Review by Computerbug8

"Bar none, the greatest RPG for the GBA"

I've only played Mario side scrollers really, so a Mario Bros. turn based RPG game was something new to me. I didn't know what to expect, but after Superstar Saga, my expectations will be high for any future Mario Bros. RPGs.

STORY:
Princess Peach is visited by the "ambassadors" from the Beanbean Kingdom, but instead turn out to be an evil witch named Cackletta and her henchman, Fawful. Cackletta steals Princess Peach's voice and replaces it with an explosive vocabulary...literally. Toad rushes to the Mario Brothers and so rudely interrupts Mario during his shower to tell them that they need to stop Cackletta and get Princess Peach's voice back. Mario and Luigi hop on an airship to take them to Beanbean to stop Cackletta that is piloted by Bowser. (yes, Bowser!)

GAMEPLAY:
The gameplay here outshines any RPG on any Gameboy system that I can remember, but that isn't saying much. You can control Mario and Luigi, but they like to walk in a single file line. Whoever's in front decides which way to go. (i.e., if Mario's in front and he goes left, Luigi will follow him) The two cannot be separated unless it's part of the story or it's part of the many puzzles that this game has to offer. Along the way, you can pick up hammers and fire and lightening techniques. These techniques can be used in battle, which is where the game shines.

BATTLES:
Yes, it's turn based. I know what you're thinking: "I make a move, my opponent makes a move. First to 0 HP loses, right?" Wrong! While this is the basic fighting structure, there is so much more to it. To start off, you can only use jump attacks. If you choose to jump on an enemy, you will do standard damage to it. However, if you hit the A button (if you're controlling Mario, B button is Luigi) when you are about to hit an opponent, you will do extra damage to the enemy. But the attacks don't end there. Later on, you learn about Brothers Attacks, where Mario and Luigi work together to attack and deal a powerful blow. These attacks require you pushing three buttons in a certain order (depending on the attack) and hitting them at exactly the right time. You can be guided when to hit the buttons, but the Brothers attacks won't do as much as if you do it faster and without the guidance. Then, after your turn, your enemy gets to attack. But in this game, you don't have to take what the enemy does if you don't want to! When an enemy is getting ready to attack you, you can do one of two things: either jump and dodge the attack, or you can knock it away with your hammers that you receive a little later into the game. Or, on certain enemies who attack you, not only can you jump to dodge their attacks, but an appropriately timed dodge will cause you to fall on the enemy and hitting it, therefore counter attacking it. (yeah, you never thought you could hurt an enemy when they were the ones attacking, did ya?) However, I can guarantee you you'll fail to dodge or deflect every single attack, meaning Mario and Luigi WILL take some damage during battles. In that instance, you can use mushrooms during battle at the expense of one character's turn. You have mushrooms which restore a certain portion of health, and you also have syrup that will restore a certain amount of brothers points. (you'll need brothers points to perform brothers attacks) There are also nuts, which can heal BOTH Mario and Luigi. There are also 1-up mushrooms which will revive Mario or Luigi if they run out of HP in battle. So, with being able to dodge/deflect/counter attacks, giving you means to get back health and Bros Point, and giving you means to revive a knocked out fighter, the battles should be pretty easy to get the hang of and win. If you lose Mario or Luigi in a fight and it's their turn, the other will have to pick them up and dodge any attacks, which will be very hard to do. (like if Mario loses all of his HP and he was supposed to have a turn, Luigi will have to run over and pick up Mario and jump to dodge any attacks. It's extremely difficult, sometimes seems impossible.)

GRAPHICS:
The graphics look spectacular. I'll start off with the backgrounds and towns. All of the buildings in towns look very well detailed and they aren't a pain to look at. The buildings aren't just rectangles sticking out of the ground with a black square for a door, they instead can be shaped into mushrooms, which is pretty cool. And the characters also look pretty well done. We all know what Bowser, Princess Peach, Mario, Luigi and Toad look like, and they all look spectacular. But, there are also some new characters, some being the villains. Cackletta and her henchman, Fawful, look really well done, but so does this little pickpocket named Popple. Some of the good guys include Prince Peasly and Queen Bean, and they both look extremely well colored and detailed as well. Colorful characters on colorful backgrounds-what more could you hope for?

SOUND:
The sound in this game is also very well done, but not as great as the graphics. The characters themselves don't even talk, but they do have little sounds. Cackletta has her cackle (hence the name), Mario and Luigi have their fair share of "Oh yeah!"'s and "Oh no!"'s, but for the most part, they speak gibberish. This, however, isn't enough for the sound to be bad. In a lot of the towns, the music in the background is nothing to brag about. It gets pretty annoying very fast, and it will have you turning the volume down a little bit. The battle music is nothing to brag about either. The main battle music that you could hear literally hundreds of times throughout the game is good at first, but after a while, it can get a little annoying to listen to. The boss battle music is pretty good though, and you actually hear it a lot at first. Popple and Fawful and Cackletta have their own battle tunes, including a fairly decent final battle track. The voices and character sounds are pretty good, background and standard battle music isn't too good, but the boss tracks are great.

DIFFICULTY:
This game is pretty easy, with the exception of some of the puzzles. This game has a lot of puzzles in it, and if you're stuck, the game has planted some signs that you could have Mario or Luigi read that could hopefully help you out. Other than some of the puzzles and having to look around a wide area for certain items, the game is pretty easy. (oh yes, the Final Battle is also fairly difficult)

LENGTH:
This game took me over 27 hours to complete. Trust me, it will not take you NEARLY as long. I don't why it took me so long to finish it, but that doesn't matter. Anyway, if you rush through the game, you should finish this game in half the time I did, but should take you not too much longer than 15 hours.

CONS:
Well, no game is perfect and Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga is no exception. Read down the list to hear some of the few problems with the game.

-The names of the places are terrible, even for a Mario game. Teehee Valley? Beanbean Kingdom? Joke's End? Very annoying names to listen to.

-They make you play a lot of mini-games that are annoying, even though they have nothing to do with the plot. If you like the mini-games, you can play them afterward, but you shouldn't be required to play them.

-The map isn't exactly completely accurate. When you use the map to see where you are, you will always be in one spot until you move off the screen and onto another one. Worded weird? Let me just say this: the one large game map is divided into smaller maps, and if you walk too far up, down, left or right, you will appear on another map. The world map shows you not moving at all, just because you're on the same sub-map.

Buy or Rent?
Buy! This is a great Mario RPG and it even has some funny parts to it. If you buy this game, you will not be disappointed!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/24/05, Updated 08/18/05


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