Mario Party Superstars Review: Shining Like a Super Star

Mario Party Superstars is the best of classic Mario Party in one package, and it's just as glorious as it's ever been.

If you look through old etiquette books or on the Internet, you’re bound to come across plenty of advice for throwing the perfect party. You need guests, the best entertainment, and the perfect food. And above all, you must put your attendees first.

In Mario Party Superstars, you also put your friends first — first in line to get shoved into a pit of spiky death as you walk away with a bag of coins and a heart full of mischievous glee.

Mario Party throws the rules of etiquette and polite society out the window, and it’s all the better for it. Superstars is the best of Mario Party, but also the best Mario Party has been in a long time.

Mario Party Superstars Review: Shining Like a Super Star

Mario Party Superstars is classic Mario Party to the core. Four players compete to earn as many stars and coins as possible, and there’s a minigame at the end of each round. It does away with the fluff from some of the more recent Parties too.

There’s no Ballyhoo, no push to cooperate, and not even a gimmick such as switching to day or night. It’s just you, a board, 100 mini-games, and a party of three other victims willing participants. 

Partygoers don’t even have to be friends, though of course, it’s more fun with friends. Playing Mario Party with bots feels sad and more like a training mode, but thankfully, you can team up with other players online.

As with some of Nintendo's other online games, though, the stability is often not as good as it could be. Everyone playing with a wired connection helps mitigate most of the lag, though that's hard to set up if you're playing with random people.

Still, there’s a special brand of chaos in playing Mario Party with random people, and it’s a safe option thanks to Nintendo having no easy way to implement voice chat. 

You get stickers to communicate instead, a collection of Mario characters in silly poses with single words or phrases attached. Spamming “Yes” or “Nice one” when someone has an unlucky turn is obnoxious. It’s still much easier to deal with than hate speech or harassment, and in the right circumstances, stickers are actually quite fun to use.

There’s typically no shortage of humorous or humorously unfortunate happenings in any of Mario Party Superstars’ five boards. They might be familiar to longtime fans, but there’s a good reason Nintendo brought these classics back from the Nintendo 64 era: they still hold up marvelously well.

Horror Land and Space Land are particular highlights, but even the deceptively simple Peach’s Birthday Cake has a few tricks that keep things interesting. 

There’s a handful of changes to each board, though nothing significant. Space Land, for example, presents the laser counter in a slightly different way than before and doesn’t give you snazzy space suits, but the biggest difference is just how good the boards look. Mario Party Superstars, with its surprisingly detailed textures and splashes of visual embellishment thrown in unexpected places, might be one of the best-looking Nintendo games yet. 

Nintendo gets a lot of flack for its re-releases and remakes, but Superstars is one of the more thoughtfully considered ones. The improvements are most apparent in the boards and minigames from the Nintendo 64 Mario Parties, and Superstars skews in favor of those N64 classics.

The Wii and Wii U Virtual Consoles were the only way to play those until now, and they still looked as dated as you’d expect. Getting to play refined versions was a treat for someone like me who loves Mario Party but only started with Mario Party 4.

There are still plenty of mini-games from Mario Party 4 and Mario Party 5, and some mechanics, such as duels, are likely familiar to those who played later entries. The main focus is firmly on the legacy Mario Parties, though, and with good reason.

The mini-games are some of the most fun I’ve had with the series in ages, and the relative simplicity works in their favor. Tracing a precise line, or deciding not to and making ridiculous shapes instead, and shining a spotlight on a convicted Mario criminal as they try getting away are far more fun than they have any right to be.

Motion controls are finicky and often imprecise, so I’m pleased to see they have no place in any of Superstars’ mini-games. It’s just classic, comfortable, comforting Mario Party, though “comforting” is subjective and often fleeting when the endgame rolls around with its bonus stars. 

That said, Mario Party Superstars is practically crying out for (hopefully free) DLC. The five boards are lovely, but more would be splendid, and there's still plenty of excellent mini-games I'd love to revisit.

Mario Party Superstars Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Excellent mix of classic boards and mini-games
  • So much attention to detail in the remastered boards and games
  • No motion control required
  • Easy online play
  • The formula is just as fun as it ever was

Cons

  • Laggy online at times
  • Five boards aren't very many

The Switch has no shortage of multiplayer games, but there's a strong case that Mario Party Superstars is among the best on the platform. I've had more fun with it than I've had in a long time, even with laggy internet and the occasional spammy rando.

It's some of the best of Mario Party, and I only hope we see even more added to it in the coming months.

[Note: Nintendo provided the copy of Mario Party Superstars used for this review]

Our Rating
9
Mario Party Superstars is the best of classic Mario Party in one package, and it's just as glorious as it's ever been.
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch

Contributor

Josh Broadwell started gaming in the early '90s. But it wasn't until 2017 he started writing about them, after finishing two history degrees and deciding a career in academia just wasn't the best way forward. You'll usually find him playing RPGs, strategy games, or platformers, but he's up for almost anything that seems interesting.

Published Nov. 10th 2021

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