Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga Review
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is an action role-playing game. What I mean by that is that though the characters level-up and gain experience during battles, and battles are fought by taking turns, there are still a lot of action elements to the game in the combat system as well as other parts of the game world.
As you may guess from the title, you control both Mario & Luigi at the same time. In most cases the A button will control Mario, and the B button will control Luigi. They jump independently, and as you progress through the game they will both learn several special moves which allow them to interact with each other and the environment. For instance, once you acquire the hammers in the game, Mario can hit Luigi over the head with his hammer, which will smash him underground so that you can only see his hat walking around. This allows you to move under gates and other obstacles, and is used in many of the little puzzles throughout the game. There are quite a few other little special moves that both characters will acquire, which really makes for some fun and interesting puzzles to solve as you progress through the “Bean Bean Kingdom”.
During combat, Mario & Luigi are controlled independently, depending on which button you press, and whose turn it is. After you choose to attack or use an item, you choose which enemy you’d like to attack. If you press the A or B button at just the right moment during Mario or Luigi’s attack, which is a simple jump at the beginning of the game, you will inflict more damage upon your enemy. You can also dodge enemies attacks by jumping over them, or hitting them with your hammer, depending on the way you are being attacked. You also have Brothers Attacks available to you, which causes Mario and Luigi to both attack simultaneously, dealing much more damage to your foes. To perform the attack correctly, you have to hit the A or B button at the right moments, usually points where Mario and Luigi come in contact with each other during the attack. This attack also uses your Brothers Points, which are similar to Mana in most RPG’s.
Regardless of the details, suffice it to say that the combat in the game is very unique and a whole lot of fun. Most of the enemies have several different attacks, and many will give you clues as to whether they are planning to attack Mario or Luigi, before they do.
The story of the game is silly, like most Mario games, but the dialogue throughout the game is very funny in many places. There are dozens of references to older Mario Bros. games, all the way back to the NES version. Some of the original Mario Bros. music has been remixed for this game, and many of the characters from older games make an appearance in this one as well. But the funniest thing is that the game is poking fun at many of the Mario Bros. conventions, and if you’ve spent any amount of time playing the older games, you will really appreciate some of the “in jokes” spread throughout the game.
The graphics are perfect, all detailed with great animations. The colors are bright and vivid, and the terrains are varied and interesting to see as you explore the game world.
Overall the game has an incredible amount of polish. Every little detail has been thought of and carefully planned. It doesn’t feel rushed or thrown together like many GBA games. It is most definitely “finished”, and has been very thoroughly tested and tweaked. I never once felt frustrated for not knowing where I was supposed to be, and there was never any area that I got stuck on, which will normally kill my interest in a game in no time. The game is of moderate difficulty, though if you are at all an experienced gamer you will likely have no problem finishing the game. The final battle is quite difficult though, I spent about 15 minutes straight trying to beat it. The total length of the game turned out to be about 21 hours for me, though that may vary for you, depending on your experience, and how many of the little fun side-quests you want to go on.
There are also quite a few mini-games spread throughout the game world, which really break up the gameplay and keep things interesting.
This is probably the most fun I’ve had playing a game since Zelda: The Wind Waker for the Gamecube. If you enjoy Mario games, and have a GBA, make sure to pick this one up.