This is an ongoing list where I attempt to do the following: Play, Complete, and Rank every video game in the known universe in order to finally answer the age old question "What is the greatest game of all time?" For previous entries find the links on the attached spreadsheet.
How did I do?
|Beat the game?||Each Map once|
|Co-Op modes||One map of teams, and one playthrough of river co-op|
Early disclaimer, I have not played every Mario Party. I have dabbled in basically Mario party 1 and 2 and now the Switch version, so if I say something that was a huge part of any other Mario Party, I apologize.
Super Mario Party was an aspirational purchase. Ever since I had kids, a nagging impulse has routinely occurred to me to buy something that I can eventually play with them. Whether that was buying them cool action figures way over their age limit, or in this particular instance a video game that would be a fun family party game. Needless to say it will be awhile before I can test how great it is to play with my family and instead decided to give it a run both solo and with my wife.
Super Mario Party is a virtual board game, where you and 3 friends take turns moving around a board hoping to acquire the most stars in X amount of turns. After each turn (and sometimes in the middle of them) you play mini-games for a chance at winning coins which can then be used to purchase stars or powerups that will help you win. You pick from a handful of different characters who each come with a unique dice that can be used to move around the board at a different pace than the generic 1d6 dice can afford. For instance Monty Mole can roll a dice that has more 4s on it, and Bowser has high risk and high reward dice where he could potentially move the most spaces, but could also roll a 0 and lose coins.
Outside of the standard mode, there are new modes that allow you to play Mario Party in team mode, which allows players more freedom in moving around the board (not in one set direction) and can move in opposite directions looking to gain different advantages on their way to victory. There is also a co-op game mode, where all participants are on the same team looking to take a boat down some racing rapids. Successful steering of the boat, and of completing minigames give you added time so that you can take the boat farther down the river. There are also a strictly mini-game mode with no board, and a dual switch mode that allows you to play select games that take advantage of technology of using two switches to change the playfield of the game. That last one sounds interesting, but it requires two switches and two copies of the game to utilize it, which means it will not really be something I see.
I will first say that I enjoy new modes to play in Super Mario Party. Mario Party in the early days, can cause some serious fights or tear apart friendships, and while nearly all games can do that (competition and all), having options to either play 2v2 or 4p co-op allows you to sidestep that by winning or losing as a team. I will say that neither of these modes can be the focal point of the game either as they limit the types of mini-games you see in the mode, and make repeats not only happen mid game, but also very frequently over even 2 playthroughs. When I learned that an unlockable player can be earned through the co-op game, I played it two times in a row and I was so sick of the same 10ish mini-games that I had to stop my quest out of boredom. Do I still think these modes have merit? of course.. Me and my wife had way more fun doing 2v2 against the computer, because she didn't have to compete against me, who has poured in way more hours playing these games then her. And the Co-op mode was a more relaxing experience with friends when they came over for a quick visit, without needing everyone to get into cutthroat mode while we wait for dinner. These modes exist to bring in new players and for the person who owns the game initially to let others play who may not be ready for a full board game mode.
When it comes to the main board game mode, I have a more mixed take on what changes were made and how they work.
First the good: I like that each character you play as, has something different about them, something that makes them unique. While you could argue that it could potentially be an unfair advantage for one player over the other, I have found that the dice options are fairly balanced and you could always enforce a "only 1d6" rule if you were playing some weird competition. I think the presentation is much nicer then previous games, and that is not just graphically, but in the UI and understanding of where you are going around the board. Finally, I like that games are shorter. There was some animosity that they removed the 50 turn limit from this game, but none of the maps provided could support 50 turns, and I like knowing that I can finish the game within an hour.
Mini-games belong right here between good and the bad. There are some real gems here that are great to play, and some clunkers like always. I did feel that for the most part there are more positive then negative mini-games, but also seemed like there were just less mini-games then in previous games. I want to be able to at least play two times through and not see a handful of repeats, and that is not the case here.
For the negatives: The maps are all pretty bad. In all honesty, there are no standout maps and some that are just a chore to play. The big Bob-omb level is absolutely boring to play, and other maps lacked any complexity that previous games had. Not every level needs to be complicated, but I want at least one that harkens back to the older games where there were lots of obstacles and getting Stars wasn't as easy to come by. In addition to the maps, I am not a fan of the companion space on the board. The companion space allows someone to get a companion that follows them around, allows them use of their unique dice, helps them in mini-games, and allows them an additional movement on each of their rolls going forward. The companions only roll a 1 or 2, but they guarantee movement, which means the risk you might get of rolling a 0 on a unique dice is gone if you are always moving anyway. They are an overpowered space that if a player gets two or more companions can have them moving through the board at twice the speed other players can. I don't need Super Mario Party to be balanced like a fighting game, but too many companions breaks the game (now if you had to pay like a per diem to keep a companion, then I am back on board).
I think Super Mario Party is a much more friendly version of Mario Party games of the past. That can be both negative and positive depending on your position. If I was playing this solo only, I would be bummed that the hardcore maps and long plays are gone, but when I think about eventually introducing this to my kid in 2 years, they will enjoy it more then if I were to bust out OG Mario Party. Now I know a new game is announced, but I think Nintendo missed their chance to make this a super collection like they did with Mario Kart. Make this game a huge collection of characters, maps, and mini-games. Make this a platform that you can download more stuff for. Hell I would have paid for new maps, costumes for the characters, or 10-20 mini-game packs to just make this game keep growing.
Is this the greatest game of all time?: No
Where does it rank: Like a lot of party games, Mario Party can be very high on the list because of the friends or family you play with. I can't rank potential, because maybe playing it with my kids makes this my #1 game of all time, but in reality this belongs at #22 out of 70. Its good, maybe one of the best Mario Party games, but still isn't where I want the series to be.
Up Next: Grand Guilds (Switch)
Anyone looking for it: here is the link to the list and more if you are interested in following along with me (this is not a self promotion). Here. I added links on the spreadsheet for quick navigation. Now if you missed a blog of a game you want to read about, you can get to it quickly, rather than having to scroll through my previous blogs wondering when it came up.
Thanks for Listening.