That’s right: we’re going to celebrate Marxmas Eve by shitting on ’nother new Nintendo game. ’Tis the season.
Whene’er anyone discusses this game, they always compare it to Super Mario Party, with mainstream critics finding Superstars to be trite & backward compared to Super Mario Party, which they apparently like now, proving to the world yet ’gain that they have bad tastes, & ol’ 30-year-ol’ millennials who refuse to grow up loving it for being like the classic games they played when they were both physically & mentally 10, rather than only 1 o’ those things.
But I’m not interested in that tired debate. What I am interested in arguing, as a 30-year-ol’ millennial who refuses to grow up, is that this game is inferior to each game o’ the original trilogy. I don’t mean them combined; I mean each o’ them on their own. If some perverse deity forced me to choose any 1 Mario Party game & only 1 Mario Party game to play, with all the others banished into Sheol with Kaiba ( ¿Was he? I don’t know — I ne’er actually gave a shit ’bout that show, e’en as a kid ), I’d still choose the 1st Mario Party; if that game were not available, I’d choose Mario Party 3; if not that, Mario Party 2. After that I might consider Superstars, but I think I might still prefer DS, 4, & 6.
Now, normally I wouldn’t be too hard on this game for that “crime”: none o’ the other dozen or so Mario Party’s reached the quality o’ the original trilogy, either. But I’m going to admit I’m irked by all the hype round this game — as exists with every new game Nintendo pumps out, regardless o’ half-assery involved. It’s 1 thing for people to be excited by a somewhat return to form; but when I start seeing so many people make tier lists putting this in S, ’bove, say, the original Mario Party ( which is the best Mario Party, you plebs — it had Minigame Island, 1-player minigames, & an excellent soundtrack by the guy who did Chrono Trigger’s ), that’s when I have to put my foot down. This game is C-tier, @ best.
I’ve read some defenders try to insist that, tho an extra board or so would be nice, this game is not “lazy”, but I can’t entirely agree. Maybe “sloppy” would be mo’ accurate: it might not be a lack o’ care or competence on the part o’ the developers, but a lack o’ adequate resources, such as funding or money, & may be due to a failure o’ management. People defend this game by bringing up shallow references that feel mo’ like marketing than game design, such as all the references to classic Mario Party games, like bringing back the main options menu from the 1st game, as if that too much mo’ effort than creating a different options menu. They had to have an options menu, so it’s not as if they could skimp on this as much as… well, I’ll get to all the subtle elements this “remake” lacks.
I puzzled to myself, ¿who is this game aimed @? The obvious answer would be fans o’ the original trilogy, but that to me makes no sense, as anyone who is a true fan o’ the original trilogy should realize how shallow this “tribute” is. I feel the opposite o’ people who feel deep nostalgia when playing this game: I feel antinostalgia playing this game, as I’m just noticing too much all the elements they fuck up. So many people swoon @ how their “childhood” was brought back when hearing, say, the remixed version o’ the Mario Party 2 title screen music; but I’m horrified. I very much do feel deep nostalgia for the original version o’ this song; but the new version with its ridiculous electronic dubsteppathon sounds like trash. Dubstep’s fine by itself, but like any other genre, it only works if the song was made for the genre, not shoehorned in later as a cheap attempt @ an “improvement” for shallow reasons. It’s the equivalent o’ a Beatles tribute replacing the original “Yesterday” with a fast-paced dubstep remake. ¿Who would want that? ¿& who would want these remixes?
I feel like I could just end the review after putting these 2 tracks side by side. The case is closed. But I have much mo’ to whine ’bout, so you’re not off the hook that easily.
¿Why they felt the need to remix the music @ all is both baffling & infuriating. They felt no need to remix the music from Super Mario 64 or Ocarina of Time when remaking them on later, mo’ powerful consoles — for good reason: they’re perfect the way they are. Same goes with the Mario Party music. By this point music was near CD-quality, so it’s not as if the original songs aged badly in any way, & the idea that the guy who subjected us to Yoshi’s New Island’s kazooathon & the people ’hind such masterpiece soundtracks as Wii Party & Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics could do a better job than the guy who did Chrono Trigger is beyond delusional. This game is an unrelenting onslaught o’ the equivalent o’ Puddle of Mudd butchering “About a Girl” — & you ne’er want to be known as “the Puddle of Mudd o’ Mario Party”, or of anything. Amazingly, despite this better technology, these remixes sound less like they were made with real instruments than the originals. It’s astounding how weak the instruments on the remixes sound & all the flourishes they removed, sterilizing these songs worse than if they got Pat Boone to perform them. Here’s just a short list o’ the worst offenders:
Yes, let’s add electronic boops to a country ditty. It worked so well with that “Achy Breaky 2” song with Buck 22 — ’cept, to be fair, that 1 was so o’er the top ’twas funny & the original “Achy Breaky Heart” was ne’er good in the 1st place.
Let’s have some fun by removing the cool, surreal quacking instrument for generic electronic farts.
Big trouble is certainly what letting your interns make remixes o’ these songs gets you. This legit sounds like a MIDI version you’d find on a Mario fan site like TMK back when Mario Party 3 was originally released ’cause most people back then didn’t have fast ’nough internet to download the authentic full-quality version.
“Try hard, folks” is what I said to the people who made these remixes. They apparently didn’t take my advice.
The original music in this game is a bit mo’ mixed. Everyone seems to acknowledge that the new minigame instructions theme is no match for the 1st 3 Mario Party games’. Howe’er, I actually kind o’ like the new Bowser theme & Chance Time theme. The new Bowser theme is no match for the original Mario Party’s reggaeton-inspired Bowser theme, nor Mario Party 2’s; but a’least we were spared from hearing butchered renditions. Honestly, we probably would’ve been better off with original songs.
These terrible remixes make me almost glad this game is missing Minigame Island, Minigame Stadium, & the boards “Mario’s Rainbow Castle”, “DK’s Jungle Adventure”, “Pirate Land”, & “Creep Cavern”, nor did they remix the menu theme from Mario Party 2, as I shudder to imagine what musical abominations they’d make o’ some o’ my favorite songs from these games.
As a palate cleanser, here are some o’ those much better songs:
If I may make a possibly offensive claim, I would say that this game’s target audience are people who played the original trilogy once or twice as children, & then completely forgot ’bout everything but its vaguest, most general elements, & were only reminded o’ the existence o’ Mario Party by this game. But e’en that’s bizarre, since anyone who truly cared ’bout their nostalgia for the originals had many ways to just play the originals before this game came out. These games aren’t e’en that expensive on eBay — they’re all round $20. You could get the original trilogy for ’bout as much as this game & get mo’ value for your money.
Everyone discusses the difference in # o’ boards vs. the difference in # o’ minigames, but nobody talks ’bout the stark difference in extra features. This game does add achievements, which are somewhat interesting ( literally the only thing that made me bother to try this out ), tho they fall into the modern problem o’ relying on online capabilities to achieve some o’ them, which means those achievements will be impossible to get when Nintendo inevitably shuts down the servers & plans for ways to mangle & repackage these same games as the shallow commodities that they treat these games as1. To be fair, these online-mandatory achievements are set off on a separate page, so players can just pretend they don’t exist & only care ’bout the single-player achievements. Some o’ the achievements are unbalanced, such as the 1 requiring getting in the top 1,000 o’ a minigame’s global high score, which is much easier if you buy the game early. Despite sucking ass @ this game, I managed to get this achievement on the 3rd variation o’ “Slot Car Derby” simply ’cause hardly anyone e’en acknowledged that variation on that minigame’s existence.
You wouldn’t want to try for any o’ the online achievements, anyway, as oft the online is so bad that the special modes they did make for this game that only work in online, like Survival & Daily Challenges, are nigh unplayable. Why my nephew can play Fortnite perfectly fine all the way ’cross the apartment from my modem while fucking Mario Party is too advanced for my nearer modem to handle is beyond my comprehension. Much o’ the time you literally can’t play these challenges ’cause the game apparently can’t find anyone else to play. You’d think such a fast-selling game wouldn’t have that problem — & e’en so, ¿couldn’t they just replace the other players with CPU players? The way these 2 work makes the connection problems particularly frustrating, as the former demands you beat every minigame & keep up a streak & in order to get an achievement for the latter you need to beat all 3 minigames in the challenge in a single run. So a single connection problem can cause you to lose all progress you made in either.
