Super Mario Party (Switch) Review

A Super Star Shindig

Mario Party is one of those series that most gamers have played at least once, whether as the host of Mario’s minigame shenanigans or as an unwilling participant to an all-night 50-turn board game. Once a yearly franchise, the series hasn’t seen a console release since Mario Party 9 and 10 controversially changed key gameplay mechanics. That is, until now, with the Nintendo Switch release of Super Mario Party, which restores the core experience, alongside a handful of new modes.

Here’s my Video Review for your viewing pleasure!

The main attraction is Party mode, pitting four players on a digital game board. Unlike Mario Party 9/10 where players moved together in a car, everyone travels independently by rolling dice in Super Mario Party. Scattered throughout the board are special events that alter the game state, shops that sell helpful items, and luck-based spaces that randomly help or hurt you. The goal is to collect the most stars by reaching the character Toadette and paying her coins earned from minigames. It’s as classic as it gets for the series, down to the gut-wrenching blows of losing it all because your friend decided to steal your stars.

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The playable cast is bigger than ever.

The minigames, played at the end of every turn, are creatively fresh and utterly charming. Whether a battle royale, 2v2, or 1v3 minigame, I was always looking forward to the next challenge. Standouts include Slaparazzi, a game where you punch others out of the way so you can be front and center in a photographer’s picture, and Gridiron Gauntlet, which tasks you to survive on a field with rampaging Chargin’ Chucks. Some guessing games cleverly take advantage of the Joy-Con’s HD Rumble, the high-tech feature that allows players to distinguish different rumble patterns. There are 80 minigames, though only 60 are available for standard parties, with the remaining ones relegated to other modes.

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A photo showing what actually happens after a Mario Party.

Most games are played with standard Joy-Con buttons, while others utilize motion controls. Most motion games require simple movements, but some had finicky calibration, such as Sizzling Stakes, where I had trouble flicking and rotating the Joy-Con like a frying pan. The only dud minigames were the more random luck-based ones, such as Maths of Glory, where victories are determined by dice rolls. It’s worth noting that only single Joy-Con control is supported due to the specific motions required. As such, you unfortunately can’t play with a Pro Controller or in handheld mode. At least the Switch tablet’s tabletop mode is an option for portable play with friends.

Some noteworthy gameplay changes inspired by the 3DS titles spruce up the party. First of all, who you play as matters. Each character in the large roster of 20 has their own customized dice block that you can roll in place of a normal six-sided die. For example, Mario has a balanced dice block that has a 50% chance of rolling a 3, while Bowser’s risky block yields either really high or low numbers. In addition, you may gain ally characters. They not only grant you their special dice block, but also travel along with you, rolling bonus dice and even joining along for some minigames. The character individuality rewards thoughtful strategies, granting players more agency to guide the fate of their rolls.

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The new boards are explosive.

While these mechanics provide much-needed depth, Party mode is otherwise limited. There are only four boards, and they’re smaller and more linear than in previous entries. The themed board backdrops are visually appealing, from a set of fruit-based islands connected by unstable bridges to a factory where entire areas are subject to Bob-omb explosions. However, the condensed quantity and sizes significantly reduce the replay value. I found myself looping around maps in the same patterns more frequently. It doesn’t help that full games tend to drag. Even though the turn count is now limited to 10, 15, or 20, every sluggish animation slows down the action considerably. Ten turns take a full hour, where older Mario Party games would let you plow through 20 in that same time.

As a compromise, there are several new modes. The most engaging is Partner Party for teams of two. As you might expect, teams share stars and all minigames are 2v2. The real game-changer is that you and your teammate have free movement on the board, which is now represented as a square grid, similarly to strategy RPGs. Consequently, more weight is given to team planning and precise dice rolls as opposed to plain luck. It’s a fine substitute for standard play, but it suffers from the same issue of having only four small boards.

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Help, I’m stuck on a boat with Wario.

