For nearly 24 years we have been enjoying (for the most part) the parties Mario and crew threw. Each game featured a unique collection of minigames, a variety of game boards to traverse, and some fun times to be had with a group of friends. As the years drew on and the parties continued, the innovation and enjoyment waned. By 2012’s Mario Party 9, folks were pushed past their breaking point with the “Single Car” mechanic driving a wedge between the series’ fan base and casual gamers.
For nearly a decade since then, Nintendo and new Mario Party development team NDcube released one new game in the mainline series (the Wii U’s Mario Party 10) and a few portable games on the 3DS (Island Tour, Star Rush, and The Top 100). It seemed Mario’s parties were not as thrilling as they once were, as the nearly annual entries were reduced down to novelty releases every couple years.
A small glimmer of hope for what once was came in 2018 in the form of the Switch’s Super Mario Party. This entry brought the series back to the free for all movement around the board we originally say in the first eight entries. It also brought back character specific unique dice blocks, special events changing map layout and orientation, as well as some mechanics brought over from the 3DS games. It felt fresh and fun to play a Mario Party again. I remember playing this one and laughing with my friends, playing it multiple days, and generally enjoying my time with it. Something that hasn’t happened for quite some time with a Mario Party game.
Now we are in 2022, and we have our latest entry to play around with: Mario Party Superstars on the Switch. Much like The Top 100 on the 3DS, Superstars is a compilation of past Mario Party games, boards, and characters. I can see why you might want to scoff at a simple retread such as this, but there are simply so many games to draw from it kind of makes sense. Superstars includes boards from Mario Party, Mario Party 2, and Mario Party 3, as well as minigames from the first 10 games in the series. While your favorites may or may not be included, it has been an absolute blast to play through some of my childhood favorites with a new set of friends.
I have to point out one new mechanic which Mario Part Superstars brings to the table that I think makes the game so much better: skipable minigame tutorials. Since the beginning of the series, after you all roll your dice and the minigame is selected, you’re brought to a how-to screen for the the upcoming game. This means you load an instruction page, then load the demo, then load the actual game to play. It amounts to wasted time and brings the gameplay experience to a screeching halt. With Superstars, you can opt to remove this entirely, meaning after the game is selected you load directly into playing it. For our group is meant a bit of “Wait, what do I do here?” but is afforded us tons of laughs and a lot more time playing the game rather than loading it.
As mentioned before, Superstars includes minigames from the whole series, as well as boards from the first three Mario Party games on the Nintendo 64. With literally hundreds of minigames to draw from, it’s unlikely all of your favorites are there. Likewise, there are seven (and more if you include the spinoffs) other games that do not have representation in the form of game boards. Nintendo has steadily released additional content for it’s previous major titles, such as Mario Tennis Aces and Mario Golf: Super Rush to name a few. I am hoping Nintendo does the same here. Mario Party Superstars would be such an incredible package if it included more games and boars from, well, more games. Also, I’ve always kind of wanted a game mode where you just hit play, and you and your friends can play minigames endlessly. Is that too much to ask Nintendo?
If you played any of the Nintendo 64 Mario Party’s, and especially if you played the original one, you’ll find a lot to like with Superstars. If you have a Switch and you’re looking for a fun, family friendly multiplayer game, you’ll find a lot to like with Superstars. If you want a game you can enjoy with friends while getting drunk of a Friday night, you’ll find a lot to like with Superstars. If you are looking for a Mario Party game that truly captures the best of the best the series has to offer… you’ll be wishing the game would offer more.