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Belated EB Expo Impressions: Mario Party: Star Rush

This year’s EB Expo has well and truly come and gone, but it wasn’t just Breath of the Wild we played. We got to play Mario Party: Star Rush too! Now that game has been released but we’re still working on a review for it. So instead we’ve pulled these impressions from the cutting room floor.

Sorry for the delay, but here’s what Josh and Delilah thought about Mario Party: Star Rush and the Nintendo presence at EB Expo in general.

Josh

Nintendo’s presence at EB Expo was… quite odd. There wasn’t a huge amount of new stuff, which is to be expected given what their release schedule looks like for the next few months, but their section of the main expo hall didn’t do much to entice people in. At a glance, it was hard to tell what was actually on show – I thought the only new games they had were Zelda (which was restricted to people who’d won a play session in various contests), and Mario Party: Star Rush – but I was talking to other people who’d played Paper Mario: Color Splash and didn’t realise Star Rush was actually there. So evidently their booth wasn’t signposted very well to separate the old games from the new. It looked great though, with various Nintendo-themed decorations around (I loved the Mario Kart table and chairs in particular) and sections set aside for you to get photos with props like a Warp Pipe and the Master Sword. I’ve already written about my experience with Zelda (it was great) but I also got some hands-on time with Mario Party.

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Star Rush is a game that surprised me, because while the initial reveal did nothing to impress me at all it’s since wow-ed me with what it has to offer. The thing that stands out for me most is that it’s evident that the developers put a lot of thought into how to make portable Mario Party work after less-than-successful attempts of porting the formula to handhelds in the past. The mode being demo-ed
was Toad Scramble.ctrp_baa_charset01_1_r_ad This is the one that looked a lot like Smash Tour from Smash Bros. Wii U – I enjoyed this much, much more though. Everyone rolls a die, and when everyone’s dice has been rolled all players move at the same time. You can collect coins as you move around, and activate whatever space you land on – this could be a few things, like a ? Block that gives you an item or the space that triggers the Boss Battle for the board. You start off playing as a Toad, but scattered around the board are different key characters like Mario and Peach who can be recruited to your team if you pass them. Each character has their own special die, like Daisy’s that has a number of faces marked with a ? that lets you move as many spaces as you have members of your party, or Waluigi’s that has many faces marked with high numbers – but with other faces that will make you lose coins should you land on them.

 

There isn’t a minigame at the end of each turn like in a traditional Mario Party game, but there’s a few scenarios that will still trigger them. If you land on the same space as another player, you’ll trigger an ‘Ally Swap’ minigame. These are really quick and simple games in which the winner gets to steal a character from the loser. There was another occasion where everyone had to play a more traditional Mario Party minigame, but I’m not sure what actually triggered that. The main minigames in this mode are the Boss Battles. Each board has a certain actrp_baa_char05_1_r_admount of bosses, and the game ends when each of them is beaten. They appear one at a time on certain spaces of the board, and a battle is triggered when someone lands on the space. An interesting spin on this is that you don’t all start the minigame at the same time – whoever’s on the boss space starts right away, but everybody else’s characters will begin to run towards the space, and you can speed them up by mashing buttons.

The boss minigames were exciting due to not having one to play every few seconds, they were something that got built up to over the course of the game. They were a bit confusing though, some of them we only figured out as they were about to end. You can take practise gos of each game but that takes a while and kills the atmosphere. It probably didn’t help that we set the AI to the hardest difficulty for a laugh, it made them pretty brutal in the games but not totally unbeatable in every circumstance.

 

Beating a boss gives you a Star, which provides an advantage because the player with the most Stars at the end wins. However, once all the bosses are defeated a series of bonus Stars are given out which can turn the tides (and might have made me beat that no-good cheating AI Peach). For every 10 coins each player has they get a Star, and then extra Stars are given out as prizes for things like having the most ally characters or moving the furthest distance across the board. These add an extra layer to the game because you have to decide whether you want to go for the guaranteed Stars from beating the bosses and ending the game quicker, or heading all around the board trying to achieve more risky objectives.

Skingbooo Mario Party left a positive impression, but Nintendo also had an additional section outside the main expo hall that was entirely dedicated to Pokemon.  There was a tournament area where you could compete against other players, but I decided to let someone else win that (read: forgot to bring my copy of Omega Ruby) and checked out the rest of the Pokemon area. There was a store where you could buy merchandise like plushes and trading cards, but it was incredibly cramped in there and the prices weren’t anything to get excited about.

The Pokemon area also featured a walk-through exhibit for Sun and Moon. They gave you a quiz card that you had to fill out as you walked through it, with all the answers being shown on displays or in trailers on TVs scattered through it. There were a lot of parents trying to follow along with their kids, which was cute to see. It was fun scrambling around trying to find the information that you needed to answer all the questions, but then you realise you’re just participating in a big ad. You got a code for Volcanion if you completed it though, so hooray for ads!

Nintendo’s booth was definitely one of the nicer looking ones thanks to all the themed decorations, and getting to sit down and play Mario Party in a relaxed environment was a good change of pace from the rest of the expo. But you could really feel that they’re hurting right now as they didn’t have a playable lineup with much impact (outside of Zelda of course, but that was hidden away in a black room that wasn’t publicly accessible).

Delilah 

After Island Tour was a massive RNG disappointment for me, hearing they would make another one on the 3DS I honestly didn’t care. Over the last few weeks seeing new footage and information the game looked more promising, but It wasn’t until I sat down and played it that I actually wanted to pick up the game

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I haven’t had that “Mario Party” experience for a while. 10 was a bore for me, I just wanted to get it over with. Playing with Josh complaining about Peach having too good of an AI, How everything wasn’t fair when I wasn’t winning, or when I got the loner bonus because I didn’t have any allies, it actually felt like Mario Party again. I haven’t had as much excitement with a Mario Party game since 8, and can’t wait to play this at PAX later this month.

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Team Vooks
When more than one of the Vooks team writes something together we use this account to publish it. No mere single account can hold us all.

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