There’s being late, and then they’re being fashionably late. If you’re gonna be fashionably late, it may as well be at a party, and there’s no party like a Mario Party!
The residents of Mushroom Kingdom back to throw the biggest soiree of this generation in Super Mario Party for Nintendo Switch.
Is Super Mario Party the ultimate party maker, or will it destroy friendships with the game for good? Find out in our review after the break!
Super Mario Party
Developed by Nintendo, NDcube
Published by Nintendo
Released: 5th October 2018
Review copy provided by Nintendo
I’ll be honest, my relationship with the Mario Party series has been complicated over the years… I think many also feel the same. The introduction of the car mechanic in Mario Party 9 was an interesting touch, though most fans would beg to differ. Star Rush was a very clever reinvention of the board game formula, perfect fo portable play, but unfortunately lacked the depth of previous titles. Then there was the Top 100, which is only really for people who want to only play minigames.
Super Mario Party, on the other hand, seems to be the saving grace of the franchise. Fond memories of rolling dice, playing minigames, and destroying friendships are sure to return as this party goes back to it’s roots. The whole car mechanic has been completely dropped in favour of some old school Mario Party action.
You’ll be dashing around four different boards (why so little?) collecting coins and playing minigames in Mario Party Mode… and yes, there is a minigame after every round this time round. You’ll then use your shiny coins to purchase stars from Toadette; the more stars you collect, the bigger your chances are of superstardom! Obviously, there’s a bit more than that to keep you ‘entertained’. Make King Bob-Omb mad on his board, and you may get just a bit singed. Set off a trap in Whomp’s Domino Ruins, and you may experience The Temple of Doom. You can even steal coins or stars by visiting Lakitu, or use a variety of items against ‘fellow’ partygoers. There’s a lot of things to keep you on your toes.
Though Star Rush was very inventive with it’s mechanic of players being able to move at the same time, though it still felt fairly limited at the time. Those who had high hopes for this sort of mode may actually enjoy Super Mario Party’s Team Party Mode however. Team Party is a 2v2 scramble to gather the most stars, however both players on each team will move at the same time in any direction possible. This can call for some very interesting strategies. You could decide to split up, one going for coins and the other going for stars, you can try collecting the board’s item for some free stars, you could even just follow your enemies and constantly steal their coins… it’s your choice really
Team party uses the same boards from Mario Party mode, slightly modified to include more spaces and interconnectivity. The boards are the perfect size for Team Party, it’s easy to get good traction, but at the same time a lot can happen in a few turns. They may seem a bit small in Mario Party mode, but they still actually feel just right when playing through them.
If I had any complaints about the boards themselves, it would be the fact that you only have to cough up 10 coins for a star instead of 20. With the stars being such a steal, the tension of having enough coins for a star is severely dampened. It may seem silly with there just being a ten coin difference, but there have been many games where I’ve had more than 50 coins and three stars at the same time. I never thought I’d find a reason to be thankful for the upcoming Brexit. I also wish that you could have more than 20 turns in a game, you can only have 10, 15, or 20.
There have been some great quality of life improvements improvements in Super Mario Party though. While checking the path ahead in map view, you are now told how many spaces you are away from the highlighted space. In addition to this, you are also told which space you will land on when choosing which path to take. These additions really make decision making during movement incredibly efficient, no more sighs of irritation because your mate is always looking at the map.
One of my fondest memories of the original Mario Party on the N64 was during the New Year period. Some family friends would come down for the week to celebrate the New Year. While the adults were busy getting inebriated downstairs, us kids would spend the entire evening and night playing Mario Party on a small 20 inch CRT TV.
Instead of playing competitively, we would work together against the single CPU so that we could bank as many stars at the end to unlock the final board. Super Mario Party introduces the perfect mode for those like us wanting a complete cooperative edge in a Mario Party game… River Survival.
River Survival is a really fun distraction from the competitive scene, and can also be seen as a good workout for the arms. The aim of the game is to row your boat through raging waters, dangerous obstacles, and branching paths before the time runs out. Pop red balloons to play minigames which can gain you extra time. It’s quite hilarious hearing people scream which way to row, especial if they are like me and get confused with left from right.
My only issue however is the fact that, for the more experienced Mario Party goer, it’s almost too easy to add too much extra time. It would’ve been a lot better if there were the option to increase the score requirements in minigames for extra time. It’s still a fantastic start for a completely unique mode in Mario Party.
Speaking of unique modes, have you ever thought of Mario Party x Rhythm Heaven? The developers of NDcube certainly have with the Sound Stage mode. I’m going to be honest here, I don’t think I have ever had so much fun in any other Mario Party ‘side mode’ than I did in Sound Stage. You and your frenemies take centre stage in a musical performance of block busting, giddyupping, swashbuckling, and much more through a selection on rhythm based games. Did I mention that these are played through motion controls rather than button mashing? It’s a right hoot to play, and a jolly good laugh to watch.
Looking for a quick game to play with your friends, or maybe a way to determine who’s paying the bill? Make you way down to Toad’s Rec Room for a small selection of unique, little games. Score a homerun in Mini Baseball League, complete 8-bit block puzzles in Puzzle Hustle, return to the battleground in Shell Shocked Deluxe, or reassemble some bananas in Banana, Split.
They are great little time-wasters, especially when you doubt your friends’ banana identification skills. The use of a second console is also really cool in Shell Shocked Deluxe, being able to change the layout of the battlefield. Though for a fuller experience, you will need two consoles, and two copies of Super Mario Party, all games, bar one, can be played on a single console, which is fairly generous.
What kind of person would I be to write a review about a Mario Party and not mention the minigames. The minigames in Super Mario Party perfectly demonstrates what the JoyCons are capable of without making them a chore… anyone remember some of the games in Mario Party 8? Of course, there are still plenty of minigames which use a more traditional control method.
Surprisingly enough, there are actually very few minigames in Super Mario Party which I dislike. The only ones I can think of off the top of my head is Suit Yourselves due to the sheer length and lack of difficulty, and Precision Gardening because the pumping motion just doesn’t quite feel right. Seeig how there are 82 other minigames which are perfectly fine, I would call that a raging success.
You can, of course, play all the minigames anytime you want in Free Play, but if you want something a bit more interesting, then there are other modes to consider too. One mode in particular, Mariothon, has you competing in five different minigames to get the best score. What’s interesting, is the fact that the survival minigames here continue playing even after three players have failed… though after 90 seconds the minigame give up itself. It’s just a shame that only ten of the minigames are compatible with Mariothon.
This mode can also be played online, which is a first for the series. From my experience online, this can get quite laggy if someone has a poor connection, which isn’t very helpful. Luckily, if someone drops out, you restart that minigame with the absent player replaced with a CPU.
This review went way longer than I expected, so if you skipped right to the bottom, I don’t blame you. Surely though, this is a good signifier of just how much content has been packed into this Mario Party instalment. It may be difficult to call Super Mario Party the best Mario Party ever made, but it is definitely the best one that has been released in the past ten years.
There are definitely a few hiccups along the way, like with the low board count for example, but the fact that we finally have a Mario Party game going back to its roots can surely overlook that. Not only that, but the title also vastly improves the Star Rush mechanic, introduces a bunch of fun new modes, and makes good use of the JoyCon technology. Did I mention that I willingly clocked 15+ hours within the first week of playing?
Once again, Mario Party is the life of the party in Super Mario Party for Nintendo Switch!
Final Rating – 4 out of 5
Super Mario Party is out now exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.