Super Mario Party (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 03.10.2018 2

Review for Super Mario Party on Nintendo Switch

The Mushroom Kingdom folk are at it again, throwing a mighty bash to find out who's the ultimate superstar, the mini-game master, the person to lift the almighty Mario Party trophy. It's the 11th time the pals have rallied together for a hearty board-game romp and we're all invited on Nintendo Switch. Charge up the Joy-Con, pop on those rhythm shoes and hop on over to Super Mario Party!

It's been twenty years since that very first tussle. The first time those familiar Nintendo heroes took a much-needed break from their regularly-scheduled adventures and decided to throw a party. Four players roamed trap-filled boards to collect coins in exchange for glowing stars. The player with the most stars at the end would claim the coveted Mario Party crown. It sounds like an incredibly simple concept; and at its core, it is. But the fun mini-games, the unpredictability, the friendship-destroying moments of bliss and pain are what's helped maintain the franchise's appeal throughout the years.

Each of the games that followed tried to introduce something new; whether it would be motion controls, collectable items, character costumes, battle modes and much more. More recently, the keys to the series was handed over to Nintendo team ND Cube and the familiar mechanics shifted to something a little different. Starting with Mario Party 9, players were no longer able to travel around the board - instead bound to work together in more linear set-pieces. Whilst the game, and Mario Party 10, weren't bad outings in their own right, they lacked the versatility and much of the strategy that made the previous games so compelling.

Super Mario Party takes it back to where it all began, both story wise and by re-introducing the classic free-roaming flexibility. In the core party modes, Players are no longer bundling for the driver's seat, but are now able to freely explore at their own leisure. It makes for an instantly recognisable approach. Each player takes it in turns to roll a dice, trying to rush to Toadette to trade hard-earned coins for stars! Because everyone is free to plan their moves, use items and perhaps even stumble on an event space, each play session becomes that bit more exciting - it's unpredictable, yet still woven with a sprinkling of strategy. Mario Party 10 had a tendency to become ever-so-slightly repetitive, but each session this time round is packed full of heated and surprise moments. Anything could happen; the foundation of any good Mario Party session.

Screenshot for Super Mario Party on Nintendo Switch

The tweak this time round comes through the character-specific benefits. Play it safe and roll with a guaranteed chance to move, or switch it up and whip out a special dice. Each has its benefits, like a chance to grab a high number, but also a high chance of losing coins or even not moving at all! It's a risk, but can really change the flow of the game - sneaking past a rival in that critical moment, or even helping towards a sneaky bonus star at the end. After playing a handful of quick sessions, one thing becomes apparent: the experience feels a touch more streamlined - despite each player taking it in turns. The UI and animation makes it all feel that bit snappier; keeping the pace and excitement. Older Mario Party games did have a tendency to drag in places, something the car mechanic tried to address - here it feels like the best of both worlds. The improvements extend to mini-game explanation screen itself, which allows for each to be practiced, without going into and out of a specific practice session.

Game mechanics aside, how about the boards and characters themselves? Mario Party is known for the vibrant, themed game boards and Super Mario Party has a handful of bustling worlds for the party posse to conquer. Each of the boards available at the start feel like interesting throwbacks to the earlier Mario Party titles: Whomps blocking paths, explosive bob-omb foes and a lush tropical island. Quirky traps and unique events are dotted about, including the new partner space - inspired by Mario Party: Star Rush and Mario Party 3. It's distinctively Mario Party. But despite this, the boards do feel a touch smaller than past entries - in some ways good to keep the action streamlined, but could have benefitted from a bit more expansion. On the same note, items make a return - but are mainly set to be used by the player, rather than setting more strategic traps - a highlight of games like Mario Party 6. It's perhaps an opportunity missed.

Screenshot for Super Mario Party on Nintendo Switch

Beyond the main modes, there are other ways to collaborate and compete against friends. Mario Party games typically come with solo features and other ways to package mini-games; and the highlights with Super Mario Party have to be the River Survival and Sound Stage features.

River Survival sees four players sharing a raft and, as the name suggests, navigating a huge, sprawling river with multiple routes. Think of it as Outrun meets Mario Party - the clock is ticking, and it's up to good teamwork to sail to the finish. At first it may sound like its leaning towards Mario Party 9's car mechanics, but it's something all-together different. There's a greater sense of collaboration, using the Joy Con to paddle along, and each of the mini-games have been designed with teamwork in mind. It's been a long while since four-player co-operative games have been featured in a Mario Party outing; perhaps the most prominent being the series debut back in 1998. It's a refreshing and surprisingly fun take on multiplayer action - something that's much needed in the living-room today!

Want to test out those rhythm skills? Sound Stage is another extra mode that introduces a set of rhythm challenges, almost like Wario-Ware in some ways. Whether it's pulling table-clothes away from cups or bopping coin-blocks to the beat, it's a neat way of putting the Joy-Con to use for those quicker sessions.

Screenshot for Super Mario Party on Nintendo Switch

Toad's Rec Room brings a dollop of table-top to the mix, with the Nintendo Switch screen being used for intriguing little challenges - these concepts are neat, self-contained games that showcase just how much potential the hardware has for collaborative play across multiple screens - It's something the Wii U never quite realised.

When the friends go home from the day, it's down to solo-player antics! Whilst Mario Party has always been about friendly banter between friends, the game can also be tackled single player. The core and bonus modes are, as usual, playable solo - but the main single player action comes through Challenge Road. As another throwback to the original Mario Party games, this feature is a series of mission-like takes on the mini-games, completing each with certain criteria. It's something that can be tackled in small chunks - allowing for quick dips on the go. Super Mario Party does single player exceptionally well - it's fleshed out and there's enough variety to keep the party in full swing!

Perhaps a slight issue, though, comes through the Joy-Con requirement - the Switch does benefit from having two fully usable controllers for two-player Mario Party out the box, but for the soloist, the controller must be detached from the console, making play on the go a touch bit more confined. That said, thrusting and wiggling a who Switch console on the train could be a little bit awkward anyway.
Visually this is the best looking Mario Party game to date, but not just from a technical standpoint - which naturally comes with the hardware upgrade - but from the art direction. Intricate, animated details and subtle throwbacks make for gorgeous backdrops. It may quite have those plodding, memorable sound selection to match, but Nintendo have crafted colourful and bustling worlds to discover.

Screenshot for Super Mario Party on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Super Mario Party is an eclectic celebration of twenty years of star collecting and coin hoarding; bringing together the best bits into one show-stopping, mini-game cake. Paul Hollywood would grab a Joy-Con and give it a thoroughly good handshake.

The addition of "Super" to the title is thoroughly deserved - with streamlined, refined mechanics, classic game design, smart mini-games and brilliant extras to tuck into. Whilst the sense of competition and unpredictable antics is still very much in play, there's also a greater feeling of teamwork within mini-games that hasn't been seen since the original Mario Party.

The series has found its encore, and it's ready to keep dancing deep into the night. Super Mario Party is the essential Nintendo Switch release, a true return to form for a franchise that was at risk of going stale.

Developer

Nd Cube

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Party

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

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   

Comments

Excellent! Glad to hear its snappier and more streamlined. It hasn't been a must-buy series for me for a long time, probably since the Gamecube days, but I'll definitely be picking this up. 

I think the last Mario Party game I had was 5 on the GC. I've just not got the friends to play with. However one of my joy-con is slightly broken and I have noticed the most cost effective method to get a new joy-con is to the buy the special edition of Super Mario Party....it is just a shame that the special edition is not out until November. Very baffling of Nintendo. 

Either way glad to see its performed so well!

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