Mario Party Superstars is a nostalgia-trip of iconic boards, Bumper Balls, and new improvements on the original Nintendo 64 and Nintendo GameCube games. I recruited three of my colleagues to join me in playing Horror Land, a board from 2000’s Mario Party 2 on N64. It’s so crazy seeing Birdo and Waluigi walking around this classic board I first played 21 years ago. Horror Land has a day/night cycle every two turns and includes a new transition animation for when the time changes. This board also allows Whomps to finally get a good night's rest, and you can’t wake them up to get by. In 2018’s Super Mario Party, you only needed 10 coins for a Star, but in Mario Party Superstars, you’ll need 20 coins to buy a Star. Toadette has to adjust for inflation, after all.
My absolute favorite new feature of Mario Party Superstars are the stickers. That’s right, stickers! Think of it as a quick chat feature while you play on a board. Sure, it’s a blast yelling and laughing with your friends in-person, but there’s something so rewarding about also communicating through what are essentially Nintendo emojis. With just a tap of the control stick, you can send a crying Toad saying “Gah!”, an angry Goomba that says “Bring It!”, or even select your own character yelling a distressed “Whaaat?!” The best part is that every time you send a sticker, a quick sound effect of the character plays, which makes it even funnier and more engaging than a traditional quick chat. You can send a sticker at any time during anyone’s turn, and you can unlock more stickers with collected coins. The (very large) sticker appears in your corner of the screen next to your player icon, and you can send the same sticker every few seconds as a distraction in hopes that your opponent accidentally selects “No, Thanks” when buying a Star. (I can dream, right?)
Superstars is the first Mario Party Nintendo Switch game that you can play in handheld mode. 2018’s Super Mario Party featured motion controls, so you could never play the game with Joy-Con controllers attached. Mario Party Superstars gets rid of that rule, and now every board and minigame can be played with button controls, preserving the experience of the original Mario Party games. You can also now play Mario Party Superstars natively on a Nintendo Switch Lite (no need to pair Joy-Con controllers), and you can finally use your Nintendo Switch Pro Controller! No more angrily waving around your Joy-Con trying to throw a basketball in a Cheep Cheep’s mouth.
We all know boards can get hectic in the last five turns, but in Mario Party Superstars you can add turns to your existing board game. If you’re in last place AND you can convince your friends to give you a chance to catch up, then this option is for you! Press pause and you can add turns at any time (except during the last turn, Toad can only do so much). The pause menu also lets you change things like text speed from “Normal” to “Slow” or “Fast.” If you’re like me and have played so many Mario Party games, you can now fly through NPC dialogue and get to the minigames even quicker. Other quality-of-life upgrades include being able to save your board game and pick up where you left off, so feel free to do 30 turns and play the long game! You can save up to 10 different board game sessions at a time. Once the game is over and the winner is announced, Toad will comment on your specific play style with a custom piece of artwork showing every player in the order that they placed. It’s very cool and I took a LOT of screenshots of it using the capture button on the Switch.
Mt. Minigames is a new location where you’ll be able to play all 100 minigames immediately in a variety of different modes, including Free Play, Coin Battle, Daily Challenge, Survival, Sports and Puzzles, Trio Challenge, and Tag Match. Of course the first thing I did was run to Free Play and play Bumper Balls ten times in a row. A cool thing about Bumper Balls and other specific minigames, is that you can actually choose which stage variation to play in. With Bumper Balls you can choose between a scary lava-based stage, a slippery ice-based stage, or a rocky island-based stage. Once you’re done playing Bumper Balls (impossible), you can jump into Trio Challenge to play all those tricky 3 vs. 1 minigames. I love being the solo player and seeing if I'm going to have the minigame’s advantage or disadvantage.
Mario Party fans old and new will enjoy playing Mario Party Superstars, and this game seems like a love letter to some of the most iconic boards and minigames from the N64 and GameCube era. My favorite tiny detail was every minigame you play will show which Mario Party game it came from, along with a cute N64 or GameCube icon. Never forget where you came from!