River Survival is a surprisingly enjoyable co-op challenge where four players must safely navigate their inflatable raft down a river within a time limit. The only way to finish in time is to communicate effectively, paddle like a team, and complete cooperative minigames to add seconds to the clock. It’s a refreshing change from the typical ruthlessness of Mario Parties, and my team had fun facing the unique adversities around every riverbend together and high-fiving after victory. Again, like with every other mode, replayability is limited with only about a dozen routes and ten minigames that repeat constantly.

The same problem is present in the entertaining but less exciting Sound Stage mode, consisting of ten rhythm minigames where you make motion-controlled gestures in time with the beat – wielding a baton, for instance. It’s a short ten-minute diversion, but the tunes and motion mechanics synergize well. If anything, I desired a more drawn-out version of this mode, or perhaps a new Rhythm Heaven for Switch. Toad’s Rec Room, a collection of four stand-alone minigames, feels like more of a showcase for Switch functions than anything else. Depending on how you position the Switch tablet and on the number of consoles, the games, which include baseball and puzzles, alter slightly, though it doesn’t make them any more viable for extended play. Rounding out the package is Challenge Road, a single-player gauntlet of missions encompassing all 80 minigames, akin to Minigame Island in previous titles. This brief campaign was a great way to unwind when other local players weren’t around.

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Major Toadette’s Majestic March

Of course, the real fun of Super Mario Party lies in having one to three other people to play with. In addition to every mode I’ve mentioned thus far, you and your friends can play the minigames individually or try out specialized compilations: Square Off and Mariothon. The former is set up like a game show where you fill in panels on a grid if you win minigames, and the latter is a five round competition for the gold. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the Mariothon only features ten games, so it quickly grows stale. It’s truly disappointing that Mariothon is the only mode available for online play. For a series where fans have been pining endlessly for online parties, you are limited to ten minigames. No boards, not even the full gamut of minigames – just a tedious competition that occasionally lags.

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Peach high-fiving Bowser is my new canonical ending for every Mario game.

Conclusion

Super Mario Party’s core Party mode and excellent minigames are the true Super Stars in this package. However, they’re diluted by the extra modes. While some are genuinely engaging, such as the team-based Partner Party and the fully cooperative River Survival, others feel like afterthoughts. Everything included can still be hilarious fun with a good group of friends, but a sharper focus on the classic board game/minigame combo and an increased online presence would have enhanced its longevity. As it is now, Super Mario Party may not be the life of the party, but it’s a solid step in the right direction for this long-running series.

Score: 7/10

Note: A review copy was used for this article. This review was posted on DarkStation.

What do you think of Super Mario Party? What’s your favorite game in the Mario Party series? How about your favorite minigames? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below! Thank you so much for reading and watching!

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35 thoughts on “Super Mario Party (Switch) Review

  1. Only FOUR boards?! Man, that’s just pitiful. I used to love Mario Party games so much back in the day (my fave is MP2). Nowadays I feel like Mario Party can’t compete with real board games, since there are so many good ones!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, four boards is pretty low for Mario Party, especially considering they’re pretty small and linear… Mario Party 2 is an awesome choice! I think my favorite might be the first one for nostalgia and boards (even though I hated those minigames where I had to rotate the control stick quickly, destroying my hand in the process). I also love Mario Party 3 for the minigames and duel mode. Yeah, real board games are better nowadays. I’d love to see a physical version of Mario Party, besides that odd e-Reader card board game they made long ago… 😮

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  2. Great review!! Seeing that new canonical Bowser and Peach ending was the life of my party! I haven’t played Mario Party since Mario Party 10, but it sounds like the 3DS additions work pretty well here. Also, I prefer the return of individually traversing the board rather than being together in a car. I really like the addition of Goomba as a playable character just because it makes no sense. The co-op modes were really fun, especially Partner Party. Being able to control my path to some degree is fascinating for Mario Party, and it really does remind me of a strategy RPG. My favorite has to be River Survival. The full co-op is so much fun and hilarious! But I’m not sure if Super Mario Party will last past the first few games with such few boards… Certainly a fun diversion for an hour or two at a time. I think it’ll be a hit with the family at vacation! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement as always! I’m so glad that you could be an active part of this review by playing Super Mario Party with me! Mario Party 9 and 10 were disappointing because of the car mechanic where everyone traveled together. I mean, it was fine at first in 9, but when it returned in Mario Party 10, I realized that it wasn’t the direction I wanted the series to go. I do like that all of Bowser’s minions, and Bowser himself, are all invited to Mario’s party! I prefer playing as them, especially Goomba, Shy Guy, and Koopa. And of course, Bowser, but I’m sure you know that based on my new canonical ending between Bowser and Peach hahaha!

