Mario Party Superstars | Review

Mario Party Superstars | Review

Wanting to be extremely mischievous, we could quickly stigmatize Mario Party Superstars as "the version of the famous Nintendo party game made for Switch Lite owners", in reality, however, this new chapter is not limited only to mending a tear created with incompatibilities, between hardware and software, of the pocket model of the Nintendo Switch family but tries to re-propose the concept of the mistreated Mario Party: The Top 100 (released in 2017 on Nintendo 3DS), giving it the right shape and creating a worthy "Greatest Hits" capable of celebrating the more than twenty years of this historic franchise.

Mario Party Superstars is, therefore, a very peculiar chapter, which at first glance may seem like a common "more of the same" but which is actually capable of offer, to those who gut it properly, a different experience than the previous Super Mario Party.

Becoming a Superstar

Mario Party Superstars arises, from the very first moments game, like an anthological project. A sum of all those elements that have made the Party series an immovable cornerstone that cannot, and could not, be missing in any generation of Nintendo consoles.

A brief initial cinematic takes up the famous "Warp Pipe" seen in first Mario Party for Nintendo 64, with a Koopa who thanks the various characters of the mushroom kingdom for having answered his call, gathering all together around the peculiar transport system to leave for an adventure full of memories.

Several times, during this analysis, we will praise Mario Party Superstars' ability to go straight to the point, avoiding getting lost in excessive delays that try to offer any form of narrative sector to the title. A will that is perceived from the earliest stages of the game where, following the brief opening cinematic, the player will be immediately put in front of everything Mario Party Superstars has to offer.

No dilated tutorials, no forcing to force the player to play this or that specific mode. Once the game is started, everything will be immediately ready for use, conveniently divided into an animated menu that incorporates that of the first iteration of the series. The leitmotif of Mario Party Superstars is immediately explained to the player: to become a superstar, tracing the famous feats accomplished by players of the past in some boards that have become iconic, once again trying out a huge selection of minigames taken from all the chapters of the series.

The Mario Party Superstars menu is very concise in its form and combines the two main game modes, Mario Party and Monte Minigames, with a series of sections dedicated to the customization of the player card, the purchase of the various collectibles, the tracking of the numerous objectives and, of course, the options for online play.

The game of the ruin-friendships goose

With Mario Party Superstars Nintendo clearly wanted to respond to the criticisms leveled at the previous The Top 100 anthological collection, guaranteeing in this case an experience that does not preclude any aspect of the experience normally offered by the chapters of the erie. Mario Party Superstars, in fact, in addition to offering 100 minigames from the past, also offers a selection of historical scoreboards in which you can try your hand at Mario Party mode.

The most classic game mode has positively surprised us for the number of options that it makes available to the player, allowing to shape the final experience in many ways. After choosing the four characters, and their difficulty level for those controlled by the AI, the player is asked to choose which bonus and malus he wants to enable in the game. In this short list you can change the parameters for assigning the bonus stars, eliminating the totally random ones so hated by Super Mario Party players, change the number of rounds and define the presence of handicaps.

Finally, the possibility to choose the type of minigames that will be randomly present in the game. You can opt to include all the categories present in Mario Party Superstars, make available only those of a specific console or decide the preferred type of game to choose from: "action", "skill" or "for everyone".

Once all the parameters of the game have been defined, it is possible to choose one of the five boards available in Mario Party Superstars, all coming from the chapters released for Nintendo 64. Each of these boards is introduced by a short story, which quickly romances its origins before explaining the rules of the board to the player.

The choice made by Nintendo for the boards in Mario Party Superstars is undoubtedly commendable in terms of variety of the situations proposed but it is, from a purely content point of view, too narrow in quantitative terms. From an anthological production that wants to celebrate the great successes achieved by this series, we would have expected some more scoreboards, perhaps coming from some episode of the Gamecube generation, even at the cost of losing some of those minigames with less convincing dynamics.

For the rest there is very little to say about the Mario Party mode except that everything is in the right place, as per Nintendo tradition. The options introduced in this new chapter allow you to model the gaming experience around the user, making optional the additions introduced in the last chapters, which literally split the user in two.

The rules are always the same and the scoreboards, all recreated with the graphics engine of the previous Super Mario Party, are convincing in every aspect, managing to guarantee those “friendship-ruin” situations that have always made the series iconic. What we really appreciated, however, is a "side effect" given by the need to make the game usable by all owners of a console of the Switch family and which forced Nintendo to make all the minigames, present in Mario Party Superstars, usable. through the buttons.

Minigames… minigames everywhere!

Before explaining what we mean by “side effect”, let's take a step back. Super Mario Party, the previous chapter released for Nintendo Switch, was a huge success with the public. The reasons were many but undoubtedly the possibility of exploiting, within the minigames, practically every aspect offered by the hybrid console was the most acclaimed. The Joy-Con were used in every conceivable way by the human mind, as well as the possibility of combining different Switches to extend the field of action in some minigames.

All innovative and inspiring features. , from the developers, which for some time had not been seen in a chapter of the series. Unfortunately, however, all these novelties clashed with the hardware limits of Nintendo Switch Lite, making the only chapter of the series available for the hybrid console, incompatible with the new variant presented by Nintendo.

Mario Party Superstars, right from the first presentations by Nintendo, the firm goal of solving this problem has been set by proposing an anthological collection of one hundred minigames, all accessible through the buttons present on any model of Nintendo Switch.

The proposed selection from Nintendo proved to be really convincing and, net of some less inspired minigames and merely inserted as fillers, all the challenges proposed by Mario Party Superstars are always fun and able to raise the focus towards the player's skills, compared to the hilarity of the demented situations in which you found yourself embroiled in Super Mario Party.

