I was only ten minutes into Mario Party Superstars when I came to the realization that it's everything I want it to be and more. My sibling booted up the game for the first time on Christmas Day, and there was no stopping the warm feeling that washed over me as I watched the opening sequence. The first thing you see is a green pipe on the top of a little circular hill, decorated with colorful flowers. A question pops up on the screen, "Looks familiar, doesn't it?", before Koopa Troopa bursts onto the scene with his signature flag in hand. I didn't expect to feel emotional at such a sight, but that very same green pipe featured in the first Mario Party game on the N64.
Then, the camera pans over the classic cast of characters, with everyone from Mario to Yoshi, and Donkey Kong. "I think we'll be able to go to places you remember… Places we haven't been in a long time," Koopa remarks. Before the game had truly begun, I already felt like I was being invited back in to relive the magic of a series that filled my childhood days with so many fond memories.
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Over the years, Nintendo's virtual board game has been treated to ten iterations across many platform generations. By bringing together some of the very best boards and minigames from the franchise into one beautifully presented, updated package, Mario Party Superstars feels like a true celebration of the series. In fact, I would even go as far as to say it's the ideal way to experience Mario Party for newcomers and longtime fans alike, but it's especially a treat for players like me, who grew up playing the games.
For the uninitiated, Mario Party is a four-player board game. If you play solo, you'll go up against computer-controlled characters. After you select who you want to play from Nintendo's classic line-up – much like you would when choosing a counter on a real board game – you take turns to roll a dice and make your way around the board. The goal is to buy as many stars from Toadette as possible in order to become the Superstar and win. But of course, there are many spaces on the board that change up your fortunes, and sometimes luck might not be on your side. At the end of each round, you play a minigame which is picked out for you. The minigames are easily the best part of the experience, with a wide range of different challenges and setups – be it 4v4 player games, 2v2, or 1v3.
Mario Party Superstars offers up a wealth of minigames plucked from the entire series, and each time one loads up you can see which game it was originally featured in. You even have the choice to select which minigames you want to play during your board game session, with options for N64 or GameCube eras only, or one that sprinkles in a bit of everything from the entire franchise. From Facelift to Crazy Cutter and Mushroom Mix-Up, it's a never-ending delight to see and relive some of the most memorable minigames I loved as a kid with updated graphics for the Switch.
And speaking of updated graphics, that applies to the boards, too. The rules of each board still play out in exactly the same way as they did originally, which heaps on even more nostalgia, but now they've been given an improved look. When Mario Party Superstars was first announced, there was no holding back my excitement about seeing the shiny, new version of Peach's Birthday Cake – my all-time favorite board from the original Mario Party. When you go on one of the boards for the first time, Koopa Troopa will take a moment to reminisce and show you screenshots of what it originally looked like in the game it first appeared in. It's such a wonderfully nostalgic look back on the classic games, and it allows you to compare just how far graphics have come first-hand. But the little reflective touches in Mario Party Superstars are what I truly appreciate, making it feel like Nintendo is celebrating the series' history with you.
For all of its minigames and boards, nothing makes the experience of Mario Party quite as good as the company you play it with. Mario Party became a go-to game for my family, one that we always loved to tuck into on special occasions; the series really was an ever-present fixture of my childhood, one that brought me together with my dad and sibling, and Superstars allowed us to repeat this time-honored tradition. For the first time in three years, my sibling and I were in the same place for the holiday season, so it felt especially apt that we could recapture the joy of old times by jumping into the classic board game on Christmas Day.
Just days before we each got a copy of Mario Party Superstars (a top-tier gift), my dad had dug out the old N64 for the express purpose of allowing us to play the original Mario Party. To go from dusting off the old cartridge and playing the now-dated graphics of the original boards, to tucking into the glossy, shiny version on Switch once again showed how far games have come. And getting to share the experience with my sibling and dad all these years later really was just the icing on top of Peach's birthday cake.
It's rare for my family to be together in the same place at the same time these days, and to have this time with them on Christmas day, playing a game that brought us together all those years ago… well, there's nothing quite as special as that. The joy of playing Mario Party Superstars may be enhanced by my own sentimentality and nostalgia surrounding the series, but Nintendo's board game is still as fun to play as it ever was. And just as Mario Party games have done in the past, I can already foresee Superstars featuring in many future get-togethers and gaming sessions with my family.
Looking for more games to play with your pals? Check out our recommendations for the best party games you can play right now.