a good board game. Monopoly matches, and they are matches, in my house rarely end without the competitors coming close to the end of the friendship. While Monopoly also has chance elements, there’s tons of strategy you can employ to guarantee a win, even if it doesn’t always go in your favour. Whereas, in the old Mario Party games, it felt like I was a passenger right up until the end when the game would cover its eyes and decide who won. But with Mario Party Superstars, I never felt that.
Now, I’m well aware that absolutely smacks of confirmation bias, and that my long-suffering partner with whom I played the games would likely disagree, but I’m the one writing the review, so you’re getting the perspective of the greatest Mario Party Superstars player in the game, and not my partner, whose time would be better spent getting good.
Mario Party Superstars is a compilation of some of the most beloved maps and minigames from the golden era of the series on the Nintendo 64 and the GameCube. A few of the old maps have been lovingly remastered, the jump in quality being starkly obvious when the game shows off a screenshot of how it looked 200 years ago on the old platforms.
The Mario Party maps sort of got away from themselves as the number of entries in the series approach double figures. By the time we got to Mario Party 10, the series had completely outstayed its welcome because it got away from the core of what the games are about. Mario Party should inspire rage, not boredom. Mario Party Superstars regains that magic.
There’s a real bare-bones “here is yer proper Mario Party” vibe to the package. There’s a secondary mode in which you can just play the minigames on their own, with little context outside of keeping score, but Nintendo seems to realise that what folk want is a nice looking way to play the minigames that they’ve been screaming at their pals over since the 90s.
So committed to the classic era is Mario Party Superstars, that it even includes the minigame that forced Nintendo to issue gloves in the 90s following kids tearing their palms to pieces on the analogue stick. It does come with a warning this time, but that didn’t stop me from attempting to draw blood.
In a fix to a frankly idiotic restriction in Super Mario Party, you can now play the game with the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, or two joy-cons together. Great news for anyone with hands bigger than a 6-year-old child. The game’s already going to do its level best to get your blood up, forcing you to use one joy-con was just salt in the wound. Mario Party Superstars fixes this, another checkmark on the list of ways that Mario Party Superstars in the definitive entry in the series.
It plays things incredibly safe, but I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. They got so caught up in absolutely pointless gimmicks that they seemed to forget that the majority of people that played Mario Party, and have fond memories of the original games, don’t play tons of games. They also don’t want to spend an hour having the rules explained to them. What makes Mario Kart so successful, is that anyone can pick it up, and generally understand what is going on. Mario Party works best when it has the same ease of access for players.
The last time I wanted to play Super Mario Party with folk, by the time I’d explained the rules, and we’d been through about two turns, I could feel the energy leave the group. There was no growing animosity, the minigames were uninspiring, and the maps were complicated and dull. Every match of Mario Party Superstars I have played has been fun, and I think that’s the real sign of a great board game. Mario Party Superstars is going to stay on my Nintendo Switch for the foreseeable, that is of course until I lose a game and snap the Switch over my knee.
Reviewed on a Nintendo Switch OLED Model. Console and game provided by Nintendo.