Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga[a] is a role-playing video game developed by AlphaDream and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance in 2003. It was re-released for the Wii U Virtual Console in 2014, and remade for the Nintendo 3DS as Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions[b] in 2017. In the game, Mario and Luigi combat Cackletta and Fawful, who stole Princess Peach's voice after adopting the guise of an ambassador from the Beanbean Kingdom.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Stylized illustration of the characters Mario and Luigi running across a bridge toward the viewer, with scenery and characters from the game visible behind them
Game Boy Advance cover art
Developer(s)AlphaDream
Publisher(s)Nintendo
Director(s)
  • Yoshihiko Maekawa
  • Shunsuke Kobayashi (3DS)
Producer(s)
Designer(s)Hiroyuki Kubota
Programmer(s)Masashi Haraki
Artist(s)
  • Toshizo Morikawa
  • Takuji Sasaki (3DS)
  • Kouichi Fukazawa (3DS)
Writer(s)Hiroyuki Kubota
Composer(s)Yoko Shimomura
SeriesMario & Luigi
Platform(s)
ReleaseGame Boy Advance
Nintendo 3DS
  • JP: October 5, 2017
  • NA/EU: October 6, 2017
  • AU: October 7, 2017
Genre(s)Role-playing
Mode(s)Single-player

The player controls Mario and Luigi simultaneously; being a role-playing game, it centers on a battle system different from that of traditional games of the genre, with emphasis on timing and more elaborate attacks.[4] The game is whimsical in tone, with various in-game jokes and comical references to the heritage of the Mario series. The game is believed to be inspired from Paper Mario. Created by Shigeru Miyamoto, Tetsuo Mizuno, and Satoru Iwata, the game was announced at E3 2003, later releasing the same year.

Superstar Saga was critically acclaimed, with reviewers praising the game's writing and theme, and criticism and mixed opinions on gameplay and the top-down perspective respectively. Critics listed the game among the best games on the Game Boy Advance, and was labeled as Player's Choice. The remake was released in 2017; alongside amiibo functionality, updated graphics and music, and other improvements, it also features a new storyline titled Minion Quest: The Search for Bowser.

GameplayEdit

 
Superstar Saga's battle system (original GBA version)

The gameplay of Mario & Luigi differs from most other role-playing games due to its focus on controlling Mario and Luigi simultaneously. During overworld sections, the directional pad controls Mario's movement with Luigi following closely, while Mario and Luigi's other actions are controlled individually with the A (Mario) and B (Luigi) buttons respectively.[5] The game begins with them being able to jump independently, though they would soon gain access to hammers and a variety of other techniques as the game progresses. For example, Luigi's hammer can be used to squash Mario into a smaller size, allowing the latter to access small gaps, while placing Mario on Luigi's shoulders allows them to act like a propeller and hover across large gaps.[6] Various enemies roam the overworld, and coming into contact with these enemies initiates a battle. Landing a hit on the enemy while on the overworld allows the player to deal pre-emptive damage, while the opposite is also possible.

Battles in Superstar Saga are turn-based. Mario and Luigi can attack normally either by jumping, which can deal multiple hits but when used against enemies covered in flames or with spikes, Mario or Luigi will get hurt, instead of the enemy. Another attack option is the hammer, which is powerful, but ineffective against flying enemies. Similar to previous Mario role-playing titles, such as Super Mario RPG and the Paper Mario series, players can time button presses to make their attacks more effective, such as earning an extra jump attack or increasing the hammer's power.[7] Introduced in this series is the way in which Mario and Luigi can defend themselves during an enemy's attack. When an enemy attacks, the brothers would be able to either jump or use their hammer which, when successfully timed, allows them to dodge their attacks and even deal counter damage (for example: if they jump on top of a charging Goomba). Throughout the game, players can unlock Bros. Attacks, which use Bros. Points (BP) which requires players to cooperate between Mario and Luigi's actions to perform powerful combination attacks.[4][8] Players can also use items such as mushrooms for healing, peppers for boosting stats and 1UP mushrooms for reviving fallen Bros. Defeating enemies earns experience points which help the Bros. level up and increase their stats, with players given the option to further increase the stats of one attribute every time they level up. Players can further improve their stats by equipping new gear to the Bros. or making them wear badges that give them special attributes.

