By Alexander Osornio, Nov. 9, 2021

The Mario Party series is often regarded as the originator of the party game genre, a legacy that is continued with the release of Mario Party Superstars for the Nintendo Switch.

The core gameplay that Mario Party is known for remains in Superstars. Simply put, it is a multiplayer Mario-themed board game where up to four players navigate boards and play minigames after every turn.

The twist that Mario Party Superstars brings to the series is its focus on the series’ Nintendo roots. The 100 minigames it offers are compiled from across the series and use five boards taken from the first three entries on the Nintendo 64 originally released between 1998 and 2001.

The gameplay and presentation of Superstars are all fantastically polished, but only having five boards, all from one era of the series, make it an unfortunately lackluster package.

However, these throwbacks to the series’ past are beautifully revamped in HD quality with updated user interfaces. While these are not one-to-one with their home console originals, they have been perfectly optimized to work with proprietary Switch controllers and button controls.

Notably, the online play is unexpectedly more streamlined. Were it not for the lack of voice chat, it often felt like the online players were in the room while playing.

Players compete to win the most stars by buying them with coins, stealing them from other players or by landing on the spaces that grant them stars through hidden blocks. The player with the most stars and coins at the end of a game wins.

This formula makes the game a wonderfully chaotic experience with players thwarting other players and the occasional playful argument. It is far from the most balanced multiplayer experience, but the unpredictable nature of it makes it an absolute blast to rejoice in with friends.

Although the boards in Mario Party Superstars are all taken from the Nintendo 64 Mario Party games, nearly half of the minigames are taken from the series’ entries on the GameCube and Wii. (Alexander Osornio | The Poly Post)

None of this is new; these are all staples of the Mario Party series, but their inclusion in Superstars is a notable departure from other recent entries.

The first eight entries on home consoles were all developed by Hudson Soft, a now-defunct game studio that carried the series for its first eight entries with a time-tested board game formula with looping boards, independently moving players and competing over coins and stars.

Later entries developed by Nintendo subsidiary NDCube detracted from the series blueprint by having all players move together on the board, having boards be simple beginning-to-end paths and a decreased emphasis on collecting stars or coins.

With Superstars, the series is brought closer to the original formula.

Considering how this game is intended to be a celebration of the series, it is baffling that it would skimp on the number of boards provided when past entries in the series usually had at least six boards. At the time of writing, there has been no official word on whether these will be added in future updates.

This oversight goes against what Superstars seems to be aiming for considering how much it borrows from earlier entries in the series. The people who played the first few Mario Party games when they were young are likely at the age where they feel nostalgic for them and want to experience them again.

For fans of the first few games, there will be many moments in which they might say, “I remember that,” whenever an older mini game comes up on screen or a unique board event happens.

This generation of fans seems to be the prime demographic for Mario Party Superstars, and yet they are likely to be left hungry for more of what they grew up with the limited number of boards. What the game offers currently is already a great well of content, but it is one that runs dry sooner than hoped for.

However, the inclusion and improvements on past game staples cannot be understated and serve as a welcome throwback for fans of the original games as well as those looking to play them for the first time. It’s safe to say that no matter where the series goes from here, there will always be a reason to fire up Mario Party Superstars.

Featured image courtesy of Alexander Osornio.

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