Mario Party Superstars Review – Burning Memories
Mario Party SuperstarsOctober 29th, 2021
Mario Party has had a particularly hard to define reputation for about a generation now. While it is as near to a constant at children's parties as anything else is, it's rarely fondly remembered. Even today, with the latest iteration of the game, players often complain about the lack of fairness in the game's constant battle for stars. Now we can go back to what the game felt like on the N64 and Gamecube and see that this lack of fairness was always the point.
Mario Party Superstars takes you back to the glorious past with five classic boards from yesteryear and an almost countless number of minigames to play. For the innocently uninitiated, Mario Party is a turn-based digital board game where up to four players race across the circular board seeking out stars, competing in minigames, and interacting with the board's unique abilities. You can decide how many turns per game which gives a relatively accurate timeframe for how long it will take, which is great, but the boards are huge and the shorter games will feel like you barely got to explore.
The reason that everyone you have ever spoken to calls the game unfair is because there are no guarantees when playing. It's like the infamous blue shell on Mario Kart but a lot less predictable. Lucky players that snatched up plenty of coins and stars early on can have them lost – or worse, stolen – by nothing more than an unlucky roll of the dice. Unpredictable events can launch players into terrible or miraculous positions. Toadette, who awards the stars on the board, can move and give one lucky player a much easier time than the rest. And the game plays absolutely no favourites. Lucky players can receive as many boons as possible even though they're in first, while the unlucky might never catch a break. Likewise, those who are almost assuredly heading to victory can have it mercilessly snatched away at any moment, including at the end.
Because even once the game is over, victory can never be assumed. Toad and Toadette, in the act of blatant treason, award bonus stars for random behaviors and chances made through the game. This traitorous behaviour often turns the game on its head (again) right at the finish line.
A lot of people don't like this aspect of Mario Party, but I think it makes it perfect. This is a game that teaches children and adults alike that the fun comes from playing, not winning. It means that there is always an element of tension and always glory to win or borrow at least. The truly competitive will not enjoy the Mario Party, and Mario Party Superstars has a lot to offer for those relaxed enough to play it.
The five boards each feel extremely different, with a different theme, shape, and events that alter things up even further. Getting to grips with a single board will take a few lengthy games before you feel comfortable, and even then, it won't actually affect your chances in the end. And then there are the minigames, literally hundreds of five-minute games chosen at random that break up every round and can be triggered even more frequently than that. All of them have an incredibly focused purpose taking only a few seconds to pick up. Some might require precision thumb waggling, others button mashing, timing perfection, or a game of bluffs. These are the wildest parts of the Superstars that involve all or most of the players simultaneously. Like WarioWare, they are designed to be picked up and played with next to no instruction, although the game does give you a practice page before the real one starts.
Besides the five boards, Superstars also has Mt Minigames that is entirely focused on the minigames. This also removes some of the randomness of the proper boards as most of the minigames feel more skilled than anything else. It also gives you the chance to play more of them, as even after several hours you'll still be discovering new ones.
Where Superstars can fall down is in its menu systems. While the actual game is designed to be at least a little frustrating, the menus feel needlessly so. There is quite a lot of admin you need to do before launching a game, and none of it is explained very well. For a game marketed at children, this might be a difficult barrier to entry to pass and could even prove to be a hurdle to an adult setting things up before the game can begin. It's not the end of the world, but it does hamper the initial excitement in Mario Party Superstars.
But adults can enjoy this game too. I had a lot of fun playing with friends, especially when makeshift drinking games started, given that Superstars and most drinking games are based on the same level of luck. Superstars by design does little new; it is a callback to the series foundations, yet it still feels exciting. For fans of the party games looking to a lovingly remastered series of boards and minigames, Superstars is everything you could want. For anyone on the fence about Mario Party games, this won't be anything much to make you fall in love.
Review code provided by the publisher.
Products mentioned in this post
The links above are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, Wccftech.com may earn from qualifying purchases.
Mario Party Superstars offers a selection of completely revamped boards from the earliest days of the franchise. It might not offer much new, or change much, but it looks and feels as wild as fun as you remember.
- Loads and loads of minigames
- Each board feels remarkable different
- Chaos is a ladder
- Menus are awkward to navigate
- Text and some cutscenes can feel a little slow
- Doesn't do much new