Mario and ND Cube's Party Politics
Mario Party has seen a bit of a metamorphosis over the years. It wasn't that long ago that many critics and fans were growing tired of the series, bored with the same old, same old. When ND Cube was founded, the developers there became the new team behind Mario Party. Their first foray was Mario Party 9, and to its credit, the game did try to change things up, despite not being a fan favorite. Now, ND Cube is at it again, trying to shake things up to make what many had considered a stale series into one with new life. Mario Party: Star Rush is the second game in the series on the Nintendo 3DS, and after devoting quite a bit of time with it both alone and with friends, it's without a doubt my favorite Mario Party from ND Cube so far, and just a good party game in general.
Toad Scramble is the main mode of Mario Party: Star Rush, and it is front and center in the game, being the only mode available from the beginning. By playing games and finishing rounds, you earn experience points that when you reach the next level, you unlock a new piece of content, whether new modes or unlockable characters like Rosalina and Donkey Kong.
The premise of Toad Scramble pits four Toads against one another on a grid-like board of which there are five "worlds" devised up of three board designs each. This isn't your traditional linear board design of past Mario Party games. Also different in Toad Scramble and many other modes in Star Rush is the ability for all players to roll a die at the same time. When you've rolled, you can go from your current location and move spaces nearby on the grid in any direction you want. You just can't go back and forth between the same spaces, and that is pretty much the limit to the limitations of movement.
Toads can land on item spaces to get items to boost their dice rolls, Poison Mushrooms to punish a player and stifle their roll amount, and a warp block to immediately transport to another Toad's space. In addition to item spaces, coins are littered on boards, serving as a means to buy items from special item shop spaces as well as giving players a Power Star for every ten coins they hold at the conclusion of the game.
|Plot a course through one of 15 themed boards in Toad Scramble.|
The means to progress in Toad Scramble is to reach the current boss on the board. This is done by having a player roll the exact number needed to land on the boss space, initiating the boss mini-game. Once a boss has been defeated, the next boss appears somewhere else on the board. Some boards are quick engagements with only three bosses to contend with, but other boards with more expanses to them offer up to five bosses to beat. The winner of a boss mini-game earns a Power Star. Other players earn a varied amount of coins. The final boss mini-game is worth double the reward for each player.
|Land directly on a boss space to engage in a boss mini-game. You're goin' down Mega Monty Mole!|
|You'll definitely get by with a little help from your friends.|
After doing some playing in Toad Scramble, you'll unlock the Coinathlon. This mode features a multi-lap race around an oval racetrack, where how you perform in the mini-games determines how much you move. You're constantly cycled between three mode-exclusive mini-games, and each coin you collect as you play these solo games makes you move one space on the racetrack. After all three mini-games are played, you start at an upgraded version of the mini-games, playing as many levels of these games as necessary until someone crosses the finish line. It's a fun mode to play against friends, but it's also rather rewarding trying to take on CPU opponents, attempting to win ten rounds against progressively harder opponents.
Then there is Balloon Bash. This is also a mode where everyone moves at the same time, just like Toad Scramble, but instead of playing as only Toads, you play as any member of the cast of Star Rush. Balloon Bash, as the name hints, has players moving around small boards trying to collide with various balloons. Some offer coins that begin mini-games, which happens a good amount in this mode. Others offer up to three Power Stars if you have enough coins to buy them (it's 10 coins per star). After a set number of rounds, the game is over, and whomever has the most Power Stars is deemed the victor. While Balloon Bash takes on a more traditional board game style, it can be highly dependent on the luck of the role of the dice. If you happen to get caught with low rolls, you might find you win all of the mini-games but end of with a limited amount of stars due to not reaching specific balloons.
|Luigi's ready to cash in some coins for three Power Stars in Balloon Bash.|
|Wario on drums. What could possibly go wrong?|
|A new take on an old classic: Luigi loses by doing nothing.|
|Gather apples and return to them to the starting basket to earn points in this Mega Goomba boss mini-game.|
|Mario Party: Star Rush's mini-games are mostly short and sweet bits of gaming goodness.|
[SPC Says: B-]