Review by TheDeadHeart
"Putting the "Bros." back into "Mario Bros."!"
What do you get if you mix two of the Mushroom Kingdom’s most popular celebrity brothers, a Kingdom of beans, a loss of Princess Peach’s voice and a Role-Playing Game? You get Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, a worthwhile RPG. It brings back classic points of the two previous Mario RPGs, as well as brand-new points such as timed dodges.
The story is quite amusing and entertaining. Some witch, named Cackletta, from the Beanbean Kingdom, and her helper Fawful, steal Princess Peach’s voice. Every word she speaks after is explosive – causing Mario, Luigi and Bowser to scram instantaneously. Bowser offers to bring Mario to the Beanbean Kingdom, to return Peach’s voice, and because of a minor glitch in the system, you might say, Luigi goes with him. This story is rather simple, and easy to understand, and straightforward. I liked it, because it was something… new. Normally, Peach is the damsel in distress, which she still is, but in a whole different way! The villain, Cackletta, didn’t even think to bring Peach with her, where as in most other Mario games, Peach isn’t safe and sound, but rather with the villain. Also, as the game progresses, the story becomes more extensive and thought-out, becoming quite interesting.
Something else I found quite nice about this game is the fact that you’re in a new area of the ‘Mario World’. Normally, you’re always in the Mushroom Kingdom, but in this game, it’s a whole new world, filled with new towns and cities and excitement! Along with the new area comes a host of new characters, as well, which are all amusing in their own ways. Queen Bean, Prince Peasley, Popple, Rookie, Cackletta, the list goes on. All of them are particularly different from the regular characters you see in Mario games, and each of them are amusing in their own ways.
Something else that’s noteworthy is the humor implanted in the game. Is it just me, or does Nintendo force humor and jokes into their Mario RPGs? On purpose or not, it seems to work. If you play your way through this game without at least smirking at one of the evident jokes, then you must go and see a doctor to check your funny bone. There’s jokes left and right in Mario & Luigi, even a few places named after Jokes in indirect ways.
For a GameBoy Advance game, the graphics are stunning. The characters are well made and the areas look nice… And all of the game looks the same. To my knowledge, there are no real cinematics in the game, so the graphics are constant through out the whole experience, with the exception to maybe one or two times.
The sound is okay, satisfactory in every way. It’s not a masterpiece in this area, but the sound and music are satisfactory. It sets the mood for each area, from the time when Peach speaks explosively to when she shrieks in fear. Could have been better, as there are some tunes for certain areas that will grow to annoy you.
Ah, the Gameplay! How this wasn’t classified an RPG by some sites kind of surprises me, but at the same time it doesn’t. The battling system in Mario & Luigi is like every other RPG, and at the same time it isn’t. First of all, you can’t equip a weapon to either of your characters, but they acquire weapons as the game progresses, and they can use any of those each time they attack. They’ll start of with the basic jump, and then they’ll acquire a hammer a bit further on, and later on they get another special attacking object. Different attacks on different enemies will results in different things. For example, some enemies will harm you if you jump on them, as they have spikes on their heads. Others absorb the attack you deal to them, and others fly and you miss them.
There is no magic abilities in this game, nor are there special abilities, but each brother has Bros. Attacks. They acquire a new Bros. Attack almost every time they get a new weapon, mostly. Each Bros. Attack costs a certain amount of BP (Battle Points), almost like a magic meter. Each of these attacks also expects you to press A or B in a certain order in order for the brothers to effectuate the attack. Heck, some of them attack more then once! However, note that you cannot use any of your Bros. Attacks if one of the Brothers is fainted.
Something that is new to Mario RPGs is timed dodged. When an enemy attacks, using either the hammer or your jump, you can deflect the attack, or avoid it, depending on what the attack is. And, on the odd shot, you can even counterattack the enemy: inflict damage on it while dodging. Some attacks, surely, cannot be counterattacking, such as flames.
Both brothers have a set of statistics that increase with each level. These consist of HP, BP, power, defense, speed and stache. Most of these are self-explanatory, except the last one: stache. Stache is just a fancy word for luck – the higher your stache, the luckier you are, and the more times you can get a lucky shot, sort of like a critical hit. Also, every time a brother gains a level, you can add a bonus point to one of the statistics, from 1 to 5 points, randomly.
You can also use items to use on one of the brothers, as well as run away from the battle. Running makes you lose coins, dully noted. If one of the brothers faint, as well, the remaining brother will have to carry him on his shoulders to dodge attacks, which is quite realistic. When you exit a battle with one of the brothers fainted, they are alive with 1 measly HP.
You can equip two things to Mario and Luigi: Pants and Badges. Many of the cities and towns have a shop to buy both the ‘hottest fashions’ and the ‘flashiest badges’. A badge is another fancy word for an accessory. Each pair of pants has its own characteristic that makes it unique, for instance recovering a little HP each turn.
As an addition, when you enter a battle, you can inflict damage on all the enemies by jumping on the enemy, or you can stun them temporarily by hammering them, on the field.
The battling system works. I find it new and exciting, its different from other battling systems. You cannot summon anything, or get other characters then Mario & Luigi, which disappoints some. There will always be something new for you to know, since every attack has its own way to dodge it, or so to speak. Some attacks force you to jump while others force you to use the hammer.
Outside of battle, on the field, you earn abilities, that then fit into the puzzles. Twisty jumping to cross large gaps, becoming smaller to access switches, jumping higher to reach higher ledges, and burying under the ground are just some of the abilities. All of the abilities squish together to form long excessive puzzles, some of which will ‘get to you’.
Gradually, you learn to master these abilities. The Puzzles are actually quite fun to play around with, while others will just get you mad and fed up with the game.
The Gameplay is brilliance. There is no flaw to my eyes. I like how every you can do on the field affects what you can do in a battle situation.
I’d say it would take you maybe fifteen-twenty hours of play, depending on how you play an RPG. If you like to stop every now and then to level up, if you want to try and find everything, it’ll obviously take you longer, but if you like to just try your luck with the level you have it’ll take you a shorter time. In days, it might take you up to two weeks or maybe just one to complete, thought this depends on how much you play video games.
I could see this game to be a game you could replay once or twice. You might want to beat it over again to try and get some of the things you missed, here and there, but overall there is no other reason to play it over, safe to get every little thing.
The game is of medium difficulty. The puzzles aren’t all that easy, save a few of them, and some boss fights are nastily hard. Some bits and pieces of it can stump you too, but you shouldn’t be stuck that long.
Overall, I say this game is a must-have for anyone who liked the past two Mario RPGs. For someone who hasn’t played one of those two titles, this game is an RPG like no other, having elements of an RPG and others of an Adventure game, in sorts. There is virtually nothing that could have rendered this game better, other than better sound and music. The story was a bit simplistic, which could have been ameliorated.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/02/04
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