Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Super Mario Party (Switch) - First Impression and Thoughts

It's weird that I consider myself a Mario Party fan when all I've really played is Mario Part 2 on the N64. So I've played that for hundreds and hundreds of hours, but I am curiously lacking in experience in almost all the other Mario Parties. I played a bit of Mario Party (1) and some of that one that's on the Wii, but honestly I can barely remember anything about them. Mario Party 2 however, is probably one of my favourite games ever, and I love that so much that I was hyped about Super Mario Party for the Switch. Because I never owned a GameCube (until much, much later), Wii or WiiU I considered this my first proper opportunity (because who wants to play Mario Party on a handheld?) to get back into the franchise.

This image hints at everything you'll need to know.

This was especially well timed as I had just introduced the son (then just under 5 yo) to Mario Party 2, before I even knew there was one just about to be released for the Switch. I had been looking for multiplayer games to play with him suitable for the age, and found that Mario Party 2 seemed like it could work. It did, he loved it and we had loads of fun. Thus I went and bought Super Mario Party almost immediately on release and as we haven't had time to play that much yet (I mean we do actually do other things than play video games around here!) here are just some quick thoughts I've gathered so far;

When I got it I had planned for it to be our Sunday Gaming Fun. Sundays is usually the day we use to play some multiplayer games together and we were all excited to try our new game. Then came a big blow to those plans. We have the two joy-cons that come with the Switch and a pro controller and had planned to be three people playing (mommy, daddy and son). We were sitting there like idiots not understanding what was wrong with the pro controller until I googled it and found out that, no, you can't use the pro controller on Super Mario Party. One of us would have to sit out. Ohh, I was so angry about this at first.

Then I played the game and I thought I could sort of understand Nintendo's reasoning behind it, that the pro controller isn't optimal to use with the minigames, but considering the price tag of that thing... Yeah, I am still sore about that, especially since Super Mario Party isn't even the only game where you can't use the pro controller. Pro my behind, more like schmoe.

But then we finally decided who had to sit out (it weren't going to be me and it weren't going to be the kid, so... bye bye daddy) and started playing the game.

Ok, we can't choose who the Computer Characters are going to be? Minor issue I guess, although I distinctly remember loving to kick Peaches rear in the mini-games as a kid, I've obviously outgrown such childish behaviour. (EDIT: I have since found where to do this, so Peach is going to get it.)

Then we get into the boards (into… or onto?). Ok, so we can only roll up to 6 now? Makes sense I guess since that is how an actual die works. When did they change that? And why was it up to 10 to begin with?

Oh ok I realize why it was up to 10 to begin with - because now everything moves endlessly slow! I keep rolling 1 and my son who is the luckiest s.o.b (wait did I just call myself a....) this side of the equator keeps rolling exactly what he needs to get to the damn star!

Wait?! The star only costs 10 coins now? Oh no... this was the only thing keeping my son from getting any stars. Because he never won any mini-games (I might love my kid, but I ain't losing on purpose when it's about Mario Party-dignity) he never used to have money for any stars. But now he gets enough money just from walking around the board and he. IS. WINNING!

So yeah, I've played this game four times with my kid and he has - legitimately - won every time. I don't mind, in fact I find this to be one of the good things about Super Mario Party. I mean it's a good thing if you're in the position where you want your 5 yo son to have a winning chance without bending over backwards trying to lose every mini-game. Now I am still winning every mini-game and it just doesn't matter. I can sit there with my 100+ coins all I like because if I never get to the star first, I will never have a star. Although there are other ways to get stars, and soon I find they are my only options, they are not enough for me to win. At least not yet.

So I do have a couple of issues with the game so far, but bear in mind that I have really barely touched it and I might've just been really unlucky. Firstly, if I haven't just been really unlucky and the game is actually designed this way, it sort of points towards that it doesn't matter how good you are at the mini-games, because all that matters is what you hit with the die. While this has always been true in the Mario Party games (and remember I am really only comparing to Mario Party 2, but talking like I know stuff), I feel that Super Mario Party is more down to luck than ever before. Because let's face it, my 5 yo is probably not some video game Mozart.

So much fun to explore!

Secondly, I feel like having you roll 6 instead of 10 is only there to mask how tiny the boards are. It also means I am 1/6 likely to roll a 1 instead of 1/10 likely and omg I roll so many 1... Compared to the sprawling headaches mazes that the boards are in Mario Party 2, you will walk in your tiny loop over and over and over like a goldfish in a bowl in Super Mario Party. It's just not exciting and doesn't offer much exploration, but grows repetitive quickly (and we all know I hate repetitiveness, mostly because I can't spell that dang word).

On the bright side however, the mini-games are fun, they have a good variety and make good use of the joy-con.

I do like the concept of having different die to choose from when you roll, although this seems to me some would be decidedly more useful than others.

And this game has so many other options to play with that I haven't even checked out yet. I am definitely looking forward to playing more, but I really wish I could have a 1-10 die again.

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