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Mario Party Superstars Review
Relive some of the most iconic moments from all the past mainline Mario Party games in one neat package.
Mario Party Superstars is the blast of the past we all need right now for the franchise. There’s something about the tried and true formula of the series that started to feel stale. We needed some kind of soft reboot or a return to form to the heyday of Mario Party. Luckily, Superstars does just about both in a mostly good way.
This game isn’t necessarily all that new. In fact, Superstars is a “best-of” compilation game, similar to the 3DS game Mario Party: The Top 100. Mario Party Superstars contains 100 returning minigames from the ten past mainline titles of the Mario Party franchise and five boards from the Nintendo 64 era of the series.
100 minigames is a lot for a Mario Party game in general and a good start, but five boards can seem a bit low for today’s standards. While the N64 boards are some of the most memorable in this long-running franchise, it was a missed opportunity to not add any more.
Gripes aside, the game’s selection of content is fun to say the least and provokes many feelings of nostalgia throughout. The biggest appeal of the game is the nostalgia, and it doesn’t really wear thin.
In the original Mario Party, Mario and his friends are all gathered around Mushroom Village where they are all competing to see who will become the next Super Star. Toad, acting as the host, introduces Mario and his pals to a wacky world of colorful playing boards and a plethora of minigames.
Mario Party Superstars cheekily starts off by asking the player, “Looks familiar, doesn’t it?” as the screen focuses on the green warp pipe atop a hill at the center of Mushroom Village. It sets an atmosphere that quickly sends them back to 1998.
That atmosphere has been preserved and faithfully recreated in modern graphics for the Nintendo Switch, even when it comes down to setting up a Party game. You proceed to go down the iconic green pipe right into a setting just like the original Mario Party. Some characters won’t necessarily be as you’d remember them to be, like Green Koopa and Toad alternating as hosts every now and then, but that sense of warm familiarity is kept throughout.
You can choose a cast of ten characters, all who are familiar in the Mushroom Kingdom. While the initial ten does seem like a rather small number, the other iconic characters you see as NPCs in the boards or as cameos in minigames creates a sense of world building outside of the Nintendo 64 era.
Everything in this game has received the modern upscaling treatment, including remade tracks of all the minigames, menus, and boards from the past Mario Party titles.
Setting the nostalgia aside, this is still a standard Mario Party game. It’s a game that sets you and three other players up, either consisting of CPUs, actual people, or a mix. You then set off to pick your characters and use them as pieces to navigate a board like you would in a game like Sorry! or Monopoly.
After every player has made their turn, a minigame plays. Winners are rewarded coins. The objective is to travel around the board and obtain as many stars as possible before all turns are up. Of course, you can acquire them by buying them legitimately from Toadette for 20 coins or by cheekily stealing them from your opponents. The latter option is what made the game synonymous with being the “ruiner of friendships.” It’s what made the Mario Party franchise so great.
Luckily, with the meager selection of the five boards, they are some of the most iconic ones pulled from the Nintendo 64 games. They all play vastly different and provide enough entertainment for multiple playthroughs. For people who were around for the N64 era, these should all be very familiar, down to the gimmicks and tricks each one provides.
Aside from the boards, the minigames are a big chunk of what makes a Mario Party game great. Since these 100 are picks from the ten mainline games, they all hold up very well and have much more replay value compared to those that didn’t make the cut.
Since these are all technically remastered games of the past 22 years, you do not need to utilize any motion controls or any other gimmicks other than the buttons on your remote and your skill or luck. You can play this game on the Joy-Cons, Pro Controller, any third-party controller, or even the GameCube controller via adapter.
It would probably be best to avoid using Joy-Cons since you will be rapidly mashing buttons and spinning the joystick wildly. The last thing you’d want to do is give your Joy-Cons an early case of inevitable stick drift.
It’s probably the minigames that make this feel like an almost perfect blast to the past. There are such iconic picks like Shy Guy Says from the first game, Mecha Marathon from the second, Eatsa Pizza from the third, and so forth. The button mashing, platforming, arcadey, and luck-based games from the past ten iterations gave these games a sense of identity. The fact that these are all together makes the personality bloom a bit more, even if they are rehashed in a modern package.
Finally, Mario Party Superstars has a multiplayer and online component that is very consumer-friendly. Players can play locally up to four players on the same console or wirelessly with multiple Switches. For the online portion, you can bring in guests on the same console. However, that is only limited to friend lobbies.
The online atmosphere of the game is a tricky one. On one hand, it gives people the option to not take on CPUs and have a more personalized and varying experience. On the other hand, especially given the online infrastructure and net code of the Nintendo Switch, games can oftentimes be a laggy mess.
Mario Party Superstars functions on a peer-to-peer(P2P) connection for its online play. This means players will connect to each other and a host rather than dedicated servers. If someone has a slow connection or the host has an unstable connection, there will be noticeable frame drops and delays when it comes to button pressing.
We’re in a generation of gaming where a poor online infrastructure can impact the overall performance of new titles. No one likes lag. We would rather lose because of skill rather than an externality like lag that can hinder our gameplay. The online play is serviceable in Superstars, but it feels like it’s suffering the same problem that plagued Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
The most fun you’ll have playing a Mario Party game is if you play it with actual people, especially with friends or family. Having an online component is huge, especially since this is available from the get go. Hopefully the online is fixed a bit more some ways down the line so the experience can be a little more seamless.
Mario Party Superstars: The Verdict
Mario Party Superstars is a blast from the past put into a very clean and modern package. It’ll definitely be more appealing to older generations of gamers who grew up before the early 2000s. The minigames and maps have aged well and showcase moments that truly defined the Mario Party franchise more than 20 years later.
The Mario Party series has definitely lost steam some time after the GameCube era. It isn’t to say that everything after that leading up to the Switch have all been bad, though. Superstars proves that over the years, there are some hidden gems from every Mario Party game that should be celebrated and can stand the test of time.
Mario Party Superstars
- Score: 4 / 5
- Available On: Nintendo Switch
- Published By: Nintendo
- Developed By: NDcube
- Genre: Party
- US Release Date: October 29, 2021
- Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
- Quote: "Mario Party Superstars is a blast from the past put into a very clean and modern package. It’ll definitely be more appealing to older generations of gamers who grew up before the early 2000s. The minigames and maps have aged well and showcase moments that truly defined the Mario Party franchise more than 20 years later."