Mario Party: Star Rush

Review: Mario Party: Star Rush

Move over, S Club. There’s a new party in town! 

There may be a number of readers who aren’t old enough to understand the ‘S Club’ reference but it could also be those same people who don’t remember when Mario Party was actually great!  The Mario Party series has had a rocky road since those fun days with the N64 iterations, but can Mario and friends ‘bring it all back’?

Mario Party: Star Rush follows Island Tour on 3DS and, in typical style, sees many of your favourite characters ‘reach for the stars’ (That’s the last nod to S Club, I promise) in a variety of board game-type arenas. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, each player rolls a virtual die before moving the specified number of spaces around a themed board before battling it out in a selection of mini-games between turns in order to win coins and (more importantly) stars to be the best.


The formula in Star Rush, whilst similar in idea, is a considerable departure from the original games in execution.  Upon starting the game, there aren’t many options to the player with Toad Scramble being the only available mode of play. You can immediately forget about selecting your favourite character as you have no choice but to play as Toad before diving into one of the grid-based arenas, either with 3 friends or with a combination of friends and CPU participants.

Toad Scramble focuses on ‘Boss Battles’ where a space on each board is occupied by a familiar boss character, be it Petey Piranha, Bowser Jr, King Boo or someone else from the Mario universe. Each arena is dotted with coins and item spaces but the objective is to reach each boss and beat them in order to obtain Stars. Being the first to reach a battle doesn’t mean you battle alone, though, as it merely gives you a head start while everyone else on the board hammers the A button in order to join you in the fight. Whoever ends the battle with the highest score wins the stars!


Every player rolls and moves at the same time meaning there isn’t much time to wait between turns. You can move any direction on the board you desire, giving you the opportunity to collect coins, pick up items or gain the assistance of ally characters which appear occasionally. This is where Mario, Luigi et al appear to aid you with alternative dice configurations and other skills should you pass through them on the game board. You can switch control to anyone in your party at the start of each turn in order to best use the abilities of each character and each member you carry will be with you during the boss battles to give you an advantage over your competitors. You may also steal or lose your allies if you bump into rivals during a turn, triggering an ally duel.

Ally duels are over quickly, ranging from luck-based rolls of dice and picking random cards to more skill-based scenarios such as stopping a clock as close to 5 seconds as possible. If you’re victorious, you add another ally to your roster but failure will see one ripped from your grasp.

Mini-games will only appear during a turn if a player runs through a coin balloon. Should this happen, every player will battle it out in one of the 26 available games in order to win more coins than your opponents. It is important to amass as many coins as you can because every ten you collect will be converted into a star at the end of the game and, as is tradition, the player with the most stars upon completion is the winner!


There are a decent number of worlds to do battle in, each soaked in a Super Mario 3D World aesthetic, but ultimately there isn’t any great variety to be had throughout. Some worlds will see you having to trigger switches to open or block off pathways while others will have you keeping an eye on rising lava but you won’t find the diversity and spectacle of the themed boards of Mario Party 2, for example, and complaints of ‘simplified’ designs of recent 3D Mario adventures can equally be levelled here, without the polish and splendour of those platforming counterparts.

One of the main criticisms with Toad Scramble is that several turns can occur without much, if any, event and frustrations can increase due to having to land specifically on a boss battle space in order to be transported to battle. You can end up wasting three or four turns circling round and round your desired target just because you kept rolling even numbers when all you need is any odd number.

While Toad Scramble may actually be fun, if at times tepid, you’ll be glad to have more modes to unlock throughout Mario Party: Star Rush. You gain what could be classified as experience points the more you play the game increasing your ‘Party Level’. You’re always told what will become available once each new level is reached, somewhat spoiling any surprise, but at least you know if you’re working towards unlocking one of the 12 available characters or something else, eventually resulting in reaching the maximum level and unlocking the credits.

Balloon Bash is an alternative game mode which shares ever so slightly more in common with older titles with a preset number of rounds to complete but basic, bland and linear boards won’t hold your attention for long.  Rhythm Recital will see you playing instruments in time to various Mushroom Kingdom hits but I don’t think the upcoming Rhythm Paradise Megamix has anything to worry about, especially given the fact that it doesn’t always sound like you’re quite playing in tune with the music and your beats don’t gel well with the background song, sounding extremely out of place.

Coinathlon is an exciting mode which sees you race laps around an island against your rivals in order to reach the finish line first. You all play the same mini-games simultaneously, collecting as many coins as possible whilst obtaining items that will help you along the way. Each coin you earn will move you forward a space so you’ll want to gather them up as quickly as possible in order to stay ahead. The small selection of games are largely enjoyable but unfortunately become repetitive quickly, especially since each ‘Rival Race’ continually cycles through the same three mini-games until someone crosses the finish line. It’s certainly not bad, by any means, but the fun could have been increased significantly had there been a wider selection of games on offer.

As it is, though, if you happen to find that you’re not particularly good at one of the three games that have been randomly assigned then you’ll ultimately struggle to keep up with the pace. Bowser will sometimes appear to send players back if they don’t succeed at one of his mini-games, providing a lifeline for those struggling at the back of the pack. Coinathlon is one of the highlights of the package, but it could have been so much better!

Rounding off Mario Party: Star Rush are a couple of single and 2-player activities, including Mario Shuffle, Boo’s Block Party and Challenge Tower, the latter of which is an addictive little puzzle game where you have to climb towers of different heights (the last of which is HUGE) and avoid amps. The catch is that these amps are invisible and you’re only guide to successfully climbing to the top is to make use of spaces which light up different colours to let you know how many amps are in adjacent spaces. It may not seem particularly exhilarating at first but the tension rises the further you climb for fear or making a critical mistake and being sent all the way back to the bottom, unless, of course, you have an amiibo of your chosen character to allow you one opportunity to resume from where you fell off.

Ultimately, if you want a classic Mario Party experience, you won’t really find it here due to the different mechanics on offer and an almost crippling lack of mini-games. These mini-games can be played individually from the main menu but frustratingly there’s no option to set up anything like a best of 3, 5 or 7 scenario with friends in a curious omission. Thankfully, everything which is present can be played locally with friends using a single cartridge.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Overall, Mario Party: Star Rush is generally an enjoyable experience that regrettably possesses some design choices which hinder the potential fun and sustainability. If you can suppress your expectations, there’s amusement to be had here for a few hours but it probably won’t be a regular fixture in future multiplayer sessions.

  • Gameplay3
  • Playability3
  • Visuals3
  • Audio3
  • Lifespan2
Final Score



Turns are fast paced with little waiting time
Most mini-games play well
Alternative game modes are a fun diversion


Not enough mini-games
Uninspired boards
Disappointing design choices

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