Mario Party Superstars is the “Greatest Hits album” the series deserves

"Yeah, Waliuigi time!"

Enlarge / “Yeah, Waliuigi time!”

Since the Mario Party series launched in 1998 on the N64, it has played host to over 1,000 mini-games spread across 15 titles (depending on how you count). The question behind Mario Party Superstars on the Switch is whether you can find 100 of those mini-games that are actually good.

The answer is a resounding yes. By focusing on the best and most enduring mini-game design from over two decades, Superstars is probably the most consistently enjoyable game in the series’ long run. But if you’re not already on board with Mario Party‘s slow pace and heavy reliance on luck, there’s nothing here that will change your mind.

Better to be lucky than to be good

Mario Party Superstars is a game dripping in nostalgia, from the music and sound effects to the menu screen drawn straight from the first game. The structure of the main game is completely unchanged as well. Four human or computer-controlled players take turns rolling a ten-sided die to move around a board, trying to pass spots where they can buy the stars needed to win the game. After everyone has rolled, all four players face off in a mini-game where they can earn coins that can be used to buy stars or items that can help them or hinder others.

Nintendo has made some strong choices for the five available classic boards, which come from the N64 editions of the game. The options offer a full range of complexity, from the basic “walk in a circle” of Yoshi’s Tropical Island to the constantly branching paths of Woody Woods to the complicated day-night cycle of Horror Land. Series fans will get a kick out of seeing these classic boards fully upgraded for the HD era, too—Peach’s birthday cake, in particular, is a mouth-watering visual splendor compared to the unappetizing low-res polygons of the N64 original.

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