Super Mario Party is the latest instalment in the long running Mario Party series. The series has had its ups and downs and, to many, different Mario party games are their favorites. However, everyone can agree that the minigames are where feuds are made and can make or break the game. If they aren’t fun then no one will have a good time or want to play. This instalment introduced many new modes and games for better or worse.
Super Mario Party controls like most other games in the franchise, with some additions and improvements. When playing the standard party you get your dice block but now you are able to use a custom dice block unique to each character. This addition puts some characters above others. Some characters, such as shy guy, have really safe dice blocks. There are multiple of the same number and only one negative side. While other characters are more of a high risk high reward. These characters have two negative sides, however, the rest of the numbers are all high. This was an interesting edition and added some much needed depth to moving around the stage. One of the main gripes that I had was that the stages are very small.
Typically, if one gets a star there is a good chance that they can either get the next one or be put very close to it with that same dice roll. It was quite infuriating to watch as someone strolled around the stage and picked up two or three stars in a row.
The game is played with one JoyCon and is easy to pick up and learn. Movement around the board is clear and simple and the special spaces are clearly labelled and easy to understand. The game even points you in the direction of where the star is and how many spaces away you are from it.
The mini-games are explained clearly and like with the other instalments, you are given a practice game and instructions. For young kids and those who are new to the series, these features are very helpful.
Another prominent feature is the ability to pick up allies while you are playing. This feature is in a few different modes and is a great addition to the game. Different allies will make their way onto the stage and if you pass them then you are able to pick them up and have them as companions. When you get an ally you not only are able to use their dice block, which adds even more variety to your throws but upon rolling they will roll a dice block with either a one or a two. Allowing you to traverse the stage more quickly. It’s interesting because it adds the dynamic of what ally you want and if it’s more beneficial to get the ally instead of going straight for the star.
In this instalment, there are 3 new modes and some added features aside from the standard party. One of the new modes is the co-op river raft mode, where everyone is working together to dodge obstacles and make it to the bottom before time runs out. There are branching paths and each path has its own perils. In order to get more time, you must hit balloons that will take you to mini-games. These are all co-op mini-games and the team must work together in order to get the highest score and get the most time. This mode forgoes the classic dice roll mechanic for a more dynamic style that requires each player to row and be active at all times. There are many branching paths that have their own perils to face and minigames to play. It’s a great addition that promotes collaboration and communication with the other players.
There is also a new mode called soundstage. This mode doesn’t have a stage and is a gauntlet of minigames. What makes it different is that you don’t collect starts but go for the highest score. These are all rhythm based and performing actions at the right time will net you the most points. On top of which there are different difficulties which unlock when you complete the previous one. Once you play through each mode completely you are then given a gem that acts as collectables and goes towards becoming the super star. This is a nice touch to entice you to play through every mode and on every stage.
The last major mode added is a team-based mode where you can mostly free roam and choose where you would like to go. In this mode, team members share dice rolls and can move independently of each other. If one person rolls a five and the other rolls a one then the total is six and both team members can move six spaces. This allows for great distances to be covered in a short amount of time. The issue, however, comes in when you are attempting to get a star. In this mode you cannot get the star by simply passing it. Instead, you must land on it and it has to be after you moved as many spaces as possible. This makes it a bit frustrating and comical as you will see everyone going in circles and trying to figure out how to land on the star space. The mode can be really tedious at times and feel like it drags on forever when each player has to strategize and plan out their moves.
Graphics and Sound
Sounds in Mario Party are amazing. Every hit of the dice block and movement of a character has an upbeat tune. Getting a star is upbeat and exciting when you get hit with a poison mushroom your character becomes sad and sighs. Each of the stages little gimmicks sound great as well. When you interact blooper or thwomp they sound exactly like they should. There were no expense spared or corners cut, and the same can be said about graphics.
Each character model is clear and well designed. While the models themselves seem to be the same ones from Mario tennis aces. Their movements are clear and sharp. Character interactions are also interesting. If you are on Kameks stage as Bowser, every time you talk to one of your minions they address you as Lord Bowser. This is a nice added touch that keeps things consistent across titles.
The stages are varied and each has a unique feeling. whether coasting down a river or running across a sand bridge everything looks sharp and interesting. No matter what stage you are on or mode you are playing everything from the stage itself to what characters appear on them fits. From coin-hungry thwomps to annoying bomb-ombs every set piece was meticulously crafted and is a step up from the previous instalment.
Overall the graphics and sound are what you would expect from Nintendo and from a Mario game. Each character looks and sounds like they would in any other title in the franchise. On top of which the addition of the minions as playable characters gives much needed variety to the cast and to the gameplay itself.
The multiplayer is by far the most important aspect of Mario Party. Playing alone is ill-advised and even with just two people, you can have a blast. However, where the game really shines is when there are four players. With four players things become hectic and sometimes alliances can form in order to take down the person in the first position. Or you can be a renegade who attacks everyone in order to claw their way to the top spot and stay there. Things are really turned up to eleven and can become heated when playing with a full party.
The mini-games can become the stuff of nightmares as well. Instead of having a computer who may or may not follow you around blindly you now have one or two other players on your team. Each with their own agenda but hopefully trying to win. The team minigames take communication, patience, and the occasional public shaming.
Where you are in the rankings and on the stage are all clear and unmistakable. Each player can see who is in first, where they are in relation to the star, and where they will land upon rolling the dice. Turns can last a fairly long time when people are trying to plot out the best course or figure out how to steal coins or stars from the top player.
With the addition of the co-op modes, you can somewhat work together while hurling insults back and forth. Again, in these modes communication is key and if someone messes up it can bring the entire team down quite rapidly. This is especially true in the rafting mode where each member needs to row to dodge obstacles and hit minigame balloons. There are many places where teamwork can fall apart and blame can be passed. That being said it is worth the frustration in order to get the sense of accomplishment when you made it to the bottom of the river and you haven’t strangled each other.