Su­per Mario Party



Ar­guably, Mario Party’s big­gest prob­lem has al­ways been Nin­tendo it­self: it’s a mul­ti­player-fo­cused series from a cre­ator that has con­sis­tently pro­vided bet­ter op­tions. Re­cently, new en­tries have felt like obli­ga­tions, born of com­mer­cial con­cerns rather than any ur­gent cre­ative need to make an­other. But in a lean year for Nin­tendo as a de­vel­oper, this is some­thing ap­proach­ing a series best, and a fine bet for Switch own­ers seek­ing a new first­party game for hol­i­day gath­er­ings. Es­pe­cially if Smash doesn’t float your boat.

Talk­ing of boats brings us to one of the best modes: a co­op­er­a­tive game where four play­ers pad­dle a dinghy down­stream, with Joy-Cons as oars. Af­ter plung­ing down wa­ter­falls, steer­ing around rocks and swerv­ing Cheep Cheeps, you’ll want to aim for the minigame bal­loons that in­vite you to work to­gether, with high ranks ex­tend­ing your time. With Out Run- style forks ev­ery so of­ten, there are mul­ti­ple routes to the end, though even on your first run you’re likely to play at least one minigame twice. In the ab­sence of Rhythm Par­adise on Switch, Sound Stage might be the next-best thing: a mo­tion-based mode where you shake the JoyCon to the beat, to tug table­cloths from be­neath wine glass tow­ers or skewer fruit lobbed by dis­tant Lak­i­tus.

The ad­di­tion of re­cruitable al­lies and in­di­vid­ual dice blocks adds a mild el­e­ment of strat­egy to the stan­dard Party mode. A Bowser die might lose you coins, but it’s worth risk­ing when there’s a chance of mov­ing ten spa­ces; Daisy guar­an­tees you a three or four, which is use­ful when you’re within reach of those all-im­por­tant stars. Shrewd play, how­ever, only gets you so far. This is Mario Party, af­ter all, a series that de­lights in screw­ing you over even af­ter the fi­nal turn. Bonus stars can be awarded for the most triv­ial ac­com­plish­ments: iron­i­cally, we earned one nar­row vic­tory only af­ter the prize was handed out for ‘un­luck­i­est player’. Dur­ing Part­ner Party mode, in which you can roam freely around re­pur­posed boards, we ended up with five al­lies for a tug-of-war game against an op­po­nent with just one. But that’s part of the fun: the play­ing field may be un­even, but at some point ev­ery­one gets tripped up.

You’ll be howl­ing at your TV, then, but most of­ten with a smile on your face, thanks largely to a strong se­lec­tion of minigames. The ri­otous Sla­parazzi sees you vi­o­lently jostling for prime spot on a pho­to­graph, while a mo­tion-con­trolled steak-cooking chal­lenge is a sur­pris­ing hit – though the messy Pie Hard isn’t quite as good as its name. But with a gen­er­ous ar­ray of modes and some un­ex­pected cre­ative flour­ishes, this is cer­tainly the best Mario Party since the GameCube era; per­haps even be­yond.

There are five gems to col­lect across dif­fer­ent game types, in­clud­ing a sin­gle­player mode which in­vites you to com­plete 80 con­sec­u­tive chal­lenges – though the re­ward isn’t quite as spe­cial as all the pageantry sug­gests

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