The dream team is at it again.
The original Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga on the GameBoy Advance is one I’ve heard mentioned many times over the years as one of the best in the series. It’s also one I missed out on due to a myriad of reasons, and being someone who has enjoyed other games in the series like “Dream Team” and “Bowser’s Inside Story”, it was on my list of old games to check out at some point.
Fortunately, I was given an even greater incentive to cross yet another game off my impossibly long backlog with the 3DS remake of Superstar Saga, and decided to take advantage of the opportunity to finally see what all the fuss was about.
Given that I have no experience with the original game, I won’t be making any comparisons or outlining the changes from the two versions.
However, I’ve been informed by reliable sources that the gameplay and story content remain mostly the same, except for the addition of the Bowser’s Minions mode as well as the ability to use amiibos to unlock a variety of things.
Played: 20~ Hours
Masquerading as diplomats, an evil witch and her underling infiltrate the castle and steal away Princess Peach’s voice, replacing it with a rather explosive vocabulary. As is often the case, it’s up to Mario and Luigi to recover Peach’s voice and put an end to the dastardly evil witch’s plan.
The story has a few twists here and there along the way but it never takes itself too seriously, which is par for the course for a Mario & Luigi game. Still, there are some genuinely funny moments with some clever writing accentuated by a cast of crazy characters. Fawful, the mad scientist underling of the witch, was especially delightful, prone to nonsensical outbursts where he threatened my inevitable demise with broken English.
In fact, I have no idea what a sandwich with the mustard of doom might taste like, but color me curious.
As for the gameplay, exploration is pretty standard, where the two brothers are able to jump one at a time or together at the same time with a press of a single button. There are blocks to hit, enemies to step on or hammer down to get an advantageous start to the encounter. As I progressed through the game, I gained more abilities like the high jump, spin, shrink, dig and more, so much to the point that scrolling through all the different possible options became a hassle.
It wouldn’t have been much of an issue if I wasn’t required to constantly switch between the different actions but it was a rather common scenario and I found myself fumbling around with the controls, even after 10+ hours of gameplay.
The combat itself should be familiar to anyone that has played any of the other games in the series. Emphasizing timing first and foremost, almost every action requires a specific timing in order for the move to be executed correctly.
Defensive actions were based on timing as well as I had to jump over fireballs and repel charging foes with a decisive smash with the hammer. There was also the option of a guard, which reduced incoming damage for situations where I didn’t want to risk going for a perfect dodge or counter.
My arsenal of moves increased with the progression of the story, and just as I was able to do more maneuvers during exploration, I was able to use the same moves in the context of special attacks, which required even better timing than the standard attack commands. Given the potency of these attacks, it was well worth the effort to learn the timing for them, and thanks to the fact that I was able to practice the attacks before attempting them at any time in battle, I had no trouble using even the most difficult specials.
Being quick to figure out the patterns of a boss’s attack and taking it down without even taking a single hit was fun, and even though this is not a particularly challenging game, always going for the perfect dodges and counterattacks made the encounters feel more fun and rewarding.
The newly included Bowser’s Minions mode serves as another perspective to what transpired during the events of the main game, but I found it mostly uninteresting as it didn’t enlighten me with any important revelations. The rock-paper-scissors aspect of melee-flying-ranged units countering each other was executed poorly, and I found that the game was basically playing itself for the most part with me having to press a button in timing with some attack or another from time to time. It certainly felt like a tacked on mode so they could sell some newly minted amiibos, which I simply do not care for.
My time with Superstar Saga has been a joy – filled with hearty laughs and exciting boss encounters. Even though I can’t say whether it’s a remake worth revisiting to those who finished the original back on the GBA, I can say with confidence that those who missed it the first time around are in certainly in for a good time.
Fun Tidbit – I HAVE FURY
Review copy of game provided by publisher.