Mario has been partying hard since 1998, so hard, in fact, when the first title was released for the N64 gamers needed gloves to protect themselves from blisters! Since last year’s divisive Mario Party: The Top 100, fans of the series have been worried if Super Mario Party would be a return to greatness or just another gimmick filled wiggle-fest. Spoiler Alert: Super Mario Party is Awesome!
I am not sure if I have ever played a video game before that has featured high fiving as such a significant gameplay mechanic. As in the real world, High fives are used to congratulate your peers. For instance when in the River Survival if you successfully high five when prompted you can get another three precious seconds added to your remaining time and when you after taking your turn with your companion in Partner Party mode you gain just a few more coins that could help push you that much closer to victory.
Frequently neglected background characters from the Super Mario World series that were once generally reduced to the role of an extra are given their time to shine in small intervals between rounds of the board game. Having Chain Chomp come on an be asked his opinion on who’ll win and replying with a “Woof Woof!” is typical of the endearing humor that is everywhere you look in Super Mario Party.
Once again the invitees to the Party mostly consists of venerable the Mario family members, but Nintendo has thrown in a couple of oddballs that are soon to top the next Smash Bros. Fan Survey. Since making his playable debut, I can guarantee that the all those petition creators will quickly forget Waluigi and start demanding Monty Mole for Smash! Each character has a unique dice configuration, offering a higher number of moves or coins with each throw but usually the dice with more significant rewards a have a chance of failing on you! Instead of rolling a ten you could end up losing cherished coins!
The lack of Miis as a selectable character is a minor disappointment but one that I’m relatively sure I can live with. The biggest misstep is not allowing the option for button input on all, or at least as many as possible, of the mini-games, there are people out there that are not able to fully use motion controls or times when it is just not appropriate to be using motion control. Have you seen Super Mario Party being played on public transport yet? Although unlike some shovelware titles released during the motion control fad at the turn of the century, you do not have to make vigorous swinging motions, instead gentle gestures are best. This also means that you can not play Super Mario Party when in portable mode with the Joy-Cons attached.
Upon starting up and watching the introductory video, you plonked into the Mushroom Kingdom once again put in control of Mario and free to explore a small but feature-laden hub world map. In the last couple of years, it seems as though hub worlds seem to have become a popular annoyance in many games, but Super Mario Party does it correctly, it is entirely skippable. If you don’t fancy a brief stroll over to near-by Goombas in charge of your desired mini-game, you can always call up the Party Pad (a fancy Mushroom Kingdom Tablet that is home to the main menu).
Unsurprisingly when it comes to the overall presentation and aesthetics, Super Mario Party is a marvel to below. Expertly crafted, there are layers of detail that are easily missable but when combined make something extraordinary; from the faint but endearing tune a Joy-Con play each time your turn begins to the help menus for the in-game board maps and their lexicon of valuable information or even if ever you rotate around the spaces on a board too much your character becomes dizzy. Another lovely detail is as you travel around the hub world and through challenge road you are able to see loads of adorable incidental interactions between character and areas never featured in the games. This is what life is like for Mario and co when they are not jumping on each other’s heads for coins.
Another seemingly minor addition (that in actuality is a major game changer) is that in both the standard Party Mode and Partner Party any characters that were not selected by players can be recruited as additional allies by landing on or passing through a team space, also this gives you access to that character’s dice to roll. Your new teammates also get to join in on the fun helping you out in some mini-games; more players for your team means an advantage over your rival and you’ll need as many of them as you can get.
Aside from the obvious competitive nature of Super Mario Party, when playing, you are positively encouraged to use teamwork and communication like no other title in the Party series before. You try river rafting with three bickering pals! Cooperation is crucial and once you get your head around the inverted kayaking steering River Survival becomes one of the best ways to play Super Mario Party and has the definite makings of a future multiplayer staple.
Throughout my entire playthrough loading times were on the whole pretty much undetectable and never an inconvenience. Always hidden behind quick transitions of location changes between the screens of the hub world location, all you ever see of a loading screen is a brief fade to black and then back up again. Another plausible loading point that is neatly hidden is as the player transitions from the board to mini-games, here you are given a chance to have a practice session (for as long as you choose to rehearse), but this can all be skipped straight away by pressing the ready buttons. One (gaming) session my friends and I had been playing for a while and had drunk a couple of too many shandies we managed to forget that it wasn’t the actual playtime a several times!
Some games allow multiplayer, and then there’s Super Mario Party. Yes, you could experience the whole game by yourself (and it’s an exceedingly good laugh to boot) but the absolute ideal way to experience Super Mario Party is with one or more players. The mini-games are fun in their own right, but the real enjoyment comes from the experiences shared with your like-minded, computer gaming companions.
Stay tuned to n3rdabl3, check out the trailer below, send out your invites and get the jelly and ice cream in!
Tom’s Final Thought: Why has there never been a Smash Party? Each of the game boards could be based on a different franchise in the Smash Bros family?