Every time that there’s a new Mario party game on the horizon, I feel extremely excited, and remember why I love games. The original games represent a carefree time in my life, when I truly had nothing else to worry about except for beating my brothers, cousins and friends in Mario Party, Goldeneye and Mario Kart 64.
The fact that Mario Party Superstars focuses on boards from the three Mario Party 64 games and also the fact that we saw the release of Nintendo 64 games on Nintendo Switch Online had me feeling extra nostalgic the second I booted the game up.
Mario Party Superstars leans into that nostalgic more than ever, and I think that that is its greatest strength and also its greatest weakness. Despite the fact that the five boards and all from Mario Party 64 titles, the mini games actually span across the main 10 games in the series, which to me honestly didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
If you’re focusing heavily on those three 64 games for boards, there’s more than enough mini games from the three games to pull 100 mini games from, and that probably is the game’s greatest weakness, a lack of content but also just a general lack of direction. Whilst there’s once again only five boards, the mini games do get a little bit stale quickly and there’s only 100 of them (and they’re also unlocked from the start in free play, which I didn’t love).
The great thing about the chosen 100 mini games though is that they’re all only playable without motion controls, so there’s no gimmick here, and you can use absolutely any controller without being advantaged or disadvantaged. It does feel like Mario Party at its best in terms of you know what to expect from each mini game, without newcomers needing to constantly learn a new control technique or figure out which motion controls to use.
Playing the original Mario Party 1-3 minigames in particular felt really special in package in terms of seeing how far they’d come from their original days honestly never got old, and Nintendo really played up the nostalgic with telling you which game each minigame was from in the practise screen.
As far as the main gameplay goes, not a lot has changed. As mentioned, the boards are all from the original 64 Mario Party games, and they’ve been updated visually and with some more modern Mario Party functionality like items and the Bowser mini games. You’re now able to pause and quit boards mid-way through and come back to them later which is welcomed. Another thing I really liked is that you can now choose minigame types at the start of the game, so you might choose them based on skill or a certain console.
I can’t really put my finger on it, but something felt amiss. The game was still definitely fun playing alone or with my partner, but I don’t know if it was the lack of variety that was on offer, or the fact that it’s a compilation game, but without much direction, but it just didn’t feel to have that same charm that even Super Mario Party did (even with the lack of boards).
When it comes to progression, there’s not a lot here, and that’s probably my biggest complaint. Outside of a levelling system which just unlocks new stickers and such, there’s literally nothing to unlock as far as I can tell. There’s no unlockable characters, boards minigames, and whilst that’s great for the group that just wants to jump in and play, it doesn’t really provide any reason to keep playing alone, outside of online. You’d like to think that this game will receive meaningful DLC although we gave Super Mario Party that benefit of the doubt at launch and we all know how that turned out.
Super Mario Party’s online was downright dreadful until it got an update a few years later, and that’s mostly been fixed with Mario Party Superstars. Now admittedly, I haven’t been able to play online, but as far as functionality goes, there’s a lot more here than what there’s ever been in a Mario Party game.
You can play each and every board with random people or friends online, but even outside of that the game does a fairly decent job of interweaving online throughout all of the game’s modes, down to being able to measure minigames high scores with other players and friends.
There’s several parts of Mt Minigames (the minigame area of the game) that are solely dedicated to playing against random people. For instance Daily Challenge has you playing in three themed mini packs that change daily, in which you’ll need to beat other players to claim a star and Survival will have to going against other players for as long as possible.
I can tell Nintendo has tried to put some thought into how to bring online to the game which I appreciate, but there’s still some weird parts that just feel very Nintendo. For as much as online is apart of the whole experience, you still need to select to play online before you even get into the game, and then even need to go a step further to select whether to play with random people and friends, and it all feels a bit disjointed and convoluted, and getting around to each area in the game similarly feels a bit painful.
The online, much like a lot of the other game just feels like they came up with a tonne of ideas, which all work great individually, but together feel a bit weird as a even a compilation package.
Mario Party Superstars is a fun, nostalgic ride and will provides hours of fun among groups of friends. However, it's hard not to look at what else could be added when there's such a rich pool of content to pull from, and most other games have launched with more on offer.
Still Fun With Others
All The Nostalgia
Online Is Improved
No Gimmicky Controls
Still Lacking Content
Some Weird Online Choices
Odd Design Decision To Focus Solely On 64 Boards When Minigame Spans Entire Franchise