Review by GamingDemon

"Put this one up there with the greats. It's pure gold."

Nintendo (not surprisingly) has done it again. Mario & Luigi is a fresh, fun and overall fantastic game for the Gameboy Advance system. In my personal opinion, the best game for the system period, as well as one of the top 10 2-D games of all time. Yeah, I know what you're saying. ''That good, huh?''. Well yeah, I think so. But let me tell you why.

Story 10/10
The story of Mario & Luigi doesn't stray too far from the formula of most Mario games. Princess Peach is in some kind of trouble, and it's up to the Mario Bros. to put a stop to it. Yet, this is only the initial quest. You'll get to a whole other story pretty early in the game, involving the evil witch Cackletta in her quest to obtain the coveted Beanstar of Bean Bean Kingdom. Yet don't think it's that straightforward. As soon as you think you knew what was going on, the story surprises you.

Graphics 10/10
Absolutely beautiful. Nintendo has a reputation for colorful, kid-like aesthetics, and Mario & Luigi does nothing to change that. Thankfully. It really works for this game. Animations are silky-smooth and life-like, and the effects are flawless.

Technical aspects aside, this game is full of nostalgic imagery. From a room where you can view all the different blocks from every Mario platforming game, to original Super Mario Bros. flagpoles standing outside a castle, there's no doubt this is Mario's world, even though you've never seen it quite this way before. Yet keep an eye out for cameos of not only objects, but places and even characters. Some even obscure. There's alot of stuff in here from other Mario games for the Mario fan to enjoy.

Also, I wasn't sure where to put this note, but I think it fits the best here. ... This game is HILARIOUS. It's really hard to find a game where it genuinely makes you laugh, and with this game it's hard NOT to laugh. The ways that Mario and Luigi look or act are just so humorously animated. Someone over at Alpha Dream really knows their comedy.

Gameplay 10/10
Mario & Luigi takes it's gameplay for the most part from two other titles. Super Mario RPG for the SNES and Paper Mario for the N64. So, essentially it's an RPG. But there are many platforming and real-time elements that you can't really think of it as an RPG. It feels like a new genre of game alltogether. I'll explain why.

In this game, you control both Mario and Luigi at the same time. The A button control one brother, the B button the other. Yet the entire core of the game involves that Mario and Luigi work together. You'll acquire abilities for high-jumping, spin-jumping, etc. All which are integrated into the platforming as well as RPG elements.

The battle system is for the most part your typical RPG battle system, except that you really get involved. You'll be doing more real-time dodging and timing hits more then you'll be cycling through menus.

The environments really make use of everything you'll learn, and will require you to really get involved with the Bros. Even item or action blocks will require teamwork, from taking turns hitting a coin block to getting the Bros. to two seperate areas to hit two blocks at the exact same time. This teamwork is so integral to the game, not to mention fun as fun can be, that you'll genuinely miss your Koopa-smashing sibling when the game forces you two split up.

Putting the core gameplay aside, every so often the game will require you to play a different mini-game. Doesn't really sound that noteworthy, right? But I couldn't go on with this review without mentioning them because they are just so great. Each are really unique compared to other games, as well as to eachother and are incredibly fun. They have the greatness potential to branch off into their own series of games to be included with the likes of Dr. Mario and Tetris. Thankfully, you can go back and play these whenever you like. And not only will you want to because they're so fun, you'll be getting much-needed beans for scoring high.

Music/Sound 10/10
Superb. The sound effects are great. Classic sounds are here from the coin to Mario's jump. Even the voices in this game are great, and well-placed. If someone's saying something, chances are you'll be saying it too so it never gets annoying. From ''Oh no!'' to ''Let's go''. Though for cutscenes where story is being acted out, Mario and Luigi don't generally speak. They don't even have text dialogue at all. However, they let out this string of hilarious gibberish in their respective accents.

As for music, it's all here. If you're a Mario fan, you'll recognize classic music from the first Super Mario Bros. game to Mario 64. There's alot of remixed tunes in here pulled from many sources, but alot of new tunes as well. And great ones at that. It never even sounds hindered by the GBA capabilities.

Replayability 10/10
I wouldn't really say this game has replayability in how you think I would mean. But it does. There are alot of little side-quests for you to have fun completing which aren't necessary to beat the game, and in between that you'll want to pop the cart in to play those mini-games. When you're all done with those, you know you'll want to come back and experience the gameplay, music and humor all over again.

An absolutely superb game. I hope I've explained enough to convince you that it's a great game, because it really is. All aspects of this game come together to make a truly fun and enjoyable experience. Definitely the best game I've played all year. Finally, portable games now have a higher bar set to meet. Bring on the sequel.

Well, what're you waiting for? Go buy it!

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 11/24/03

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