Parties are great places to expand your horizons, meet new people, and make fun memories, but the best celebrations are often the ones spent reminiscing with old friends. Mario Party Superstars capitalizes on that notion, forgoing new content to deliver a greatest-hits compilation of boards and minigames from previous titles. The result is a celebration of the franchise that anyone can enjoy regardless of their experience level.
Mario Party Superstars features the same structure as nearly every other game in the series: Players take turns rolling dice to progress across dynamic gameboards with the ultimate goal of gaining the most stars. At the end of each turn, you take part in a four-player minigame to earn extra coins. The broad appeal of Mario Party remains intact thanks to simple concepts and controls across the entire package. While I enjoyed 2018’s Super Mario Party, I’m glad Mario Party Superstars allows for Pro Controller support and doesn’t require the use of the cramped single Joy-Con.
Superstars is a tribute to the series’ past, which is reflected in its minigames and gameboards. Additionally, you can adjust the rules on how many turns the game lasts and even select which pool of minigames you want to encounter during your session. I’m glad Superstars gives me the option to turn off the pesky end-of-game bonus stars or choose to only play games based on skill. You also have preset options. For example, you can opt to play only games that appear on Nintendo 64 or GameCube or pick minigames that are easy to enjoy for players of all ages.
As you play through the primary board game mode, you can choose between five of the most iconic stages from the Nintendo 64 titles, all with modern graphics and music. Revisiting Peach’s Birthday Cake from the first title is awesome, and I love Woody Woods from Mario Party 3. However, I was disappointed by the low number of boards. These levels are iconic, but I would have loved to see more than five, especially considering they’re all remakes of pre-existing stages.
The meat of Mario Party remains its minigames, and thankfully, Superstars makes up for its lack of boards with 100 of the most beloved bite-sized competitions from previous titles. Through the eclectic collection, players compete in a solid mix of skill-based matches and chance-driven minigames. I still adore personal favorites like Face-Lift, Paint Misbehavin’, and Motor Rooter. The inclusion of games from nearly every era of Mario Party, many of which are among the best from their respective game, gives Mario Party Superstars an unrivaled minigame pool
I was excited to see many of my all-time favorite games return in Superstars. However, I’m perplexed by the revival of the infamous Tug o’ War game, which resulted in broken controllers and blistered hands on N64 thanks to its stick-rotation controls. This version has a warning to avoid injury by not using your palm, but even ignoring the renewed potential for blistered hands, bringing this minigame back seems like a dangerous choice given that the Switch’s analog sticks are notorious for drifting after even regular use. Thankfully, only a couple of minigames, in the catalog of 100, rely on quick stick rotations.
While most people associate Mario Party with the board game mode, you can experience the minigames on their own through the surprisingly robust Mt. Minigames. Here, you can participate in free play where you choose from any game in the collection, or run the gauntlet as established teams in 2v2 and 3v1 modes. I love having a dedicated space for the excellent sports and puzzle minigames, with options that let you extend the length of activities like volleyball, hockey, and the color-match puzzle titles.
In addition, you can take the competition online and play against people across the globe. You can also connect to online-specific modes to see who can string together the most wins in Survival or take part in themed Daily Challenges that give you three minigames in which to compete. Daily Challenges are fun ways to enjoy a three-pack of activities with similar mechanics – I loved playing the Shoot ‘em Up challenge, which let me compete in three aim-based contests.
Mt. Minigames’ quick-hit nature might make it the best fit for online play, but you can also experience the board game mode online. Random matchmaking is available, but playing with friends is more fun. On top of being a great game for close acquaintances, you can save your progress in friend matches, letting you pick up where you left off later. In my experience playing on pre-release servers, latency was minimal, though it was more noticeable on timing-based minigames like Hot Jump Rope. Unfortunately, native voice chat remains absent, but you can choose various reaction stickers to communicate with other players.
The Mario Party franchise, with its interchangeable boards and minigames, is tailor-made for the compilation format. Mario Party Superstars aptly executes the notion of bringing together the best of the franchise while adding improved online features, plus options to let you play the way you want. Despite its lacking selection of game boards, Mario Party Superstars is a blast regardless of how many parties you’ve attended in the past.
Mario Party Superstars is either a delightful stroll down memory lane or a great way to experience these games for the first time. No matter your history, it's a worthwhile celebration of the Mario Party franchise.
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