Mario Party Superstars is an absolute return to form for the storied franchise. Once more, the gamers of today can cause chaos amongst their friends in Nintendo’s latest party game featuring gameboards and minigames from the N64 and Gamecube era games, fully updated and remastered for modernity.
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve ever played a Mario Party game before or not—first time or thousandth, Mario Party Superstar is an absolute return to form for the series. Whether you are filled with nostalgia for these maps and minigames or experiencing them for the first time, the game feels entirely fresh, fun, and chaotic as ever. Join with up to four players or play against computers taking turns rolling dice, landing on tiles that cause joy, consternation, and chaos in equal measure, as you fight to win coins, minigames, and ultimately more stars than anyone else to become the Super Star and win.
The game is sharp as ever with new music, updated elements, and total pandemonium. I love the subtle nods to other Mario music throughout the soundtrack, like the Jump Up Superstar theme being toned down into the game’s menu theme. Boards now have spaces like lucky tiles where you roll to acquire any number of coins, items, or otherwise. Hidden blocks can randomly give you coins or even stars. And of course, classic elements like boos who rob you and stars that move on a whim will keep things constantly in flux. For those who don’t prefer chaos, the game allows you to turn off bonus stars if you prefer.
Most of the mini-games are as hectic and fun as ever. Some feel unfair, sure, and a few just too long and not fun, but even those are still great for a laugh. And besides, something else is probably going to happen later to balance it out. Who knows truly if the game possesses some sort of retribution factor or luck booster in its RNG formula, but half the fun of a Mario Party is feeling like the game is for or against you, whether it really is or isn’t.
There are a few small design problems. The text is far too small when describing what items do and the number of times you have to renavigate menus to get between local and online play. I hit the wrong button between menus more times than I did the correct input. There’s no “are you sure?” prompt which makes leaving instantaneous but rejoining the right menu requires a whole lot of waiting or button clicking. I also really, really wish there were more characters, mini-games, and stages to unlock to give you a sense of accomplishment beyond the sweet satisfaction of ruining friendships. But there are also some small details that rule, like the ridiculous faces the characters make when different things happen to them, good or bad, or the little antics that happen in the background of the boards or mini-games.
There are some unlockables though, which I always appreciate in a game. You accrue coins to spend at the Toad Shop as you play and can collect encyclopedia pages to learn Mario Party history, music tracks to swap out on game boards, and stickers to use throughout play. The stickers are easily one of the most fun new additions to Mary Party Superstars. They’re just a few words written beneath a Mario character in some pose or another, but the opportunities to use them sincerely or sarcastically are endless and never not funny. The poses are so funny and there are a whole lot of stickers to unlock to keep making more jokes with among friends. There are also in-game achievements that provide titles you can don online and card backgrounds to customize your online player card with, if that’s your kind of thing.
My only disappointment with Mario Party Superstars is that there could have been more. More levels, more mini-games, or more characters could have helped ensure the game stayed fresh longer. It’s not an N64 cartridge you’re running, space isn’t an issue anymore. While I understand certainly that more content means more work, I just worry that the fun of fighting with friends will only go so far when the same five boards start to get stale.
Of course, the simplicity of Mario Party mini-games keeps them fun pretty indefinitely. Mt. Minigame, where you can indulge endlessly in whatever minigames you choose against computers, friends, or strangers online, is a great alternative to replaying the same stages over and over again. The daily challenges feel consistently competitive when playing against strangers, as do the coin battles, survival mode, and really everything else.
If you’re a longtime Mario Party fan, you will love Mario Party Superstars. If you’ve never played a Mario Party, there’s no better time than now to get into it. By yourself, on the couch, or online with friends or strangers, every way to play is a blast and then some. Some menu things are a bit annoying and I wish there was were a couple more characters or stages or mini-games to unlock. But all in all, Mario Party is back, baby.
Mario Party Superstars is available now on Nintendo Switch.
Mario Party Superstars
If you’re a longtime Mario Party fan, you will love Mario Party Superstars. If you’ve never played a Mario Party, there’s no better time than now to get into it. By yourself, on the couch, or online with friends or strangers, every way to play is a blast and then some. Some menu things are a bit annoying and I wish there was were a couple more characters or stages or mini-games to unlock. But in all, Mario Party is back, baby.