Let’s (Mario) Party!

If you’ve owned a Nintendo system in the last 20 years (well, now I feel freaking old), chances are you’ve played one of the fifteen or so Mario Party games. If not, the concept is pretty simple – roll dice to move around a game board, compete in simple minigames, collect coins (to buy bonus items and stars, the player with the most stars after a set number of turns get to rub their glorious victory in the faces of their loser friends (Suck it, Peach. Shy Guy is the boss round here. Go back to your castle and cry more! … Ahem). It’s a really simple idea that is made or broken on how good the minigames are, as that’s what you’ll spend most of your time doing.

And so we come to the eleventh game in the main console series – Super Mario Party.

Once again, Mario’s heroes and villains have gathered to see who will be the superstar. Choose from 16 characters (to start with and 4 more to be unlocked as you play), including fan favourites like Shy Guy, Waluigi, Bowser and Dry bones (I mean, Mario and that lot are in there too, but they get quite enough of the spotlight in other games tbh. Also, I think it’s time to petition Nintendo for Bowsette DLC). Each character will have access to their own unique special die as well as a basic D6. Shy Guy, for example has is five sides showing ‘4’ and one of ‘0’ – pretty handy if you’re looking to move a very specific amount to land on something good.

With your character chosen, you can set the difficulty level for any CPU players and then stroll on into the Party Plaza. Here you can check out the game’s modes. Initially, not everything is open, but in time you’ll have access to a whole range of options.

First up there’s classic party mode. 4 players go head to head to take on one of three game boards, each with their own unique mechanics to help or hinder your progress. Once all three have been completed, you’ll open a fourth board for this mode. You can choose to play 10 or 30 turns. With 10 working out to approximately an hour of play.

Different spaces on the board will have different effects, blue for extra coins, red to lose coins, exclamations cause special effects on the board (e.g. taking a warp to another area), clovers award a random bonus, bad luck spaces cause a random loss, and then there’s the ally space.

The ally space allows you to pick up a companion from the remaining available characters. You’ll get to use their special die and they’ll roll a bonus die along with your roll that will add 1 or 2 to your total. It’s cute and fun watching dialogue between sworn enemies, agreeing to help out… just this once.

Next there’s couples mode. Two teams of two make their way across a much more open board. Rather than the usual, single lane, branching path, these boards tend to have more room to move and plan your strategies. Both players on a team will roll their dice and the total is added together. Players then get to move the total of the dice roll each. I found this mode to be a bit slower on the board itself, as the teams make plans to move around. Do you move together, towards the star or split the party, with one going for a special item, to gather coins, or pound on your opponents in order to steal their precious coins?

Additionally, the fact that one player will always move first of the two, becomes important, since the first player can trigger a special event, which may change the possible routes around the board. This could mean that bad planning sees the second player being stuck behind a wall, losing some of their moves.

During this mode, you’ll find allies being air dropped in at intervals. If you can swoop in and grab them before the opposing team, they can really make or break your game. Here the ally’s added dice rolls will only go to the player that picked them up, rather than to the team as a whole.

If you’re feeling up for some rhythm action, there’s Sound Stage mode just for this. The actions range from washing suds off of a window, riding a horse by pulling on the reigns, spiking fruit with a sword, and more. The music is great and controls are suitably responsive as you waggle your way to victory.

Next up is challenge road. A single player mode where you must play through each of the 80 minigames in a specific order. The difficulty is pre-set and can get pretty tricky, especially if there’s games you know you’re weak on.

Finally, why not take a nice gentle paddle down the river? I’ll tell you why not, because the water it pretty darn choppy in River Survival and there’s plenty of obstacles in your way (Bloopers making whirlpools, Cheep Cheeps bouncing out of the water, etc.). This mode is played as a co-operative, four player team, working together to take on the many dangers of these choppy waters (and maybe overthrowing capitalism once they’re done… please?). As there were only two of us playing, I was initially concerned that having two CPU players would make life super difficult. We made sure one of us was on either side of the boat, with the CPU helping one of us each, they did a great job paddling where we wanted and held their own in the mini games.

One game in particular really showed off how considerately programmed they are. It’s a basic memory game, with cards laid out showing the suits, you’re given the target suit and after a few seconds, they’re flipped over, some will move and then you have to pick out the correct cards. My first thought was that, if I’ve been focusing on one particular card, and the CPU picks that one, I’m pretty screwed. However, I noticed that there was a distinct pause before they move, giving you good time to get to your target. It’s a simple thing, but makes all the difference and stops it feeling unfair if you’re not playing with a full team of hoomins.