Like other Mario titles for the Game Boy Advance, Superstar Saga features the enhanced remake of the Mario Bros. arcade game, which was used in the four Super Mario Advance titles.[9][10] The game also supports rumble functionality when used with the GameCube's Game Boy Player accessory.[5]

SynopsisEdit

Setting and charactersEdit

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is largely set in the Beanbean Kingdom, a country neighboring the Mario series' usual setting of the Mushroom Kingdom,[11] mainly populated by Beanish people and Hoohooligans. The player characters are brothers Mario and Luigi, who travel to the Beanbean Kingdom to return the voice of Peach, the princess of the Mushroom Kingdom, after it is stolen by the Beanish witch Cackletta and her henchman Fawful. Among other characters are Queen Bean and Prince Peasley of the Beanbean Kingdom, who assist Mario and Luigi; and the thief Popple, who crosses paths with them throughout the game.

PlotEdit

The game opens with Cackletta and Fawful, disguised as ambassadors of the Beanbean Kingdom, visiting Princess Peach's castle in the Mushroom Kingdom to steal her voice, replacing it with explosives that drop from her speech balloon when she talks. Mario and Luigi are summoned to the castle, and meet Bowser, who had intended to kidnap Peach, but decides against it due to her explosive speech. The three team up to retrieve Peach's voice, and fly to the Beanbean Kingdom on Bowser's airship. Mid-flight, Fawful attacks them, and Bowser becomes separated from Mario and Luigi after a crash landing on the Beanbean Kingdom border. Traveling through the Beanbean Kingdom by foot, Mario and Luigi meet Peasley and save him from a spell cast by Cackletta.

They get invited to the Beanbean Kingdom castle, where Cackletta – disguised as the royal advisor Lady Lima – tricks them into helping her steal the Beanstar, a mystical item that when awoken by a noble and beautiful voice will grant any wish. Trailing Cackletta to Woohoo Hooniversity, they find her exposing the Beanstar to the stolen voice, causing it to go berserk. Mario and Luigi battle Cackletta, fatally injuring her; Fawful uses his vacuum-equipped helmet to retrieve her soul to save her. Mario and Luigi locate the Beanstar again, which Popple is trying to steal together with an amnesiac Bowser; when it again is exposed to Peach's voice, it shoots into the sky and explodes, scattering across the kingdom. Peach arrives in the Beanbean Kingdom, and Mario and Luigi learn that Birdo had been used as a political decoy during Cackletta's visit; it was because Birdo's voice was the one that had been stolen that the Beanstar went berserk.

Fawful finds Bowser, weakened from the Beanstar's explosion, and places Cackletta's soul inside him; she takes control of the body, and takes the name Bowletta. She kidnaps Peach, and demands the Beanstar as ransom; Mario and Luigi collect the pieces, and meet with her to make the exchange. Bowletta refuses to return Peach, so Luigi disguises himself as Peach to be taken in her stead, and manages to reclaim the Beanstar, after which Bowletta uses Bowser's flying castle to attack the Beanbean Kingdom. Mario and Luigi enter the castle, and exorcise her soul from Bowser's body. Peasley blows up the flying castle, and Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Bowser return to the Mushroom Kingdom.

