Mario Party Superstars review: Fun and frustration for the whole family on Switch
Nintendo dusts off its back catalogue with Mario Party Superstars on Switch, and it might result in new dust-ups!
The Mario Party Superstars release date is very nearly here, which means the Mario Party Superstars review embargo has lifted and we’re finally able to talk about the new Mario-branded party game for Nintendo Switch.
Bringing together five boards and 100 minigames from the Mario Party franchise’s storied history, giving them all a new lick of paint and adding online play for modern audiences to enjoy, Mario Party Superstars is something of a victory lap for the popular virtual boardgame series.
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If you’ve played the Nintendo Switch’s original Mario Party game – 2018’s Super Mario Party – to death, then Mario Party Superstars could be exactly what you’re looking for: a bunch of new boards to play with your family and friends, packed with fun little challenges and those trademarked twists and turns that can rip any family apart.
In that sense, when it comes to those core components that you’d expect to enjoy with any new game in this franchise, Mario Party Superstars is a complete and total success. If you want to challenge your dearly beloved to a rivalry-feeding race around a digital board-game world, in a bid to see who can collect the most stars and coins without being mercilessly ganged up on by everyone else, you’ll certainly find exactly what you’re looking for here.
The minigames that you'll face along the way range from the sublime to the ridiculous (much like they did in Nintendo's other recent party game release, WarioWare: Get it Together), and we'd wager that casual players and newcomers to the franchise will find loads to enjoy here, with the little challenges on offer covering everything from Scalextric-like races to a tug of war that's not a million miles away from Squid Game.
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However, if you’re a hardcore fan of the Mario Party franchise and you were hoping for a complete compendium of all your old favourites, it’s important to be clear that you’re not going to get that here.
There really are just the five boards – Peach’s Birthday Cake and Yoshi’s Tropical Island from the original Mario Party, Space Land and Horror Land from Mario Party 2, Woody Woods from Mario Party 3 – and there’s no way to unlock anymore.
There’s always a chance that DLC could bring more boards to the game later, but that hasn’t been announced yet if it is planned. And with decades of boards for Nintendo to choose from, some fans might end up feeling that more could’ve been to make this collection really sing. You can’t unlock any extra characters either.
The boards that are here look great, though – the graphics have been updated across the whole collection, bringing the boards from each era up to modern standards in line with what you’d expect to see in Super Mario Odyssey, Luigi’s Mansion 3 or any of the other Nintendo games on Switch.
A few screenshots from the classic games are included as Easter eggs (you’ll be shown them just before each match), and the difference really is staggering – this isn’t just a basic port of those old boards, but a full-on remake of each one with glossy visuals to die for.
Interestingly, that’s a different strategy to the one that Nintendo employed with its Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection last year - that game brought a range of old Mario 3D platformers to the Switch, but it didn’t do much to remaster them on a visual or technical level.
The graphics aren’t the only things that have changed, either. The music sounds better than ever, too, and a nifty feature allows you to listen back to the tracks between matches. And another treat you’ll find on the main menu is Mt. Minigames, where you pop in for a few quick games rather than committing to a full trip round the board.
Here's one fun addition we'd like to shout about: when it’s not your turn, at any point in a match, you can now express your character’s emotional state using emote-like stickers, which you can buy from the in-game shop. This is a neat little quirk that gives you something to do while other players are having their turns.
In terms of the gameplay and how it feels to play Mario Party Superstars, it really does hit the spot perfectly – it’s all sweet wholesome fun until the franchise’s mischievous streak shines through, enabling those unforgettable moments where one of your friends accidentally gives away all of their stars and will not stop raging about it for the rest of the night.
It’s fun and frustration for the whole family, basically – a joyous romp through the history of Mario Party. It does feel like Nintendo could’ve done more to really pay tribute to the years and years of archive content that this franchise has built up, but you’ll still get loads of fun multiplayer evenings out of this – both locally and online – if you can handle the stressful moments!
Mario Party Superstars launches 29th October 2021 for Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch Lite and Nintendo Switch OLED, and you can order your copy now. We reviewed on the OLED Model.