Also, tho I’ll admit I haven’t experienced it myself yet, I have seen streamers or other captured footage o’ a player seeming to win a minigame, only for it to act as if a different player won. I can’t fault the programmers for not perfectly preventing any connection hiccups, which is probably impossible; but to not check each player to make sure the winner in all connections is consistent &, if they’re not consistent, a’least give some feedback to the player whose reality isn’t acknowledged — or, you know, maybe let everyone play the minigame ’gain, which feels much less unfair than screwing o’er 1 player without any recourse — so they’re not confused, is just plain bad programming.
The sad reality is that Mario Party Superstars’s online capabilities are worse than you can find in the seamy underbelly o’ emulation, where I haven’t seen these problems happen @ all ’mong the various streams o’ online play I’ve seen o’ the original trilogy being played in online multiplayer emulators.
If you’re not interested in playing online ( which is to say, not interested in paying the $20/year Nintendo tax ), then there’s e’en less for you in this game, as almost all the extra modes require online. Which also means that when Nintendo inevitably shuts down their servers, this game will lose much o’ its already paltry list o’ features. Contrast this to the original trilogy, which are just as good today, with or without online, ’cause they were made as actual works o’ art to stand the test o’ time, not glorified limited services you rent.
Granted, it’s not as if the online-only extra modes are interesting. Survival, the 1 where you have to keep up a winning streak to try & get the highest score you can, despite frustrations caused by connection problems, is, sadly, the best ’mong them, which says a lot. E’en then, this mode is ruined by the awful minigame selection they offer. You’d think a game with a whopping 100 minigames would offer mo’ than the same 5-8 minigames.
Daily Challenge is so laughably pointless: every day or so they give you 3 batches o’ 3 minigames tied round a loose theme like “think hard”, “stay focused”, & the immensely exotic “get 1st place”. It doesn’t take long to realize they just cycle thru the same dozen or so themes. You technically “win” if you get the most stars in a batch, but you only get any meaningful achievement ( as meaningful as achievements can be ) if you get 3 in a row. After that there’s no reason to e’er play this mode ’gain — if e’en that is a good reason.
Then there’s Coin Battle, where you also just play a bunch o’ minigames, but this time collecting coins from them, with a few twists like getting double coins, to see who can get the most coins. Like with Daily Challenge, winning doesn’t matter that much, tho you do get ’nother achievement checkmark if you get many coins. & also like Daily Challenge, once you’ve played this mode once, you will get the gist o’ it & will ne’er have a reason to play it ’gain.
Finally, there’s a bunch o’ lame sports & puzzle games thrown in. I didn’t e’en bother to play these much ’cause Mario Party’s Tetris wannabes all suck.
In addition to achievements, this game added some weird level-up system, which I guess is for bragging rights, but you level up so quickly that within a few hours you’ll get the max level 99. ¿So what’s the point? Perhaps mo’ bragworthy is that for each achievement you earn you get a new moniker you can give yourself. You can also tell everyone you run into your favorite minigames & game, which they somehow botched, since, for some reason, NDCube forgot the handheld Mario Party games — including The Top 100 & Super Mario Party, which NDCube themselves made. & before you try to tell me they’re only including the classic Mario Party games, please tell me in what sane universe anyone would consider Mario Party 9 & Mario Party 10 “classic” Mario Party games — specially ’bove Mario Party DS, which is actually considered an underrated gem ’mong ol’-heads. You can also look @ statistics showing what % o’ people picked what games & what minigames as their favorites & marvel @ how so many people could consider “Bowser’s Big Blast” their favorite minigame.
Legit, the best addition to this game are the stickers, since you can a’least use them to haze other players during boards — tho why you can’t use stickers during minigames is a mystery to me. I must warn, howe’er, that this is a good way to make them turn gainst you, as I learned during a round in “Peach’s Birthday Cake” when Mario decided to thank me for all my Bowser stickers I sent him when he got the Bowser seed by using the cursed dice block Bowser forced him to buy @ a Nintendo price on me. I only wished they had a better selection o’ stickers, tho: ¿why no, “Wow, I sucked”, to express my astonishment @ doing laughably bad @ a minigame or any “Cool game you got here” for when someone lands on Chance Time & steals your star? Also, choosing default stickers is a pain & it ruins my attempt to get screenshots when I have the sticker menu in the way while trying to place a sticker.
