Excluding the 3DS releases, the last time Mario Party graced our homes consoles was on the Wii U in 2015 with Mario Party 10 and to be honest, I failed to really connect with the game.  The Mario Party series has always been something that I’ve really wanted to enjoy to its fullest ever since it released on the N64 way back in 1998, but for whatever reason, I just couldn’t feel a connection.  Yet when Super Mario Party was announced for the Nintendo Switch at this year’s E3, I still had high hopes that this would be the game that I’ve seemingly been waiting years for.  After all, the Nintendo Switch is a pretty awesome console in its own right, but it also features quite possibly the best motion controls seen in a Nintendo console, and that’s not even taken into account its portable ‘on the go’ capabilities.  So how well does Super Mario Party fair on Nintendo’s latest machine?

For starters it has a whopping 80 mini-games to enjoy.  Yes sure you could blast through them if you play the game successively, but when implemented into its board game formula, with the shortest  of which lasting for a minimum of about an hour, there’s no reason why with the core modes alone, Super Mario Party is a game that should last you a very long time and even when you grow a little tired of it, it’s still the perfect game to get out and enjoy for family gatherings such as birthday’s, Christmas or just when you have some mates around, Super Mario Party will always bring laughter to your party, no matter the occasion.

As it stands there are three main board games to begin with (more can be unlocked), while the principle of each remains the same, each of them comes with their own unique characteristics and obstacles that the others may not offer.  How the game works is that you must roll your dice and just like any other board game, the higher the number you roll, the more places you will move across the board.  You also have the choice of two dice, one is the standard numbered 1-6, while the other will be unique to your character and will offer a higher number of up to 9.  However, it may very well have a higher number, but it will also have more lower numbers, for example multiple 1’s.  So whether you stick to the standard or unique dice, this choice offers a level of strategy to the game, giving you the choice of playing it safe, or play for the risk in the hope of rolling a higher number.

As you move across the eventful board, you will also have standard spaces that will earn you some extra coins or even some will deduct coins.  You’ll also earn power-ups such as taking coins or stars away from competing players, gain an ally that rolls you an extra dice per turn through the duration of the game.  You can spend some of your coins to purchase some power-ups which may earn you one extra roll or even move you closer to the space that occupies the all-important star.  To win, you must not only have a healthy collection of coins when you finish, but you must also have at least one star.  For example, you could have 50 coins, but no star, yet a winner could only have 3 coins, but the all-important one star that you do not have.  At the end of each game, players will also be rewarded with bonus stars based upon categories such as whose earned an ally, used specific power-ups, there’s even one for the most unluckiest player and more.  And of course, a player will earn a bonus star for the one that wins the most mini-games, the heart and soul of Super Mario Party.

As already mentioned, regardless of which mode you play, there are a total of 80 mini-games and knowing the DLC trend for some of the first-party titles on the Switch so far, it wouldn’t surprise me if Super Mario Party also had the DLC star treatment somewhere down the line.  As of yet, due to the mini-games being randomly selected in the board game mode, I am yet to play them all, but I’ve played a large chunk.  During the board game, you will land on particular spaces that will activate one of the 80 featured mini-games.  They consist of several races that might include barrel-rolling, racing on comically small bicycles, cooking a steak cube in a frying pan that requires you to flick the Joy-Con to flip the steak in the hope that it will land on the uncooked side.  There are card memory games, flying games in which you must avoid obstacles, tennis games and more.  So far out of all the mini-games I’ve played, not one has failed to bring us plenty of laughs.

Each of the board games must be played with four players, however, if you only have two or three players at hand, the CPU will make up for the remaining slots.  You can play on your own of course, but that won’t be quite the same as competing against family and friends in your home.  When playing multiplayer, you can play with the four players on your TV, via LAN with other Switch tablet devices and it also supports online play, which is a first for the series.  I must also add that Super Mario Party can only be played with the Joy-Cons and does not work with the Pro Controller or third party controllers at the time of writing, so if you want to make use of the four player features, you may want to invest in a pair of new Joy-Cons, if you haven’t done so already.  This also means that as a result, you cannot play Super Mario Party in handheld with the Joy-Cons attached.

Featured in Super Mario Party are two other key multiplayer modes such as River Survival and Sound Stage.  River Survival is a four-player co-op game in which you must work together with three other players as a team, taking control of a dingy down a powerful river with each player taking charge of a paddle that you must rotate the Joy-Con clockwise or anti-clockwise, depending on the direction in which you want to travel.  The idea of the game is to progress as far as possible before you run out of time.  To begin with, you won’t have much time, so you must hit one of the many placed large balloons which will start a mini-game and depending on how well you perform as a team, depends on how much time you are rewarded with.  River Survival is a fun game indeed, but if you want to be as successful as possible, not only must you work well together with the Joy-Con in hand, but being vocal to steer the dingy is also vitally important.

The other multiplayer game, Sound Stage is where the four players must compete against one another in a series of rhythm-based mini-games where timing is key.  However, rather than just swinging and moving the Joy-Con randomly, you must listen to the beats of the music and move within sync.  Once all the mini-games have concluded, the competing players will be placed in 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th place.  Sound Stage offers something a little different to the mini-games seen in other modes, but is equally as fun when playing against others.  Sadly, while it would be great to play the board games online, that is not currently possible, as you can only play a series of five randomly selected mini-games with the Mario-Thon mode.  However, the online Mario-Thon does feature an online leaderboard to see how you fair against other players across the world.  With a bit of look, Nintendo might find a way to implement the traditional board game mode to online play.

 

For those that want to play on their lonesome, you can partake in the Challenge Road, however quite oddly you first have to unlock this singleplayer mode by playing all mini-games.  It seems odd that you can’t play this mode from the get go, allowing you to at least to play the mini-games you’ve played so far.  Finally the other mode is Toad’s Rec Room, sadly I was unable to play this mode either, due to me only having one Switch and friends that don’t currently own Super Mario Party, but this mode does look awesome.  How Toad’s Rec Room works is that you can place Nintendo Switch tablets together and very cleverly, they will work together as one screen.  To give you an idea of how it works, I’ll include a video from IGN in this review above.

In conclusion, despite me being somewhat pessimistic prior to the release of Super Mario Party (even after sampling the game at EGX), my concerns were soon put to rest as soon as I played the very first mini-game.  No pun intended, but Super Mario Party is the perfect party game that offers fun for all the family.  On the surface it might appear to lack main modes, but with the varying board game lengths and difficulties on offer, as well as other modes such as River Survival, Sound Stage, Challenge Road (once unlocked) and Toad’s Tec Room, despite the lack of online modes, Super Mario Party is an absolute blast and in my humble opinion, it’s the best game in the long-running series yet, and is certainly the Mario Party game that I’ve been waiting for!  Whether you want to game with family or invite friends over, if you’re a Nintendo Switch owner, Super Mario Party is the perfect game this Christmas and beyond.



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake