Review by Squawkero
""Your lives that I spit on are now but a caricature of a cartoon drawn by a kid who is stupid!""
Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga is the third RPG game Mario's starred in. His first RPG was called Super Mario RPG, which was released for the Super Nintendo in early 1996. Nintendo and Square were both developers. Mario battled enemies alongside allies like Mallow, Geno, and even Bowser(!) to take on Smithy and his machine-made cronies. It was considered one of the greatest role-playing masterpieces at the time (still is today by many) along with Chrono Trigger. In early 2001, Paper Mario was released for the Nintendo 64. This time, however, the characters' appearances were...flat, or paper, rather. Other new characters battled with Mario, like Kooper the Koopa, Bombette the Bob-omb, and Lakilester the Lakitu. Bowser had stolen both Princess Peach and the Star Rod, and Mario had to seek the assistance of the Star Spirits to defeat the King of Koopas. It had a totally unique battle system however, and now relied on badges rather than experience. Now, Mario and Luigi has been released for the GBA, and is easily the wackiest Mario RPG yet!
The game starts out in Princess Peach's castle when Peach receives a visit from the goodwill ambassador from the Beanbean Kingdom, Lady Lima. Then, her pupil comes out with a giant vacuum-type thing and sucks up Peach's voice! The goodwill ambassador reveals herself to be Cackletta the evil witch from the west (in other words, the Beanbean Kingdom, which is indeed to the west)! Meanwhile, at the Mario Bros' house, Toad rushes in with panic. Embarrassingly, however, he walks into the bathroom where Mario is taking a shower! Red in the face, Toad runs out, with Mario following behind in a towel. Toad immediately tells Mario the news, who ties up Luigi in a clothesline and drags him (literally) to the castle. There, they find Peach all wept in tears. When she tries speaking, the castle starts to rumble and explosions take place in the room. However, Bowser picks this exact very time to swoop in and capture Peach! But even he soon realizes the danger in this. If he captures Peach now, his castle will erupt! Toadsworth, Peach's assistant, advises that they follow Cackletta and her assistant, Fawful (You've gotta love this guy) to the Beanbean Kingdom. Looks like Mario is off on another adventure again!
Mario follows Bowser onto his Koopa Cruiser along with his army of Koopa underlings. However, when Luigi bids farewell to Mario, Bowser mistaken this for asking to join his army! Luigi tries to back out of it, but Bowser grabs him and takes him along anyways. On the ride to the Beanbean Kingdom, Cackletta's assistant, Fawful (who BTW has the funniest quotes in the game) launches a surprise assault on the ship, which crash lands on the Kingdom borders. Without any means of transportation and the King of Koopas missing, the brothers must set foot on their own if they want to bring the Princess back safely. As the story unwinds, you'll meet several new and interesting faces. For the most part you'll be pleasantly surprised with the many curves and even twists that the game's plot has to offer.
Mario and Luigi travel around many different adventure fields in the Beanbean Kingdom. One brother travels behind the other, which you can switch any time you want. The front character is controlled with A, while the back character is controlled with B. Each brother has their own special abilities both inside and outside of battle. For example, Luigi must jump on top of Mario's head in order to reach high places. Each of these different techniques is taught at a different point in the game, meaning you'll have to go on some side quests in order to get some special items you were unable to get before.
You'll travel to many different environments throughout the Beanbean Kingdom. You'll start out in Stardust Fields, a moon-like valley with fallen stars and electric fences strewn around. You'll then venture to such places as the dangerous heights of Hoohoo Mountain, the sunny beaches of Gwarhar Lagoon, the sun-scorched deserts of Teehee Valley, and the abandoned halls of Woohoo Hooniversity. While most locales are your typical RPG sceneries, there's enough new stuff to prevent you from getting a sense of deja vu. You have quite an adventure cut out for you.
Some of these techniques are also used in battle. Mario and Luigi will encounter many enemies and boss fights along their adventure. In battle, you have four main options. First is your regular attack, in which you can use a standard attack on an enemy with a jump or a weapon. Next is the bros. attack, in which you must use both Mario and Luigi for a team attack by timing buttons at the same time. These attacks are capable of dealing much more damage than standard attacks, but it also wastes bros. points, which you must replenish. Third, you can use items anytime in or outside of battle. These are claimed by defeating enemies or purchasing them from shops. Most of them heal either your health or your bros. points. Lastly, you can take the chicken way out and run from battle (minus bosses) for a nominal coin fee, depending on how fast you mash the A and B buttons. Your enemies also take turns attacking. These attacks can be dodged by good timing on your part, and can sometimes even be countered by timing it perfectly! Battles win you coins and experience points. Gain enough experience points and Mario or Luigi will grow one level.
Many of the items you can purchase to replenish Mario or Luigi's stats should be familiar to Mario veterans, such as Mushrooms and various Mushroom variations. An item can be used either during or outside of battle. Using an item takes up a turn, however, so use sparingly. Some of the newer items that are exclusive to the Beanbean Kingdom take sort of a bean-like twist. One particularly unique aspect is a rip-off of Starbucks' called "Starbeans", which lets you blend different beans you find across the Beanbean Kingdom. You'll find out that Professor E. Gadd, your old friend from Luigi's Mansion, is actually the head of the corporation. He displays some pretty amusing quirks in this game, and even whips out Luigi's Poltergust 3000 every now and then.
Of course, one of the best characteristics about this game is the humor portrayed. Like in Luigi's Mansion, Luigi is portrayed as a total coward in this game, and he's ripe for picking on. Nobody (I mean NOBODY) will remember his name, and he'll be referred to as "Greeny" or "Mr. Green" throughout the game. Of course, the king of humor is none other than Cackletta's top henchman, Fawful. "I HAVE FURY!" To ensure one's full enjoyment, I won't ruin anything further, but rest assured that there are some very good one-liners and cut-scenes in this epic.
The game takes on a somewhat cartoonish atmosphere, but is rendered beautifully. Every single object is bright and fluid. The characters express a wide array of emotions. All the characters are designed very well, changing expressions depending on the situation. I'm really fond of the sprite design in this game. It has a certain outlining style not featured in any other game, and has become famous among spriters.
Like most Mario-esque games, the tunes are all fairly catchy. Many of the main environment themes are very fun to listen to (particularly Gwarhar Lagoon and Bowser's Castle). However, some of the tunes are fairly repetitive, even to the point of annoyance. (You may want to turn down the music of Joke's End after a short while) The battle theme's always catchy, just like it was in the previous Mario RPG games, and the boss theme's almost as good as the boss theme from Super Mario RPG!
In terms of longevity, this game should take you about 25 hours to complete on average. Though that's a fairly reasonable length for a game, it's a tad on the easy side. However, that flaw is overlooked due to the game's immense replay value! This is one of those games where you just keep coming back for more. Plus, who can get tired of Fawful's horrendous vocabulary or the many quirks of the Bean people?
Though a tad on the easy side, Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga is a very addictive RPG. The characters are very original, and the storyline builds as it goes along. Though not nearly as good as the greatness that was Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (nothing is, BTW), it's heaps better than Paper Mario. Definitely one of the GBA's better titles, if not the best. I have yet to find a perfect GBA title, but this is easily the closest I've seen. Buy this one. If you have any soul at all, this game is guaranteed to steal it.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/18/06
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