Super Mario Party would like you to be nicer to your friends


There’s no game that gets my friends and I more riled up than Mario Party. A decade’s worth of games across many Nintendo consoles has never left us with a shortage of board game-fueled vendettas. There’s something even more infuriating about losing when the person who beats you does it as a dinosaur wearing shoes. The new Super Mario Party on the Nintendo Switch may not fix the friend feuds, but it at least makes the journey a little nicer.

Like previous Mario Party games, Super Mario Party is essentially a digital board game. Players compete with a single Joy-Con controller, and the game allows you to pair a second Switch for more mini-games. In addition to the board game competition popularized by older games, Super Mario Party also features several other modes, including rhythm games, a “team edition” of board game play, a river course in which you work with other players, and unlimited access to unlocked mini-games. It’s the series’ first step onto the Nintendo Switch, but the marriage is a perfect one.

There aren’t many surprises in the traditional game of Mario Party, where you roll dice and advance around a board to collect stars, but boards feel balanced and fun. Players can also choose to roll a regular die or one themed specifically around their character. Bowser, my go-to character, for example, has a set that will earn you higher rolls than the average die — but you run the risk of whiffing it and landing on a side that will lose you coins. The perks vary by character, but they make your selection feel more strategical.

If working together is more your speed, Super Mario Party has a few options. The game’s river course is straightforward: you paddle your way into balloons to activate mini-games and add more time to a countdown clock. The trick is to work together to row your raft safely to avoid obstacles, which means strategically flailing with a Joy-Con in-hand. If you pair two Switches together, you can play games that use its touch and joint-screen capabilities. These vary, from working together to match up bananas, or battling each other in a tank game.

But the best part of Super Mario Party isn’t any actual course or board game. It’s plowing through mini-games at your leisure. There are 80 in total, some new and some merely improved from past games. A few personal standouts for me included a game where you smack opponents out of the way to star in a photo; flipping a meat cube to brown every side; and pushing pieces together to form a character portrait. Landing on these games through chance in Super Mario Party’s various modes is exciting. Ditching the setup altogether and playing them freestyle is better.

Super Mario Party

Super Mario Party isn’t a groundbreaking entry in the series, but it is fun. It offers the sort of party experience that other mini-game-driven Switch titles, like launch title 1-2 Switch, can’t match — whether it’s watching Peach slap Wario out of the way to get in a photo, or the absurdity of all your pals wiggling their Joy-Con to make beloved characters ride a tricycle. There’s an emphasis on teamwork and sportsmanship in Super Mario Party. The game won’t let you move past specific moments without everyone hoisting their JoyCon in a sort of “hoorah” motion. Winning a team-based mini-game gives you the chance to high-five, while the river course offers ample opportunities to clink your oars together in solidarity (all by shaking your Joy-Con appropriately).

It’s these moments, though sometimes a little cheesy, that break the tension and add something personal. I almost knocked a friend in the nose with an over-eager arm swing, but at least it was all in good fun.

Super Mario Party is available for Nintendo Switch.


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