Author’s Note: This review was originally published on December 5th, 2004. I think negative fanboyism is just as bad as the positive. This game is not a perfect ten. I wrote the title to be sensational and get attention. I don’t think it worked. Embarrassment aside, I do still recommend trying it out.
I have seriously never had this much fun with a Mario game in my life. And keep in mind, I’ve been playing games since I was but a wee lad in the days of the Nintendo. Mario has made tons of appearances. He has jumped on walking, evil mushroom heads, he has driven karts, he has played tennis, he took part in golf, and he even kicked the crap out of other fellow Nintendo stars. A few times, he has appeared in a role-playing world, however I’ve only had the chance to play the one from the Super Nintendo days. Now, the plumber finally shines as he saves the world with his underrated brother, Luigi, in what is one of the greatest role-playing titles of all time.
An ambassador from the Bean Kingdom has decided to pay a visit to the ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom, Princess Peach. However, the ambassador turns out to be the evil Cackletta! She has stolen Peache’s lovely voice, and as a result the princess talks with explosive symbols, literally! Whenever she talks, symbols appear out of nowhere and they freaking blow up the surroundings! Well, not only is this tragic for Peach, it’s tragic for the Mushroom Kingdom’s architecture! Mario high tails it after Cackletta and her assistant, Fawful. Luigi was planning on just waiting at home, but Luigi gets mixed up for a person on the squad to save the princess’ voice and ends up teaming up with Mario on a quest through the Bean Kingdom. For once, Luigi isn’t going to be waiting at home for Mario’s safe return. Good thing too, because Mario is going to need plenty of help in defeating Cackletta and her minions! Oh, and I should mention that despite it’s light-heartedness there are few very fun plot twists in the game.
Wow. This story is probably one of the most unique and hilarious RPG stories I have ever played, no joke. The people who tranlsated this game did a fantastic job because the dialogue spoken throughout the story is so hilarious, you will be on the floor laughing at times. Just don’t drop your Game Boy! But seriously, the story was one of the greatest parts of the game. It is what any great story in a video game should be: entertaining. Also, the characters you meet along the way are equally awesome. They all have their own little motions and gestures. It’s awesome. I seriously loved reading the dialouge between these characters because it was just too damn funny.
Game Play: 10/10
Another great thing about this game. Let’s first focus on the stuff on the field outside of battle. You walk around as either Mario or Luigi. You can switch by pressing the Start button. At the start of the game, all you can do is jump. The person in front jumps with A, and the person in back jumps with B. As you progress in the game, you can learn techniques that will allow the brothers to reach high ledges and reach platforms that are far away. Then, you’ll get the ability to use hammers to break things. To switch to an action, just press L or R. The L is for the person in front, and the R is for the person in the back. As you progress, you’ll get more actions that the brothers can do to complete puzzles, get to new areas of the game, and advance the story. All of them are used frequently so it’s not like you get one action and all of a sudden it disappears. Like most RPGs, you can access the menu screen to see and/or use items, to equip Mario and Luigi with their armor, badges (accessories that give special bonuses to stats), and medals (accessories that give special bonuses to Mario and Luigi in battle), check the world map and view the stats of the two plubming brothers. You can talk with all the colorful and friendly NPC’s in the towns, partake in some very exciting mini-games, and even create your own coffee at the Starbeans Cafe! If you’re not out fighting monsters, chances are that you’ll be doing something just as fun. Whether it be spinning around to get to a ledge, or electrifying Mario using Luigi’s thunder hand technique, there is never a dull moment outside of battle. However, battles are where the true fun lies in Mario and Luigi: Super Star Saga.