      The co-op is great, and I enjoyed both Partner Party AND River Survival, but I wish there were more to the actual Mario Party mode. It’s like they tried to spread out everything too thin and ended up with a lot of modes but not much in each one. Only 4 boards and some minigames split up isn’t as fun. Oh well, I guess we’ll see the ultimate test: playing Super Mario the family at vacation hahaha! Thanks again! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I miss playing these games. I haven’t played one for a long time as it’s rare I have enough people around to make it worthwhile (at the price point anyway). I always loved Mario Party 4, but that’s more because it’s the one my friends and I always played as a teenager.

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    1. Of all the ones on GameCube, Mario Party 4 is also my favorite. It was the first real visual upgrade to the series. I mean, it’s not like the looks have changed that much over the systems haha. I also got to enjoy the GameCube ones randomly with friends, though I honestly couldn’t remember which ones they were if they weren’t 4 since they all tend to blend together. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed 4 so much! Though yea, I totally understand how not worth it is without people to play with locally. It’s a real shame that online isn’t ideal in Super Mario Party…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed, this is one game that really needs that local competitiveness. We really like the Jackbox games for group play here, as they’re super light to play with anyone, regardless of their capacity to use a controller. Plus the price is a lot more agreeable.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Mm, yeah, I think Jackbox Party Pack is definitely the new standard for party video games, just because it works so well for casual play and yet doesn’t completely rely on luck. You don’t even need controllers, and they end up being so hilarious! Are you picking up Jackbox Party Pack 5??

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review!

    This was one of my most anticipated Switch games, as I felt it needed some quick, family-friendly minigames since 12Switch was so overpriced and limited in gameplay. But it seems like everyone’s on the same page with this entry — nice individual dice blocks, boards too few and small, too much emphasis on all the extra modes when only 1 or 2 are needed, etc.

    Hoping they’ll manage to improve things in the next Mario Party! I especially hope there will be more ways to play outside of a single Joy-Con.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! I will say that Super Mario Party is at least 10 times the value that 1-2 Switch provides. Wasn’t a big fan of that game. But yeah, Super Mario Party isn’t as well-designed as the older games, but it runs laps around Mario Party 9 and 10, which I just couldn’t get into. I miss when Hudson Soft developed these because NDcube, as much of a good effort they are putting in, can’t seem to get the formula right. It’s still a fun game, and I love the co-op modes, but it really is a hard sell at full price.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I appreciate you not shying aware from controversy, and bringing up the changes in Mario Party’s 9 and 10. A lot of gaming channels wouldn’t even think of going there. This looks like you’re typical Mario Party sequel in that it takes one step forward, and another back. It’s strange how they always seem improve on the mini-games while complicating the delivery. Perhaps if they let you customize things like individual rules or the turn limit? I’ve always thought Mario Party 3 was the best of the sequels, or at least it’s the one I can separate from the others in my memory. I recall thinking it was a definite improvement over the previous two, and it also holds a special place as the last N64 game I bought. Still, a 7 for a Mario Party is probably close to a 10.

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    1. Hahahaha I’m here to tackle all the Mario Party controversy that the Daily Mushroom won’t handle. XD To be fair, I think it’s well-documented that cars were a horrible idea in Mario Party 9 and 10. In fact, cars might be a horrible idea, period. We don’t know. Maybe we don’t want to know. Seriously though, Super Mario Party goes several dice rolls forward from the more recent ones (including the 3DS entries because what even was Mario Party: The Top 100?!). The steps backward are only really from the older Mario Parties and a halfhearted attempt at online. The minigames are always strong, and if only more effort was put into great boards to go along with them, this could have been a superb return to form.

