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Mario Party Superstars review: Get together with the greatest hits

(Switch) **** Age: 3+

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You might think the world doesn’t need a new Mario Party – and Nintendo agrees with you. After 10-plus instalments of the prolific and boisterous digital board game, Superstars goes down the greatest hits route.

But this is no cheap cash-in just in time in Christmas – um, actually, it might be an expensive cash-in just in time for Christmas. But cynicism aside – and in fairness it has been three years since the last Mario Party – Superstars lands on the Switch with its eye firmly on festive family gatherings. Are they’re still even allowed in Covid times?

The structure hasn’t changed much since the original in the franchise debuted in 1998. Up to four players compete on a game board akin to Snakes and Ladders by rolling a die and moving spaces. At the end of each turn, the competitors face off in mini-games to earn stars, the currency that determines the overall winner.

Superstars pulls from the full history of Mario Party, picking the best five boards from among dozens and the finest 100 mini-games out of up to 1,000. Everything has been gussied up in high-def and gleam with detail but you are essentially replaying the past.

Still, only a curmudgeon could fail to have fun, unless you’re foolish enough to try to play Superstars alone. With couch play or in online mode, the down time between your turns can be spent haranguing and slagging your fellow players. That’s no craic when playing with bots. Nintendo has also smartly compressed the animations so that you’re not hanging around so much waiting for the others.

With no fiddly motion controls and generally streamlined gameplay, Superstars feels like the sort of party entertainment that will have wider appeal among family groups this Christmas. Hardened gamers may dislike the conspicuous role that luck plays in the outcome of many games but it gives a chance to the less coordinated competitors. Life’s not all about winning, sometimes it’s enough just getting together with friends and family over a silly and hilarious board game such as Superstars.

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