Old RPG Review #31: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

NuMetalManiak Good thing I have an original GBA cartridge of this game, given that the system is pretty much defunct right now. I even still have a DS lite that can play these kinds of games. So yes, this is a game from my early childhood, circa when I was 11 years old. I was totally not into other RPG games back then (except for Pokemon and Legend of Zelda, but then again I enjoyed all Nintendo games back then), and after beating this, I still wasn't. But whatever, this is a trip down memory lane for me. This is dedicated to Garythesnail, who wanted me to review this game.

Gameplay: You control the two Mario Bros as they explore a whole new world filled with green people. On the field you can switch the bro order and use certain techniques for solving puzzles. And there are quite a few of these, along with some actually good minigames and sidequests. Some of them require Luigi and Mario to be separated. Not so much in the way of equippables, especially since you're stuck with the two bros for the entire game. And of course, standard healing items and buffs.

Battles are quite fun though. Enemies appear on the field, you can hit them first to get some damage or a stun status on them, but if they hit the bro in the back he gets the trip status and can't move until his turn. And yes, it's a turn-based system, but the action comes right as you hit the command. Main attacks consist of the trademark jump (not good for spiked or otherwise enemies), the powerful hammer (not effective on flying enemies), and even magical hand powers (those should have been in successive games). The catch is that to do the best amount of damage possible, you hit the respective bro's button at the right moment, otherwise they look silly when they attack. A for Mario and B for Luigi; and this becomes a staple in every Mario & Luigi RPG game. These buttons come into play when dodging enemy attacks. Yes, you can dodge by pressing the respective bro's button at the right moment, otherwise you'll inevitably get hit. Now if you're really good at the dodging, you can beat this game flawlessly, which pretty much eliminates the need for grinding and all that. The special attacks in this game are Bros attacks, which are combination attacks requiring button presses and Bros points (BP). They can be used often until you get Advance for even different combos (something I discovered just recently). The battles in this game manage to be very fun with the battle mechanic. Grade: A+

Characters: Don't know who the two playable characters are? Then READ THE FRICKIN TITLE OF THE GAME. Otherwise, the two bros honestly don't have a whole lot of differences between each other in this RPG. And in case you are wondering, Peach, Bowser, the Yoshi's, and just about any variation of classic Mario characters make appearances. This is however the debut of quite a few intriguing characters, like Popple, the main villain Cackletta, and the recurring and awesome Fawful. All the characters in this game can provide some good humor, which is another reason why the Mario & Luigi series was quite famous. Gotta love humour sometimes. Grade: B+

Plot: The main villain is Cackletta, her servant is Fawful, and their mission is to steal Peach's voice for something. When the Mario Bros arrive, they think Bowser's up to his old tricks again, but after Peach's words nearly blow up the castle, then he decides to take the bros to get Cackletta. Fawful of course intercepts and separates the bros from Bowser, who gets shot out of a cannon afterwards. After some mountain trekking, the bros wind up in the center of the Beanbean Kingdom (which is the world in this game), being deceived by Cackletta again (who I should mention is a frickin master of disguise, first in the intro as an ambassador from the Beanbean Kingdom and later as Lady Lima, a subordinate of Queen Bean). To help the queen, the Mario bros go to the woods to find the cure, and run into Popple and an amnesiac Bowser. Afterwards, a trip to the derelict university leads to the ultimative showdown against Cackletta. Although victorious, the bros have to find the Beanstar, which is what Cacky was looking for with Peach's voice to grant her wishes or something. Popple and Bowser are there though for whatever it was Popple wanted. That star goes completely out of control and drops all four of those guys.

The bros wind up in some oasis where they get hand powers (Luigi gets thunder, Mario gets, well, fire), and return to the main continent. At the Beanbean airport, Peach arrives, voice intact. Apparently they knew what Cackletta was up to, so that's good. Meanwhile, Fawful has Cackletta's spirit in some helmet, transmuting it into an unconcscious Bowser's body, becoming Bowletta. And don't you EVEN DARE google that name, because fan pics are disgusting.

Peach asks to be escorted to the Toad Town of Little Fungitown, across some desert valley (one of the worst escort missions ever by the way). There, Mario plays a minigame and eats an unknown shroom that poisons him. So Luigi must find an antidote, and then Bowletta takes Peach. To spare her, she offers the Mario Bros to find the four shards of the Beanstar. Very long fetch quest ensues for each of them, particularly the very first one they HAVE to get. After getting them, the plan is formulated, giving Bowletta a fake Beanstar as well as an extra dress. A trip to an isolated ice palace leads to the bros plan being foiled by Bowletta, who takes the real Beanstar anyways. But Luigi disguises himself with the extra dress to get the real princess to safety, and he escapes their clutches with the Beanstar later on as well.

After a return to the main town, they find it under attack by Bowser's castle. There, loads of puzzles and enemies, as well as a fight with the seven Koopalings and Fawful, before finally confronting Bowletta. Although it seems they're victorious, the bros get feinted and sucked into Bowletta's body, where they have to fight the spirit of Cackletta in a weakened condition. By doing so, she effectively dies, and Bowser's back to normal. The Mario bros escape before a bomb blows the castle up (yes they leave Bowser behind). After all that, the bros return home with Peach and even Bowser as a stowaway. That poor guy is the whipping boy of this game by a long mile. Humor gets cheeky sometimes. Grade: B

Music: Well I don't care much for the music in this game. The battle themes are quite poppish and not my cup of tea, and the familiar Mario-sounding tunes are sometimes present. Grade: C

Overall grade: B+

I love the gameplay mechanics in this game as well as the humor. Additionally, it's probably the most challenging of the Mario & Luigi games, as you only have just those two brothers battling things in comparison to say Partners in Time (I beat that game in literally two days). No grinding helps too. A child's game, but it's a good RPG to pick up and play.