Review of Super Mario Party — A shot in the arm for Nintendo’s groundbreaking party series

We’ve pretty much lost count of how many game series made mistakes that resulted in numerous fans asking for a return to the roots, and one of those series is Mario Party. As groundbreaking as it was when it got the party started in 1999 on the Nintendo 64, the series has had a number of design choices (Particularly the everybody-in-one-car structure of Mario Party 9 and 10) that left sour tastes in Nintendo fans’ mouths. But although the series’ future once seemed full of Poison Mushrooms (Especially after the Wii U’s low sales), Nintendo has now managed to find the Star in the Hidden Block with this Nintendo Switch reboot in Super Mario Party, another delightful party game with more minigames and multiplayer modes than you can shake a Dice Block at.

The main attraction in this series is the multi-turn Party Mode; So for those late to the party (Pun completely intended), the influential and groundbreaking formula works like this — You select characters from the usual crew, select the number of turns, pick a board to travel around, and compete in a number of minigames to earn as many stars and coins as possible. When it’s your turn, you hit a Dice Block that determines how many spaces you will move. As you move around, you can buy items, find hidden item blocks, and make some important choices; But your main task after rolling a Dice Block is to have enough coins to get a star, because the one with the most at the end of the party is the champion (Or Superstar, in this case) When you stop moving, the space you land on will give you coins, take some coins, start up a special minigame, or trigger some kind of event that will be either helpful or harmful to you. New this time around are character-specific Dice Blocks, and you can gain more than one of these by earning Allies that follow behind you and add spaces to your rolls.

Now that you’re up to speed on the blueprint, let’s go over the rest of the icing on this delicious Mario Party cake. The Partner Party is a modified 2-on-2 party, but it removes blue and red spaces and gives players more freedom of movement; Teams can even get 2-4 stars in one star space if they roll the right numbers. In River Survival, a team of four players must paddle their way to the finish line before the timer expires, with unique minigames along the way. Sound Stage is basically Mario Party meets your typical rhythm game; The minigames are mostly based on the timing of your motions. Toad’s Rec Room has several minigames that encourage you to play them with two screens by wirelessly connect two Switches. If you can unlock every minigame, you’ll gain access to the Challenge Road, which is a series of tasks within said minigames. And of course, you have the usual minigame battles and tournaments that allow you to play minigames one after another without the need to wander around the boards.

This is the first Mario Party game to have online multiplayer, but it feels pretty barren; All you and three other players can do is choose which of ten minigames you would like to play, and that’s about it. What’s even more strange is that when you need AI players to fill the missing slots, you can’t even choose the characters to play against nor can you adjust their difficulty level. It’s definitely not what online Mario Party is fully capable of, but at least it does something.

Despite its shortcomings, all is not lost for the Mario Party series; Nintendo fans of all ages will have hours of fun exploring the boards, playing the numerous minigames, and delivering colorful language. And although it won’t completely erase the memories of its past mistakes, Super Mario Party is a long overdue return to roots that keeps the series as fun today as it’s been since its beginning in 1999.

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