Mario Party Superstars is the latest addition to the expansive collection of Mario Party games, and boy is it a corker. This latest iteration has brought together 100 of the franchise's best minigames, five stellar boards, and the best mechanics and rules to make a fantastic game. Those of you who read my review of the last Mario Party will know I had a few issues with the game, in particular it's scoring. I am pleased to report that Superstars fixes pretty much every gripe I had. So, let's take a look at this new version.
Yoshi's Tropical Island
While the last Mario Party represented a big shift for the franchise, Superstars has focused less on the future and more on the past. The boards are taken from the first three Mario Party games. The rules are more in line with the older versions. For example, there are no custom dice and no friends to call on, it's just you, the board, and a load of minigames. Each of the five boards brings something delightful to the table.
In Peach's Birthday Cake, you have the chance to plant star stealing piranha plants across the board. In Horror Land, day will turn to night, unlocking new possibilities, such as visiting King Boo. Boo can steal stars from all your rivals (for a hefty price, of course), but only during the nighttime. Whether it's a light introductory game or a real challenge you're after, Superstars has you covered. The characters look much the same as in the last Mario Party. Each board has been beautifully redesigned, and the animation is fantastic.
Another 1-up Superstars has over its predecessor is the number of boards. Players now have five to choose from rather than a paltry four. Also, players now have a whopping 100 minigames to enjoy, a step up from the previous selection of 80. This step-up in a variety means there's just more to do when you play. You can go a while before you repeat the same minigame. However, while the five boards provided are fantastic, it would've been nice for the game to include a sixth board to match the variety on offer in older Mario Party games. Given that the boards are taken from the older issues, it feels like a bit of a cop-out to not bump the roster up to six.
Peach's Birthday Cake
One area I am particularly pleased with is the scoring. In the previous Mario Party, the winner was whichever player could collect the most stars throughout the game. At the end, however, additional stars were dished out based on a random set of criteria. This almost always spoiled the game for me. If you were playing in smaller groups, it wasn't uncommon to see the AI characters leap from fourth place to snatch victory after collecting three post-game stars. In four-player games, when the victor won from these bonuses it often left a slightly sour taste, as everyone felt a little cheated. What was meant to be an unbiased way of keeping the game exciting turned into one of its biggest flaws.
I am now overjoyed to report that Superstars has done away with this system. Now, you can choose to keep this random mechanic or to go with the older style. This bonus system rewards the player who collected the most coins, won the most minigames, and triggered the most event spaces. Or, if you want, you can turn the bonuses off altogether. This may seem minor but the option to have it or not makes playing that little bit more enjoyable. Winning isn't everything but it can undermine gameplay when you know you could have all your hard work ignored.
Mario Party Superstars is a refreshing game due to its simplicity. In remastering content from its past, it brings together all the best bits from the past twenty-odd years of Mario Party. Every issue I had with the last Mario Party has been solved and the gameplay is straight-up fantastic. The boards all bring something charming and unique to the table and each is a joy to go around. It is a little disappointing that we didn't get the full set of six. However, it's something I can live with. The expanded collection of minigames contains some of the best from the series, and every single one is fantastic. Overall, I strongly recommend Superstars to anyone who is interested. This is a fantastic show for the Mario Party family, and Superstars has put the franchise back on track.