      I’m with you on the customization. I would like more house rules, especially regarding time limit, speed, and minigames. Mario Party 3 also happens to be one of my favorites. I also like the first 2 N64 ones, but MP3 felt like the most idealized version of the series. Great boards, minigames, and a Duel Mode. Plus no horrible minigames where you have to rotate the control stick quickly and destroy your hands… Yeah, it was definitely one of the last N64 games. It’s right there with Dr. Mario 64, a great puzzle game! Also, your last sentence is so true. Scores for Mario Party games might as well be a dice roll haha! 😛 Thanks again man!

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  6. 4 boards is definitely way too little, but other than that the game sounds like fun. I don’t expect it’ll beat the classic ones but getting rid of the car was a really good move imo. I’ll probably pick this game up at some point although it’s not particularly high on the list.

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    1. Yeah, the four boards are also small and one of them is kind of a dud, so it really feels like the main Mario Party mode is gimped here. It’s still fun, though, don’t get me wrong! Getting rid of the car was the best move, and I’m digging the co-op modes and character dice. Yeah, I’d wait if there’s no rush to pick up Super Mario Party. Better multiplayer is on the horizon haha!

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  7. Great review. I am renting this currently and only played a single board on my own so far. I like stuff like the unique dice and partner aspects and the mini-games have been fun so far. I really need to gather some friends over here to put it to the true test though. Hopefully soon. Glad I can play as Koopa Troopa too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot man! Renting actually sounds like a good idea since Super Mario Party is best played with friends anyway. I wonder if Nintendo would ever have a system where you can “rent” the game for periods like a service. I know they did that with Wii Sports Club and some Japanese karaoke game. I hope you get to have fun with the game soon! Koopa Troopa is actually one of my favorites to play with, along with Shy Guy and Goomba. I like all of Bowser’s minions overall haha!

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  8. Nice Review Mr. Panda! I haven’t played this game yet, but I’m hoping to with my cousins this holiday season. I always liked the stand-alone minigames in Mario Party, especially the “super battle mode” on Mario Party 5. Sounds like Toad’s Rec Room is continuing that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I truly appreciate it! 😄 I hope you get to enjoy Super Mario Party for the holidays! I like the standalone games too, especially any puzzle modes. I didn’t find Super Mario Party’s 4 games to be that compelling, though. Out of them, my favorite was the puzzle game where you put 8-bit pixel art of Mario characters together. The baseball one is decent, and the tank game is fine, even though it feels like a normal 30 second minigame. The last one, where you have to match bananas, actually requires 2 Nintendo Switches, so hopefully you have enough between you and your cousins to enjoy it!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. LOVE the Peach and Bowser high five in the last screenshot! River Survival definitely seems like it requires good friends… I can see that being a test of patience with each other, haha. Great review, in all formats, as always! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I truly appreciate your support in all ways as always! 😄 I’m glad you appreciate my Peach and Bowser screenshot hahaha! Nothing more wholesome than this new canonical ending to every Mario game. 😆 River Survival can be hilarious when dealing with the motion controls on the raft with friends. It’s a solid mode, and I wouldn’t mind more co-op support in future Mario Parties!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Been playing Mario Party games since the N64 library, but the boards are too small. I dis-like
    games where you need a special accessory or controller to play. That really annoys the crap out of me, but you need a pro controller to play the game. The game is okay to me, I’d prefer sticking with the GameCube versions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The original N64 Mario Party were definitely smaller than its sequels, though Super Mario Party’s are a bit smaller than even that. I agree with you though that those extra peripherals like the microphone were annoying to use. I don’t mind using the Joy-Con controllers or Wiimotes for the Wii/Wii U games, but I do prefer the standard controllers and wish we could use them in the Switch game. The GameCube Mario Parties are great! Thank you for your comments! 😄

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