Two years into the life of the Nintendo Switch and we have Zelda and Mario, Pokemon and Animal Crossing are on the way, and we now have our Mario Party. With four players, each on their own joy-con, it's time to bring back the white-hot rage that can only be associated with the new Super Mario Party.
Like all Mario Party titles, this one starts with the characters fighting over who is the true Super Star; it's decided they'll settle it with a party. The bad guys like Bowser, Bowser Jr., and Waluigi not wanting to miss out invite themselves to the party too. With Toad, Toadette, and Kamek working together, a stage is built and boards are set up. Needless to say, the story is extremely inconsequential, acting more as an excuse to understand why Bowser and Mario would ever get invited to the same party. It becomes your goal to beat the five main modes of Super Mario Party, earning a Gem for each of their completion to decide who gets to become the true Super Star!
Players are able to select from a total of 20 playable characters, four of which need to be unlocked through clearing objectives. During your turn, you can roll the normal party die, numbered 1-6, but each character also has their own special die with a special spread of numbers. Mario as an all-around character has a die with the numbers [1, 3, 3, 3, 5, 6], meaning he has a much higher chance of moving at a steady pace but also has a chance of rolling high and low. Mario has a pretty tame die; high risk/high reward characters like Bowser or Donkey Kong have [-3 coins, -3 coins, 1, 8, 9, 10] or [+5 coins, 0, 0, 0, 10, 10], respectively. With each character having their own block, it will take a bit of research before you find which you're happiest with.
The use of Ally characters is a new feature added to Super Mario Party. Allies and the Ally Space on the board are a carryover from Toad Scramble in Mario Party: Star Rush. In Super Mario Party, Allies will give you their character die to use at will, as well as roll a die that can add a 1 or 2 to your own roll. With four allies, this can guarantee at least 4-8 on a roll, not even including whatever your character rolls. Characters, like DK, that can get you +5 coins or 0 movement on a roll can become a negligible risk when your allies move you along.
There are eight all new items in Super Mario Party, and even those that look familiar, like the Mushroom or Poison Mushroom, have been changed. No longer does a Mushroom allow you to roll two die, but instead it just gives you a +3 to your roll—a +5 if you're using a Golden Dash Mushroom. This can add some stability to your rolls knowing whether that item will actually amount to anything. Some new items include the Peepa Bell that will summon a Peepa to take one coin from an enemy per movement on their next turn or the Golden Drink that does the opposite. The biggest new items are the Ally Phone, which lets you call in an ally, and the Hidden Block Card. Hidden Blocks in the past either reward characters with coins or a star when they land on its unmarked space, but in Super Mario Party you spin a wheel for your prize. These Hidden Block Cards give you that chance at a star no matter where you are on the board.
The first game mode you'll be introduced to is the classic Mario Party. This is the four-player free-for-all where you move around the board honing in on as many stars as you can get. Unlike other Mario Party games with up to seven boards, Super Mario Party only has four. Each of these boards has their own extra features that you need pay attention to, such as King Bob-omb in the Powderkeg Mine counting down to explode or Kamek changing the price on her stars from 5, to 10, or 15. The price per star has also changed to 10 coins each, this reduces the chance of getting to the star space and not being able to purchase a star. In previous Mario Party titles you might earn 3-4 stars over the course of a 10-15 round; in Super Mario Party, you'll see a lot more opportunities to earn and even steal some.
Between rounds, depending on player turns, you'll end up in a free-for-all, 2v2, 3v1, or team minigame. Returning players will know about most of these games, except for the team minigames. You play not just with your character but any Ally you've collected. An example of this could be the tug of war minigame where it's not just how quickly you can tap the right face button; if it's just you and a teammate against the two COM characters and their allies, a 2v6 struggle is going to be an uphill battle. The Team minigames will only start appearing once the first ally has been claimed though, so don't expect to see them immediately. Winning a minigame in the past would net +10 coins for the winners with nothing going to the losers. Super Mario Party tries to help keep everyone in somewhat level footing with decreasing reward values of 8, 6, 4, and 2 coins. Even if you lose 5 minigames in a row you could still have enough for that next star!
At the end of your party, you'll be taken to the star stage where the bonus stars are announced before deciding a winner. Only two bonus stars are given out, and while returning categories like "most minigames won" and "richest" return, there are also new bonuses like "moved least" and "best ally" to throw a little bit more chaos into the mix.
