Bottom line: Super Mario Party is a great party game for local co-op with plenty of mini-games and different modes to enjoy. However, a lack of boards, unfair AI, and lackluster variety can leave players frustrated and bored. Plus, you are forced to use only Joy-Cons.
Plenty of mini-games
Different game modes
Only a few game boards
Can only play with Joy-Cons
Not really a solo experience
Not all mini-games are winners
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We've all been there before; you're hanging out at home or a friend's house and have nothing to do. Finally, someone suggests Mario Party, and the utter chaos begins. Whether on your N64, Wii, DS, or Wii U, there was always a silly way to experience a "board game" with Nintendo's famous mascots. Depending on which Mario Party entry you've played, the fun factor varies from the classics such as Mario Party 2 to the less loved Mario Party 9. It's almost universally agreed upon that the earlier entries did it best.
Super Mario Party for Nintendo Switch aimed to capture the magic of the bygone era of Mario Party while bringing the more positive elements from later franchise entries. The goal was to make the best Mario Party experience to date, and while Super Mario Party is better than some of the more recent games, it still has quite a few areas to improve on.
Super Mario Party: What's good
For starters, Super Mario Party looks great. From the characters to the game boards, everything is incredibly glossy and detailed. It feels like you're playing a classic board game like Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders. If you are playing with fewer than four players, you'll have to select characters to fill out the rest of your party, and they're randomly assigned into three different levels of difficulty. Once your party is together, you can head on to the Party Pad and select your destination.
|Category||Super Mario Party|
|Title||Super Mario Party|
|Play Time||6-10 hours|
While Super Mario Party features classic game boards like previous titles, it also has two other modes: survival and rhythm mode. If you don't feel like jumping into a full-fledged game, you can also choose the mini-games section. Here you can just spam mini-games for hours if you so desire. Each section is slightly different; the board game section is a typical free-for-all, while survival mode is more of a group activity. Rhythm mode is fairly low stakes, but all of the mini-games are based on timing. There's a little something for every player here, and diversity is great for replayability.
Also, if you play long enough, you can unlock additional mini-games, characters, mini-modes like Toad's Rec Room, a new challenge mode in Challenge Road, and another game board. You can also earn achievements, if that's your thing, in the form of gems. None of these perks are difficult to unlock since you can get them by simply playing the game.
Speaking of mini-games, there are a ton here. Super Mario Party contains 80 different mini-games, and they are all designed around the Joy-Con. That does mean you can only play Super Mario Party using the Joy-Cons, but we'll talk more about that later. Each mini-game is designed to utilize the motion controls, and you'll find yourself swinging it wildly about, mashing the buttons, and trying desperately to show enthusiasm on stage.
It's great to have a little variety in the games, but some aren't exactly creative. For instance, one game has players grabbing pancakes off a stack. That was it; grab as many pancakes as you could, including star pancakes, which were worth more. While not every game was a winner, it was refreshing to get new mini-games every playthrough. Plus, you don't have to rely on the board game construct with the different mini-game modes. You can quickly gather up your friends and do a Mariothon, too, a special tournament challenge that can stir friendly competition.
Though you are limited to the Joy-Cons, the game itself was very easy to navigate. This is great for anyone lacking video game experience, and it's perfect for kids, especially since the Joy-Cons are so small. The games aren't hard to play, and some of them can be pretty fun.
Finally, the game boards are pretty great. They are unique with interesting theming, like Whomp's Domino Ruins or King Bob-omb's Powderkeg Mine, which include nods to old-school Mario Party games. A lot is going on too! It has the classic red and blue spaces, but now these maps are full of booby traps, vendors, and a few more things to shake up gameplay. You can even pick up a few Allies to help you roll better or give you the edge on mini-games. As far as multiplayer games go, this one is pretty good for repeat fun.
Super Mario Party: What's not good
While Super Mario Party is a great multiplayer title, it lacks in other areas. Let's address the Boo in the room: the Joy-Con controls. You can't play the game without them, so while this game is best played with four players, you will need two sets of controls to do so. Also, since the Joy-Cons are pretty small, they can be challenging to use for anyone with larger hands or anyone who experiences hand cramping, like me. While typically this wouldn't be a knock on the game itself, these controllers are required — it's unavoidable. So, no playing this on a Switch Lite without some extra Joy-Cons.
When I said multiplayer, the buck kind of stops there. Of course, you could play Super Mario Party alone or with a smaller party, but you run the risk of using the AI. While this doesn't seem bad at first, the AI always seem to have an edge, no matter the difficulty, just on sheer luck.
Wario would always roll top numbers on his special die, and the other NPCs would end up getting positive perks way more often. This wasn't just one playthrough. Whether it was terrible dice rolls, unlucky numbers, or "board timing," the NPCs would always find themselves getting exactly what they needed to pull ahead at the last minute.
However, it's even worse when you're trying to get them to perform well in a cooperative game. This is nothing new to Mario Party games, but Super Mario Party sort of doubles down on it. This game relies heavily on luck over skill, which can be incredibly frustrating. It is possible to win all the mini-games and still lose. Even if you ahead going into the final tally, it's still possible to lose based on Bonus Stars tacked on at the end. Thankfully, you can get rid of this feature.
The biggest issue with the game, however, is the utter lack of variety. Sure, there are 80 mini-games, but there are only four game boards. After a few playthroughs, these can get pretty dull. While there are a few new modes, those too wear thin after a couple of playthroughs. Everything seems to feel recycled after just a few playthroughs.
Super Mario Party: Should you play it?
Super Mario Party can be a fun time, and the thing that really sells it is the mini-games. If you are looking for a fun, family-friendly game, this is a great title to have at the ready. However, be aware of the pitfalls. This game does require a bit of skill, but it's heavily luck-based. You may end up wanting to flip the board (or throw your Joy-Con) by the end. Still, there's plenty here to unlock and fun to be had, if you don't mind just using a Joy-Con.
Bottom line: Super Mario Party can be a great way to pass the time with friends, but unfortunately, a lack of variety in the game boards, forced Joy-Con usage, and game AI keeps this game from being great. Still, it does fix a lot of issues players had with past entries.
Sara is the Freelance Coordinator, writer, and editor at iMore. When not editing or writing away, she's glued to her Nintendo Switch, Xbox, or PS5, though she's a retro gamer at heart.