Mario Party Superstars is the “Greatest Hits album” the series deserves
Since Mario party series launched in 1998 on the N64, it has hosted more than 1,000 mini-games spread over 15 titles (depending on how you count). The question behind Mario Party Superstars on the Switch is if you can find 100 of these mini-games that are actually Well.
The answer is a resounding yes. Focusing on making the best and longest lasting minigame design for over two decades, Superstars is probably the most enjoyable long-term game in the series. But if you are not already on board with Mario partythe slow pace and the heavy reliance on luck, there is nothing here that will make you change your mind.
Better to be lucky than to be good
Mario Party Superstars is a game dripping with nostalgia, music and sound effects on the menu screen taken straight from the first game. The structure of the main game is also completely unchanged. Four players controlled by humans or by computer take turns rolling a 10-sided die to move around a board, trying to pass places where they can buy the necessary stars to win the game. After everyone has rolled around, the four players go head-to-head in a mini-game where they can earn coins that can be used to buy stars or items that can help them or hinder others.
Nintendo has made smart choices for the five available classic maps, which come from the N64 editions of the game. The options offer a full range of complexity, from the basic “circle ride” of the tropical island of Yoshi to constantly branching paths. from Woody Woods to the complicated day-night cycle of Horror Land. Fans of the series will also enjoy seeing these classic maps fully upgraded for the HD era. Peach’s birthday cake, in particular, is a mouthwatering visual splendor compared to the unappetizing low-res polygons of the original N64.
Nintendo also made some small quality of life improvements to help slow down the pace of movement on these maps. Now you can fast-forward through cutscene animations, for example, and you don’t have to watch computer players compete in mini-games and object games without any human intervention. The “quick” options for movement speed and text mean you can also get through much of the tedious wait for your turn, especially when playing against multiple computer opponents (you can also throw stickers on emoji-style Mario theme on the screen to pass the time between turns).
But none of these improvements change the core gameplay of Mario party, which, for better or for worse, still depends heavily on luck. Of course, there is some basic strategy involved in skillful table navigation, especially when it comes to deciding when to buy and use items to their best effect. And yes, earning more minigame coins still has a decent correlation with performing well in the overall match.
Yet much of the result of a Mario Party Superstars match depends on nothing more than the throws of the dice and the huge swings that can come from landing on certain spaces. No matter how skillfully you play, there is often nothing you can do to stop a lucky player from reaching a star before you do. You can’t always avoid landing on a coin-sapping Bowser space or encountering a Chance Time space that transfers your hard-earned stars to another player all at once.
With the right group of friends (and possibly the right drinks), it’s possible to let go and accept this chaos, laugh and cringe with your playmates as the vagaries of chance affect your fate. If you want a game that directly rewards skillful play over your opponents, however, Mario party is always the last place you should look.
Most of them Mario party titles, each random selection of minigames meant waiting to see if you ended up with a fun, well-designed option or a tiresome waste of time. Mario Party Superstars largely avoids this problem, removing most of the boredom by choosing the cream of the crop for a true Greatest Hits album from the minigame selections of previous games.
There are still a small handful of mini-games that are completely dependent on luck, amounting to a coin toss drawn in a matter of minutes. And there are a few more that measure nothing more than how quickly you can mash a button or two, a tedious exercise at the best of times.