Review by EJRICH
"Buhahahahahahahahah.........I am the Mustard of Thy Doom XD"
For years, Luigi has been the butt of almost every joke known to the Mario genre. He's been beaten with hammers, burned with fire balls, doused with water, cut in two with a hacksaw, and even terrified to death by some ghosts. All of this was the product of the demented minds at Nintendo who would torture this poor plumber until he keeled.
Now it's his turn.
Instead of getting his rightful vengeance on Mario, Luigi settled to starring in a game with his sibling. Thus, Mario and Luigi: Super Star Saga was born. For people that have played Mario games in the past, you'd know that Peach generally is kidnapped by Bowser forcing Mario to go out and get her. Not this time. Instead of the whole Villain kidnaps Princess Peach Spiel, Nintendo decided to go a different route. This time they took her voice. And on top of that, they filled it with dynamite. So when Bowser (the stupid turtle that's constantly kidnapping her) goes to get her, he finds an explosive surprise. Not the happy kind either. This unfortunate event forces hero and villain to team up, creating an unlikely alliance in an attempt to regain the stolen vocabulary and teach that stupid bean who stole it in the first place a lesson.
If you thought it would be easy, however, then you're sadly mistaken. The kingdom that the beans retreated to is none other than the BeanBean Kingdom (and no, that wasn't a badly placed pun on my part), a province outside of the Mushroom Kingdom that is as the name suggests, under the rule of a bunch of beans. It's a big place littered with traps and baddies that could make even Bowser cry, and he's not one for the sentimental stuff either. To get past all of this, the Bros. are going to have to do something that many thought was previously impossible team up.
As you could probably guess, the thought of the Mario Bros. finally setting aside their differences is a long shot at best heck, you could even look at the box to see that they are still not on the best of terms. The point is, though, that if they don't want to end up prey to some guy who calls himself the Mustard of Their Doom, they'll have to start working together, and effectively at that. That's where the Bros. system comes in, a tandem effort by both of the siblings that make use of their unique abilities. For example, Mario can hop on Luigi's back to do a hover across a pit. Luigi can shoot lightning out of his hand to roast things. That's not all, however. There are a slew of other unique ideas that the developers made use of, ranging from hammer swinging super block breakers to my personal favorite, the Bros. Shrink which has Luigi pounding Mario on the top of his head with a hammer. Unlike other games that just use these things as a tack, the developers managed to perfectly incorporate each and every idea so that the game remains unique and fresh while retaining that humor that characterizes the game as much as it does.
Please don't mistake that last statement, though. As fun as it is to walk around some bean infested kingdom, it gets even better when you find out that the game is not only a plat-former, but an rpg. As you guide the Bros. across the world, you'll undoubtedly run into some of the zany enemies that the creators thought up, and once you walk into one of them (or one bumps into you), a battle will start. Although some claim that the system is basically a re-hash from previous Paper Mario games minus the paper (BTW, they are some of the best games around), so much more is present. As soon as the screen pops up, both the enemies and the Bros. greet you. Battle then commences. Even though the number of attack types isn't staggering (unfortunately, only hammers and jumps along with the occasional item are just about all you'll get to do), Nintendo wisely decided to implement a system that requires the player to time their moves if they want to land extra damage and even dodge enemy attacks. How great is that? Imagine, you'll never have to take damage again if you're good enough to dodge successfully. On top of that, you'll even be required to use an even better sense of timing when it comes to using the special attacks of the game Bros. Moves.
Although you expectantly won't get something from the ilk of Final Fantasy (much more childish), there are several different moves from which you can make use of that require cat-like reflexes if you wish to succeed. Bros. Moves come in three levels; 1,2,3; each of which allow the user to literally pound the enemy with a flurry of button triggered attacks. With great power comes great risk, however. If you fail even one button press, the whole move is screwed up, often forcing you to do less damage than if you chose to attack the enemy the conventional way. How many of these moves you can use vastly depend on how much you level up, or more correctly stated, how many points you invest in BP.
Much like other RPG's, Mario and Luigi: Super Star Saga relies on a leveling system to make the duo stronger. Each time you level up, a set of statistics from which you can choose from becomes available. How you augment your hero is completely up to you, but let's just say that some heroes will definitely be stronger than others. Unlike previous Mario games, Super Star Saga uses a weird slot system that rolls from three numbers. If you're lucky, you'll get three points added to the stat you choose. If you're not, then let's just say that one is really looking nice. This system was extremely hard to get used to, because if you wanted the most powerful Bro., then you're obviously going to keep resetting over and over again until you get the stat point that you want. This will take a long time, time people may not have.
Another thing that may throw some people off would have to be the difficulty, something that was vastly messed up. Some fights are easy; others are bone chillingly hard. Even if you have a powerful Bro. equipped with the best items available, some fights will still be hard. How can that be possible? Quite simply, they are some of the cheapest idiots you'll ever want to meet in your life. Quick moves that are undoable, moves that can kill you in a single hit often times making you go all the way back to the last save point, and more, are riddled across the game. In-between them happen to be some of the most laughable fights in RPG history. You could almost say that this was intentionally put into place to keep the player awake. Too bad they failed miserably.
Aside from that, everything else that the game has to offer is basically spot on. The music is excellently accomplished, boasting a solid mix of both old and new tracks that easily are some of the best on the GBA. Best of all, they managed to actually fit the music with the moment, something that's rarely done these days. When a fast tune hits a trouble spot, you know that you're in for a big moment. When you hit a slow tune with a slower moment, then you're safe almost. One thing that I definitely liked about Super Star Saga was the way that it superbly managed to mix things up once in awhile. You think you're safe ..and then BANG. Things like that make the game enjoyable, and add to the humor that was present. Besides, who wouldn't get a kick out of the Plumber's mumbles?
Just like the music, the developers managed to do quite the job with the graphics. Not only are they colorful, but they are also well pixilated and up to speed on the frame rate. With the amount of time that it requires to get a Bros. attack moving, this was definitely a big feat. Along with that, everything was finely detailed and shaded to perfection. Strokes are where they should be, while color is done right. Picture it, a beautiful bridge with the brothers hopping on top of each other, Luigi obviously getting the upper hand until a bird swoops by and lays an egg on his head. He then conveniently falls into the nearby waterfall. Beautiful, ain't it?
Mario and Luigi: Super Star Saga is definitely one of the games to play on the GBA, and it still is to this day. A solid musical track, clean humor, excellent graphics, and a decently interesting battle system keep things in perspective, truly showing us the masterpiece that can occur when the Bros. set aside their differences and allow themselves to work together. Too bad Mario still got the bigger paycheck XD.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 05/17/07, Updated 12/20/09
Game Release: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (US, 11/17/03)
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