And it is precisely this important difference that creates that "side effect" we were talking about. Where the execution of a minigame featured in Mario Party Superstars is fully assisted by a game controller, it is the player's skills that determine the final result. Eliminating any kind of motion control, infrared interaction or peculiar use of the console brings the gaming experience back to its dawn, when the mini-games were short challenges where the most skilled, or the most trained, took home the victory. br>
And this important focus on the player's abilities, manages to completely change the experience offered by Mario Party Supertars making it, in some ways, more devoted to competition and less left to chance than in the previous chapters. And if you are already outraged by believing that we have not taken into account all the random elements present in the game, know that it is precisely those additional options present at the beginning of each game, which manage to significantly polish the totally fortuitous aspects present in the game. br>
Don't get us wrong, we are not asserting that in the future we will see Mario Party Superstars enter the eSports category by right but undoubtedly the desire of Nintendo to make it compatible with every console of the Switch family, has made it a title capable of offering a significantly different experience compared to the previous chapter released on the hybrid console.

Super Mario Party remains that party game devoted to the hilarity, total randomness and insanity of the situations it can recreate, while Mario Party Superstars manages to better embody that purely competitive nature that every party game should bring as a dowry. Allowing, through the numerous options available, to re-propose a meritocratic system capable of rewarding skill and not just luck.

However, all that glitters is not gold because the anthological nature of Mario Party Superstars , invariably clashes with the desire to make the minigames compatible with the buttons, making the selection proposed by Nintendo undoubtedly fun but also slightly redundant, as it lacks all that inspiration that had allowed the previous chapters to differentiate themselves.

Also in this case do not get us wrong, we are not saying that the minigames are boring but simply that the constant sedentary lifestyle offered by the exclusive use of the controller could make you bored very soon the Monte Minigames, or the section of the game dedicated to the fruition of these brief experiences.

Monte Minigames can be considered as a “game within a game” as it offers the possibility ability to enjoy all the challenges present in Mario Party Superstars in different ways. There is the classic free mode (which allows you to choose which minigame to play), the "match in pairs", "sports and puzzles" and "challenge to three" modes (which offer the possibility to play offline and online to a selection of minigames of the corresponding category) and a series of online modes designed for single player dedicated to anyone who does not want, or time, to devote themselves to a game on a board.

Everything works damn well, underlining the will by Mario Party Superstars not to get lost in unnecessary delays. Do you want to train before an evening challenge with friends? We dedicate ourselves to the free mode. Do you prefer to challenge friends in a series of mini-games without being tied to the length of a classic match? You can quickly team up locally and jump into one of the multiplayer modes. Do you want to challenge someone online? The survival and challenge of the day modes are specially designed to ensure great hit and run experiences.

There's more to it than mini-games.

Mario Party Superstars tries to offer a all-round experience, usable both in single and, obviously, in company and to do so it proposes a series of collectibles and goals that can be obtained by playing and improving your scores. A very basic system but which works in its simplicity, managing to offer that minimum of stimuli necessary to return often to Mario Party Superstars, avoiding it being confined to shining during the evenings with friends.

The coins collected during Mario Party games, or games obtained in Monte Minigames challenges, will allow you to purchase stickers, player cards and pages of the encyclopedia dedicated to the series, in the Toad shop accessible from the main screen. The house of Kamek, on the other hand, does its utmost to allow the consultation of all the collectibles earned and to learn how to unlock the most complicated objectives.

As we mentioned earlier it is a very basic system, with laughable rewards and for nothing impacting within the game, however, Nintendo's commitment to offer short, medium and long-term objectives to players is appreciable.

Mario Party Superstars on the move… and not

Having examined every aspect that Mario Party Superstars has to offer, we just have to understand how many, and which types of players this new chapter of the series is dedicated to. Surprisingly, we find a much wider variety of approaches than in the past and which is satisfying for almost all types of players.

If you are a lone wolf, Mario Party Superstars can satisfy your needs, thank you to a plethora of options able to make the games against the AI ​​much more streamlined and contained in the timing, as well as Monte Minigames allows you, with its short hit and run competitions, to unlock objectives, collect coins and have fun in those little ones moments of break from the daily routine.

If you love party games, Mario Party Superstars perfectly embodies the spirit of the series, allowing you to launch into fierce customized competitions in almost every aspect, to meet everyone's needs of the participants. While once you decide to take advantage of the online sector of the game, Mario Party Superstars manages to offer a series of solid, varied and satisfying multiplayer modes. The netcode, during our tests, has always proved to be stable, without input lag and able to make the title worthy of attention even to those who do not have a group of friends, virtual or physically present in their living room, with whom to enjoy full of every aspect of the game.

Nintendo's strong will to make the game compatible on every existing version of the Nintendo Switch has done the title a lot of good in terms of versatility. Played in short sessions on the subway, or during a coffee break, as well as enjoyed for hours holding a "sprawling" Pro Controller comfortably on the sofa at home, Mario Party Superstars has always proved convincing and fun.

Technically we are from facing a 1: 1 copy of Super Mario Party, same game engine, identical animations and similar attention to detail. We found the most important flaws on this side in the balance of the AI ​​which, at the highest difficulties, proved to be simply more fortunate in dice rolls and no more skilled than us in minigames.

On the artistic side the restructuring of the boards and mini-games is satisfactory and able to give a second spring to many experiences of the past which, if enjoyed in their original version today, were objectively dated. Mario Party Superstars is, finally, localized in Italian in all its parts, as per Nintendo's consolidated tradition.

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