Meanwhile, this game lacks many cooler features that the original trilogy had, like Minigame Island from Mario Party 1, Minigame Coaster from Mario Party 2, & the duel boards from Mario Party 3. Hell, if we’re including later games, Mario Party 4 had underrated games in “Whomp’s Basement Brouhaha”, like “Doors of Doom” — mo’ interesting than the 3rd time they rehashed that lame attempt @ a Tetris-like game, “Mario’s Puzzle Party”. These features are not only cooler, they’re also rarer, which is perhaps why the developers didn’t consider them: the Minigame Island/Coaster feature was only in the 1st 2 games & The Top 100 ( the fact that The Top 100 was the only later Mario Party game to bring back this beloved classic feature means it deserves a lot mo’ props than it gets ); The duel boards were only in Mario Party 3. ¿Wouldn’t it have been mo’ interesting if this game that made a point o’ being a throwback to the classic original trilogy actually incorporated these important, specific features, rather than just 5 specific boards from them, & a bunch o’ general elements from the series as a whole?
What’s odd is that defenders will oft consider Superstars’s greater # o’ minigames to be worth the fewer boards, since minigames are s’posedly the “meat” o’ the game, e’en tho there was already a game that was cheaper than Superstars that had just as many minigames, Mario Party: The Top 100, which was widely criticized for its lack o’ boards. ¿So which is it? ¿Are boards important or not? Like that terrible 3D All-Stars review I made fun o’ where the guy tried to simultaneously argue that 3D All-Stars was both a perfect replica o’ its 3 perfect games & improved those games’ imperfections, it seems Superstars defenders go to the extent o’ self-contradiction to avoid acknowledging the unsavory reality o’ this “remake” or “remaster”, or whate’er ’twas attempting to be.
Something else subtle, but meaningful, lacking from this game, which most Mario Party games has, is any form o’ conclusion or “story mode”. Now, personally, I thought the 1st 2 games handled this best, as they were the only versions that didn’t force you to play single player — which is a dumb requirement for a party game — & also didn’t force you to win — which is a dumb requirement for a luck-based board game; but e’en they had a final Bowser board ( or in the original Mario Party’s case, a secret very final board unlocked after collecting a total o’ 100 stars ). This gave these games something o’ a feeling o’ progression, which is an added incentive to play mo’ than just 1 board. There’s also something exciting ’bout being able to unlock things. That this “remake” lacks this basic element in nearly every Mario Party game is ’nother indication o’ laziness.
While people do bring up the paucity o’ boards, people don’t bring up the way the boards included don’t fit together well. Each game o’ the original trilogy had a theme to its boards that tied them together: Mario Party 1 gave each player their own board, Mario Party 2 based its boards on speculative-fiction themes like pirates, space, adventure mysteries, westerns, & horror; Mario Party 3 based its boards on classic Mario level themes like forests, caves, deserts, snow, & underwater. Superstars jumbles together boards from these games, which fit together awkwardly & feels arbitrary. This specially applies to the boards from the 1st game: ¿why do Peach & Yoshi get their own boards, but no one else? & I haven’t e’en mentioned how bizarre it is that we have boards only from the original trilogy, but minigames from all the #’d Mario Party games, up to the rather recent Mario Party 10 — but not the handhelds. It’s ’cause o’ this that people can’t e’en decide whether or not this is s’posed to be a throwback to only the original trilogy or just some vague notion o’ older Mario Party games, which might include the GameCube games.
This is not only yet ’nother example o’ sloppiness, but also a hint @ to what could’ve been much better. Imagine if ’stead o’ throwing together a glorified greatest hits game, they created a new game in the spirit o’ the original & made new boards for each o’ the characters, but which incorporate the new Mario elements that have come ’bout since 1998. Now that Luigi’s Mansion is out you could have the chance to make a Luigi’s Mansion board ’stead o’ the random engine room that Luigi apparently had in the 1st game, made a couple years before Luigi e’er had a mansion. You could e’en combine the themes from the 3 games: Luigi’s board could double as a horror-themed board; Donkey Kong’s board could, as a twist, be snow-based & reference Tropical Freeze. This kind o’ game, which both feels refreshing & new & modern, but also resonates with the past games, would have the elements that make a truly great comeback; ’stead we get a game that feels both stale & yet also not the same as the true classics — the worst o’ both worlds.
