Super Mario Party Review
Although I’ve always enjoyed the Mario Party franchise – mostly because it allows all my family to come together for one great evening of gaming – the past few releases in the franchise have been a bit subpar for me. They all brought their own unique spin on things – such as the 5th player option on the gamepad in Mario Party 10 on Wii U – but the inclusion of vehicles that transferred all players together at one time was a bit disappointing, and hurt the game in many areas, board creation most importantly. With a refreshed look at the franchise, can Nintendo bring the game back to what people enjoyed during the early days? Let’s dive in.
The most important thing to note in this review is that everything you remember from recent Mario Party titles is almost gone. Riding together in a single vehicle is gone. Boards that are linear in nature are gone. Making a return is the individual movements that sees players moving around a board that has multiple paths, multiple traps, and many, MANY stars to collect. It’s almost like old school Mario Party, although with smaller and slightly less interesting boards.
If you remember the good old days of Mario Party 1 and 2 on the Nintendo 64, you probably remember large sprawling levels like the Western Town, complete with working train. While the boards in Super Mario Party aren’t quite as big, seeing a return to the early years formula is more than enough of a reason to pick this game up and relive some old memories. The boards are not particularly large, but they are chalked full of interesting hazards, lucky spaces, and more that will make each and every turn feel exciting.
It’s the new additions to the game that really push Super Mario Party over the top however. From allies who move around the board with you, to specific dice unique to each character, to a brand new slate of mini games that rely on skill instead of luck, there is a lot to tackle here for veterans and new players alike, and it’s almost all built on the games original formula. This is classic Mario Party, with a few twists.
Allies – as you play through the game, ally spaces will be littered across all the game boards and random item boxes will have Ally Call items inside. When you receive an ally, not only will you get the unique dice associated with that player, but they will also roll a 1-2 dice to help you get just a step further each round. You can have three allies with you at any time, which means a minimum 3 added to each roll, with the possibility of rolling 6!
Unique Dice Blocks – each character has a unique dice block that can be used at any time, instead of rolling the traditional 6 sided die. Each character’s die is unique, but patterns do emerge. Heavy, ‘evil’ players like Bowser and Wario can roll numbers as high as 9, but two sides of their dice will make you lose a set number of coins, plus you’ll move 0! Others like Mario are a bit more balanced, with 4 opportunities to role 3. After 20 – 30 hours of playing various modes and boards, it was apparent that my friends and family quickly gravitated to a few favourites. My wife, for example, consistently uses Rosalina, while I’m partial to Yoshi for personal reason, as his die block is fairly terrible!
It’s not just new concepts that make Super Mario Party familiar but fresh. New modes have also been added, and these take the franchise to the next level.
River Survival – In this brand new cooperative game, a group of 4 players (controlled by humans and AI, depending on the number of players) will travel down a river rapid, using motion ontrols to row the raft. Throughout the course, players will have to opt to take the left path or the right path, in order to reach the end. Time will slowly tick away, so having a clean run is key to completing the rapids before time runs out. Short on time? That’s OK too, because cooperative minigames are litered across the world which will give you bonus time depending on how you finish, with S-Rank, A-Rank, and so on.
Sound Stage – In this new mode, players will use their Joy-Con controllers to play mini games to the beat of music. The better you are at reading a beat and paying attention to patterns, the better you will do. While the least favourite of all the new modes, it’s still great to see Nintendo adding even more content for players to enjoy. Mario Party can – and in the past has – be a lackluster title with little variety, but that definitely is not the case here!
Toad’s Rec Room – Nintendo is experimenting with multiple Switch unit game interface, and the first main user of this feature is Super Mario Party. In Toad’s Rec Room, players can link up two Nintendo Switch units to play a variety of games, including the always popular Shell Shocker!
There are other great modes like the single player Challenge Road, but the best new mode in my opinion is Partner Party.
Partner party links two characters together on a team, and has them move around the board independently from each other, but at the same time. Instead of direct paths, the entire board is laid out in a grid format, and players can move freely around the grid. You are still earning stars, but I found this mode even more enjoyable than regular 4 players Mario Party.
There is way more content in Super Mario Party than I ever could have imagined in a Mario Party title, and I’ve been enjoying every last minute of it. Nintendo even added a collectibles feature by giving you the option to earn stickers while you play, and fill up a sticker book! Whether playing solo, or linking up with my family during the evenings, Mario Party provides the perfect setting for a great family game night. If you want to play 10, 15 or 20 turns, on one of 4 boards, you can always be assured there is something for everyone when you load up Super Mario Party!
While I would have enjoyed more boards – and perhaps larger boards as well – there is a ton of potential for Nintendo to add to this game over the next year. When you consider what they’ve done with Splatoon and Mario Kart, there isn’t any reason to question whether or not DLC is coming to Super Mario Party.
Think about it. Wouldn’t you like to relive some of your favourite, old boards?
This review was completed using a final build of the game provided to us by Nintendo of Canada.