Mario hasn't been throwing the best parties over the past five years or so but this pocket-sized shindig may turn his reputation around. Charge your 3DS, make sure you don't throw away your invitation, and let's get this party started!
The main reason why recent Mario Party games haven't lived up to their predecessors is the fact that the competitive spirit has been replaced with a sense of working together. Heck, one of Mario Party 10's main modes literally had you and your pals play mini-games just to outrun Bowser. Thankfully, Star Rush brings back the competitive nature full throttle. Not only do the three main modes pit you against your pals in exciting star-chasing scenarios, the gameplay is more streamlined than ever. You no longer have to sit, wait, and watch every player take their turn because everyone now moves simultaneously. If you land on the same space as someone else then it's time for a duel! One of my favourite aspects is that you no longer need multiple copies of the game to play Local Wireless multiplayer matches because each player can download the "Party Guest" edition from the eShop in order to join the festivities in their entirety. If you don't want to do this (for some strange reason) then Download Play is available, too.
List of characters in Mario Party Star Rush
Unsurprisingly, the included mini-games are great fun. Some of my favourites include finding a secret room in a haunted house, vacuuming jewels to your specified corner of a room, fishing for Cheep Cheeps with a giant hand, sorting mushrooms on conveyor belts, and a Pac-Man inspired maze filled with coins and Boos. However, the best games by far are the boss fights where you get to battle giant classic Mario enemies such as Petey Piranha, King Boo, Mega Monty Mole, Kamek, and Bowser Jr. In total, there are 26 Free-for-All mini-games, 12 Boss Battles, 12 Coin Chaos games, and 3 Bowser's Gauntlet survival challenges. Although there's a nice variety, there aren't as many mini-games as other Mario Party titles. I found that they started to repeat after playing for a couple hours which was kind of disappointing but I was still having a load of fun. My only other complaint is that it takes way too long to unlock all of the content. Most modes and four characters are locked and you slowly gain access to them by collecting Party Points and levelling up. I don't know about you but I want all of the content in my party games unlocked right off the bat so I can start enjoying it all with my friends immediately.
There are three main modes that all incorporate a variety of mini-games and are played in unique ways so let's have a closer look:
This is by far the most enjoyable mode. You start by controlling different coloured Toads but you collect other Mario characters as you play who join your party. The boards are free-roaming and full of awesome features. Believe it or not, there are actually 15 of them that are divided among five different themed worlds. Anyway, your allies carry different dice that give you an advantage over your opponents and they also join the mini-games as computer-controlled allies. It gets crazy fast. The goal is to work your way to various bosses and defeat them. If you're the first one at a boss then you get to fight it as everyone else catches up. The player who does the most damage earns a star or two and whoever has the most stars by the end of the game wins. It's exciting party gameplay at its best!
Here, you race your opponents by playing through a rotation of three coin-collecting mini-games. Every coin you earn makes your character move one space and whoever crosses the finish line first wins. It's simpler than Toad Scramble but it's also a lot more fast-paced and immediately gratifying. You can use earned items to mess with your competitors, too.
This is basically the same as Toad Scramble except you don't collect allies and fight bosses. The goal is to earn coins via picking them up from the board and winning mini-games then being the first to collect spawning star balloons. Doing so allows you to trade multiples of 10 coins for stars and whoever has the most stars by the end wins. It's more of a classic Mario Party mode but with only three maps, it doesn't have much lasting appeal. Overall, it's fun but you'll quickly go back to Toad Scramble after only a few rounds.
In addition to the three main modes, there are four extra games that add even more variety:
If you like cuteness then this game has what you need. You and three friends basically play instruments to classic Mario songs from games such as Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy, and Dr. Mario. However, all you do is tap the screen to the musical prompts so it's pretty boring. That being said, there's nothing cuter than watching Toadette play a little trumpet.
This is a two-player board game where you take turns moving three characters to the other side of the board as your opponent does the same but in the opposite direction. A great deal of strategy is required and it can actually be quite fun once you understand the involved complexities. All of that being said, you can't play as Toadette for some reason.
Boo's Block Party
I love puzzle games but this one is a bit too simplistic for my tastes. You play by highlighting tiles then tap a button to increase their displayed number. Once you match three in a row, they disappear. It's more a test of speed than strategy which makes it fall flat.
Finally, we have a single-player game. Here, you try to climb towers as high as you can. However, there are pesky Amps hiding on some tiles and touching one will mean game over. To avoid them, you need to follow Minesweeper-style clues. I found this mode to be surprisingly addictive and I'll probably play it whenever I don't have anyone to party with.
Mario Party Star Rush is one of the best games in the series. It may not feature classic boards but the streamlined and accessible gameplay makes competing with friends much more satisfying than you'd expect from a portable title.
- + Highly competitive and streamlined modes are an absolute blast to play with friends
- + All-inclusive multiplayer with just one copy
- + Fantastic mini-games bursting with charm
- - It takes too long to unlock content
- - Could use more mini-games
- - A few modes aren't quite up to par