The best mini-game challenges in Mario Party Star Rush kept me hanging on the edge of my seat. At times, it offers up opportunities for mischievous competition where I could try to trip up my opponents, but overall, its main multiplayer modes are simply forgettable. After you’ve played them a handful of times, it feels like being at a party that’s just going through the motions.
Even the best turn-based games can get off to a slow start, but Mario Party Star Rush’s modes all start slow and never find ways to pick up the pace. Board game modes, like Balloon Bash, use random events each turn, but they unfold nearly the same way every time. Worse, almost everything here hinges on luck, and there are few opportunities for sneaky plays to employ smart strategies to shift its competitive games in your favor. A lot of them boil down to roll the dice and try to make the best of what’s available on the board.
Nintendo made a decent effort to tailor Star Rush for portable play.
To give credit where it’s due, both Toad Scramble and Balloon Bash improve on the sluggish play of the last three Mario Party games, and they present their own ideas. Toad Scramble introduces helpful allies, like Mario and Peach, that can boost your performance on the board. It’s a nice departure compared to Balloon Bash’s tried-and-true Mario Party-style board game, an old favorite that still doesn’t have the depth and variety of a great tabletop game.
Nintendo made a decent effort to tailor Star Rush for portable play. It’s neat to be able to make your moves at the same times as your opponents across a board in a single turn, so no one has to wait. But the boards themselves have lost all sense of purpose since scoring opportunities appear randomly, and there’s no deep new mechanics to uncover – just constant, metronomic repetition that rarely deviates in a meaningful way. Challenges, characters, and bosses appear predictably at the start of each turn and don’t really bring anything meaningful after a few turns.
The only thing that isn’t forgettable about this collection is the wacky spirit of its challenges. Each one uses simple controls so people of any age or skill level can pick up and play. The best challenges, like Bridgesaw Puzzle, frantic Bowser stage challenges, and Acornucopia — a a slow and steady four-player competitive race where you have to safely transport a pile of Super Acorns across a field full of patrolling Goombrats — offer playful ways to impede your rivals. A new mode called Coinathalon taps into the same competitive spirit by rewarding you with powerups that impede your opponent’s progress as you try to outpace them in a race around a game board. This wide variety of challenges was the only thing that kept me interested.
It still doesn’t have the depth and variety of a great tabletop game
Other modes offer variety in terms of gameplay but still fall flat. Rhythm Recital is strange premise where you play one of four musical instruments in time with a classic song from Super Mario Bros., but the notes you play never sound like they blend in with the memorable melodies. Mario Shuffle is a dash across the board to take the other team’s base, but it’s another quick and forgettable mode that I didn’t want to go back to.
Mario Party Star Rush’s modes range from OK to uninteresting, and even the fun mini-game challenges can’t make up for the boring overall package. The sheer repetition of events is a major problem that saps the excitement out of this party. After a few trips through Mario Party Star Rush’s modes, you’ll have seen nearly everything it has to offer.