In late 2003, Nintendo released an RPG Mario game. But it wasn’t Super Mario RPG, and it wasn’t even another Paper Mario. It was Mario + Luigi Superstar Saga. A quirky and funny, yet simple RPG for the Gameboy Advance. The title spawned a franchise which has a total of 6 different releases. The latest of which released late in 2017. That game is Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions and is a remake of the original title. With an included spin-off mini-game. So as someone who never got to play the original but always wanted to, I had to get it! Does this classic title hold up over a decade later? Let’s find out!
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga sees players adventure as Mario and Luigi to save Princess Peach…..’s voice? Yeah. The game opens up with a cutscene showing Princess Peach receiving a guest. A guest that is in disguise and is actually the game’s main antagonist, Cackletta. Cackletta is visiting the Mushroom Kingdom to steal Princess Peach’s voice. With the Princess’s voice, Cackletta hopes to awaken the Beanstar. Awakening the Beanstar would grant Cackletta the power to conquer all kingdoms. It’s time to stop Cackletta and retrieve Princess Peach’s voice in the process!
Players are able to control not only Mario but his often forgotten sibling Luigi as well. This is the basis for the gameplay of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions. A turn-based RPG game that dedicates what originally was a 2 button setup to each brother. Throughout the main quest, the player collects power-ups unique to each brother. Power-ups that can be used to not only progress and unlock levels but in battle as well. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions is an RPG that manages to keep things simple, yet very much relies on skill and timing. The core gameplay when adventuring is similar to something you’d see in a 2D Zelda title. But with leveling up. Throughout the game, players control both Mario and Luigi at the same time. The brothers follow each other but play independent of each other when jumping. This sets up some nice puzzles within dungeons that require each brother’s unique skills to beat.
The battle system is an active battle with a timing mechanic tied into it. From the very first monster you battle against to the final boss, each enemy character has a specific pattern to learn. Using the dedicated button for each brother enables them to jump, or use the shoulder buttons to switch between Mario and Luigi. When learning an enemy’s pattern, by having a brother jump and depending on your timing, the player is able to either dodge or counterattack. The most fun I’ve had in each battle came when I used special attacks. Special attacks are a more powerful attack that requires to partake in (usually fast) Quick Time Events. This battle system left for some of the most fun boss battles I’ve ever had.
Then there are Bowser’s Minions. Which is a mini-game where you play a side story as a Goomba. The game mode features a very stripped down version of the main title’s battle system where the player is given a move set to pick from. There isn’t much to do and most of the time you’re just watching the screen and not pressing anything. It’s appropriately just a distraction to an otherwise fantastic game.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions is easily one of the best looking games on the 3DS. I was impressed considering it originally being a GameBoy Advance title. Even more so once I had gone back and popped the original cartridge in my SP. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions features some wacky character voice overs, and I use the terms voice overs very lightly. The character’s voices are limited to short babbles but it absolutely compliments the overall wacky look and feel the game portrays. Each level and area in the game are unique, but not too different as to pull you away from the world. The game’s soundtrack is as immersive as you would expect from one of Nintendo’s titles. The battle theme could easily become my next ringtone.
As I mentioned in the intro, I’ve wanted to play Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga for so long. Even going so far as to purchase a GameBoy Advance SP for it. I was excited as heck for Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions to come out and boy, it did not disappoint. The main story alone took me a little over 20 hours to beat. The game does offer some collectibles but a not so good mini-game which shares the title and it doesn’t leave much to do post game. That said, there is plenty of fun to be had with the main quest and I’m looking forward to finally getting around to that DS sequel, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time. Which, yes, you should all expect on a future #TBT Reviews. This is a title that while being timing based and having a decent difficulty, is very easy to get in to and understand for any gamer. Easily inching toward becoming my favorite Mario spin-off, I strongly recommend this title to anyone who loves Mario or RPGs.