'Super Mario Party' Review: Switch's First Must-Own Party Game

8/10 (Switch)

The Mario Party series is often hit or miss. There first few installments of the franchise on the Nintendo 64 were hard to put down, but others could have been skipped entirely (looking at you, Mario Party 9 ). But Super Mario Party on Nintendo Switch feels like a return to form, while also adding enough new content to make the most of your party time—and the most chances at getting into arguments with your friends.

super mario party box art
'Super Mario Party' is coming to Nintendo Switch in October Nintendo

Super Mario Party serves up tried-and-true board game mechanics: four players move their characters around the board, rolling dice and avoiding traps. Your objective is to get the most stars before the end of the game, which is harder than it sounds. You'll have to avoid pitfalls and your opponent's attempts at sabotage, not to mention earn enough coins to purchase them.

Character-only dice are a new feature of this latest incarnation of Mario Party . Each character has two dice, the normal 1-6 die and their own special dice that can fit multiple playstyles. For example, both Bowser and Boo have dice that can can get a higher than normal roll, but there's the risk of losing coins and not moving at all. This adds a small layer of strategy in terms of choosing characters or timing when to use special dice.

The game's assortment of more than 80 new minigames that will really put your friendships to the test. Some require hand-eye coordination, others a good memory, but they all feel different from previous Mario Party offerings.

Nintendo has really pushed for the use of the motion controls and vibrations since the Switch's debut and Super Mario Party really puts them to good use. For instance, in one minigame, you'll flip meat in a pan and feel the vibrations to know when it's cooked. Others require a simple hand gesture. Unless you're completely against using the small single Joy Con (which the game forces you to do), you won't have any problem playing Super Mario Party. It's also neat that Nintendo, essentially, allows for at least one other player to play with each console.

super mario party pan game
The minigames in 'Super Mario Party' make great use of the Joy Cons Nintendo

One drawback of the main Party Mode is the small number of game boards. There are only four in total (one you have to unlock). It's a shame that there weren't a couple more packed in. Hopefully, Nintendo adds more boards in future free updates.

Super Mario Party 's other two game modes offer solid replay value once you've finished playing through all the boards. River Survival mode is the ultimate co-op experience in Super Mario Party. Four players control a raft as you navigate rough and tumble rapids.

super mario party river survival
Put your friendships to the test in the co-op River Survival mode Nintendo

This is where the Joy Con motion controls are at their best. It's a lot of fun to perform a paddle motion with your friends as you try to avoid rocks and reach the end as fast as possible. Your team will activate a co-op minigame by hitting balloons strewn throughout the river course. This mode requires a lot of communication between party members, and you'll have to really be on the same page as your friends to pass each test with flying colors. You don't have to hit every balloon in River Survival, but completing each game will add more time for you to make it to the bottom. Failing to reach the end in time is the only way you can lose.

Sound Stage is a rhythm game that pits your party against each other. In the same vein as Rhythm Heaven, players use the Joy Con's motion controls to go with the beat in various minigames, like skewering fruit to a beat, or fist bumping to a song. This mode is pretty short, but it's a fun diversion with friends.

super mario party sound game
Follow the rhythm in the Sound mode for 'Super Mario Party' Nintendo

In true Mario Party fashion, players can hop into Minigame Mode without having to go through the board game aspect of Party Mode. Here, players can freely play individual minigames, participate in a five-game tournament or even play Square Off, which allows players to capture territory on a board by winning minigames. The player with the most territory wins.

There's a lot to love in Super Mario Party. The solid multiplayer fun makes it a must-own on the Nintendo Switch this holiday season, and there's a lot of new content and features that make the Mario Party formula feel fresh. If you're looking for something new but familiar for your next game night, you can't go wrong with Super Mario Party.