Mario Party Superstars is a delightful throwback to classic Mario Party that manages to significantly improve on its predecessor with a delightful array of classic minigames, accessible online play, and the return of many options and features that had previously been missing in action. Mario Party Superstars is a focused and true-to-form entry for the series, and is easily the definitive way to play Mario Party on the Switch. While it could have used a bit more content and would have benefitted by carrying over some fun new features from recent series entries, this is the best Mario Party has been in a very long time.
For better or for worse (mostly for better), this is Mario Party as you remember it. As a “best-of” game that focuses on the glory days of the series, there is no room for gimmicks and changes from more recent entries. For most players, particularly ones that have bad memories of the franchise’s car-sharing road trip craze in Mario Party 9 and 10, this is a welcome condition, but other players may miss features such as partner characters and character-specific dice.
In one of the most important aspects of Mario Party, minigames, Mario Party Superstars excels. Featuring 100 selected minigames from throughout the series Mario Party Superstars clocks in with what could be the best minigame roster that the series has seen to date. 55 of the 100 minigames come from the original Nintendo 64 trilogy, with the GameCube trilogy contributing 30 more, while the remaining 15 minigames come from Mario Party 7, 8, 9, and 10. If you grew up with the first two console trilogies in the series, odds are high that many of your favorite minigames made it back to the party, sporting a fresh coat of paint while staying as fun as ever.
Mario Party Superstars really does feel like a “best of Mario Party” in this regard, appropriately favoring the earlier days of the franchise. I was particularly pleased to see Coney Island and Pushy Penguins (of Mario Party 5 and, more importantly, the demo disk that accompanied Mario Kart Double Dash), but there are dozens more excellent minigames that I’ll be having wonderful fun with for a long time to come. Bumper Balls, Face Lift, Cast Aways, Honeycomb Havoc, and many more classics are here and ready to tear apart your friendships again.
You will be able to explore these minigames on their own in Mt. Minigame, or on five boards selected from the original Mario Party trilogy: Peach’s Birthday Cake, Yoshi’s Tropical Island, Space Land, Horror Land, and Woody Woods. This makes for a pretty solid selection of boards for your Mario Partying, and with loads of other boards and minigames from the original games left unused, Nintendo can easily boost those numbers with DLC if it ever pleases.
Perhaps by nature of focusing on retro Mario Party, Mario Party Superstars also addresses many of the perplexing issues that appeared in Super Mario Party. Although Super Mario Party was a solid game by its own right that got the series back on track, it was soured significantly by the overreliance on repetitive rhythm minigames, the lack of interesting boards, stars being way too cheap, the inability to play in handheld mode, and a limited online suite.
For the most part, that has all been corrected in Mario Party Superstars. Stars cost twenty coins again, or fifty if you want Boo to steal one for you, so you don’t have to worry about everybody having way too many coins for most of the party. The absurdly chaotic Chance Time and Bowser Revolution are back in all their party-pooping glory, and you can have classic Bonus Star categories instead of the randomized categories from Super Mario Party. Mario Party Superstars also puts together a significantly better crop of boards than its predecessor, which in my opinion only had one or two boards that held up for more than one go-around. There are no rhythm minigames to be found. You can play in handheld mode if you’re in the mood for some on-the-go minigaming, and, in a major step forward for the franchise, you can pretty much play the entire game with friends online if you’d like.
In other aspects, though, Mario Party Superstars is almost too faithful to older titles in the series. The character roster feels a little undercooked, though that is hardly an issue since the most important Mario characters are all there. More pressingly, fun innovations from recent entries, such as character-specific dice and partner characters that joined you in the board game, are nowhere to be found. I also find myself wishing that a few particularly fun side-modes from Super Mario Party, such as River Survival and Square Off, had made it back in some capacity. Overall, these are minor setbacks resulting from Mario Party Superstars’ hardcore reverence for its oldest ancestors. I am much happier with the classic features and minigames that returned than I am sad for any content that got lost in the shuffle, but others who really enjoyed some of the more inventive motion control minigames or special character dice might feel differently.
Mario Party Superstars ultimately marks a great entry in the franchise, getting back to the basics and building off of the stabilizing force that Super Mario Party provided for the wayward series, while stripping away some other innovations that had found their way into the franchise over the last several entries. This is Mario Party as you remember it – whether that is a good or bad thing is up to you. For me, it’s a great thing – the chaotic board game is back in its full backstabbing glory, with arguably the best minigame roster in the series and full online play from day one. In looking to the past, Mario Party Superstars has taken a much-needed step forward for the series.
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: Oct 29, 2021
No. of Players: up to 4 players
Category: Party, Multiplayer
The publisher provided a code for this review. Our review policy.