‘Super Mario Party’ returns to familiar gameplay with new twists

Graham Shapley

Mario Party is a gaming franchise fraught with ups and downs. For a long time, it has gone without a standout entry in the series. ‘Super Mario Party’, the latest game in the 20-year series, seeks to correct the flaws of the past by going back to its roots.

In ‘Super Mario Party’, 1-4 players may assume the roles of 20 different characters from the Mario universe, from the titular plumber to longtime rivals Bowser and Donkey Kong. Players can choose a few modes such as the free-for-all Mario Party, a 2v2 mode, a river-rafting simulator, a motion-controlled rhythm game mode and a spot to play the mini-games in a standalone setting.

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‘Super Mario Party’ was released for the Nintendo Switch on Oct. 5, and is available for purchase from retail stores or online for $59.99

A few extra diversions are sprinkled in, but the majority of these games feel shallow. The real draw of any Mario Party game is, as one would expect, the ‘Mario Party’ mode, where players travel around a game board. Players roll dice and gather items, money, and allies in an attempt to gather the most power stars and prove themselves worthy of being the ‘Superstar’ in the game’s threadbare plot.

In actuality, players want to gather the most stars to defeat their friends. ‘Super Mario Party’ is one of those games that can get scarily competitive. Competitors have to go into Mario Party with the right attitude or risk endangering friendships.

New to the game is the addition of character-specific dice blocks. Normally, players roll a dice block with numbers between one and six, but each character has their own dice block with entirely different numbers. The blocks add a layer of strategy. In a primarily luck-based game, being able to weight the odds in your favor goes a long way.

After every round, a mini-game will be played that will dole out more coins to the victors. The vast majority of mini-games feel more balanced and are good fun, from cooking a delicious-looking perfect cube of meat to attempting to shake pieces of candy out of a jar in the least amount of time possible.

For a couple of games, the franchise experimented with its structure and received mixed reactions. In Mario Party 9 and 10, all of the players rode together in a single vehicle, switching who was at the wheel between turns. While novel, this change-up of the formula drove off fans of the original games with its poor execution and failure to draw in new players.

As the name would suggest, Mario Party is intended as a party game. While there is a single-player challenge mode available and all modes may be played single-player, the game is built for plopping down on a couch with a few friends. The computer opponent isn’t up to the task of challenging a skilled player, even on its hardest difficulty.

Should you buy it? If you’re a Mario fan and have a few friends.

‘Super Mario Party’ goes back to the basics and provides a fun, if not mind-blowing experience. A $60 price tag doesn’t warrant a single player experience. However, with a few friends yelling angrily in unison as the computer opponent collects the third star in a row, there’s fun to be had.

Collegian reporter Graham Shapley can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @shapleygraham.