Mario Party: Star Rush is the latest Mario Party game on Nintendo’s handheld, but don’t expect the same board game type gameplay that you’ve known throughout the years. This latest entry is a step in a whole new direction, with quicker gameplay, no waiting for turns, and all new modes. To be honest, it’s probably the best Mario Party in years.
Mario Party: Star Rush
Developed by Nd Cube / Published by Nintendo
Available on the Nintendo 3DS.
*Review code provided by Nintendo
With 15 Mario Party games released to date (including the numbered entries and spin-offs), we most likely all know what to expect from Nintendo’s party game series. Players choose from the most popular characters in the Mario franchise and compete in board game-like stages, racing to get the most stars at the end of game by navigating the map, landing on key spots and winning a plethora of fun and creative mini-games. In essence, Mario Party: Star Rush continues the trend, but also makes it a much more refined and solid experience.
First of all, gone is the linear movement, instead allowing players to freely move and choose where to go in a grid-based map. This allows players to move towards objectives as they see fit, like collecting coins or dashing straight to objectives, rather than spend turns circling about and waiting for various run through to get to where you want to go. It’s a spectacular change of pace and really adds a whole new level of strategy to a previously luck-based movement system.
Second, no longer do players have to wait their turn to roll the dice. While previous entries had one player roll their dice, move about the map, and then have the next player in line do the same, Mario Party: Star Rush allows all players to roll their dice together, get assigned the number of steps they can take, and when all players select where to go, then the action takes place. Not only does this speed things up quite a bit and allow players to get straight to the mini-games, but allow lets players strategize as they can chase other players down and attempt to steal whatever’s ahead of them, or use items depending on the situation to get ahead or block opponents. It’s a competitive mechanic that works wonders, and it also keeps the game from getting slow.
The rest is pretty familiar, with players collecting coins and stars, and competing in a variety of mini-games against other players. Most of the mini-games have players compete against each other, but some of these – known as Coin Chaos games – aren’t on the same screen like previous entries, instead having players race to see who can score most in order to take that round. Some have players collect coins in a submarine, take item orders from Toad and deliver, knock shy guys off a platform, sort out different types of mushrooms and more. Others, like Bowser rounds or Boss rounds, have do have players fight together as they try to survive or take out the boss. The large selection of new mini-games is fantastic, so expect a large variety of stuff to do as players race to be number one.
Mario Party: Star Rush also comes with a bunch of new game modes that take advantage of the gameplay changes. There’s Toad Scramble, which has players run through a variety of grid-based maps as Toad as they collect stars, team up with Mario and co., and face bosses. Coinathlon has players race to the finish line in lap-based bouts by collecting coins in mini-games. Balloon Bash has players burst balloons in other unique maps to collect coins, stars and start mini-games. Then there’s other modes, like Rhythm Recital, which has players team up to play classic Mario tunes by hitting notes in time. Finally, the game also features unlockable characters like Toadette and Rosalina, and amiibo support, further adding replay value to the game.
Despite being a way better and entertaining experience this time around, the game is not without it’s flaws. As before, the game has a luck element to it that can screw over players at the end of a game, despite your skill at winning mini-games. While the free movement and grid-based gameplay improves a player’s odds and allows some strategy to be employed, a random dice roll can easily put an end to all your efforts. Despite this however, the game still is tons of fun.
Mario Party: Star Rush is an excellent addition to the long-running series, bringing new life to Nintendo’s party game with revamped game mechanics and faster play. While it’s not perfect, it’s a step in the right direction, making it the best Mario Party I’ve played in a long time.