With Super Mario Party, the Mario Party franchise made its debut on the Nintendo Switch in 2018. In October of last year, Mario Party Superstars followed suit. While Super Mario Party presented new minigames, mechanics, and game boards, Mario Party Superstars defines itself more as a collection of past Mario Party games. We’ll take a look at how the classics of past generations fare on the Nintendo Switch and play through the extensive minigame collection.
## Action at the Push of a Button
The centerpiece of Mario Party Superstars are the minigames. Players are offered a total of 100, but they are all remakes of past Mario Party minigames. The game boards in the Mario Party mode also come from past titles in the franchise, so Mario Party Superstars can essentially be seen as a collection of remakes. Through the main menu, players have the choice to either romp around on the game boards in the Mario Party mode or indulge in individual games on the minigame mountain. Charming details like Toad’s Shop, where we can buy new card designs for our online profile, stickers, music, as well as new pages in the encyclopedia with the coins we’ve collected, are also included. The minigames are divided into different types. There are free-for-all minigames, duel minigames, high score minigames, and much more. Those who want to get an overview of the games in question can make their way to the minigame mountain with Toad’s Ferry.
## A Mountain Full of Minigames
Arriving at the minigame mountain, players have various modes at their disposal, each highlighting the minigames in their own way. In Free Choice mode, players can choose from a total of 100 minigames. In Team Match, two players compete against each other. The Trio Challenge revolves around 1-vs.-3 minigames, while the Super Series mode allows a single player to compete against players from around the world in an attempt to build a winning streak. There are also sports and puzzles, daily challenges, and the coin battle. If players don’t want to make their own choice between the many minigames or compete against other players, this mode is perfect for them. However, the focus on nostalgia in the design of the minigames sometimes has its disadvantages. The game foregoes the use of motion control support, infrared motion cameras, or gyro sensors of the controllers. With the launch title 1-2 Switch for the Nintendo Switch in 2017, Nintendo demonstrated how entertaining the JoyCon functions can be in a minigame format. While it’s understandable given the focus on remakes, it’s still a bit disappointing. Nevertheless, it’s a joy to play through all the countless minigames, each one different from the other. They are creative, fun, and above all, diverse, which is quite an achievement considering the large selection. The designs are charming and lovingly crafted. Personal favorites quickly become apparent, especially when it comes to mastering them in online modes. Depending on the settings, a tutorial screen is presented before each minigame, which not only explains the button layout but also allows players to try out the minigame in advance. The easy and quick accessibility of the game is essential, especially for party play. Thanks to the design of the minigame tutorials, the fun of the game is always guaranteed, regardless of the player’s experience level.
## The Path of the Superstar
The Mario Party mode is a bit more involved. In this mode, four players compete against each other on a total of five different game boards from the Nintendo 64 era, including Horror Land and Peach’s Birthday Cake. The goal is to have the most stars and be crowned the superstar in the end. To obtain one of the coveted stars, players must find Toadette’s location on the game board and then make their way to her to collect the star with the coins they’ve collected. How quickly we reach the stars depends, among other things, on the respective game board. Each board differs in difficulty and the size of the map. At the beginning of a game, players can set the number of rounds, with 10 rounds and about 30 minutes of gameplay as the minimum and 30 rounds with an estimated 90 minutes as the maximum. Other settings, such as the use of bonus stars, the activation of tutorial screens, and even a special handicap, can be added to the respective players. Finally, players choose which type of minigames should be included in the game. Particularly helpful is that Mario Party Superstars saves the game progress after each round, allowing players to comfortably finish the current round and continue playing at another time. Almost every space on the board triggers a certain event. Sometimes players receive coins, sometimes they are deducted. On lucky spaces, we receive a randomly selected reward, while on item spaces, we have the opportunity to obtain one of the available items in small cutscenes. Some of these items include the double dice, which allows us to roll the dice twice, the skeleton key, which can open gates on the game board, or the warp dice, which allows the player to swap places on the board with one of the other players. Items, various event spaces, and a minigame after each round ensure a balance. The collection of coins during the minigames, the purchase of items, and the hunt for Toadette and her stars quickly become a balancing act. Thanks to the sometimes quite powerful items, the tide can turn at any time, making the Mario Party mode always exciting. The inclusion of minigames combined with unique events based on the design of the respective game board makes Mario Party a great experience. The selection of rounds allows for short or extensive gameplay, depending on the available time. It can be played with friends locally, online, or with computer-controlled characters. Nintendo’s decision to limit the selection of game boards to just five is somewhat hard to understand. After all, we get one more board than with Super Mario Party, but considering the total number of past game boards, the decision seems questionable. With 100 minigames, we get the opposite extreme, making the gameplay imbalance between the minigame mountain and the Mario Party mode a bit noticeable. Despite the strong involvement of minigames, the gameplay in the Mario Party mode is not monotonous, but I would have appreciated more variety.
There is a lot of love put into Mario Party Superstars, that much is evident. The design of the main menu as a small village, the presentation of the minigames, as well as their visual and mechanical implementation. With a focus on both party and single-player elements, Mario Party Superstars promises many ways to enjoy the game. Whether players want to compete alone against others in online mode or play a round of Mario Party together with friends in local mode, Nintendo keeps practically every door open. By focusing on well-known Mario Party minigames, Nintendo is certainly capturing the hearts of many fans who are rediscovering their old favorite minigames on the Nintendo Switch. On the other hand, this limitation has the disadvantage that the full potential of the Switch and its JoyCons is never fully utilized. I would have loved to see some playfulness with the gyro sensors or the infrared camera. However, this doesn’t change the fact that Mario Party Superstars has an easily accessible and charming design that will provide us with many hours of fun on the minigame mountain or game board in the future. This review appears in our Nintendo Switch theme world. There, we tested the new Nintendo Switch OLED (review) and published our top 10 Switch games.