The Mario Party franchise has invaded my life for as long as I can remember. Growing up, Mario Party was a staple addition to my everyday life. After school and on weekends, I’d play any chance I could with my sister. The previous entry in the series, Super Mario Party, felt like it didn’t propel the series forward in any way. While Mario Party Superstars isn’t exactly groundbreaking, it succeeds in bringing back some of the nostalgia from the original game on the Nintendo 64.
“Those who enjoyed Super Mario Party will feel there are a lot of defining features missing from Super Mario Superstars.”
Mario Party Superstars plays in a similar vein to all the other entries in the series. Up to four players will roll and move around a board once per turn, playing a minigame after every player has moved. The goal is to collect coins that players can exchange for a star. The winner is the person with the most stars at the end of the game. Landing on certain squares will result in a certain effect taking action like winning or losing coins. Players can also buy items that they can use while moving around the board to help them get their goal quicker or to hinder another player.
With minigames and boards from Mario Party through to Mario Party 10, the game is built on combining old content from previous games. You could look at this from two perspectives. People who enjoyed the old games will instantly be familiar with the style and feel of the game. However, those who enjoyed Super Mario Party will feel there are a lot of defining features missing from Super Mario Superstars. Minigames have all reverted back to the original style, meaning there are no motion controls. This could be taken as a step backwards, but as someone who didn’t particularly like them, I’m all for it.
“Even though the boards are recycled from previous games, the unique variations that make them feel fresh.”
Minigames are one of the staples of any Mario Party game, and if they aren’t good, they can make or break the game. There is a great selection of classics available among the 100 games, including the frantic Bumper Balls and the precise, Squid Game-esque Crazy Cutters. Of course, not every minigame is a hit, and even the blister-inducing Tug-O-War has returned. Thankfully, this time it comes with a special warning, so there won’t be any additional lawsuits.
Even though the boards are recycled from previous games, the unique variations that make them feel fresh. Peach’s Birthday Cake and Yoshi’s Tropical Island, two maps from the original, are maps that I could recall like the first 151 Pokemon; pretty darn well. Fortunately, they are given slight changes to introduce the modern aspects of the series like the Item Shop and Lucky Spaces. The triple dice item seems to be an incredibly overpowered addition to the series. Purchasing this item lets you roll the dice three times, and if you don’t buy it, you’re honestly at a disadvantage. Other items don’t quite feel as essential, but items are a nice change of place on the original formula.
“Mario Party Superstars is relatively bug-free.”
Super Mario Party featured a lot of characters and even utilised Ally Spaces to use multiple different dice to roll on the board. Regrettably, these are both missing from Mario Party Superstars. In Super Mario Party, you could choose between 20 different characters. However, in Superstars, there is a measly ten. This feels incredibly lacklustre. Especially when my favourite character, Bowser, is missing from action. Hopefully, this suggests that there will be more characters on the way, but for now, it feels a bit bare.
As always, Mario Party Superstars is built on friendship. The laughing and competitive nature of the game brings out both the best and worst sides of everyone. After almost every game I played, no one but the winner was happy. I managed to get two stars in the final round due to the triple dice item. As you can imagine, my girlfriend was far from impressed. Fortunately, it didn’t stop anyone from wanting to play again the next day. As expected, playing the game alone doesn’t quite bring the same emotion as playing with others, and that’s half the fun.
Mario Party Superstars is relatively bug-free. After playing through a few maps, I only really found issues with the Stickers. While you are waiting for your turn to come around, you can use a Sticker, which could be related to emoting in other games. However, they felt a little pointless. To make matters worse, they can be spammed and they invade the UI and cover on-screen text for the active player. This should have been something Nintendo was better to leave out.
“Mario Party Superstars provides a great nostalgic mixture of content.”
The shop in Mario Party on Nintendo 64 felt rewarding as you saved up coins to buy new blocks and boxes. However, in Mario Party Superstars, there aren’t really any unlockables. From the start, you have everything unlocked; boards, characters, and blocks. While this is great to have everything available when you first boot up the game, there is nothing to strive towards. After completing each game, you receive coins, but if you can only purchase stickers, encyclopedia pages, card designs and new music, there isn’t much point.
While creating a game of old content might seem a bit lazy, Mario Party Superstars provides a great nostalgic mixture of content. If Nintendo decides to build upon the initial game by adding additional content, it could prove to be an incredibly detailed premium-priced game. For those who are fans of Mario Party, this one proves to be a great walk down memory lane.
*Disclaimer: Previewed on Nintendo Switch, code was provided by the Publisher.