With many years of Mario Party experience under my belt, I consider myself a formidable player. As such, trying my hand at Super Mario Party, I figured it was time to clash against the nastiest challengers Nintendo could offer me: CPUs set to Master difficulty.
With my partner and I playing as Bowser and Bowser Jr. against the Master-fied Mario and Luigi, it’s time to roll the dice in a 10-turn race and see who will come out on top as the ultimate super star. Will it be one of the monstrous turtles controlled by humans, or will it be one of the goody two-shoes with boosted artificial intelligence?
The first thing I wanted to know was whether Master difficulty affected the random luck-based events during a game. How good are Mario and Luigi’s dice rolls? How smart are their decisions on the board? Or is their Master-ness limited to their skill during minigames? What exactly does “Master” mean in Super Mario Party?
Being the impulsive attention hog that he is, Mario went first and landed an impressive dice roll of one. Looks like we can rule out any random luck being in favour of these “Masters”. I mean, honestly — I unlocked the hardest difficulty for these CPUs, only for them to roll a measly one? At least Mario and his AI chose his personal die, which is slightly more strategic as it has an extra three in place of a two.
Then it was time for Luigi to roll, who actually earned the highest he could with a six. Unfortunately for him, this sent him through a pipe that landed far away from the Toadette, who clutches those oh-so important stars so dearly.
When we hit the first 4-player minigame, it ended with a tie between Luigi and I. Blasting him out of the ring with the water gun during Soak ‘n’ Croak turned into a far greater challenge than usual – as expected of Master difficulty. Afterwards, Mario is first to roll again and switches to his regular die this time, which isn’t the best play. Clearly, Master difficulty only applies to minigames, but this upgrade alone will still be quite the challenge for my partner and me.
In the next group minigame, we had a one versus three match-up: Bowser, Mario and Luigi against my character, Bowser Jr. What’s weird is that, under these circumstances, the AI totally fell apart and spent a lot of time just standing idle. You’d think that with all of Luigi’s experience with a vacuum cleaner he’d nail this course! (This also drove my partner insane, which was super fun to watch.)
The same thing happened later on, too, where Mario just kind of did nothing while he was paired up with the Bowsers. Meanwhile, by himself, Luigi did fine. I went back to test it after the game in minigame mode with all different levels of computers and found that they actually played well. It must have just been a weird glitch or something during our real game – or perhaps, a fatal flaw of the dreaded Master difficulty?
Other than that weird incident, though, the procrastinating Italian plumbers played extremely well in the minigames. So well, in fact, that keeping up with Mario and Luigi felt nearly impossible.
Before we knew it, though, the party had ended and it was time to reveal the scores. But Super Mario Party has an interesting way to keep track of who’s winning or losing, based solely on how many stars the player holds. This means that, when we finished, we saw that…
Not only did Bowser win by a landslide, but at no point in the game were the heroically-inclined brothers ahead at all! Yes, Mario and Luigi (usually) played exceptionally well in the minigames, but the rest of their game still suffered. It would’ve made for a better challenge if the added difficulty affected their decisions on the board and gave them better luck with random events.
If it wasn’t already obvious, Bowser and Bowser Jr. are the real masters of Super Mario Party. Too bad we didn’t get to see them as playable characters in last month’s Mario Party Superstars. Surely then we’d see a Master mode that’s actually challenging! BWAH HAW HAW HAW!
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