Review by nabuch

"Forget the mediocre graphics and sound, it's all about the game play"

After such recent disasters from Nintendo, like ''Mario Sunshine'', ''Wind Waker'', and ''Warioworld'', they seem to have gotten back on track. Forget ''Paper Mario'', this game is like ''Super Mario RPG'' and the original ''Zelda'', with a little ''Mario Bros.'' as well. You can easily be fooled into thinking this is another miscue for the first hour or two, after that you will be totally hooked.

GRAPHICS: 4/10 The graphics are terrible. It does get better as you progress through the game, but not by much. Anyone who thinks these graphics are good, needs to play a game that really does deliver, like ''Wario 4''. Since the GBA is capable of so much more, I'm not going to reward them for this at all.

MUSIC/SOUND: 5/10 If you even so much as just glance at the instruction manual, you will know that Nintendo designed this game with the idea that a lot of people would be playing it on a Game Boy Player only. That may account for some pretty good music, but they did nothing with the sound. How about some sub woofer and Dolby Pro Logic 2 support? Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting voice acting and things the GBA can't do, just what it can do.

CAMERA/CONTROL: 9/10 This is GBA after all, so of course there are no camera problems, but what about control. The game uses all 6 buttons, and initially reading the manual it all sounds rather confusing and hard to remember, but after 5 minutes it all becomes second nature. Basically, the control scheme is excellent and extremely responsive, and should prove to be no problem after a short while.

GAME PLAY: 9/10 This is where the game really comes through. You progress through the game as a team. If Mario is in front and jumps up a step, he can go no higher until Luigi jumps up behind him. You progress through dungeon like areas, and RPG fights, leveling up and acquiring items and brother moves, which are used in both battles and exploration. In the beginning it seems to be a game strictly for the sticky finger set, but very quickly the challenge sets in. Early on you must get 10 something or others in 30 seconds, by jumping from platform to platform and not falling off, and the item always seems to be where you're not. Of course you also have to figure the best way to attack the problem, and then, when you finally get it and expect to save, it is a boss battle, and if you do not figure out how to do damage to the boss, the fight will only end when the two brothers both go belly up. After you win the fight you can save, but then you have to figure out how to continue up the mountain. You will also notice spots you will have to come back to because you don't have the right move yet. Fights can be avoided fairly easily, but is is a good idea not to, because, unlike ''Super Mario RPG'', you can not go back and fight the same enemies more than once. After each battle, all stats go up, and then you get a bonus one to put where you want. There is a lot of thinking to be done in this game, exploration, battles, etc.

VALUE: 10/10 First of all, you need to keep playing for at least two hours or more, even if you hate it, because eventually it will all come together and then you won't be able to stop playing. The game is one of the oh so few GBA games that is longer than about 5 hours. Expect to spend at least 30-40 hours on it. Also, there is some mild replay value, if you play again and always distribute your bonus points to the same stat, but most will only play it through once. Still, if you read my reviews you know that my rule of thumb on games is no more than $1 per hour, and this certainly fills the bill.

FINAL COMMENTS: Actually, there is nothing left to say, except that this game is currently on sale at ''Best Buy'' for $24.99 through Saturday, Nov.22, 2003. Okay, so quit reading already and go get it, you won't be sorry.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 11/24/03

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