Nostalgia-focused compilations can often wind up being a surprisingly sad time. Memories don’t hold up, gameplay can feel dated, and these oftentimes serve as a reminder that things will never quite be like the past. All of that could’ve happened with Mario Party Superstars, which follows Mario Party: The Top 100‘s footsteps of giving players a selection of fan-favorite minigames. However, unlike The Top 100 failing to move the series forward in any meaningful way (and only featuring one drab board), Superstars is a worthwhile celebration that can be enjoyed by fans both old and new.
Mario Party Superstars once again brings in 100 minigames from past titles. These range from the N64 classics that fans hold in high regard (such as bumper balls and hot rope jump) but also solid minigames from newer titles up until Mario Party 10 for the Wii U. It’s only the previous Switch title, Super Mario Party, that is left out. While 100 isn’t a gigantic number, it’s a lot bigger than most entries that tend to have around 70 to 80 minigames. Every inclusion here is more than solid, resulting in an incredibly strong overall package, and a surprising number of them are straight-up tests of skill limiting the luck-based stigma that has always surrounded the series’ weaker offerings.
The return of classic minigames also means that Mario Party Superstars can easily be played either in handheld mode or with any controller. Unlike Super Mario Party, which required using Joy-Cons, this game is entirely built around using buttons rather than a mixture of traditional and motion controls. This helps serve as a solid differentiator between the two Switch titles as Superstars offers button-based nostalgic fun, while Super Mario Party is still a solid time with some of the best HD rumble implementation of any Switch release. One does not invalidate the other.
While the retro minigames and the return of five classic maps (all from the first three Mario Party titles) serve as a great core for Mario Party Superstars, it’s the smart additions that truly help the package stand out. From being able to skip repeatable event scenes to fast-forwarding through CPU turns in games with other humans, there are many great quality-of-life improvements. Plus, if you accidentally start a match with fewer turns than you wanted, you can add more in the menu to lengthen the game. It’s these small additions that show that developer NDcube is thinking about the future of the series while also revisiting its past.
For a series that just finally went online earlier this year, Superstars has a surprisingly robust online offering. Not only is there a selection of rotating daily challenges and a solid survival mode that tracks how many minigames you can win in a row, but full matches play largely flawlessly. Small bits of lag can occur, but these instances are rare, and matches can be saved and continued if someone drops out due to a faulty connection. Overall, it’s a great experience, and playing online with friends is just as fun as doing so in person.
Mario Party Superstars is a well-rounded package that has also been highly polished. While it doesn’t top Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in terms of visual flair, it’s still one of the best-looking Switch titles. All of the vibrancy of the Mushroom Kingdom is on full display and it’s a trip for longtime fans to see the N64 minigames and stages looking as gorgeous as they do here.
No matter if this is your first Mario Party or you’re a longtime fan, there’ll be plenty of multiplayer thrills in Mario Party Superstars. There is still an element of luck involved, which may annoy more competitive-focused players, but there’s still a great array of classic items that reward skillful and well-thought-out play. A package that looks as great as it plays, Mario Party Superstars is a solid addition to anyone’s Switch lineup and the future for the series looks brighter than ever after this brief detour to the past.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 8 equates to “Great.” While there are a few minor issues, this score means that the game succeeds at its goal and leaves a memorable impact.