While I am positively over the moon that my beloved Fire Emblem franchise will be playable on my old reliable Nexus 6 come February 2nd (in the form of mobile title Fire Emblem Heroes), we Android people will have to wait a bit longer before Super Mario Run lands on our phones and tablets of choice. Sure, you can already pre-register for the game through the Google Play store, but, while the iOS crowd has been getting their Run on since late last year, I can’t help but feel like we’re missing out.
So what’s a Nintendo fan to do when he’s still a cold month away from a mobile Mario fix? Improvise!
Super Mario Merch
Nintendo has never been shy about capitalizing on Mario’s image, and from t-shirts to toys, there’s always more than enough Mario to go around.
Over the holidays, I treated myself to a Nintendo-licensed button-up shirt for Casual Friday featuring the Brothers Mario, Toad, Yoshi, and assorted low-level enemies/obstacles. I’ve recently taken to carrying my daily sweet tea—I am southern, after all—in a special New Super Mario Bros. 2 24 oz. water bottle (complete with re-freezable Super Stars, of course). Hey, even as I sit typing this, my daughter works diligently on a Super Mario Maker puzzle, made by the folks at USAopoly, on our living room coffee table.
I guess you could say there’s no shortage of Mario-branded goods in this house. And why not? Mario merch is the perfect way to celebrate your love for Nintendo’s portly Italian plumber.
Plumb the Back Catalog
Let us not focus so much on the promise of tomorrow that we ignore all the excellent Mario games already available today–much less the legendary exploits of his (and our own) 8-bit youth.
While many households might not have a Wii U sitting on the family entertainment center, it’s likely that there are one or more Nintendo 3DS systems readily available in or around your home. The aforementioned Super Mario Maker made its way to the 3DS last December, and, despite some limited online functionality, it arrived with all its original charm intact.
If you were a late adopter of the Nintendo 3DS, it’s possible you missed a veritable wealth of top-shelf titles of the Mario (and Mario-adjacent) persuasion. A perfect place to start is the outlandish RPG Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, while the delicately colored platformer Yoshi’s New Island is a fine choice to scratch that old-school itch. Personally, though, I can’t recommend Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, featuring everyone’s favorite second banana in another ghost-busting adventure, highly enough. Best of all, these three games have each been re-released as part of the bargain Nintendo Selects line for under 20 bucks.
Throw a Mario Party
All that said, it’s Mario and friends’ latest party game release that’s really been helping my family through these dark, Super Mario Run-less days. Released in November of 2016, Mario Party: Star Rush was easy to miss amongst a crowded holiday lineup, but it earns points for bringing the joy of the franchise’s random, minigame-meets-boardgame aesthetic to the 3DS handheld.
More importantly, though, it manages to speed it up. Gone are the days of (im)patiently waiting your turn to roll the dice while your brother-in-law Jeff stares bewildered at his controller. (In the name of all that is holy, just press a button, man!!!)
You and up to three friends can get in on the amiibo-enabled action, plotting strategies and rolling dice simultaneously on your individual 3DS systems. But, since this is Mario Party, here are three simple steps to help get the fun going—party-style!
Step 1: Decorate
If you’d like to make your party atmosphere perfectly kid-friendly, Super Mario Bros. birthday party supplies abound. And since most of them tend to be relatively inexpensive, it’s an easy way to set the mood.
If paper centerpieces and cups aren’t your thing, though, you can always go another way. Mario-inspired peel-and-stick wall graphics—available both in classic and modern styles—can be tossed up temporarily or used semi-permanently as a great way to set the theme for a kid’s room or gaming area. Super Mario candy tins are also fun and functional—not to mention reusable… and delicious.
Step 2: Download
There are few more freeing phrases in the language of gaming than that of “single-cart multiplayer.” Yes, you can enjoy 4-player local wireless multiplayer with only a single retail copy of Mario Party: Star Rush.
What witchcraft is this?!
Simply have your players download Mario Party: Star Rush – Party Guest Edition for free from the Nintendo eShop. Then you can host modes like Toad Scramble, Coinathon, Balloon Bash, and more using your single full version of the game.
Step 3: Get Down to Business
If you’ve never played a Mario Party game before, don’t fret. And if you have… well, don’t fret either. Say goodbye to the tedious marathon gameplay sessions of old and hello to a littler, leaner Mario Party experience.
Star Rush offers a lot of content right out of the box, with more game modes and unlockable characters becoming available as you level up your all-important party capacity. While practically everything can be done in single-player–with the game’s AI filling in any additional necessary slots–the joy of Mario Party remains sharing its games of luck and skill with others.
My house, however, is fiercely divided concerning which mode best showcases the multiplayer mayhem. My 8-year-old, for example, adores Toad Scramble, wherein four players–each represented by a different color Toad–traverse multi-tiered game boards recruiting Mushroom Kingdom allies, fighting ferocious bosses, and, of course, playing minigames all the way.
Her older brother, on the other hand, prefers the ultra-competitive Balloon Bash. Pick your character, pick a path, and roll the dice to navigate a winding course full of helpful power-up squares and valuable coins. Pop a balloon to collect bonus coins and you’ll also trigger a fun minigame. The important thing, though, is to cash those coins in for game-winning stars before the final round concludes.
For dear old dad, there’s nothing quite like Coinathon. It’s a fast-paced, multi-lap race where the more coins you collect, the faster and further you’ll travel. From fishing for Cheep Cheeps to playing Koopa shell pinball, this is the one that keeps me coming back for more.
We Android people might not yet have access to Super Mario Run, but we do have a myriad of other options. From branded merch for your day-to-day to old 3DS favorites and an all new way to (Mario) party, there’s never been a better time to be a Nintendo fan–regardless of your mobile phone OS of choice.
Review and promotional materials provided by: Nintendo of America