Arts video game review

Minigames galore and chasing for stars

You don’t have to lose your friendships in Super Mario Party

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Mario, Princess Peach, and a party of other characters in the new 'Super Mario Party' game for the Nintendo Switch.
Courtesy of Nintendo

Super Mario Party
Developed by ND Cube
Published by Nintendo
Rated E for Everyone
Available on Nintendo Switch

Super Mario Party brings back the beloved Mario Party game series with better gameplay, innovative usage of the Nintendo Switch console, and a multitude of modes. A classic party game, Super Mario Party can be played with up to four players for rounds of strategic and exhilarating fun.

Though this version in the series keeps to the original board-game like structure, there are many improvements from some of its predecessors. One distinguishing attribute of this game is its use of the Switch’s Joy-Cons. Some minigames require the use of their built-in gyroscope or well-controlled vibrations. In this way, Super Mario Party really highlights the new technology used in the controllers through all of the different minigames.

The most distinguishing feature of Super Mario Party compared to past Mario Party games may be the character designs. Now, characters have their own special dice blocks that have different advantages. For example, Donkey Kong’s block has a +5 coin side, three 0-sides, and two 10-sides, whereas Shy Guy’s has one 0-side and five 4-sides. The characters are no longer simply place markers with different appearances, but an actual part of the game strategy.

In addition, there are many different game modes, the most well-known being the classic four-person Mario Party mode, returning to the individual movement that existed until Mario Party 8. The Partner Party mode, the new 2v2 form, is similar in terms of the game board, but it allows characters to move in any path they want, not having to follow the designated spaces. Moving on the grid-based board becomes rather like a parity problem, with characters often unable to reach the star because they had an even or odd number of steps. This motivates the team farther from the star not to give up on it, and, although tricky, gives players more flexibility to go towards different spaces.

Living up to its name as “Party,” the game requires a lot of communication and strategizing among the players in some modes. I particularly appreciated the River Survival mode, where four characters have to work together to paddle through while catching extra time and balloons to access the minigames and avoiding obstacles along the way.

The surprising, hidden treasure of the game is definitely Sound Stage, a mode of three difficulties with a collection of rhythm-based games. The controller movement is pretty intuitive, and the vibrations often helping the player catch the beat. Make sure to have the Joy-Con strap on and to swing with a reasonable width, or you may end up accidentally chucking your Joy-Con across the room or getting the “Your swing is too wide” warning. If a normal Mario Party game was too long for one play, you could play a couple minigames in Minigame mode, but I highly recommend Sound Stage if you want a quicker, more exciting type of fun.

Super Mario Party brings back the most iconic parts of the Mario Party series, but with an integration of the new controller, some gameplay edits to make it more strategic, and different modes to satisfy any crowd of players gathered together. This game has been released since Oct. 5, so if you want a high-quality game for your Switch, check this out!