Mario Party: Star Rush (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 22.10.2016

Review for Mario Party: Star Rush on Nintendo 3DS

For most gamers, Nintendo has always been synonymous with multiplayer experiences in the living room. Heated arguments and fierce competition deep into the night. There's nothing quite like a marathon Super Smash Bros. for Wii U session or a nail-biting Mario Kart 8 tournament. Nintendo's—and formerly Hudson's—Mario Party franchise has brought many laughs, sore palms and bouts of mind-numbing frustration over the years, but one thread of consistency that's been woven through the series, however, has to be the whimsical mini-games and the moment of climax where a winner is crowned victor. The House of Mario has dabbled in another Mario Party experience this year: Star Rush for Nintendo 3DS, aiming to reignite fans and introduce newcomers to a brand new board game concept. Does Mario Party: Star Rush keep the party mood alive, or is it an early departure back home for the series?

The previous invitation to the Mushroom Kingdom's party for Nintendo 3DS didn't quite gel for this individual, with Mario Party: Island Tour falling short of the mark with small pockets of mini-games, and nothing too substantial to tuck into. Generally, it was more of the same, just in pocket form. Nintendo, being Nintendo, tends to introduce something fresh and tries to inject a little innovation where possible—and Mario Party: Star Rush aims to do just that.

Star Rush scraps the most recent change to the series, where players were lumped in a vehicle and moved together. This time, there's a new simultaneous-roll mechanic that attempts to keep the action fast paced and focused. Each player rolls their dice at same time; however, they are free to roam the board as they wish. It's certainly a welcome change to the series, but it's not reverting back to the linear format of old. Game boards are constructed differently this time round, adopting a more grid like approach. The benefit of this, however, is that you're able to pick a direction, for the most part, and travel across the terrain. The small tweak in gameplay mechanic is a refreshing addition to the series, making each go even more unpredictable and substancial. Gone are the days of having to loop the game-board in order to, hopefully, grab a star. Instead, there's a more strategic element at play; a grid-like RTS-lite, in some ways.

Screenshot for Mario Party: Star Rush on Nintendo 3DS

The main mode on offer is "Toad Scramble," and it continues to venture into new terrain with four Toad characters literally scrambling across the board to be the first to beat the boss and nab those all-important stars. The first to reach a boss gets a head-start, with those furthest away having to squeeze in a last minute dash. It's not just Toads, though, as—in an almost reverse of the Duel Mode from Mario Party 3—regular characters can be recruited as allies and hot-swapped into the driving seat.

It's an interesting change of pace for the series, and whilst it may feel—initially at least—like a bonus mode, rather than the main affair, Toad Scramble is what the game needed—on a portable stage, in particular. The stages grow in complexity, fortunately, stacking multiple sections and areas to explore, but unfortunately don't quite venture into the more thematic designs of old—whilst there is variety, the designs do tend to play it a little safe, and a little too familiar. The assist characters and freedom of movement do keep the action flowing and avoids it growing stale, however!

Other modes continue to capture classic Mario Party ground, including "Balloon Bash," a really stripped down take—coins, mini-games, stars and the original cast. The levels are bite-sized enough to keep things nippy; ideal for short bursts, yet have enough meat to keep those party game cravings at bay. Again it's a case of all players rolling simultaneously and dashing for those all-important stars to win the day. It's a neat option to have, and serves up more lashings of the Mario Party games of old.

Screenshot for Mario Party: Star Rush on Nintendo 3DS

After something different? "Boo's Block Party" is a simple number matching game, whilst "Rhythm Recital" conjures up familiar songs from the Nintendo roster and has you trying to stick to the beat. Challenge Tower is a bit different to what the name may suggest, and has players trying to climb a cylindrical beam to try and avoid trap blocks. These extra options are quick, neat touches to the main event, and worth a quick go whilst on the move.

What about those mini-games, though? The majority on offer here are worthy additions to the Mario Party roster—familiar, yet new in ways. There's a good balance of more progressive mini-games, the boss battles, which require some time to complete, to the more classic fare. Collect coins, race to the finish, ground-pound switches—these have been done before in some form, but the majority are enjoyable without feeling tired. Boss battles, though, are the highlights—enjoyable set-pieces that find you bouncing beach balls, collecting apples, or propelling slingshots in order to defeat these foes and claim their stars.

Screenshot for Mario Party: Star Rush on Nintendo 3DS

Multiplayer has always been a key aspect of the series, like Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros, with Mario Party simply demanding competition; the experience thrives off it. Star Rush does accommodate the single-player experience well this time, ensuring that the sole player can quite happily sit back on a bus and pummel CPU opponents, or tuck into a handful of mini-games before bed. Of course, multiplayer with fellow human folk is where things get that bit more interesting. The problem, however, is that unlike the home console releases, getting the necessary software could be an issue and put off others from joining in.

Nintendo has come up with a neat way of getting around having to cross your fingers and hope that fellow 3DS owners also have the game by serving up a free download on the eShop for a stripped down version of the game, which is activated through the game's plaza. Once the multiplayer sessions have all been wrapped up, a handful of single-player challenges are also available for free. Progress can even be transferred into the full version of the game. It's an interesting and solid approach from Nintendo, particularly for a game that, though has a solid single-player serving, relies so much on involving friends in the experience. There's also that demo-but-not-quite-a-demo vibe that can create a viral push to getting Nintendo 3DS owners to move over to the full game at some point, too.

Multiplayer sessions lean more towards to the Mario Party titles of yesteryear, and the simultaneous rolling in Toad Scramble is ideal for the portable nature of the game—each player can travel independently around the board at the same time, and the unpredictability of where players will end up heightens the competition and makes it a bit more interesting.

Screenshot for Mario Party: Star Rush on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Mario Party: Star Rush is a fresh take on the series, with new mechanics that keep things quick and unpredictable. The level designs are perhaps a little bland compared to the older titles, but the mini-games, boss battles and additional challenges bring together an enjoyable little package that can quite easily be played solo, with solid multiplayer and an eShop download option for those with a single copy of the game.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Party

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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