Nintendo’s flagship Super Mario franchise is one I hold dear to my heart like millions of others. I’ve played the vast majority of both the mainline games and the various spinoff titles, including every Mario Party game to date. The latest game in their mini-game laden digital board game series has just launched for their latest console, and it brings with it some exciting new features – including online play. Is the latest Mario Party worth purchasing, or is it more of the same? Read on to find out!
Super Mario Party
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: October 5th, 2018
Players: 1-4 Players
Super Mario Party brings with it all the visual charm and flair you’d expect from a mainline Nintendo franchise. All the familiar and iconic characters, enemies, environments, effects – everything pops and is easy on the eyes. There’s even a surprising amount of detail in some of the mini-games that I think is a bit out of place, yet welcome for this franchise.
Some of these hyper-realistic mini-games are mostly focused on cooking, like Sizzling Stakes, but overall the game is definitely a visual treat. The variety of mini-games and little areas within the boards brings a nice mix in terms of environments. The game seems to run pretty much the same docked or on a table, and that’s even with lots of action in those mini-games.
If you’ve somehow never joined in on a real-life Mario Party, well, party, you’ve been missing out. The spinoff is a digital table top game that has multiple players, or computers, each of which vying for more coins and ultimately more power stars, all the while navigating the digital board. You roll your dice, collect and use items, and frequently screw over your opponents to win.
The star of the show in these spinoffs has always been the mini-games, and this time there’s over 80 in total. There’s your standard Mario Party free-for-all mode, as well as the new Partner Party mode, the latter of which drops the preset paths for open grids and a 2v2 pair of teams. Mini-games are critical as they’re typically the method of acquiring coins quickly, outside a bit of luck.
The boards themselves are not as linear as in previous entries, and offer a nice amount of branching paths – each with different obstacles or rewards. The ultimate goal, the star-vendoring Toadette, is constantly moving as players find her and buy a star. You can even recruit an ally by chance, a character that follows you and adds a bonus dice roll – and even helps in mini-games.
Another new addition is the River Survival mode, which is as you expect – four players trying to survive an increasingly dangerous rafting trip filled with mini-games. This lets you have fun without the blood sports that come with the main Party mode. There’s also a new Sound Stage mode – which is obviously music-focused and has some rhythm games to switch things up a bit.
Online play also makes its debut in Super Mario Party, but not with all the functionality you’d want.
Dubbed the Online Mariothon mode, you can play with folks online in five random mini-games, and climb the leaderboard, rankings, as well as get prizes. The main Party mode, however, is restricted to offline play. This is a huge missed opportunity, and legit bummed me out. I’m hoping Nintendo adds this in somehow later.
A lot of potential buyers have asked me how the motion controls for the game are, considering the game mostly requires them for most things. Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of motion controls and yet they were pretty solid in Super Mario Party. I rarely had issues, and they just made sense.
Every mini-game you play has a practice room where you can get the mechanics down, ranging from hoisting yourself up a pole to flicking a fishing net upwards, all the way to paddling the entire game in River Survival. None of the mechanics were overwhelming or unreasonable.
One of the only issues you’ll have is whether or not you’re a gamer on a budget – considering the game requires each person uses one Joy-Con, and the Switch only comes with two. A new pair of Joy-Cons is eighty dollars, a steep investment regardless of whatever multiplayer game you’re playing.
It’s also worth considering longer play sessions will inevitably make you drain your Joy-Con batteries, and this time you’ll need to dock them with the Switch, or get a third-party charging device of some kind. The issue here, obviously, is the Joy-Cons cannot be used with this game while charging. This is inherent to the console itself, so it’s not a Mario Party issue.
The overall variety of mini-games will help offset the limited number of tables, currently at launch there are only four and despite the branching paths they can get a little stale. There’s obviously plenty of room for Nintendo to release more tables, mini-games, and more – however the real meat of the series has always been the mini-games in my opinion.
I wanted to point out the overall flow of the game is definitely much better – I think this is a combination of the sheer number of things going on now and the mini-games happening at the end of every turn. Some of the previous entries got a little stale as you waited on opponents, while Super Mario Party really gave the spinoff series a breath of fresh air.
The soundtrack in Super Mario Party is more of what you’d expect from a literal festive gathering from not only the good guys but also the baddies from the Super Mario universe. The various tracks are cute, whimsical, and oftentimes catchy. There are hints of classic Super Mario themes and bits here and there, because they simply belong in this game.
Voice work is pretty much the same level of quality and depth you’d expect from the franchise as well. Various mascot characters yell things, squeak out noises, and say iconic phrases. My favorite is probably Toad’s voice, which I’ve always likened to the harbringer of chaos. Sound effects are equally fitting in a core Super Mario game – everything makes you feel right at home.
There really isn’t much story to the Super Mario games as they’re simply a spinoff series to have fun with the various characters. It is worth pointing out this is the first game in the franchise to include Bowser, Bowser Jr., Diddy Kong, Pom Pom, Goomba, and Monty Mole as playable characters. This game is automatically awesome because you can defy physics with an armless Goomba.
While I was pretty disappointed in the lack of a full online Mario Party mode in Super Mario Party, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the latest in the competitive couch digital board game franchise. There’s quite a few new additions, lots of refinements, and more than enough mini-games to keep things fun and fresh for quite some time – and that’s with the base game.
I’ve already been planning future gatherings of both friends and family just to play Super Mario Party with them for the first time. It’s really a solid and refreshing new entry in the series, and further reiterates how Nintendo isn’t running out of ideas in the gameplay department. Just give me online Mario Party mode already!
Super Mario Party was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a review copy provided by Nintendo. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 9
- Great variety of mini-games and characters
- Crisp, vibrant graphics that really shine regardless of play mode
- Fun yet not annoying motion controls
- No online Mario Party mode
- Only four tables in base game can get a tiny bit stale