Super Mario Party just came out and that means minigames galore. Nintendo has cranked out over 80 new minigames for this title alone. But they can’t all be winners. These are the best games we’ve found, as well as the worst.
The Five Best Minigames
First, we’re going to take a look at the best ones. These are the games that aren’t just fun, but they capture the spirit of Mario Party. More specifically, the ones which understand that if the players still have friends left after playing the minigame, then they’re not doing their job right. These are the five best, most fun minigames.
The Mario Party franchise is about chaos. It’s about sabotage, turning on your friends, all so you can be the star of the show (both metaphorically and literally). Slaparazzi is that essence distilled down to a single minigame. In this one, all four players compete to be in the center of photos taken by the Koopa Troopa paparazzi. You can punch the other players to stun them, knock them aside, or keep them away from the camera. The closer you are to the center of the camera when the Troopa snaps the picture, the more points you get. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter much how good you look in the picture, as long as you’re in the center of it.
Train in Pain
Super Mario Party borrows the ally system from Mario Party: Star Rush so you and other players can group up with as many as three other characters each. Get enough allies and you’ll open up team minigames, where everyone participates, including your supporting cast. In Train in Pain, for example, you drive a train with a spring-loaded boxing glove on the front. For every ally you have, you get another car on the train. Two teams face off, driving around punching each other in the caboose. Each punch knocks off the last car on the train, including the cars on your teammates’ trains, so be careful! Last train standing wins. Like Slaparrazi, this game is all about surviving the wrath of your merciless friends, but with up to four times the friends. It’s overwhelming, chaotic, and a total blast.
Smash and Crab
Most of the 3v1 minigames in Mario Party games aren’t very fair to one side or the other. In Smash and Crab, it’s very fair. Both sides have an equally ridiculous job. For the team of three players, one player controls the legs of a giant robot crab, while the other two each control a large mallet. The goal is to smash the remaining player. Sounds easy, right? It’s not, but it’s sure fun to try. This game gets silly fast, as the three-player team gets increasingly frustrated trying to smash one measly player. And as the player outside the robot? It’s hard to top the feeling of frustrating the entire room as you sandcrab about.
Air to a Fortune
Not every minigame has to be a brawl. Nintendo already has a game for that. Instead, Air to a Fortune, lets you play some mind games. The four players are spread out across nine clouds. Each cloud without a player has some number of coins on it. Some have more, some have less. Each player chooses a cloud to jump to, but other players can choose to jump to the same cloud. If two or more players choose the same cloud, they all get nothing. You can choose to take the safer bets with fewer coins, or you can go for the center cloud that has the most coins of all, but it’s also the one every player can reach. It’s a deceptively simple game where outsmarting your friends and taking the road less traveled can reap huge rewards. Or you can all pick the same strategy and lose to the computer-controlled Luigi together.
Ever since the original Mario Party for the N64 introduced the Bumper Balls minigame, it’s been a fun, frustrating, competitive mainstay of the franchise with dozens of variations on the theme. In Super Mario Party, the game gets turned up to 11. Or, more accurately, up to 16. In another team game that utilizes your allies, up to 16 characters all get their own hamster-style balls to roll into each other. You can also charge up your ball for a sudden burst of speed to knock your opponents off the field. If even one member of your team is left standing when all the other teams have been knocked off, you win. It’s exactly the kind of absolute madness you expect from a Mario Party minigame.
The Five Worst Minigames
These are the minigames you dread. The ones where they come up randomly, the entire party groans. Some might be frustrating, some might just be less inspired than the others, but a few are outright broken. The only thing worse than getting one of these games would be Lakitu stealing one of your stars.
Sign, Steal, Deliver
A good 3v1 game is balanced so that even though the teams are uneven, both groups have fun. This minigame is not like that. The lone player gets to control a drone, flying from door to door collecting packages from residents of a Mushroom Kingdom apartment complex (which is, apparently, a thing). The team of three players, however, have to take the stairs. The drone can only carry one box at a time, while the other players can carry two. However, the drone can steal a package from the other players. From a gameplay perspective, it’s pretty fairly balanced, but it’s not very fun if you aren’t controlling the drone. Just like in real life, the stairs take forever. Getting to the fourth floor only for a drone to steal your package is tedious and disheartening, and not in the fun way.
Don’t Wake Wiggler
Remember Don’t Wake Daddy from the 90s? Nintendo sure does. In this variation on the classic board game, four players take turns petting a sleeping Wiggler. The more you pet the Wiggler, the higher the chances it will wake up. If you’re the one to wake it up, you lose all your points. It’s a slow strategy game that leaves most players doing nothing while it’s not their turn, which isn’t too bad. You can employ a little strategy, playing it safe to keep your points, or risking it all to gain more points. It would just be a middling minigame, except for the horrifying monstrosity the Wiggler turns into when you lose. It takes the game from Don’t Wake Daddy to Five Nights at Freddy’s real quick.
Pull It Together
The original Tug o’ War was such a deeply frustrating and painful game that it led to an $80 million settlement and free gloves from Nintendo. Naturally, Super Mario Party features a spiritual successor in the form of Pull It Together. Mercifully, this one uses simply button mashing instead of spinning the control stick. On the other hand, this is a team game where you can bring your allies. Which means that teams can be wildly uneven. If your opponents have more allies than you do, then good luck having anything close to a fair fight.
Fiddler on the Hoof
First off, great name. Unfortunately, this is one of Super Mario Party‘s ten rhythm minigames and most of them are pretty bad. Nintendo, perhaps not fully understanding the appeal of rhythm games, has tried to merge beat-matching mechanics with the full array of motion controls the Joy-Con is capable of. The result is awkward. In one game, you have to swing a baseball bat to the beat. In another, you pull a tablecloth out from under a stack of glasses. Again, to a beat.
This horse race rhythm game, however, is an extra level of uncomfortable. As you pull on your horse’s reins to the beat successfully, your horse gets further ahead. This shifts your row of purple circles out of sync with your competitors. It’s visually disorienting. On top of this, the camera is shifting back and forth. It might not be too bad, but the practice rounds at the beginning of rhythm minigames don’t play the music you’ll hear when you play for real. It’s a lot to take in, and mistakes only compound on each other. Overall, the rhythm games are kind of annoying, but Fiddler on the Hoof is an exceptional example of why they don’t work.
Sort of Fun
There is no more appropriately named minigame in Super Mario Party than Sort of Fun. This is a cooperative minigame as part of the River Survival game mode. In this game, all four players are in front of a bin that holds a specific ball type. One ball drops at a time and you pass them to the right player who…calmly drops the ball in a bin. If you’re on the ends, you can sit tight for a good chunk of the game. If you’re in the middle, you will occasionally have to wake up to do something for a second. If this one had a less clever name, it might be worse, but at least you can get a giggle out of it.
There are over 80 minigames and we only covered 10 of them. Did we miss your favorite? Or your least favorite? Let us know in the comments! Be sure to tune into our video game show, Game Engine, on Twitch and Alpha every Tuesday starting at 4PM PT!
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Image Credits: Nintendo (gifs captured by Eric Ravenscraft)