Super Mario Party Review: May Luck Be On Your Side
If you're a very lucky person, we might have found the perfect game for you (as long as you own a Nintendo Switch).
Super Mario Party, the 11th title in the series, is a party game that asks players to collect more stars than their opponents by the end of a match to emerge victorious. On your quest, you'll need to collect coins, win minigames, and rely on a little bit of luck to come out as the party superstar.
In Super Mario Party, the series returns to its roots by ditching the linear cart experience that was introduced in Mario Party 9. Instead, it brings back the classic board layout that has been painfully missing from the past couple of titles.
The Mario Party series has always been about fun. It offers an array of games and options for the masses while catering to strategic lovers who always want to go for the win. With this installment, Nintendo has created an ultimate offering for all Party lovers, to make sure that there's something for everyone.
With 20 playable characters, a bunch of new and exciting modes, and 80 minigames, Super Mario Party already promises to be one of the biggest entries in the series yet. But what exactly is on offer? And how does it hold up?
For a Party game to be successful, it needs to have an abundance of great modes and features to keep players entertained. Thankfully, Super Mario Party has plenty of modes for both casual players or the hardcore enthusiast.
Alongside the classic board game mode, there's a tag-team mode that forces you to work together with a friend (or foe) to traverse the board freely in search for stars. There's also a single-player mode that has you play through all of the mini-games one by one, as well as a mode where you can play any of the mini-games freely to your leisure. These options remove the need for a board and give you complete freedom to do what you want.
There's also a new game mode where all of the mini-games are rhythm-based, asking you to stand up and dance, swing, and punch things to a tune to score the most points by the end of the round.
The two biggest additions to the game come in the form of River Survival and Toad’s Rec Room. River Survival has you team up with three other players to try to paddle down a river as fast as possible, clearing minigames along the way to gain more time. Toad’s Rec Room, on the other hand, provides a new way to play exclusively on Nintendo Switch by using two systems.
One of these modes includes a tank minigame that turns two consoles into a small battlefield. You then look at the battlefield from above to try to hit opponents to score points. The feature is very fun, if not a bit short lived, since you’ll likely only touch it once due to the novelty of it before switching back to the other modes available.
With the main features out of the way, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Super Mario Party is the first game to offer online multiplayer, but it's only for the minigames. The minigames are fun to play and the prospect of ranked leaderboards make the mode all that more appealing—but the game is screaming out for an online Mario Party board mode.
We understand that Mario Party games are made for a party experience, intending for you to be around other people and have fun cursing, fighting, and trying to win each board. But the thought of being able to play these games online with friends who you can’t visit often is too good of an opportunity to miss—and Nintendo missed it.
No matter how much skill you have, Super Mario Party’s games are still mostly decided by luck.
When we were playing one of our first games around a slew of journalists in London a few days ago, we were winning handsomely with a couple of stars to spare on the final turn of the game. Our closest rival managed to get a star and tied with us—but that's no big deal, we still had the minigame star and a host of other possible bonus stars that would've sealed the deal. What was one extra star, right?
Well, it turns out that after the player bought the first star, the next one spawned literally four spaces away from him. This meant all he did was walk forward on the same turn to tie the star total and take the lead through a superior coin total. He ended up winning the game in the end as we tied on bonus stars.
As you can tell, we weren't very happy about this.
But that's just how the game plays. It's neither fair or unfair, just completely random. The game favors no one, so what happened to us could also happen to anyone else who played the game. That's what people enjoy about a game like this: The complete randomness where anyone can win due to circumstances out of their own control.
Of course, you don’t always have to play against one another, since there's plenty of things available for those seeking a more cooperative experience. Modes like River Survival aren't dictated by luck, but rather, the player's communication because most minigames require players to be talkative and work together to complete the tasks.
No matter what you play, however, one thing is certain. Mario Party is still the ultimate friend-destroying game that it has been since the original title on the Nintendo 64. Just be sure to patch up any feuds after the round ends—it's only a game, after all.
The Final Round
With Super Mario Party, fans finally have the ultimate party experience that has something for everyone.
It takes the series in a brave direction that isn’t afraid to try something new and embrace its quirky side. We haven’t even talked about how each character has their own dice block that comes with its own risks and rewards and how players can land on a new Ally space, which gives them access to that character’s dice block in a match alongside their own. There's so much to do, from the various modes to the extra collectibles, so every gaming session is different.
Super Mario Party is, by far, one of the Switch’s best titles this year and is sure to be the perfect game to play with family and friends this holiday season.
Disclosure: Our Nintendo Switch review copy of Super Mario Party was provided courtesy of Nintendo UK.