Along the course of the river, you’ll find balloons, which will trigger minigames. These can be completed for additional sailing time, with higher scores/better times meaning your earn more time. There’s also stop watches which award an extra three seconds. As you progress, there’s the chance to pick different routes so you can eventually see all five endings of this mode.

If all the main modes seem like a bit of a time commitment that you can’t afford, there’s a mode to free-play any of the games you’ve unlocked and even compete in five minigame, online marathons.

That’s already a lot of game, but wait, there’s more. Anyone who’s seen the trailer for the game will have noticed that there’s a special mode using two Switches. First, you’ll need two consoles and two copies of the game. Set up is pretty simple from the tile screen, and then you can head into Toad’s Rec Room. Now, just lay your Switches down next to each other, on a flat surface. Draw a line on the screen to let the system know where they are relative to each other. Now you can drive tanks through warp pipes to travel between the screens and attack your opponents. It’s pretty cool, but expensive to get started.

This game has a huge amount of heart. One of my favourite features is the high fives. At the cue, just punch the air with your controller in hand and your characters will perform a cute little high five. In River Survial mode, you can perform the manoeuvre after every minigame, or clap your paddles together between areas to earn three extra seconds. In couples mode, you can do it to gain some extra coins after minigames.

If that’s all a bit hectic for you, why not retire to the sticker room and just cover some scenes in Mario themed stickers. If you’ve got Mario character amiibo, you can unlock shiny stickers for those characters, other amiibo will award you additional party points to spend on more unlocks.

I’d say we spent about 15 hours total playing through classic party mode, river survival, couples, sound stage mode, and challenge road. After all that, I’m still up for playing it a whole bunch more and really excited to see what it’s like with four friends. The music is great, it’s graphically beautiful, with wonderful texture work, and it never once felt like I was fighting the controller.

Speaking of which, all you need to play the game is a single Joy-Con. There’s a good variety of games using motion control (for example to throw boomerangs or shave ice), many using the stick and one or two buttons, or just single button pounding. Even the HD rumble feature is put to good use (This was really my first experience of the HD rumble as I’ve not had a chance to check out 1-2 Switch). One game features a number of passing characters (Wigglers, Bullet Bills, Thwomps, etc) each causing the controller to rumble very differently. The rumble is then played back blind and you have to identify which character it was you could feel. I was super impressed with how different they could make the rumble feel.

Another game sees you having to select boxes and shake them to see which have the most nuts inside. Once you’re happy, pop them down on your side of the play field and see how you scored at the end. It’s a really innovative use of the controller and I’m super glad it’s not been ignored beyond that pricy tech demo



  • A lot of game to get through.
  • AI is capable in co-op and challenging at higher skill levels.
  • Very replayable.
  • Looks beautiful.


  • No option to use download play to try Toad’s Rec Room.
  • River mode doesn’t work super well in single player.
  • I was robbed in classic mode during the bonus awards *shakes fist*.

Overall Score: 10/10

Hyrule Genocide Simulator


Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition has just been released on Nintendo Switch. This is actually the third version of the Nintendo-property-skinned genocide simulator from developer Koei Tecmo, having previously been released on WiiU and 3DS. I’m told this one suffers with less frame rate issues than the previous incarnations, but having never played them, I couldn’t say for sure.

You take control of various familiar faces from the Legend of Zelda franchise history + KT’s self-insert character, that I’m fairly certain is contractually required in all such games. The game opens with Hyrule castle being attacked by enemy forces and Link – here appearing initially as a fairly standard guard, training at the castle – find’s themself on a chaotic battlefield full of demonic looking little bastards that need a strongly worded… sword to the face. Hack cleave and grind your way around the map, following blips on your minimap and character conversations in a tiny box on the bottom left of the screen.


Ok, here goes, I’m going to wade in with everything I hate about this game *hits the badge shop and throws all the resources into defence badges*. I get easily overwhelmed. It’s a thing. If there’s too much going on around me in the street, I sometimes need to just go hide in a toilet stall and gather myself. So the idea that I would have to track hundreds of onscreen enemies, a minimap that could do with being about 10-20% larger to be clear enough, and unvoiced character conversations in a tiny corner of the screen. That’s too much, man!

*waits for the bottles of piss to stop being thrown*

Right, so here’s the thing. I love this game. I’ve been playing it every spare minute and I nearly blew off going out for my friend’s birthday this weekend because it would have allowed me another 8 hours of solid play. In spite of all I listed above, this game is brilliant fun and very addictive. The first thing I had to learn – as this is my first time really digging into a Warriors game – is that a lot of the shit on screen really doesn’t matter. You just push your way through the general minions to whoever the quest marker deems important, like a white, middle-class woman with a bob desperate to take her ire out on the store manager. Then, if the quest marker isn’t satisfied with their answer, you go find someone more senior to shout at until victory happens (look out summer 2019 for Soccer Mom Warriors).


