So, while I haven’t been able to do much lately for various reasons, I have been spending some time playing Super Mario Party and just, generally, thinking a lot.
As usual, this is more of an “off the cuff” thought/opinion article over an actual review, but there’s some things I wanted to say about the newest game in the Mario Party series and it felt like a good opportunity to take some time to post on here.
In general, my main feeling with SMP is that it’s a good first step. I’m so happy the car is no longer part of it and I missed moving around on the board. I also find most of the minigames quite fun.
My main issues are some of the games’ mechanics paired with the boards themselves.
All the boards feel relatively small is the biggest issue. Stage hazards/mechanics are mild or annoying (such as Megafruit Paradise and the pipes/bridges), and it just feels kind of… lifeless? Bland?
It’s like all the makings are there for a good game, but it fell short in actually pulling them off. I just genuinely don’t enjoy the boards and while moving around is fine, it just isn’t much fun to me.
I am probably in the minority saying this, but I especially dislike the character dice blocks. Some dice are honestly just better than others. Combine them with the ally system, which honestly feels so overpowered and can give quite an advantage, not just in the boards themselves, but also the minigames, and it’s just… tiring? I kind of wish I could turn the mechanic off because while I can maybe make an agreement with a friend I’m playing with, I can’t change anything with the computers.
While some people say it makes the game more strategic, I don’t want some kind of Mario Party meta–I want to just pick the character I like best without thinking about what dice will be best for this situation. And when it comes down to it, it makes certain allies much more useful than others.
I also miss the original 1-10 dice blocks and items, though, with the smaller boards, I can understand this change and just hope it’d be reverted when bigger boards come into play.
On a similar note, while part of me is okay with Bowser being a playable character, the game feels wrong without Bowser Spaces. The Unlucky (And Very Unlucky which… are just an annoying twist that barely does anything) Spaces are relatively anti-climatic and the Lucky Spaces also don’t really add much. They feel more like leftovers from 9 and 10’s systems and just don’t feel as relative here.
Speaking of anti-climatic, the Hidden Blocks… Having the spinner, which you can’t even stop so it takes longer for no reason as well, ruins some of the surprise as you know what to expect based on where the spinner lands. If it’s random and you can’t time it, just let the character hit the box and get it over with. I’m also sad to see Boo switched out for Lakitu, though, as it functions the same it doesn’t feel as much of a loss as the Bowser spaces being removed are.
Partner Party… While it has some interesting mechanics/puzzles, I wish it just functioned like a normal party with teams. I don’t care for moving at the same time or most of the ways it functions–especially because trying to land on a specific space can get frustrating incredibly fast.
I also just… wish there were 3 bonus stars still? Not sure why it was lowered to two.
I guess the best way to explain this is it feels like the game was kind of… compacted to some degree while adding some convoluted mechanics. Everything feels very slow. And while I understand why the Joy-cons need to be used having played many games that really focus on specific vibrations, I find playing with a single Joy-con really uncomfortable (And I have tiny hands!) so I wish I could use a Pro-controller or something.
It’s like it’s so close to being one of my favorite Mario Party’s, but still falls short in a lot of sections.
Some final notes I don’t really have much to say on:
-I wish the on-map versus space games had more instructions. You’re just kind of tossed in there.
-In general, more instructions on some games would be nice–I lost one because I didn’t realize ammo could run out.
-I don’t know if I’ll ever get to manage to play Toad’s Rec Room to its full extent. I haven’t had a lot of free time lately nor do I know anyone who lives super close who also has a Switch and I just wish there were ways to set these up even for people who may only have the one Switch. I know they can be played as is, but I feel doing it plain is just kind of bland.
Despite my negativity above, there’s still quite a bit I do like about the game and I AM having fun with it, even if I wish some things were changed a bit, so here are some things I am enjoying:
-Minigames. I actually like the minigames quite a bit. While I definitely have my favorites, I don’t think there are any I particularly dislike, though, some I really just don’t enjoy the controls for. That said, this is on par with Mario Party in general–even 9 and 10 I liked a lot of the games.
-The story. It’s simple, but it’s cute and I like that it ties into all the modes versus a separate mode you need to play to do it along with letting you play who you want to in the process.
-The Plaza. It’s just… nice being able to walk around. I wish it was a little easier to tell if there was something new for you to do, but it’s still a fun feature. I wish there were ways to build it up or something beyond just earning the gems–kind of like the little collectibles/souvenirs you could get (I loved that parade…). There are stickers in the game, but it being focused to one little spot down a pipe and just being able to look at them otherwise makes it a bit lackluster, even though I love stickers. I wouldn’t want them removed, but I wish they weren’t the only collectible thing.
-Despite not being big on Rhythm games, I actually found the ones in this game fun and I’m glad just doing all the modes was enough despite how much I suck at them. I will admit I wish they were more precise on exactly what beat you’re timing to–that’s always been my biggest issue with Rhythm games because I focus on too much at once.
And, of course, my favorite mode is River Survival. I have wanted a full co-op option for so long and the only thing I’m sad about is that it doesn’t have online. It kills me that they added online just for the normal minigames and I wish they added it in full as it’d be nice to actually play a 4 person party with all four actually being people and this mode as well. That said, there isn’t tons of variety with the games and it can a bit tiring to compete. I feel like they could’ve done twists on some of the versus games as well to help put in more variety.
The computers aren’t terrible, but they can really cause issues in certain modes or when it comes to rowing.
But it’s so nice having one where everyone can work together.
All in all, I’m having fun playing (even if I don’t see myself replaying much once I have everything unlocked) and I’m hoping the next Mario Party will at least continue in this direction… Though, I wouldn’t mind certain things not making a return.