Mario Party Superstars Review – Brand New Shine, Same Old Pain

Mario Party Superstars Review

Everyone has fond memories of the Mario Party games. They’re colorful, whimsical, timeless treasures that never fail to amaze and delight the whole family. Except when you get bumped to last place by a garbage dice roll, or one of your treacherous siblings, or the sinister RNG. Actually, most of those fond memories might be fabricated. Mario Party games are a layer cake of frustration, savage joy, and insidious evil. Mario Party Superstars is a greatest hits mix of maps from the first three games. It’s the perfect chance to catch up on your Mario Party history. Or maybe you just want to dredge up some decades-old feuds. The choice is yours!

You’ve got five maps to choose from, each with their own set of rules. If your last/only experience with the franchise is Super Mario Party, you’ll have some adjustments to make. Not many! But little things, like Toadette’s behavior or the lack of assistants, might throw you off. Honestly it shouldn’t be any kind of problem. This is still Mario Party, after all. The real treat comes if you actually remember the older games. These classic maps have gotten a real makeover.

That Famous Nintendo Polish

Sort of. Everything looks amazing! The controls, the music, and the visuals all have that famous Nintendo polish layered on thick. It’s actually quite fascinating. The ease with which these maps were brought to the modern era highlights how little has changed in the series overall. On the other hand, you get little snapshots of the old versions during the intro for every map, and gosh! They used to be downright nasty. 3D graphics just age so badly in such a short time, it’s quite remarkable. At least the heartless, mechanical cruelty remains perfectly preserved.

Mario Party Superstars

In fact, these old maps are a perfect case study for how much nicer the series has gotten. Stars are more expensive, items are a little worse, and leads are harder to upset. On top of that, the Bowser sections get positively brutal. Punishments from the Koopa king routinely sweep up every player, making every failure extra costly. Like the rest of the changes, these aren’t drastic or overstated. You just find yourself reaching for some tangible link to your most recent senseless loss. Maybe it’s the fault of the old mechanics, you’ll ask yourself. It’s not like Mario Party games have always been needlessly cruel or anything. And look, now you can skip right to the minigames!

One of the two new innovations with this version is the minigame mode. You can play all 100 of them in sets, at random, or by choice. This is perfect for brushing up on a given game, or for a more compact play session. Maybe you don’t wanna play for a whole ten or fifteen turn session. Maybe you just want to drop in for a few minutes. Well now you can! Better still, certain versions of the minigame mode earn you coins. These are funneled into the other innovation, the stickers.

Mario Party Superstars

Playing Switch games online is a cumbersome beast at the best of times. Things get even hairier if you’re hoping to communicate with the people you’re playing with. Here’s where the stickers come in. They’re bright, beautiful, and great at quickly expressing a wide range of emotions in decidedly non-toxic ways. Plus, it’s something to spend all those coins on! I’d much rather slap a sticker on screen than bite back a murderous growl over some nonsense event space. It’s a simple, but effective communication tool that also scratches that collectible itch.

Say It With Stickers

Superstars fills a weird niche for Mario Party fans. If you’re missing the old maps, this is a great way to dredge them up without suffering through the ancient visuals. Conversely, if you’re looking for more modern Mario Party action, this entry will fall a bit short of your expectations. Little things have been rolled back, little problems persist. That game where you rip open your palm to win at tug-of-war is back, for example. The game looks modern, but feels more like a classic entry in the franchise. If the thing you were missing was frustration and elation in equal measure, then yours will be a rich bounty indeed. For better and for worse, this is a heaping helping of the cruel whimsy you remember so well. Mario Party Superstars is a glamorous trip down cherished paths you’ve mostly blocked from your memory.

***A Nintendo Switch code was provided by the publisher***


The Good

  • The old maps look amazing
  • Convenient minigame modes
  • Stickers for every occasion

The Bad

  • Missing some modern touches
  • RNG still terribly cruel
  • Tug-of-war game still hurts