Review by Quilavatrainer
A very challenging Mario RPG
Mario RPG and Paper Mario proved that Mario can be in an RPG. Nintendo has proven this yet again in Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga for the Gameboy Advance.
An evil witch named Cakletta comes to the Mushroom Kingdom and steals Princess Peach's voice. She replaces it with an explosive language. Now, Mario and Luigi set out on a quest to the Bean Bean Kingdom to recover the voice. The story is absolutely hysterical. Mario and Luigi are filled with so much emotion and there are so many wacky characters that the story is absolutely hilarious to watch. It's obvious Nintendo went with a goofy tone this time, and it certainly worked.
Mario and Luigi is another RPG game. This means you will spend the entire game traveling through open fields, collecting items and gear to power up the brothers, and engaging in turn-based battles.
The exploration portions are the beef of the game. The Bean Bean kingdom is enormous so you will be busy for quite a while. In the open field, you will need to solve puzzles to progress through the paths. Mario and Luigi can jump, use hammers, and perform an assortment of special abilities together such standing on each other's shoulders and spinning in the air to hover for a short time across gaps. There are far more but I'll let you see them for yourself. The designers did an impressive job as these abilities are very creative and highly useful. The puzzles can get quite challenging at times, but it adds to the fun.
There are numerous items, badges, and accessories you can buy or find, to use. It's important to stock up on these whenever you can because you will be doing plenty of battling and without healing items, you'll quickly meet your end.
The battles are the most notable things about this game. Mario will attack first, then Luigi, then the enemies. The combat system is largely different than the previous Mario RPGs. The timing for sucessfully executing hammer and brother attacks has a huge learning curve that you will not get far in the game without mastering. The dodging command is also different. You will have to time your jumps and hammer swings accordingly to defend against attacks, and can counter attack to deal extra damage. This command also takes practice. IT IS NOT BROKEN. You will fail plenty in the first couple of hours of playing but if you will quickly adapt and master it over a period of time. This is all part of the game's surprising difficulty. The enemy AI is easy at first but the bosses pull no punches. There is always one specific strategy to use, and if you don't use it, you'll be down within a few turns. Overall the gameplay for Mario and Luigi is surprisingly challenging, but is still very addicting and fun.
The A button controls Mario, while B controls Luigi. The D-pad moves direction while the L and R buttons switch abilities. You can press start to switch character positions. You'll be doing this quite often so it is very nice that the controls are so responsive. The dodging and attacking commands feel a little slippery at first, but are responsive at all times. If you miss a jump, it was just you, not the game. Overall, the controls are easy, and accessible.
The music in Mario and Luigi is very good. There are so many tunes that are catchy, fun, and a blast to listen to. Some areas have quite or looping music that gets annoying after a while, but the majority is very good.
Mario and Luigi EXPLODE in personality here thanks to Charles Martinet's extraordinary talent. Grunts, groans, and the brothers' gibberish language are very entertaining to hear. The sound effects are new and work very well in their situations.
Yet another strong point for the game. The art style is beautiful. It looks as though it could be a full cartoon. The character sprites and animation are also impressive and you'll easily have as much fun watching the game as you will playing it.
Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga is an excellent game from the masterminds at Nintendo. The game is smooth, intuitive, and well-designed. The only problem is the difficulty. This game is much more challenging than other Mario games. Hard-core fans will highly enjoy it, while younger gamers may struggle with the learning curve. Regardless, the game is long enough to keep players entertained anywhere for a very long time and is highly recommended.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (US, 11/17/03)
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