Review by Melee Kirby

"Mario's latest GBA adventure! And no, it isnt an old-school remake either..."

Mario and Luigi is a game that is superbly presented with lush graphics all the way through, and the intro's just a small taster of what's to come. Well-animated characters and bright colors spread all the way through each one of 'em to make this one of the most lush-looking GBA games in the ever-growing library of games. The scenery is just like icing on the cake; it's very sweet and tops off the setting for the game's areas perfectly. But enough of the graphics, let's focus on main gameplay elements now.

Mario & Luigi has an interesting control system that kicks in as soon as you board Bowser's new battle airship (that is when you are able to use Luigi in order to play around with the system properly). You are given two main action buttons, A and B - both of which control Mario and Luigi's actions separately - and you also have the L and R buttons to switch actions from, so that you can decide what they do and when they execute it. The Start button plays the role of switching positions of who's the ''lead'' character and who follows him, so when Mario's at front, pressing the button will make Luigi lead the way. At the beginning all you can do is simply jump with the A and B buttons for each character, and because this kind of system has never been done for an RPG before, it can take some getting used to, especially if some well-timed jumps across gaps of the terrain must be made with both characters together, but as you progress, you'll learn new moves and find that some tasks will be made easier, as well as enabling you ways of reaching what previously seemed to be virtually unreachable areas. Even when you learn your new actions it can take a bit of time remembering what buttons to press to bring them up, but as you work your way through the adventure you'll find you will be a pro at the system before you know it.

The battling system is a simple turn-based affair, just like the previous Mario RPG instalments, but the A and B action buttons also play a role into the battles and give the battles an interesting twist of how things work. You only have Mario and Luigi to battle with for the whole game, and for each one an action button is used: A for Mario and B for Luigi. Usually your turn starts with Mario, and you use the A button to proceed through the different battle options you browse through with the D-Pad, then A once more to execute the attack or other course of action with Mario. The exact same thing is done with Luigi, only the B button is used to proceed through menus and execute the action, although it's common sense to understand that B's typically the ''cancel'' button in other games. When enemies attack you will have the opportunity to dodge their attack (as long as you are not in certain battle conditions such as being dazed), and again you must use A or B to dodge, accordingly for whichever character that's supposed to dodge the oncoming attack. So if an enemy's projectile is heading Luigi's way, press B at the right time to avoid the attack successfully. Sometimes timing it right can lead to counter attacking your foe, giving you the advantage of depleting their HP even during their turn.

One high point the game has is it's humour. It makes you laugh so much you'll probably end up losing track of time, or completely forgetting about going to do that important thing you said you were going to do. But it doesn’t matter if you end up forgetting what else happens, because that's the beauty of the comedy this game has to offer: it makes you smile, it makes you laugh and enables you to forget about reality for awhile, and enjoy the happiness you feel with the humour Mario & Luigi provides. Most of the laughing moments are captured in the dialogue script, but some cut scenes involving characters running around or showing extreme expressions such as pure anger, especially when annoyed or embarrassed, is always worth a good chuckle.

The sounds in the game are just, to put it short and simple, top-class. The music tracks in the game feature original music and remixed classic themes, from the techno beats of the Super Mario Bros underworld tune, to the upbeat and cheery ''plinkitty-plonks'' of tunes such as the Super Mario Bros main theme. Music has been done very well and there's so little of them using the primitive GameBoy sound channels that you barely notice them. Nintendo have also made good use of the GBA's special sound channel to put in brilliant sound effects (although not all of them are used on this channel), as well as add a hoard of digitised Mario and Luigi voice samples, some of which sound familiar from past games, and a bunch of others which are exclusive sounds to this game. Lots of other little voice samples have been thrown in for a majority of the scenes in the game, from Peach's soft and innocent sounding voice, to the evil cackles of Cackletta. Make sure you have a pair of earphones at the ready for this game because your ears are in for a real treat.

This adventure is seriously huge, for such a game that's squeezed into such a small slab of plastic no bigger than a classic GameBoy cartridge. Seriously, there's so much to see and so much to do, and with lots of side quests and some mini games to have a bash at, you'll be at this game for a good long while. The only real problem with the length of the game is the replay value; there isn’t much to come back to once you've sussed the final confrontation (which can take awhile in itself), but you can always turn to playing a little game of Mario Bros arcade... (yes, they STILL have that game, and it's included in this package.. urgh..). Other than that, however, expect a vast adventure that'll require a spare pair of good-brand batteries to feed your GBA.

This is, one of the finest GBA titles made, and although it's an RPG, don’t feel that it has any less of Mario's gaming magic. Nintendo does justice to the GBA once more!
Gameplay: 8/10
You will soon get used to the new, seemingly daunting control system and enjoy it.

Graphics: 9/10
This kind of reminds me of Paper Mario, only without the 3D scenery...

Music/Sounds - 9/10
Brilliant music slapped together with good sounds and voice samples.

Longevity: 8/10
Took me roughly 18 hours to complete, but no replay value once done and dusted.
|Final Verdict|
Rest assured this is one Mario game that you will regret to miss out on, even if you arent a fan of the franchie!

Overall Score: 9/10!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/21/04

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