Development and marketingEdit

Superstar Saga, developed by AlphaDream, is said to take its inspiration from the Nintendo 64 game Paper Mario;[11][12] the two games have similar graphics and gameplay.[13][14] The producers of the game were Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of the Mario franchise, Tetsuo Mizuno, and Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo.[15] The voice acting for Mario and Luigi in the game is provided by Charles Martinet, well known for providing the characters' voice in Nintendo's Mario franchise.[12] The game's music was composed by Yoko Shimomura, who also previously composed the soundtrack for Super Mario RPG.[16]

Superstar Saga was revealed at E3 2003 under the name Mario and Luigi, where a playable demo of the game was available.[17] In August and September 2003, a playable demonstration was also available at the European Computer Trade Show, the Games Convention, and Nintendo Gamers' Summit.[12][18][19] To link in with the game's comic themes, Nintendo organized an official competition between October and November 2003 in which contestants would try to submit the best knock-knock joke to win a Game Boy Advance SP and a copy of the game. Nintendo employed comedian Kathy Griffin to choose the winner.[20]

ReceptionEdit

Superstar Saga received "universal acclaim", according to the review aggregator Metacritic.[22] The game's comical dialog and themes in particular were lauded by critics. Eurogamer's Tom Bramwell commented that "each line of dialogue and identifiable cameo is handled with a loving sense of humour."[11] Despite this, RPGamer's Andrew Long labelled the plot as repetitive, and the game's characters as "a tad shallow".[49] While also appreciating references to the heritage of the Mario series,[50] critics praised the game for avoiding clichés common in previous games of the Mario series.[11]

The gameplay attained a mixed reception. Critics enjoyed the game's battle system, which deviated from role-playing game tradition.[5] IGN's Craig Harris commented that "unlike most Japanese RPGs Mario & Luigi's turn-based battle involves the player at all times".[51] Despite this novel approach to combat situations, some reviewers thought that the overall gameplay lacked innovation.[52][53] GameSpy in particular criticized the game for an apparent lack of originality, commenting that "in terms of gameplay, there isn't much there that we haven't seen in the NES and SNES Mario and Zelda titles."[52] Furthermore, some reviewers were disappointed by a perceived lack of difficulty in the gameplay as a result of targeting a younger audience.[53] Edge and other gaming publications have criticized the controls for being occasionally confusing when considering the usage of jumping, hammers, and other combinations between the two characters.[54]

A common concern among reviewers is the overhead perspective, which critics have bemoaned for preventing them from judging pathway routes and an object's location in relation to its background.[51] Besides this, the actual visuals were generally well received,[5][11] as well as the setting and animations. The audio was commended for combining both originality and nostalgia, even though it looped frequently.[5]

GameSpot named Superstar Saga the best Game Boy Advance game of November 2003.[55] In 2006, Superstar Saga was rated the 37th best game made on a Nintendo System in Nintendo Power's Top 200 Games list.[56] In the same year, the game became part of the Player's Choice label.[57] In 2007, the game was named the twelfth best Game Boy Advance game of all time in IGN's feature reflecting on the Game Boy Advance's long lifespan.[58] In the United States alone, Superstar Saga sold 1,000,000 copies and earned $30,000,000 by August 2006. During the period between January 2000 and August 2006, it was the 14th highest-selling game launched for the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS or PlayStation Portable in that country.[59] As of 2007, Superstar Saga has sold over 441,000 units in Japan and 1,460,000 in the United States.[60][61]

RemakeEdit

During a Nintendo Treehouse: Live webcast at E3 2017, a remake of Superstar Saga for Nintendo 3DS, titled Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions,[b] was announced. The remake features updated graphics, maintaining the use of sprites, but with additional lighting effects akin to Dream Team and Paper Jam, as well as a remastered soundtrack and various quality-of-life improvements that were introduced in later entries of the series, such as the ability to save the game at any time, and to fast-forward cutscenes, among others. It also adds an additional storyline, Minion Quest: The Search for Bowser, which follows Captain Goomba and features a real-time strategy battle system. The game also features Amiibo functionality, tied to the existing Boo and new Goomba and Koopa Troopa figures. The game was released in October 2017.[62]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Known in Japan as Mario & Luigi RPG (Japanese: マリオ&ルイージRPG, Hepburn: Mario ando Ruīji Āru Pī Jī)
  2. ^ a b Known in Japan as Mario & Luigi RPG 1 DX (マリオ&ルイージRPG1 DX (デラックス), Mario ando Ruīji Āru Pī Jī Wan Derakkusu)

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External linksEdit