& while we’re talking ’bout the boards, I’m not ’bove nitpicking the choices. “Horror Land” & “Peach’s Birthday Cake” are the only strong choices they made, & e’en these they kind o’ fiddled with, such as removing all the buildings from “Horror Land” for some reason & moving the star to before Bowser’s seed lottery ( tho I’d consider the addition o’ cheaper coin-stealing Piranha Plants to be an improvement ). Out o’ all the strong boards in the 1st Mario Party that didn’t make the cut, ¿“Yoshi’s Tropical Island” did? ¿Who likes “Yoshi’s Tropical Island”? With its potent mix o’ luck-based bullshit & blandness it’s probably the worst board. ¿How could they prefer the forgettable “Space Land” o’er “Western Land”, with its meme ’bout everyone getting drunk on milk @ the bar & hitting everyone with trains? ¿Who would choose “Woody Woods” with its messages every turn informing me, yes, the signs are switching, the signs are switching, o’er… any other board in Mario Party 3?
& while I’m @ it, let me nitpick the minigame selection. 1st, the lack o’ minigames from Mario Party DS is ridiculous, specially if you’re including minigames from Mario Party 9 & 10, which weren’t e’en made by Hudson Soft & were hated e’en worse than Super Mario Party, so why they’re included in a throwback nostalgiafest that’s s’posed to be a return to form & not minigames from a game that is actually respected by ol’-school fans is a mystery to me. Imagine preferring “Roll Call” bootleg “Goomba Spotting”, the bootleg o’ a part o’ “Dungeon Duos” that is “Manor of Escape”, or bootleg o’ probably several minigames, “Skewer Scurry”, o’er such classic minigames as “Domino Effect”, “Camera Shy”, “Soap Surfers”, “Peek-a-Boo”, “Fast Food Frenzy”, “Flash & Dash”, or “Cube Crushers”.
Otherwise, the minigame choices aren’t the worst, but they have questionable choices. It seems criminal to leave out classic minigames like “Platform Peril”, “Grab Bag”, “Filet Relay”, “Move to the Music”, “Lights Out”, “Ridiculous Relay”, “Locked Out”, & “Fowl Play” when you include such lame minigames as “Handcar Havoc”, “Piranha’s Pursuit”, “Archer-ival”, “Dungeon Dash”, “Tidal Toss”, “Picking Panic”, “Mario’s Puzzle Party”, “River Raiders”, & “Bounce & Trounce”. ¿Who would prefer “Ice Hockey” o’er “Bombsketball”? If you’re going to include a lame button-masher like “Mecha Marathon”, ¿why not prefer a better 1 like “Looney Lumberjacks” — specially since this game, like many others, has far too few 2 vs. 2 minigames? ¿Why are there so few minigames from Mario Party 4? I know it had weak boards & few minigames, but it had stronger minigames than they offer here. ¿Where’s “Three Throw”, “Stamp Out”, “Photo Finish”, “Blame It on the Crane”, “Cliffhangers”, “Team Treasure Trek”, or “Order Up”? I wouldn’t say any o’ the minigames they did choose were bad; but were such generic sports games as “GOOOOOOOAL!!” & “Beach Volley Folly” or the predictable “Revers-a-Bomb” truly better? Mo’ importantly, were the “Roll Call” & “Dungeon Duos” clones from Mario Party 9 & 10 — cloning games already included here as well — truly better?