Like Mario RPG for the Super Nintendo, you see the enemies on the field. If they’re not spiked enemies, you can jump on top of them to give them some extra damage in battle, which is pretty cool. Anyway, the battle starts with running into a monster. Some monsters may try to take initiative by running into the brother behind the leading brother, so it’s up to you to run and jump around to avoid that sort of thing. Like the game play in the field, the only thing Mario and Luigi can do at the start of the game is jump on enemies. Like other Mario role-playing games, you can hit the button (A for Mario and B for Luigi) to add extra damage to the attacks. It is actually effortless to master this technique, which is good because the enemies can be killed in a few strikes with the more powerful techniques. Anyway, as you advance the story to get new things to do in the field, you will then be able to get them battle. So, once you learn how to use a hammer, you can use them in battle against spikey creatures. Likewise, once Mario and Luigi learn brother technique that can be used outside of battle (such as the spinning jump to another ledge) you can access the “magic” system of the game. Mario and Luigi both have Bros. Points (BP). These are used to carry out powerful combination techniques. Like regular attacks, you have to hit the A and B buttons at certain times to get the maximum damage from the techniques. For more Bros. Points, you can have the game tell you which button to press and have the technique carry out in slow motion. Once you get the technique down, you can have it go at the regular speed for less BP, but it will become easier to hit the buttons correctly. If you fail at doing this, the skill won’t deal as much damage. You can tell whether or not you hit the button at the right time with by reading the message that appears after each time you hit the button “Great! Ok!” and what not. As you continue to use the Bros. techniques, you’ll be able to get them advanced. This just means that they do more damage. Mario and Luigi have different techniques they can use with one another and sometimes the technique will be enough to kill even the strongest of bosses in a few turns. Like the Super Nintendo Mario RPG, you can avoid taking any damage by dodging the enemies’ attacks. While each enemy attacks differently, you can learn how to avoid each attack after a few battles and therefore not receive any damage. You can avoid attacks by either jumping, or knocking the enemy away with your hammer. The screen will show you what to do exactly. The battles are fast-paced, action-packed, and tons of fun. Once Mario or Luigi gains a level, they get an increase in stats and then you can choose one stat to increase. From my game, Mario seems to be the more powerful attacker with more Bros. Points while Luigi has higher HP and defense. Regardless, you can upgrade their stats whichever way you like everytime you gain a level. The battles are tons of fun, and even after I completed the game…I was never once sick of them.
The style of the graphics can best compared to Super Mario World 2, the one where baby Mario rides on the Yoshi’s back. They have the cute, almost child like appearance. This style works great for the game. A light-hearted story deserves a light-hearted setting. That being said, the graphics are awesome. Mario and Luigi look great, as do all of the characters, monsters, and the bosses. They all have their own personal motions, such as Luigi saying, “Bye bye” as he waves his hat in the air and Fawful’s interesting laughing face as he shouts, “I HAVE FURY!” Mario and Luigi can move in all directions, so the world is set on a 3D type of view with 2D characters. It works very well with all the platforming done in the game. The graphics are great.
Music and Sound: 9/10
While it does get repetitive, there are plenty of songs in this game. Some of them are remixes of songs from older Mario Brothers games. Others are original compositions. Regardless, they’re fun songs, despite the fact that they’re being produced by a Game Boy Advance SP which isn’t the best thing in the world when it comes to music.
The sounds are great. That classic, “BOING!” noise is used all the time as you jump around. Also, some of the characters say little expressions or make cute sounds during the dialogue. For instance, Mario says “Let’s go!” whenever he is put in front of Luigi and Princess Peach says, “Mario! Luigi!” whenever she is in distress. It’s definitely one of the cutest things ever. This is as it should be, because Mario and Luigi Super Star Saga is a cute game.
Replay Value: 2/10
There are a lot of places that aren’t accessible at first because you can’t use a hammer or light a torch with Mario’s fire brand technique. If you plan on going playing again, you can try to see what you missed. Other than that though, one time through is probably enough for everyone. It was for me, and I gave the game back to my friend after beating it. It was tons of fun though, it lasted about 30 or so hours and it was a great game to take on vacation.
Buy or Rent: Rent
It is a pretty short game, despite it being an RPG, so renting Mario and Luigi may be the best way to go. While a new copy may not cost too much, you can still probably save some cash by just renting the game for a week and playing it often. So yeah, renting this game is the way to go.
Like the Super Nintendo Mario RPG, this game is pretty easy. While it can get hard avoiding some attacks from bosses, overall this game isn’t too challenging. I wasn’t looking for a challenge though, so I was satisfied with the difficulty level. Don’t play this if you want a strategic role-playing game in which you need to level build until your thumbs hurt.
Not only does this game rock for having Luigi in it, but this game rocks for being a role-playing game on the Game Boy Advance SP that is NOT made by Squaresoft. In your face Final Fantasy Tactics Advance! Mario and Luigi Super Star Saga is truly one of the greatest games of all time. Pick this title up and save the world by fighting in fun battles, jumping from ledge to ledge, and exploring the Bean Kingdom!