Picture this, if you will: You’re neck-deep in a game of Mario Party Superstars. You’ve got one star under your belt, and there’s a single round to go. You’re three spaces away from claiming your second star from Toadette, and you’re going to win. You can feel it in your bones. Then, another player rolls a four. They activate a Bowser special event, and he kicks Toadette and her star halfway across the map.
Somebody else rolls a five, and claims Toadette’s star. You lose. Badly. Then some bonus stars come into play at the end of the game, and suddenly you’re in fourth place. Dead last.
Mario Party Superstars is a mean, mean game — all this happened to me in a single round. But while it’s easy to feel frustrated by the game’s meanness, it’s also what makes it so fun.
So many times I was close to victory, and so many times the game pulled the rug out from under me.
When you’re on the winning side of the equation, travelling through the game’s many boards is an absolute blast. You can spend whole rounds getting lucky dice rolls and landing on squares that give excellent boons.
On one turn, I managed to nab a special warp pipe that would take me directly to Toadette’s star. On another turn, I landed on a Bowser space, and he ended up stealing and dividing all my coins between the other players.
These are the rampant highs and lows of Mario Party Superstars, which can throw for you for a loop or hand-deliver you victory. It’s not always fair, but it is a very fair representation of what it’s like playing board games in real life.
If you’ve played classic GameCube and
The last instalment on
It all depends on chance, with a minor dose of player decision-making.
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The moment I felt comfortable in my first place position was the moment everything started to go wrong. But while it was a surprise to see victory dancing from my grasp, it also meant every game was competitive.
Even on easy CPU mode, each board was a challenge. It meant even if I was able to nab a star, victory wasn’t guaranteed. I needed to actually try in every mini-game, and hoard coins like a dragon to give myself some padding as other players advanced.
Each board was more difficult than the last, and I particularly struggled with higher difficulty boards like Horror Land, which features gimmicks like thieving ghosts, teleporting eyes and locked gates to stop players from coasting to victory.
Including this board from Mario Party 2 was a fantastic decision.
It really is a difficult board to travel through, and each trick spot adds the layer of surprise that was missing from Super Mario Party. As players romp through the board, there’s decisions to make: Do you waste keys to open a shortcut? Rely on the teleporting eye to bring you to the right place? Steal coins from other players, knowing they’ll hate you for it?
These decisions make the entire game far more stressful, but also more interesting because you can’t just breeze through. You have to earn your victory first.
Still, the fun is in the chase — and Mario Party Superstars shines with a great range of mini-games that represent a franchise-best lineup.
Every few rounds, players will be pitted against each other in a battle to earn coins from one of 100 randomised mini-games. What’s involved ranges from drawing to fruit-collecting, racing, jungle-swinging, cube-rolling, and palm-burning classics like ‘Tug o’ War’.
There really aren’t any outright duds amongst them — but there are plenty of stand-out favourites. The river rapids mini-game provides plenty of laughs as three players attempt to drive one player into logs and debris. The drawing mini-game where players work together to encircle Toads is another gem.
I didn’t grow up with a GameCube or a
If you’ve played a Mario Party before, you know what you’re getting here: board gaming segments, with some mini-games to break up individual moves. There’s no overarching story here, no important collectibles to find and no real ‘purpose’ behind the game.
It’s just good, clean multiplayer fun with a ‘Mario’ lick of paint.
Over the last decade,
With a great collection of classic mini-games and a surprising level of challenge, even for experienced players, there’s plenty to love about Mario Party Superstars. While it can be unfair at times, the randomness of the game keeps emotions high, spicing it up for everyone and making each new game fresh.
Four stars: ★★★★
Mario Party Superstars
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: Out Now
A copy of Mario Party Superstars for