The Mario Party series has lost its luster to many veteran gamers well before Mario Party Star Rush. Experimental mechanics (such as the vehicle containing all players introduced in Mario Party 9) alienated many die-hard Mario Party fans. Mario Party 10 made the same mistakes that the previous entry had, making many feel like Nintendo did not understand what their audience wanted.
Handheld entries in the Mario Party series have also seen mixed results. Mario Party DS was great but Mario Party Advanced for GBA and Mario Party: Island Tour for 3DS were underwhelming and disappointing for fans. Luckily, Mario Party Star Rush is a very fun, skill based Mario Party entry, and revives a series which many believe is losing steam.
Mario Party Star Rush modes, besides Rhythm Recital, are all good, with a few being stand-outs. Modes and playable characters are unlocked through a leveling system where players gain EXP by winning and participating in the different modes. This leveling system is paced very well, and will keep players hooked for hours.
Multiplayer is also easily accessible in the game, and it runs well. Only one person needs to own the game in order to play, making it very accommodating for different situations. It is a blast to play with friends, and I would highly recommend you do so.
Mario Party Star Rush contains eight modes. The first is the basic mini-game mode that allows players to pick and choose their favorite minigames to play. It is a staple of any party game and, due to the strong lineup of games here, it is fun to play. While the AI can be dumb on lower difficulty levels, they do present a challenge when set to Very Hard.
Next is most heavily advertised mode: “Toad Scramble.” In this mode, players take control of a Toad, and must navigate to boss spaces on an open map. Players are free to move in any direction after they roll their die, and all players move at the same time. This is a drastic change from past entries in the series, and many worried that this would take out some of the board game feeling out of the experience.
Fortunately, this grid-based system adds a whole new layer of strategy to Mario Party Star Rush. Players must land exactly on a boss space in order to participate in a special mini-game, with the winner receiving two stars. They also need to obtain allies by passing through them on the map. These allies are classic Mario characters that give players special dice and assistance in the boss mini-games. Finally, players also want to try and get coins, as every ten coins one has gives them an extra star at the end of the match.
Bonus coins are given out after all five bosses are defeated, with the player who has the most stars after the final tally being the winner. I had a lot of fun with this mode, given that it was the most dynamic mode in a Mario Party game. More importantly, it constantly keeps players on their toes and anticipating what comes next. The only problem with this mode is that the boss mini-games do start to get repetitive in long sessions of playtime, but that could have been relieved by either adding more bosses or giving the bosses that are already there a few different mini-games.
This mode actually takes strategic planning and skill in order to be successful, which is something that can’t really be said for Mario Party 9 and 10 with their vehicle mechanic. Nintendo has said many times that they thought that there was too much wait time in older Mario Party games, and this set-up solves that issue without causing any problems. This mode has a lot of potential, and I hope to see this kind of mode come back in the next big console Mario Party for the Nintendo Switch.
Those looking for a more linear, but still skill-based mode will enjoy “Coinathlon.” In this mode, players take part in a set of three coin collecting mini-games which change every time the mode is played, and move forward one space for every coin they collect. The first character to finish three laps wins. Coinathlon is a very fast paced mode that really allows players to channel their Mario Party skills and attempt to beat the competition.
Those looking for a tougher and more single-player focused mode will love Coinathlon, although it is playable in multiplayer. This is a mode that relies solely on the player’s skill, thus making it very rewarding. While it didn’t have the longevity of some of the other modes for me, I can really see some die-hard and very skillful Mario Party fans loving this aspect of Mario Party Star Rush.
The next mode, and my personal favorite in Mario Party Star Rush, is “Balloon Bash.” In Balloon Bash, players choose a character along with one of three maps, and must travel around it popping coin balloons to obtain coins. These coins can be traded for stars with when the character passes through a star balloon. Every time a coin balloon is popped a more traditional mini-game must be played, and the winner of that gets ten coins. At the end of the match, bonus stars are given out, and the player with the most stars wins.
This mode is the closest to older Mario Party titles that Mario Party Star Rush gets, but also still keeps some unique elements, such as being able to move in either direction and participating in coin duels if one lands on the same space as another player. While the mode could have benefited from a few more maps to play on, I was constantly returning to it and enjoyed it every time.
Unfortunately, the next mode unlocked after Balloon Bash does not work as well. “Rhythm Recital” is a very poorly executed rhythm game that is a detriment to the rest of this otherwise good party game. The mode sounds good in concept. Players must participated in a rhythm based game using classic Mario songs such as the Super Mario World theme.
Sadly, it messes it up the basics for any rhythm game: running well and going to the beat. This was the only mode in the game that I ever experienced any lag on, which is not helpful when the mode requires precise button presses. Players also don’t directly play to the beat of the song, which throws one off if they are listening to the music. Why even include this mode in the first place if you are not even directly playing the song? If you do get Mario Party Star Rush pass up this mode and don’t look back.
The following mode unlocked is Mario Shuffle, which has mixed results. It is a pretty basic board game, with players on opposite sides of a three lane board, and must roll the right dice in order to move their pieces forward and get to the other side first while dodging bad spaces and enemy pieces . While Mario Shuffle can be a fun distraction, it is very luck based, so people’s enjoyment with it will vary. For a game with an emphasis on skill, such a luck based mode does feel out of place, but players might be able to get a few fun rounds out of it.
Following that is Boo’s Block Party, a 1 vs. 1 game where players must match up three or more boxes of the same number together. Numbered from one to four, players must rotate them to match and stop columns piling up to the top of the screen. This mode is great for people who want a quick, intense match-3 game, but Boo’s Block Party does not have much meat to it otherwise.
Mario Party Star Rush‘s final mode is Challenge Tower. In it, players climb up the side of a column, and must navigate up 30 or more levels without coming across Amp panels that can halt your progress, kind of like Minesweeper. This mode can be very fun, even though it is simple does not really stand out from the crowd like Toad Scramble, Coinathlon, and Balloon Bash.
It can be hard for a game to escape the shadow of other entries in their series, whether it be for good or bad reasons. Mario Party Star Rush manages to separates itself form the other Mario Party titles, both on handhelds and consoles, by being individualistic and a good game in its own right. Mario Party Star Rush a very fun entry in the series that introduces a lot of interesting mechanics, most of which end up in its favor. I would recommend all Mario Party fans pick this up — it is the most refreshing entry in the series in a long time.