The Curious Case of Super Mario Party and Joy-Con DriftPlatforms: Nintendo Switch
In case you missed it, and let’s face it how you could you have, this year is the 35th anniversary of one of gaming’s most recognisable icons, Mario. While the COVID-19 crisis undoubtedly put Nintendo’s plans on hold for this year, in August we were treated to a special Nintendo Direct focusing on the world’s most famous plumber, along with all the Mario-related announcements we were hoping for. Except one Mario game was ignored once again, and it left fans wondering if they’re ever going to get any news or DLC in the future. I’m talking about Super Mario Party.
Released over two years ago back in October 2018, the series seemed a perfect fit for the Switch, with Mario Party always being a series that shone in local co-op. Heck, when Nintendo first launched the Switch, how much of a deal did they make about each console coming with effectively two controllers?
Since that release, players have had one update in March 2019, which “fixed an issue with Online Mariothon in which ranking data was not displaying properly.” That’s it. For a series that has been a staple across Nintendo consoles for decades now, as well starring their most prominent IP, it just seems that the game has been completely forgotten about from the company.
The game is developed by NDCube, a subsidiary company fully-owned by Nintendo, who's latest title came out in June for Nintendo Switch, Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics. While there’s a possibility that the studio will now turn its attention to the forgotten Super Mario Party, it seems unlikely that fans will be getting anything soon if they get anything at all, since we’ve just had a Nintendo Direct with no Super Mario Party news. In that direct, we found out that Super Mario 3D World is coming in February 2021, still some way off, so it’s hard to expect any surprise announcements for the party game this year.
The potential being missed here from Nintendo is staggering. While something like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a popular game with Switch owners, it’s not got the pick-up-and-play factor that Mario games are known for, something that all three recently released remasters have (check out our review if you missed it here). Even Mario Kart is accessible to anyone who hasn’t played the game before. But Super Mario Party is the one title that everyone of all ages can play quite easily, and can be sold to suspicious family members as a ‘board game’ over the holidays as well.
I’ve been waiting a long time for DLC news about Super Mario Party to be announced, but I’ve given up at this point after the recent direct. Nintendo have clearly ceded this holiday season to Sony and Microsoft, both releasing their next generation consoles in a matter of weeks, but the Switch is still going to be an attractive proposition for parents and gamers alike this Christmas. So to put it quite bluntly: what are they playing at?
We’ve heard rumblings about a potential 4k switch next year, and with Super Mario Party a game that relies heavily on joy-cons, is there the potential that Nintendo is going to be doing away with joy -cons altogether? Since release, the company has been under fired about ‘joy-con drift’, something I’ve experienced on a couple of pairs, and the Japanese company are currently fighting a legal battle in the US about the issue. Nintendo have yet to sort out the problem, and players are left with few options that inevitability ends with buying another pair. And at £60 here in the UK, they are pricey pieces of tech that have an obvious flaw in them. I gave up and forked out for a Pro controller and haven’t used either of mine since.
The best thing about the Switch, is the portability not the joy-cons, and the fact that Nintendo followed up with 2017 console with the Switch Lite, a console that doesn’t have detachable joy-cons might be sign that they’re doing away with the little guys after just a few years. That being said, some users have reported issues on their Switch Lites, and it might be that the younger iteration of the Switch will display the same issues that the original console has. Would it not make sense to just make an upgraded version of the Switch Lite, that you could also pop into a dock and play (presumably upscaled) 4K versions of games. I’d much rather have a more powerful portable console, that I require two pro controllers for to play multiplayer, than the current situation.
Nintendo surprised everyone when they announced the Switch a little over four years ago now, and with the PS5 and Xbox Series X, not to mention the reveal of the new Nvidia 3000 series, suddenly the Switch in its current form is looking more underpowered than ever. Why not give it an upgrade and while you’re at it, give us some more content for Super Mario Party.
Let us know what you think Nintendo has in stall for 2021 and any other games you think have been ignored, in the comments below.