Unlike other Mario Party games that allow players to team up for 2v2 of the normal game mode, Super Mario Party has introduced Partner Party. In Partner Party each of the four boards change from a linear path into a grid system and players pair up at the beginning. As a team, you have a single store of coins, stars, and items, as well as combined dice rolls. To start off, each turn players will roll and combine their numbers; after that, each player's bonuses like items and allies get added to their rolls. Each player gets to move around the grid how they would like, whether you want to walk in a straight line or spin in a circle for a turn. You can also walk through coins, bounce on opponents to steal coins, pick up allies, or make your way towards the star. While most of the board spaces are blank, Kamek has hidden some Bad Luck Spaces on the board that can result in lost coins, items, or even stars if you're unlucky.
There are some additional benefits to moving with your teammate, as well as being apart from them. If you land on the same space with one another, you will get bonus coins, and the star only moves at the end of your team's turn, so you and your friend can both land on it to get two stars at once. Also, if you're across the board from one another after the star moves, one of you might end up close to it. It's in Partner mode that you'll begin to use the high-risk character dice more. It's much easier to take the risk on a high reward character if you can still get a consistently average roll using the other teammate.
When you and your friends are at each other's throats for a stolen star, or that random bonus star, you can all cool off in the four-player co-op mode River Survival. In this game mode, you and your friends are timed going down a river that forks four times into each of the 5 endings. Use the Jon-Cons to paddle down the river, you and your friends will navigate away from obstacles and into balloons to play mini-games and earn additional time. Each mini-game combines the team's score, sometimes in an activity that you do separately and other times you'll need to coordinate. Depending on your rank, you'll gain bonus time to finish out your river adventure. You can play it safe and complete all the minigames to make it to the end with the most time or risk only picking up minigames when needed. Each of the paths has their own hazards and themes too that you'll need to watch out for like rocks, Bloopers, and Cheep Cheep.
Sound Stage is a section for rhythm-based minigames. Across three difficulties you play sets of minigames, mostly swinging the Joy-con in time to a beat. It's a neat idea almost emulating WarioWare with some of the games, but whether it's swinging down for whack-a-mole, to the side for baseball, or left and right for the window washing game, it gives off the impression that there was a good idea for one game that they reused over and over again.
For the true single player experience, and after you've already unlocked Super Mario Party's 84 minigames, you'll get access to Challenge Road. On this linear path, you try to clear extra objectives for each minigame. Sure you might be able to complete a flying saucer minigame, but what if you had to also score a certain number of points? or collect 15 coins without losing a single one walking along a path? Challenge Road gives players a fun additional challenge for when they don't have people around or the time for a full party.
The last of the new modes is Toad's Rec Room. Contained within are four minigames that can be played with two Nintendo Switch Consoles, three of which are playable just on a single console. Banana, Split is the only game requiring two switch consoles where players are challenged to pair upper and lower halves of bananas together, but all the rest of the games can be players in docked, tabletop, or even flat on a surface. While the minigames are enjoyable, the most interesting part about these games is the different look depending on the setup/orientation of the Switch. In Mini League Baseball, laying the console flat gives you a top-down with the batter looking from one direction and the pitcher from the other—similar to Cocktail Table style arcade cabinets—on a stand it shows the same as on the TV, or with two Switch consoles you can get one team on the pitcher view and one team from the batters side. While gameplay wise none of these modes add or take anything away, it's a fun added depth to play.
Minigame mode simply allows players to compete with one another in single minigames, a series of minigames in Mario-thon, and in a Reversi-style gameshow called Square Off, reminiscent of Wario Ware's Milky Way Delirium. These modes can be fun to test yourself, but Mario-thon and Square Off don't hold a candle to any of the other modes.
Super Mario Party Review | Final Thoughts
Super Mario Party has brought back classic Mario Party, players don't need to all travel together in one car, plenty of fun new items and boards with fresh ideas. Partner Party changes up the game while not taking away any fun and River Survival is a fun way to restore those friendships. Though Sound Stage and the additional Minigame modes fall flat there's enough happening here for any fan of Mario Party to want to own this game.
TechRaptor reviewed Super Mario Party on Nintendo Switch with a copy purchased by the reviewer.
- Classic Mario Party boards...
- Partner Party Non-Linear Grid
- Co-op Mode
- ...Only four to pick from
- Sound Stage Reskins