Mario Party Superstars is the best Mario Party has been in years, though it still has some notable shortcomings that fans should be aware of.
Nintendo introduced the Mario Party franchise with the original trilogy on the Nintendo 64, a trio of party games featuring imaginative boards and fun mini-games. Nintendo has released numerous Mario Party games since then, though few, if any, have enjoyed the same praise as the N64 originals. Mario Party Superstars is the latest installment in the long-running series, but instead of trying to introduce new concepts, it relies on popular content from the older games, remastering boards, mini-games, and more for the Nintendo Switch.
Mario Party Superstars is Nintendo’s second Mario Party game for the Switch, following 2018’s Super Mario Party. Super Mario Party reviews were mixed, as the game was plagued by time-wasting gimmicks, poorly-implemented motion controls, and a head-scratching lack of online multiplayer support at launch. With Mario Party Superstars, Nintendo addresses many of the complaints people had about Super Mario Party while giving fans of the franchise the chance to revisit some of their favorite content from the original games.
Mario Party Superstars has numerous quality of life improvements that make it a more appealing game to play when compared to Super Mario Party. For example, Mario Party Superstars players are easily able to adjust settings to speed up text, skip tutorials, and more. The divisive bonus stars can be turned off before starting each game, with players presented with the options upfront instead of having to dig around in menus.
Mario Party Superstars also does away with the overbearing gimmicks that artificially lengthed Super Mario Party games. There are still moments on game boards where players have to watch short scenes or talk with NPCs, but they’re relatively infrequent and when they do happen, they’re over fast. This way, players are able to focus more on actually making their way around the boards and competing in mini-games, letting them get to the more entertaining aspects of Mario Party Superstars quicker.
And since the bulk of the content in Mario Party Superstars is pulled from the original Nintendo 64 games, players don’t have to worry about other divisive features weighing things down. Mario Party games have had a big focus on motion controls ever since they debuted on the Nintendo Wii, but Mario Party Superstars ditches motion controls, opting instead to recreate the Nintendo 64 and GameCube era mini-games as faithfully as possible.
The vast majority of these Mario Party Superstars mini-games are easy to play and can be operated with a single button or the use of one stick. This simplicity goes a long way in helping the pacing of Mario Party Superstars, as it eliminates the need to have mini-game tutorials active, with players having the option to turn them off completely.
Doing away with motion controls is a great move for Mario Party Superstars, in particular, as it allows players to have more controller options. Some may recall Super Mario Party was oddly restrictive when it came to its controller options due to the mini-games having motion controls, with players forced to play with a single Joy-Con. Mario Party Superstars‘ focus on old-school mini-games means players can use pretty much any Nintendo Switch controller they want.
Players will be able to take any Nintendo Switch controller they want and use it to compete against their friends and CPU-controlled players in Mario Party Superstars‘ various game modes. The boards in Mario Party Superstars are the main attraction, with players able to choose from five different boards from the first three Mario Party games: Yoshi’s Tropical Island, Space Land, Peach’s Birthday Cake, Woody Woods, and Horror Land.
Mario Party Superstars remasters these fan-favorite boards with highly-detailed artwork that makes them look better than ever. In typical Nintendo fashion, Mario Party Superstars look great, the music is catchy, and everything is polished, so fans won’t have much to complain about at all when it comes to the game’s presentation.
Not only does Mario Party Superstars bring back classic boards from the original Mario Party games, but it also features 100 classic mini-games. While the Mario Party Superstars boards exclusively feature Nintendo 64-era Mario Party game boards, the mini-games are pulled from both Nintendo 64 and GameCube titles. Players are given a lot of freedom when it comes to which mini-games they’ll encounter in any given game, as they can choose to only play mini-games from specific categories.
100 mini-games seems like a lot, but players will likely have played every mini-game on offer after only a handful of matches. With Mario Party Superstars essentially being a “best of” compilation of Mario Party mini-games, almost every mini-game here is fun to a certain extent, though they get repetitive before too long. It seems as though not even 100 mini-games are enough to give Mario Party Superstars significant longevity in that department.
Something that could ensure Mario Party Superstars lasts longer than its Switch predecessor is the inclusion of proper online multiplayer connectivity. Mario Party Superstars lets players battle others online, competing in traditional Mario Party board games as well as in mini-game competitions. Jumping into Mario Party Superstars‘ online multiplayer is a breeze and matchmaking is fast. Of course, Nintendo Switch Online isn’t the most reliable online gaming service and so players can expect to lose connection from time to time, though if they do they will be given the option to rejoin whatever activity they were doing before they were kicked.
The inability to take local players online seems like an oversight, but otherwise, the Mario Party Superstars online multiplayer is a real selling point. Being able to play classic Mario Party mini-games and boards online is likely a game-changer for fans of the series, as it means they will basically always have a real person to play with.
Online multiplayer in Mario Party Superstars is a huge selling point, but it’s also one of the only reasons why fans would want to stick with the game for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, Mario Party Superstars doesn’t have much in the way of noteworthy unlockable content. Unless they’re hidden extremely well in the game, Mario Party Superstars doesn’t appear to have any unlockable boards, characters, or anything else besides encyclopedia entries, music tracks, and other things that players can purchase at the shop.
Mario Party Superstars has an achievement system to give fans more to do as well as give them more direction than they may be used to from a party game like this, but the achievements can hardly replace unlocking new characters and the like. It’s a shame, too, as the Mario Party Superstars roster seems rather thin when compared to some other Super Mario crossover projects.
The lack of worthwhile unlockable content is one of the biggest downsides in Mario Party Superstars, but those who are only interested in using it as a party game likely won’t be all that disappointed. Mario Party Superstars has fun online multiplayer functionality and makes a number of important quality of life improvements when compared to its predecessor, and so it’s still a big step in the right direction for the franchise, despite some of its shortcomings.