The Mario Party series has been in a bit of a rut. While amazing on the N64 and the GameCube, the series has been taking a turn for the worse with latter entries in the series. After reviewing Mario Party 10 for the Wii U, I was left with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Mario Party: Star Rush looked promising, and while has a few good things going for it, it is once again an overall disappointment in a once-great franchise.
Mario Party: Star Rush changes up the formula for Mario Party games with a strong emphasis on minigames. When you first start up the game, your options are very limited as to what you can select. You have the option to dive into some minigames, or play a mode called Toad Scramble. Toad Scramble is an interesting mode in which you choose a character and compete against three others. You roll a dice to move spaces on a mini-board. The goal is to land on the boss square, and then engage in a boss minigame. There are also spots on the map that allow you to collect coins, which can be used in a shop for the longer levels that have multiple boss battles.
Toad Scramble is kind of fun, and is a good way to introduce you to the game, but it does get boring just wandering around the map. The one thing I did like about the mode was that when a player lands on the boss square, the other players are put at a disadvantage and the further away from the boss square they are, the more they have to tap a button to be inserted into the boss battle. Interesting little mechanic that I enjoyed.
The biggest deviation in terms of gameplay is that almost all of the modes have a “free-for-all” aspect in that while you don’t necessarily take turns, all players can compete at once. It does help with the speed of the game modes, but does kind of take away from the “board game” like charm the original titles had.
I haven’t talked about any multiplayer yet, because it’s a two-fold situation. First, Mario Party: Star Rush doesn’t offer any online multiplayer. I’m not sure why this is such a big issue to add in for Nintendo. I see it like this: as an adult, the people I played the classic Mario Party games with in high school and college now are all across the country living in other areas. It would be nice to be able to play these games with them via online, yet Nintendo still will not add any online into a Mario Party game. It’s a baffling decision to make in a party game released in 2016.
The positive aspect is the single card use in the game. If one person owns a copy of Mario Party: Star Rush, they then can do single card play and allow anyone with a 3DS nearby to jump into the action, minus the single player action. It’s actually pretty robust in terms of what you can play what it offers, and would be a nice feature to utilize going forward with multiplayer games on the 3DS.
Other modes include Coinathlon, which has you going around a map collecting coins and playing minigames in short modes, with the person with the most coins being the winner. There is also Mario Shuffle, which is focused on amiibo functionality and is a two player mode; Balloon Bash, which is a bit like Toad Scramble except a focus on collecting stars; Rhythm Rectile, which is a rhythm based mini game; Challenge Tower, which has you ascending a tower while avoiding certain spaces; and Boo’s Block Party, which is a puzzle based game.
Mario Party: Star Rush looks decent enough with obviously recycled assets from previous Mario games on the 3DS. Maps look nice, it’s easy to see everything, and the colors are their usual crisp and vibrant self.
So at the end of the day is Mario Party: Star Rush fun? It depends. If you have a group of local friends, then I can see a good bit of enjoyment. Although the mini games vary in terms of quality, but one I really enjoyed was surfing on a leaf board that felt a lot like a Mario Snowboarding game. The lack of online support kind of killed the game for me personally, but as stated, if you have a group of local friends this can be overlooked.
Mario Party: Star Rush isn’t the Mario Party game we all were hoping for and a return to form for the series, but I think it’s a step in the right direction after the questionable Mario Party 10 on the Wii U. The party isn’t as hype as it needs to be, but some will be able to find a good bit of enjoyment in this title.