Everyone's favourite mustachioed hero has been throwing epic parties since before the turn of the century. Seeing as he had the moxie to prepend the word Super to his latest mini-game fueled bash, let's see if it's deserving of its title.
The main event
First things first: Super Mario Party contains classic-style boards that up to 4 players can compete or cooperate on. Great news, right? After selecting a character from the large cast of 20 (including rare appearances by Bowser Jr. and Diddy Kong as well as series newcomers Pom Pom, Goomba, and Monty Mole), you can jump straight into a board game match in the appropriately named Mario Party mode. There, you can choose from the boards Whomp's Domino Ruins, King Bob-omb's Powderkeg Mine, Megafruit Paradise, and Kamek's Tantalizing Tower after unlocking it. For the record, Kamek is Super Mario Party's antagonist instead of Bowser. Anyway, moving around the boards while trying to collect the most stars and playing super-fun mini-games for coins is extremely enjoyable, especially with friends. Plus, the general gameplay formula should be very familiar to series veterans.
Party with a partner
Aside from the basic competitive formula, you can also play with two competing teams. Partner Party mode uses the same board themes as Mario Party mode although instead of being composed of preset paths, these boards are free-roaming much like the ones in Mario Party Star Rush's awesome Toad Scramble mode. This mode is ideal for those who want to challenge AI opponents as a team or for couples who want to duke it out. Now would be a good time to mention that the graphics and sound in Super Mario Party are spot-on for good times. The characters and environments are vibrant and full of life and the ability to high five each other whenever you're on a team adds a layer of comradery that you usually don't get in similar games. In the end, these 2 main modes are very different yet equally fun.
Rollin' on the river
Next, there's an entirely cooperative experience in the form of River Survival mode. Here, you row a raft down a river with motion controls. There are plenty of branching paths which reminded me of Sega's classic arcade racer Out Run. Anyway, dodging hazards as a team while popping the occasional balloon in order to play a mini-game that rewards extra time makes for a winning cooperative formula. If you can get four friends together, this mode can be a ton of fun, especially while yelling at each other to start or stop rowing so you can pop those precious balloons. Overall, River Survival offers an enjoyable alternative to the board game setup.
Rhythm is gonna get'cha
Back to the competitive side of the equation, Sound Stage mode has four competitors play a succession of rhythm-based mini-games in order to claim the title of ultimate performer. Although I didn't expect much from this mode, I actually had a ton of fun with it and it ended up being my go-to mode for playing Super Mario Party with my wife. If you'd like, you can watch our gameplay video of Sound Stage mode to see it in action. The motion controls work beautifully and being able to time certain mini-games can be super-tricky. As a result, Sound Stage mode ends up being a fast-paced and impressively challenging way to play.
Other ways to party
First off, you can play the unlocked mini-games in Free Play, Mariothon, and Square Off modes. There are 80 mini-games in total which is a solid selection. Some of my favourites include Sphere Mongers where you pick up spheres with magnets, Fuzzy Flight School which is a fun game where you fly forward through a tunnel while avoiding hazards, and Penguin Pushers where you cooperate to guide penguins to their goal. The mix of gameplay styles is fantastic but you likely won't enjoy all of the mini-games equally.
Next, there are a few side games that you can play in Toad's Rec Room. Mini League Baseball is a cute take on the sport, Shell Shocked Deluxe plays a lot like Atari's classic Combat, and Puzzle Hustle has you and a few friends push and pull puzzle pieces in order to assemble 8-bit Mario-themed sprites. There is also a game called Banana, Split but it requires 2 Switch consoles so I have yet to try it.
Finally, once you unlock all of the mini-games, you can play through the single player Challenge Road to see how far you can get. It can be pretty tough to master so only hardcore partygoers will be able to survive this shindig!
Why isn't it called Mario Party 11?
We aren't 100% sure why Nintendo didn't simply call this Mario Party 11 but a couple of theories make a lot of sense. First of all, not everyone enjoyed the most recent numbered sequels so it's possible that Nintendo wanted to make this game seem like a fresh new start. Another reason could be that the portable Mario Party games always have different names and considering the Switch is a portable system, perhaps they decided to give it a unique name, too.
On top of all of the ways to play, there are a few collectibles to unlock. The most prestigious of which are the gems which act as Super Mario Party's achievements and are basically awarded upon fully completing the main modes. You can also unlock stickers via purchasing them with Party Points or scanning amiibo figures then you can use them to decorate various picture boards.
Take the party online
Super Mario Party includes an online multiplayer component but it's not as exciting as you'd expect. All it consists of is Mariothon matches which have you play through 5 preset mini-games in order to see who wins. There are different sets of mini-games known as Cups and they change every once in a while but considering that's all there is to online multiplayer, I can't help but feel a little disappointed.
I don't mean to be a party pooper
Aside from the less than stellar online aspect, Super Mario Party has a couple of other downsides. The most notable of which is that there are essentially only 4 boards in the main modes which isn't that many. Also, they're much smaller and less complex than ones featured in past installments. Finally, the control options are extremely limited. You essentially have to play with the Joy-Con detached so if you want to play by yourself on the go, you can't hold the Switch comfortably in your hands like you can with most games.
When it comes to multiplayer fun, you can't do much better than Super Mario Party. The variety of modes and mini-games is so phenomenal that you'll gladly boot it up whenever you have friends or family over. That is, until Super Mario Party 2 releases.
- + Fantastic variety of competitive and cooperative modes and side-games
- + Super-fun collection of mini-games
- + Presentation provides a great sense of fun
- - Only has 4 somewhat small boards
- - Inadequate online component
- - Limited control options