The late 90’s to early 2000’s were a pivotal time for most console owners as the market was continuing to evolve, and games continue to expand in terms of their gameplay. Nintendo 64 was a console that helped to breathe new life into an industry that had been struggling to find new ground, offering players innovative and fun-to-play titles that to this day are still highly revered. Of course, Sony and their PlayStation were at the top of their game during those finer moments, but Nintendo brought a different flavor, one that would ultimately shape the casual gaming market and bring forth new ways of playing with friends and family. Mario Party released back in 1998, and initially it brought about feelings of joy yet uncertainty.
Here was a title that encouraged players to play together in a way that was unheard of at the time, allowing you to take part in a variety of mini-games that were fun and engaging, yet challenging at the same time. Low and behold, 20 years later and the series still continues to shine albeit a few missteps along the way, and we’ve arrived at Super Mario Party for the Nintendo Switch. Is it truly a step in the right direction or is Super Mario Party another party not worth attending? Keep reading to find out more!
What to Expect
Super Mario Party brings forth new modes that fans of the series can participate in, while still providing the tried and true classic Mario Party formula, with a few tweaks to add a little more spice. You have the new River Survival mode which places you and 3 of your friends into a raft and all of you must make it down the river, avoiding obstacles and tackling the many branch paths that lie ahead. The next addition is known as Sound Stage, a more rhythm-based party mode where players take part in mini-games that have you flailing your arms in every direction to become the ultimate performer.
Toad’s Rec Room is a unique little addition that pits you against your friends in unique games that take advantage of the Nintendo Switch and its configurations. Partner Party is much like the quintessential Mario Party experience but this time, is team based and allows free movement with shared dice rolls. Perhaps the most surprising addition however is the Minigames mode, which for the first time in any Mario Party title, allows you to hop online and play against other players to determine who’s the best at the mini-game bonanza. While this may sound like a promising ordeal, the online portion is only limited to that mode, so we’ll cover that more later on in the gameplay section.
For the most part, every Mario Party title since it’s early beginnings have always provided a visual charm and never really disappoints in this area. Every board is laid out beautifully and well designed, which really entices you to traverse around every area and truly experience what they have to offer. From the gold painted beauty that is Kamek’s Tantalizing Tower to the more tropical appeal that is Megafruit Paradise, Super Mario Party supplies you with a nice amount of boards that are appealing to the eye and a blast to play on. While the overall choice of stages is limited in Mario Party mode, the other modes available to provide a breath of fresh air and truly stand out in their own way.
You can never truly go wrong with the music in Super Mario Party, with its cheerful mix of jazzy tunes, along with an assortment of upbeat rhythms that are a joy to listen to as you try to collect as many stars as you can. While the music does repeat itself from time to time, we can’t really complain all too much because the music is just so satisfying to listen to, even if you just have the game on standby and waiting for friends.
So here’s where all the magic happens, right here in the gameplay section. Super Mario Party, while it does provide players with a wonderful assortment of new mini-games and modes to choose from, still lacks in the online category. We mentioned earlier that much of the online function is solely placed upon the Minigames mode, which of course is a smart move since it’s extremely fun and you can compete to see who can score the highest in the rankings. However, many fans for years have been eagerly awaiting the time when Nintendo would finally announce a full-fledged online experience that allowed players from across the globe to battle it out on the boards, to see who the best is. Sadly, that isn’t the case for Super Mario Party and it sort of feels sad that after so long, we still have yet to experience Mario Party at its best. Now mind you Super Mario Party is not a terrible game by any means, in fact, we think this is the best Mario Party experience to date. Nintendo did a stellar job on fixing a lot of the problems that plagued the previous Mario Party titles, such as the overtly random dice rolls that led to frustrating situations, and now provide a more honest gameplay experience when competing against each other.
Gone are the days in Mario Party 10 where you relied on the co-op car mechanic to score wins and rack up points. Now you’re back to the hardcore and frantic competitive play that we’ve come to know and love about the franchise. Players can now land on spots called +Ally which grant players a new dice which is based off the character given to you. Each character has their own unique dice which allows for a more strategic approach to playing, which means that choosing a character in the game means a lot more than just aesthetic and adoration, but can actually determine your fate if you’re not careful. Some dice like Mario’s provide a more well rounded approach, giving players a steady roll and average of 3 so that they can move around the board without much problems. On the other end of the spectrum you have Bowser and Rosalina who have dice that are high-risk high-reward, meaning that if you roll high then you can potentially grab stars faster than anybody else. The catch though is you can also roll really low since your dice is filled with smaller numbers which can slow you down. Some dice even have you risk losing coins, which can also be a threat down the road.
River Survival is really fun and is most definitely enjoyed with a group of friends, because all of you must work together to control the raft and avoid any pitfalls that lie ahead. It’s great because this mode really encourages both teamwork and communication, which is really the bread and butter of what Mario Party is all about: bringing everyone together. We can see why Nintendo opted to limit the online play to just one mode, given the statement we just made about bringing everyone together. However, the game would certainly fare well in an online environment where you can take part in the experience with other players, and if say your friends aren’t around, having the online option is perfect. The other modes like Toad’s Rec Room and the Sticker Room really don’t do much and are really just added filler, to give players something else to do when they’ve found themselves tired from all the yelling and heckling.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
All in all, Super Mario Party is definitely a very fun experience and a welcome addition to the franchise, despite lacking in a few areas such as the limited board choices in Mario Party mode, no extra online content, and the Sticker Room not really providing any merit outside of just visual aesthetics. The brand new mini-games are really the selling point of the game as there’s a plethora of them, and all provide a new experience which take advantage of the Switch and it’s capabilities. Another thing we noticed was how at the end of each game, you weren’t really rewarded with that many bonus stars when compared to other Mario Party titles. We typically only received about one or two added bonuses when compared to before, you’d usually have about 3 or even 4 extra star gathering opportunities. Be that as it may, Super Mario Party is one party that you don’t want to miss out on, even if some of the drinks that you enjoyed from before aren’t there anymore. Pick up a new one and give it a shot! Also, collect all the gems and see what happens!
Excellent presentation as always by Nintendo.
Wonderful soundtrack that’s uplifting and really helps to boost your morale while playing, even if you lose.
The new modes are a nice added touch that really bring out the Switch’s capabilities.
Collecting stars is always fun and rewarding.
Lack of online mode play in the main portion of the game really hurts.
Needs more board variety in Mario Party mode.
Why do we need a Sticker Room in a party game?
Honey's Final Verdict:
Super Mario Party is average at best, but it’s not groundbreaking by any means. It does a great job of introducing new gameplay mechanics that we can see evolving over time with the Switch technology, but due to the lacking features in the game it leaves us wanting more down the road. Hopefully, there will be some DLC packages that will give us new boards based off of themes, such as Halloween or Christmas, along with other perks that will only help to build the attractiveness of the game. We can only hope but we’re certain Nintendo will come up with something soon!
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!