For some, Smash Bros is the king of Mario games. For others, it’s something classic like Super Mario Bros., or perhaps platforming is your thing like Mario Odyssey. That’s fine. I love all of those games too. But Mario Party is my jam. The game is beautifully crafted for real life, in-person co-op playing with friends, and even better with family. Since I purchased the Nintendo Switch, 2018’s
Super Mario Party has been in heavy rotation in Casa Mejia (we got all of the gems!) so we pride ourselves as SMP pros (or rather, I consider myself a pro). So we didn’t just jump at getting the all-new Mario Party Superstars, we leaped like we’re smashing a question mark block during a minigame. Mario Party Superstars is a new Mario Party game made up of the best of Mario Party’s past, but of course, updated with Switch specs. That’s not to say that this game is a remaster, or even a coat of fresh paint on the last entry. Not at all. This is a full-blown new entry into the Mario Party series. With five boards, online play, 100 minigames, and so many more options to play, Superstars is a can’t miss game especially if you passed on the previous entry. Here are 6 things I discovered while playing the game on my own, and with my wife, and daughters ages 7 and 3. Minigames Are Better Than EverThere shouldn’t be any doubt to it: the heart and soul of any Mario Party game are the minigames. If the minigames don’t measure up, that could make or break any MP series. I’m happy to say that Superstars’ minigames are great, and above that, fun. They’re comprised of the best minigames from the MP games past and they’re categorized from either classic systems (N64 or GameCube) to family play style to of course, just everything. Superstars will likely go down as the deepest minigame roster in the series history with a whopping 100 minigames and the ones I came across were all compelling. Even the minigames in Mt. Minigames, a redesigned play option outside of the main virtual board, is stacked with long, and sometimes intense games that will cater to whatever your play style is. For example, you can play an ice hockey match that goes for 3 minutes. Or you can jam out on something quick and classic like dodging a rolling boulder. There’s enough variety to make the minigames feel fresh.There’s Never A Dull MomentWhen there are 4 players on a virtual game board, there is an understandable wait time for your turn (which we’ll get back to). But Superstars attempts to make the “wait your turn” portion of Party feel like a breeze with new additions. For example, Nintendo added a new “versus” feature that pits two players who land on the same spot in their minigame battle. There are minigames for certain spots for just the active player who lands on a particular spot. Even the dice rolls move fast and it all makes the game feel like it’s moving very quickly. Also, this time around, every character doesn’t have their unique dice to roll, so it speeds up everyone’s decision-making.Superstars Is Great For Families But Impossible For a 3-Year OldMy youngest daughter is 3 years old. My oldest child, thanks to the Switch, has grown to be a pretty okay player. My toddler, of course, wants to play when we all play, and let’s say her interest can wane. Despite Nintendo stating that “Family” minigames are great for all members of the family, they’re still a massive hurdle for my 3-year-old. And I expect nothing less. I don’t think my, or any 3 year old should be an ace with a Joy-Con in their hands. That all being said, Superstars is a lot of fun for us all, especially my 3-year-old and the all-new sticker feature. Every player can select a sticker that pops up on the screen during gameplay for all to see. Think of it as an emoji in Mario style. The stickers are a quick and easy way to communicate during online play, and it can be turned off during offline play, but my toddler just loved the stickers feature, and I constantly reached for her controller to hide her sticker display as they just stay on the screen blocking gameplay for whoever is playing. It’s great. But it’s not always sticker time.Get Ready For Long SessionsWhen it comes to the main board game of Superstars, selecting how many turns to take is crucial. In our first game in Woody Woods, we selected 20 turns, which gives an estimate of one hour. I wish it was an hour. Somehow, in our first outing with Superstars, this 4 player game was played off and on throughout 24 hours. Life got in the way. We just got a puppy and he needs to get walked, there were inevitable bathroom breaks, lunch breaks, errand runs–you name it and it stopped the game. There’s no way this 20 turn board was just 60 minutes of gameplay even if we went fully uninterrupted. I blame it on long practice sessions before every minigame and probably the dog. Still, if you’re looking for a long duration or a short session, pay close attention to that estimated time of gameplay.The Kids Are Bound To Learn SomethingI grew up playing video games. That’s not to say that I’m doubling down on my kids being full-blown gamers like how I was. No, they do not need to spend even half of the hours I spent playing Star Fox in 1993 alone. That being said, I do think video games can teach good behaviors. In Superstars, like every Mario Party game before it, you have to wait. And teaching a kid to be patient is always difficult. But waiting your turn while a controller is in their hands is a damn good place to practice waiting. Plus, the game is helping my toddler with directions (up, down, left, right), hand dexterity, counting spaces, and my 7-year-old has to read everything on screen if she wants to beat me. So really, I’m the one winning even if Toadette delivers stars to someone else. At Home, I’m The GOAT. Online, I’m A ChumpI take no pride in defeating my kids in a minigame, and I have no issues purposely losing a lot of them. But I know–I know I can smoke my family in any video game. But in my only run during online play, I had gone down the tunnels of defeat every time. It was refreshing. Even after playing Super Mario Party to near flawless abilities, I got a little tired of not being challenged, but thankfully Superstars upends that with online play that will always bring me back to the ground and remind me that I can still in fact be terrible at something as simple as Bumper Balls.