A lot o’ the minigames were kinda butchered, too. “Bobsled Run” doesn’t just feel bad compared to the originals, but also bad in general. I’m not sure how anyone who’s e’er played a video game could OK such a thing. “Slot Car Derby”’s all out o’ whack, letting me zip thru sharp corners, but randomly making me spin out when speeding down straight lines, which is not how the original worked. “Mushroom Mix-Up”, which was 1 o’ my favorite games in the original, is severely imbalanced, screwing o’er players who get ground-pounded — since now being ground-pounded lasts till the platform is already @ the bottom & it’s too late to jump back up — with no risk from those who happen to do so, when in the original belligerent players were mo’ likely to bounce themselves off the stage — as is just. On the other hand, “Sneak ’n Snore” actually has challenge, as you can’t just let yourself slip back down immediately when the Chain Chomp wakes up, but actually have to strategize & take a risk, & “Tidal Toss” is a li’l mo’ balanced to not completely screw o’er the 3 players ( tho not by much, & this minigame was still too lame to deserve being included ).
How well this game implements classic Mario Party gameplay is mixed. I’m actually less critical ’bout some o’ the changes than most people, tho I do agree that the luck spaces are lame & stick out in this classic throwback as feeling like elements from the lamer later games. That said, some o’ the changes are probably improvements. I actually like that 2nd & 3rd place players in minigames get a few coins as it gives players a reason to care ’bout avoiding 4th place. Perhaps the complaints ’bout too many coins in game ( which would’ve been helped much mo’ by removing the luck spaces ) couldn’t been assuaged by making the 4th-place player lose coins ’stead.
Tho the “classic” bonus stars are a misnomer, the way they work make mo’ sense than the classic mechanisms, which ne’er made any sense. Superstars’ minigame star goes to the person who beat the most minigames & the coin star goes to the player who earned the most coins, both o’ which make sense & generally reward the most skilled player, as they should, to balance out the luck-based bullshit that fills the rest o’ the game. The original trilogy, gave the minigame star to the player who won the most coins from minigames, including single player & battle minigames, which means a few lucky minigames, — such as being lucky ’nough to get a free 30 coins from “Whack-a-Plant” — can win someone the star e’en if they generally did worse than someone else, & the coin star goes to the player who had essentially the high score for most coins @ any time in game, regardless o’ how many coins they have @ the end or how many they earned o’erall. This, in addition to being arbitrary, is very imbalanced, as it gives players who win a sudden windfall ( which is almost always due to luck ) & spend their coins quickly afterward a steep advantage o’er players who generally gain mo’ coins, but are consistently spending them, so they have high amounts @ any 1 point.
To those who think all these complaints are unreasonable, I want to prove they’re reasonable by comparing Mario Party Superstars to a game that did succeed @ being a greatest hits collection o’ past games & succeeded @ exceeding, rather than falling far short, o’ the standards o’ those classics: WarioWare Gold, a game that was round half the price & mo’ than twice as good. That game didn’t just include 1.5 times as many microgames as each o’ the original games, but also included souvenirs from WarioWare Twisted!, a fully-fleshed out story mode longer than in any o’ the previous games with special new twists on the final level, & several extra game modes, including the only good part o’ Game & Wario, “Gamer”. I have to nitpick li’l things like 1 or 2 microgames with worse graphics or music ( most actually had better graphics & music, specially the songs with sung lyrics, which lacked the compression o’ the earlier games ) or some souvenirs I miss from Twisted!. I basically described all o’ WarioWare Gold’s flaws in 1 sentence, compared to this several-thousand-word essay on Mario Party Superstars.
Plus, it has a microgame based on Wario Land 3, civilization’s greatest achievement. ¿Does Mario Party Superstars have a board based on Wario’s greatest achievement? I didn’t think so.
The sad thing is, I think the only reason people so lavishly praise Mario Party Superstars is ’cause it’s not Super Mario Party. That’s literally its only accomplishment. None o’ the other things it does, beyond the few brief examples o’ shallow references to the N64 games, are beyond what the many past Mario Party games have done. ¿Why should people act ecstatic ’bout them creating a watered-down form o’ the same game they’ve made several times before? This is a terrible message to send to Nintendo: if you make a shitty game, your fans will reward you when you make a mediocre game afterward ( they’ll also probably buy the shitty game, too ). It’s shocking that Nintendo has no reason to put the resources toward making a truly great Mario Party game when people will not only flock to a mediocre work that can be outsourced to bootleggers like NDCube, but will also be their unpaid marketing team & hype it up all o’er the internet like Scientologists buying & simping for Mission Earth books.