Product provided by Nintendo. Special thanks to Nintendo for giving me this opportunity to cover this game.
Mario Party has always been known to be a game where you and a few friends can sit back, have fun and see how much hilarity can ensue amongst each other. The franchise hasn’t had much success in recent years. It started being a turn based game and has stuck from the first game all the way to Mario Party 8. However the game went in a different direction with the use of vehicle based movement in Mario Party 9 and the overreliance of Amiibo functionality in Mario Party 10. The franchise wasn’t limited to consoles. They tried their luck with handhelds. After the mixed reception of Mario Party Island Tour, Nintendo and Nd Cube try their luck with Mario Party Star Rush. Will it suffer the same fate as its previous entry or have they got something up their sleeve that’ll make it a well-needed hit?
Mario Party always had a formula that worked while adding little things to improve the game experience. In the case of Star Rush, the turn-based gameplay that has been a staple since the beginning has been removed completely. Instead once everyone roll the dice, they all move at the same time. You can also determine where you go before you move. This adds a layer of strategy but at the same time you need to be aware of what your opponents will do. It’s a matter of predicting the best course of action on the playing boards. If you want to make sure to have an advantage, careful planning is key. At first I didn’t like that they removed the turn-based gameplay but it grew on me over time. I like it. It saves me a lot of time while providing something fresh, new and fast paced. Future Mario Party games should implement this style. Imagine the craziness that can ensue with everyone moving at the same time, trying to reach where they need to be.
Star Rush has multiple modes for you to tackle with Toad Scramble as the main mode. Up to 4 players can play as a Toad and trek through various boards, gathering Mario characters as allies and taking on bosses in mini games to recover Power Stars. Each character has their own unique ability and dice and it can help turn the tide. You can have up to 4 ally characters in one time and having more allies mean more of an advantage. Bear in mind that it can be a disadvantage if your opponent has more allies than you so be careful.
Items are aplenty in this game though not as big as in the previous games but they do add something to the game that can be good or bad. It’s random and it’s what Mario Party boils down to in a nutshell. Mini games are also the name of the game in Mario Party and there are many. They depend on the control scheme. Some are simple using buttons and an analog stick (or d-pad) while others take advantage of the touch screen. It works, giving it variety. However some mini games can be a bit of a pain to do than others and depending if you either have a regular 3DS or a New 3DS XL then some can be without a doubt annoying due to the microphone.
In addition to Toad Scramble, there are other game modes. Coinathlon is a race where up to four players collect as many coins as they can in minute long designated coin mini games to progress through three laps. They get hectic and it comes in two modes: Free Play and Rival Race. Mario Shuffle is a two-player game that uses Amiibo functionality. Using Amiibo figures, players race across a one-way board to the goal with one going right, the other left. If you don’t have Amiibo, cardboard cutouts are used. Balloon Bash is like Toad Scramble but you collect coins and stars in a mini board with a turn limit and mini games. You can also play as any Mario character so that’s a plus. Rhythm Recital is where up to four players work together and play classic Mario tunes using the Touch Screen. Challenge Tower is a single player game where you have to climb a tower with LED Spaces on it. There are varying difficulties with some being harder than others. Last but not least is Boo’s Block Party, a puzzle game where you spin sides of a number block to earn points. If you move enough of the same block, they get sent to the other player. It’s addicting and challenging if you want to get the high score.
There’s a lot to do in the game and let’s face it. Half of the time you’re going to be spending it trying to complete the modes to level up. Star Rush has a leveling system where as you play, you earn points. Once you gain enough, you level up and unlock either a new mode or a new character. It’ll take hours trying to unlock everything and it can be quite a challenge. It can get a bit repetitive too having to do it over and over just to unlock everything. The game offers a lot but I wish there’d be something to alleviate things. But if I had any issues with it, it’s that most of the time you’ll be playing it in single player. If you want to play multiplayer, each of you must have your own 3DS and a copy of the game or the free Download Play that you can get on the eShop. It’s like Smash Bros. for 3DS.
Overall, I can say that Mario Party Star Rush improves the formula in some ways. Having a fast paced style where everyone plans their moves adds layers of strategy. Various modes add replayability plus with 4-player co-op equaling insanity. What else can I say? I know games should try to implement new things but this is a step in the right direction. If you have friends and a few 3DS handhelds, then you will have a fun time.
I give Mario Party Star Rush an 8 out of 10. It earns my personal SEAL OF APPROVAL.