Super Mario Party's the latest in a 20-year-old franchise that isn't particularly known for well-received innovations, but as the reviews roll out, it looks like this may be the one to finally shake things up. Don't get me wrong - the response is far from unilaterally positive, and critics are divided on whether some of the ways the game cuts down on randomness are good, not to mention an inconsistent selection of side modes. But Mario Party's first appearance on Switch seems to have reviewers excited in a way they haven't been since, uh, 1998? Read on and see what they think.
Super Mario Party takes full advantage of Switch's unique features - Kotaku (Unscored)
"Super Mario Party, out October 5 for Switch, is one of the best entries in the long-running series because it harmonizes these competing elements of delight, catastrophe, and absurdity. Super Mario Party also takes advantage of the Switch’s versatility in surprising, if inconsistent, ways, shaking up the formula of the old-school multiplayer party game. Over the last weekend, my apartment was an open-door Super Mario Party party, and despite startling upsets between first and last place, and my once being referred to as a 'stone cold Mario Party bitch,' we never once felt like quitting Super Mario Party, partly because of how well it harnessed human social interaction in the service of gameplay."
Super Mario Party adds light strategic elements that pay off - Polygon (Unscored)
"A handful of changes add just enough depth to improve the formula. Characters each have their own custom dice blocks, which they can choose to roll instead of the traditional 1-6 block. The dice offer their own advantage and disadvantages. Bowser can roll a 10 with his special block, but he can also lose coins and not move at all. You can unlock additional blocks through each play session by earning allies, who also add small numbers to each of your rolls on every turn, a mechanic borrowed from the handheld-only Mario Party: Star Rush. Not only is it cute to see all your allies — a who’s who of secondary Mario characters — but accumulating a squad is a good strategy to push yourself ahead."
Super Mario Party may refine the luck-based antics too much - USgamer (3/5)
"There's still plenty to throw a party around with Super Mario Party, only contrary to the best entries in the series from GameCube and Nintendo 64, it lacks the pressure that once upheld the board game base. The stars are cheaper, the star-stealing happens less, the bullshit, frankly, is minimal. And in Mario Party, that messiness is necessary. It's what keeps us on our toes. It's what strains friendships, and makes them stronger. It's what separates it from other party games - that randomness forged by code and personal grudges is what dictates who wins, not pure human skill. In Super Mario Party, all I see is a good time for an evening, nothing more and nothing less."
Super Mario Party's rafting mode is better for family fun - VentureBeat (82/100)
"What’s great about these games is that, like paddling the boat, they’re all co-op experiences. You’re working together with family and friends (in this case, my partner and children), not against them. You all share in the fun, regardless if you win or lose. Contrast this to the board game portion of Super Mario Party. In the first 10-round game, the four of us played against each other. We moved around the board and played minigames together. But my 6 year old wasn’t having all that much fun. He’s not as dexterous and skilled as the rest of us, and he ended up crying at the end because he was so far behind his older brother and the adults."
Super Mario Party is actually fun for solo play too - Game Informer (7.25/10)
If you want to party by yourself, the new Challenge Road puts you through all 80 minigames organized in a hub world. While some challenges simply have you beating the A.I. rivals, many of them add an extra layer of difficulty, like collecting a certain number of coins or not hitting any obstacles. These extra layers add additional excitement to the games, though since Challenge Road is single-player only, it’s frustrating when you get teamed up with an incompetent A.I. character. Thankfully, those moments are few enough that Challenge Road is a worthwhile solo mode that highlights the best part of Super Mario Party and acts as a solid side to the multiplayer meat of the experience.
Super Mario Party's Joy-Con-only controls could be a hassle - IGN (7.3/10)
"While the Joy-Con’s unique properties make for some fun minigames, the hardware presents some pretty serious problems as well. For example, for a four-person game you’ll need four Joy-Con, the little wrist strap attachments, and a lot of charging time. If you have just one Switch that means you’ll have to carefully plan out your charging, since you can only charge two Joy-Con on the sides of the Switch, and you can only do it while you’re not playing. The shortest of the Party mode games mentioned above is an estimated 60 minutes for 10 turns -- if any of your Joy-Con loses its charge during that period you’ll need some additional charging accessories or additional Joy-Con at the ready, or the Party will have to be suspended. This is the first Mario Party that couldn’t be continued with AA batteries, and that’s a big deal considering Joy-Con cost about $40 a pop."