As you progress through the game you’ll gain experience from those that fall at your blade (or crossbows, or book… somehow). As you level up, your characters become stronger. Just stronger, no other stats matter. Just how ready you are for more slaughter.

Randomly brutalising any enemy with a health bar can gain you extra weapons or materials. Weapons add a little more strength to your attacks and often come with various elemental or bonus perks. These perks include the ability to find better weapons (with higher damage or more perk slots), power up certain combos, have advantages against certain enemies, or the ability to find better materials. Perks can be swapped into empty slots in the smithy between battles, for a price.

The final way to power up your characters is with badges. These are crafted between levels and allow yet more perks. These come in three delicious flavours: attack, defence, and assist. The attack badges unlock more combos, more damage against defending foes, give additional special attack uses, etc. Defence badges will let you take less damage from different elemental sources or allow use of health potions. Assist badges allow you to take over enemy keeps more quickly and increase the duration of certain power-ups. Each character will need their own badges, and each may require different materials for the same badges, on different characters. So there’s going to need to be a lot of item farming if you want to unlock everything for everyone.

The Story Mode takes you on a super meandering journey through Hyrule to defeat Cia (a witch originally tasked with keeping the balance of the Triforce) as she causes chaos while trying to gather up some funky glowing orbs. I’ll not spoil the plot here, but there’s more to it than that, obvs. The story takes several branches along the way, as you get to visit areas from Ocarina of Time, Twiglet Princess, and Skyward Sword. Then sends you back to see things from other perspectives. See how things got going for Cia and her captains – Volga and Wizzro. In addition, you can enjoy Linkle’s side adventure. (Side note: Pleeeeeease Nintendo, we need you to fully adopt Linkle, she’s hecking awesome and needs to be in mainstream LoZ games).


The graphics are beautiful and the characters are really nicely modelled. It’s really good to see hi-def versions of so many familiar faces form LoZ history. Each of these warriors plays quite differently, having different movement speeds. From the plodding Goron, Darunia to the fleet of foot Link. Each character has a number of combo attacks and specials to wreak havoc on the armies that oppose you. The animations for these are pretty stunning, but can get a little repetitive if you’re playing the same character for an extended period. A perfect excuse to swap out to another of the 28 playable characters.

As well as the familiar playable characters, there’s some familiar boss monsters in the shapes of King Dodongo, Gohma, Manhandla, the Imprisoned,  the Helmaroc King. They all look stunning and all need to be taken down at some point. Luckily, you’ll slowly be gathering the unique items during the game that will help with this. Series favourites like Bombs, boomerang, hookshot, bow and arrows, and hammer will help you take those giant, aggy arseholes down in short order.

While all the original game characters are open from the start, the DLC characters of old now have to be unlocked from Adventure Mode. Speaking of which, here’s where you’ll be spending a considerable amount of time if you want to get those final characters and indeed the epic number of alternate character costumes and weapons that are hidden away. I’d felt like the Story Mode had been a good value for money experience. Then I popped open Adventure mode – as the character select screen was now showing a bunch of question mark characters in addition to those I already had – and it suddenly became obvious to me that amount of content in this game is fucking ridiculous.


There are 9 separate Adventure Mode maps, each with slightly different mechanics, but based on a previous LoZ game. Each cell of the map represents a different challenge and can lead to new character, weapons, costumes, or item cards. These item cards can then be used on certain cells to open up more rewards in other cells of the map. Each of the maps features a wide span of difficulties per level and each map is rated overall from the menu. This is an epic task and should take you a decent chunk of time to work through. I’ve probably put about 16 hours into this mode and still have 2 characters to unlock and I’ve barely touched the weapons and costumes yet. Challenges include slaughtering more mobs than your opponent, butchering a certain number of enemy captains, trouncing a number of boss monsters in a time limit, slaying specific foes to answer questions, and more. Basically, this game does killing a lot.

LoZ has some pretty iconic music, and HW:DE does a wonderful job of covering them as stunning, driving guitar tracks that really add to the metal as fuck mass slaughter fest. I’m terrible for turning off game music and whacking on my own tunes most of the time. I had no intention of doing so with this because it’s just too good. I can’t recommend the soundtrack for this enough.


  • A whole lot of awesome game for your money.
  • Beautiful graphics.
  • Awesome soundtrack.


  • Starting the co-op mode is ridiculously contrived and needs to be reinitialised after each level.
  • The minimap is a little small for my liking.
  • Possibly dangerously addictive.

Final Score: 8/10

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive edition is out now on Switch.