Despite selling over 13 million copies since its release in 2018, Nintendo has never really given Super Mario Party the post-launch support those sales numbers probably deserve. It seems especially criminal considering the game, despite being a well-lauded entry in the series, also suffered somewhat of a dearth of available boards for players to engage with. DLC seemed inevitable, especially as the company stated a desire for DLC for their big titles earlier that same year.
But time passed and it seemed that inevitability was presumptuous. In the 30 months since launch, it would have been fair to assume that Nintendo and developers NDcube had simply put the game on the shelf and forgotten about it, until now apparently.
Keep the party going! A free update to #SuperMarioParty adds online play to the board game mode, 70 minigames , and the 2 vs 2 Partner Party mode. Available now!
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) April 27, 2021
After decades of the series being offline only, even past the point where it would have been technologically feasible, Nintendo has updated Super Mario Party with online play in a rather sudden announcement.
Online play supports all the boards in the game and 70 minigames, as well as the 2v2 partner mode. It also supports the Invite Friend feature, being the first Nintendo-published game to actually take advantage of the Switch’s built-in friend invite feature.
As for why Super Mario Party suddenly got updated…that’s harder to say. It seems entirely likely that NDcube is working on a sequel to the 2018 game based on usual trends for the series. In a non-COVID world, it also seems probably that such a sequel would have released at the end of 2020. NDcube may have been working to implement online play in that game and with the likelihood of internal delays, maybe making it work in Super Mario Party (a game that is still selling fairly well) was both relatively simple and would make more money in the long run.
Regardless, I don’t think this is the kind of update anyone expected, but I also never would have expected that Super Mario 3D World on Switch would have added online play, either. Maybe Nintendo will more consistently go back to older games like, say, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity and add online play where possible.
The Super Mario Party online update is available now.