Saturday, July 8, 2017

Mario Game Review - Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA, 2003)

There's really no denying that the Mario & Luigi series is one of the best spinoffs of everyone's favorite Italian plumber. It all began with the first game in the series on the GBA that is Superstar Saga. With a remake coming out this year in October on the 3DS with Bowser's Minions added on to the story, I feel I should take a review at this awesome RPG by Nintendo and AlphaDream after after Square Enix with Legend of the Seven Stars and Intelligent Systems with the original Paper Mario (before its improved sequel in the preceding year; The Thousand-Year Door). (So let's get started, shall we?)

The game opens with the witch Cackletta and her assistant Fawful arriving to steal Princess Peach's voice and replace it with explosives. After being summoned to the palace by Toad, Mario and Luigi confront and subdue Bowser, who coincidentally was attempting to kidnap Peach. Bowser decides against doing so, and teams up with Mario and Luigi to take her voice back from Cackletta, who has fled to the Beanbean Kingdom, with the intention of kidnapping Peach afterward when her voice would not destroy his castle.

...And of course, it's now up to the plumbers to help retrieve the real princess and save the Beanbean Kingdom all together from the evil clutches of Cackletta.

Superstar Saga's gameplay varies from previous Mario RPGs in many twists, but also with some newer features to world of role-playing games for the plumber(s). Instead of partners to accompany you, you play as only the two brothers and travel across many different landscapes in order to progress on to each newer field in order to save the princess and complete the game. You have the main quest having to travel great distances all while battling enemies and bosses to get from one point to another. You'll eventually require the plumber's abilities of high jumping and spinning across platforms in various areas throughout, but not too long after you come across training in battle mode and combat.

In the battle system, you fight with both brothers against enemies and bosses battles, which you can use both special moves, and your hammers and jump abilities. There are the special moves you acquire eventually as you advance in battles and earn more power for as you level up. In fact, you are upgraded with Heart Points, Bros. Points, Defense, Speed, and Stache eventually throughout each time you level up. When you start the battle off, you're required to either dodge or counterstrike the enemy/boss depending on the attacks, or take your turn jump, hammering, or attacking with the more powerful special Bros. moves. But of course, once you reach 0 HP on both brothers, it's game over.

You can collect items to help you on your quest and battles against enemies you take on, such as Mushrooms (for HP) and Syrup (for BP), or even badges and other clothing it increase certain stats with one brother or the other. (Like ATK, DEF, and BP status, etc.) You'll also have to search around for switches and other things to help progress on in the game, but there's lots more to be had.

That's all the important stuff I can discuss, and in gameplay standards, there's nothing bad to be said about it, but if there is, it's some of its difficulty that often tends to time itself too soon, or mostly at random, but that's really all I can say about any of the game's flaws. So now the graphics department.

Visuals and layouts in graphical design for Superstar Saga is very impressive for a Game Boy Advance title and I'm happy to say that the whole game tends to be extremely creative and breathtaking in its initial concept. The overall look of the areas/levels like the snow, beach, and castle landscapes all have an appeal of charm to them, and as for animation and sprites, they've all been well done so that based on the game's overall humor, these animations often tend to make the game hilarious for comedic effect. So for one gaming's most humorous games ever, Superstar Saga's graphics department all come close to being some of the greatest for its console, even if other games often tend to stand above it.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga's sound design is easily one of the best aspects of the game as a whole in every category of its design. The music, first off, is all very catchy and some of the series' greatest with nothing bad in store. Ranging from some of my favorite themes like Teehee Valley and Gwarhar Lagoon in the mainly adventure field, to very epic and blood-pumping tracks for the boss battles. There's just nothing bad to say about the game's soundtrack as it's very pleasurable for the ears that sometimes you can never get enough of it. (At least if you're me in that sense)

Sound effects are spot on as always with some that would eventually be recycled in the future sequels onwards, so now voice acting...

There's really nothing I can say about it as it's all weird, and admittedly for the best that the characters themselves don't speak out unlike Zelda games. And besides, we always have that classic Mario and Luigi quotes by Charles Martinet that never die down as they all have soft spot in hearts like mine.

So the music? Awesome. Sound effects? All spot on as usual. And voice acting? Well, I have nothing new to say... so now let's move on.

  • D-Pad - Move selection cursor (Menu), Move Mario & Luigi (Adventure Field), Move Action Cursor (Battlefield)
  • A - Confirms Select (Menu), Perform selected "Back Bro" action (Adventure Field), Perform/Select Mario's action commands (Battlefield)
  • B - Cancel selection/Return to previous menu (Menu), Perform selected "Front Bro" action (Adventure Field), Perform/Select Luigi's action commands (Battlefield)
  • L - Switch menu field left (Menu), cycles "Back Bro" action icon (Adventure Field)
  • R - Switch menu field right (Menu), cycles "Front Bro" action icon (Adventure Field)
  • Start (Adventure Field only) - Swap "Back Bro" w/"Front Bro"
  • Select (Adventure Field only) - Opens suitcase

With the re-release of the original game being ported to the 3DS in October this year as I said, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga on its own has everything great you need to make and play a good Mario game. With hilarious humor, near flawless gameplay, appealing layout and visuals, great sound, and wonderful (if hard-to-get-used-to) controls, the game itself takes RPG Mario games to a whole new level and for any of you who HAVEN'T played the original outing yet; give it a shot before you get your hands on the enhanced 3DS remake.

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