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Review: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions (3DS)

Adventure RPG
8.5

Great

The Mario & Luigi games have come a long way since their inception. We’ve seen the duo get stuck in a time warp, they’ve entered a world made of paper, they have made their way through a wacky dream world and dug their way through Bowser’s insides… ewww! It’s however the original, Superstar Saga, that started off this popular series in 2003 and what you have here is a remake of that game, along with some fantastic extras.

Peach must have some sort of ‘bad guy magnet’ attached to that pretty pink dress of hers because in this game she doesn’t only have Bowser to contend with.

This is just Fawful, Peach is in trouble again

Peach must have some sort of ‘bad guy magnet’ attached to that pretty pink dress of hers because in this game she doesn’t only have Bowser to contend with. Two really sinister-looking characters named Fawful and Cackletta (how does she not see this?), enter her castle in the Mushroom Kingdom with only one aim – to steal her voice. They succeed in doing just that and as chance would have it Bowser arrives soon thereafter to kidnap her. Everything goes completely pear-shaped and before you know it, Bowser, Mario and Luigi are on the same team in their efforts to save the Mushroom Kingdom by travelling to Beanbean Kingdom to get Peach’s voice back.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is, in essence, a turn-based adventure RPG that’ll last you just over 30 hours. There’s no surprise that Mario and Luigi are the stars in this game, but what makes it so unique is that you play both characters simultaneously. As you progress you’ll unlock new powers and methods that has the two working in tandem to solve various puzzles and other challenges that are thrown their way. Expect lots of adventuring and battles. The battle system works so incredibly well. By default, the duo has the ability to jump on the heads of their foes or use a hammer to smack enemies who can’t be jumped on. Knowing when to use either technique is crucial to you winning a battle and it’s likewise when it comes to understanding a counter-attack opportunity.

When enemies attack it can result in some bonus hit point damage to them if you time your jumps or hammer smash counters correctly. Mario is mapped to the A button, while Luigi responds to B. The battle system gets much deeper and more complicated from there onwards. You’ll unlock the ability to use Bros. Attack where the two work as a team to pull off a move that deals big damage, but to use this attack requires Bros. points (think of it as MP in most RPGs). Run out of BP and you have to use items to recuperate your total points. Each battle provides you with experience points to level up and once you do level up you’ll see the stats of your HP, BP, Power, Defence, Speed and Stache increase. Yes, that’s right, these plumbers have specific moustache points that increase your lucky hits. Battles will often also reward you with gadgets and badges that can be equipped to add unique features to each battle that plays in your favour.

A laugh a minute

Where Superstar Saga shines is in its writing. Anyone who has played a Paper Mario game will know that it comes with pin-point accurate comedic quality. There were times I quite literally laughed out loud at some of the dialogue in the game, and how it indirectly pokes fun at the imperfection of our daily lives. It’s absolutely brilliant and I really don’t want to spoil any of these moments for anyone reading it. Being a remake means it also comes with the expected graphical update (matching that of other Mario & Luigi games on the 3DS) and expect to see one or two new cameos that were absent in the original game on the Game Boy Advance. The biggest and obvious new addition is the Minion Quest content.

There were times I quite literally laughed out loud at some of the dialogue in the game, and how it indirectly pokes fun at the imperfection of our daily lives.

Early on in the adventure the brothers and Bowser split up and, in the original game, this left some unanswered questions open for discussion. Minion Quest: The Search for Bowser fills those gaps with a fantastic real-time battle game and a tongue-in-cheek story. Fawful has mind control over all the Koopalings and one brave Goomba decides that he’s going to beat each Koopaling to ultimately remove their brainwash and get them to join his army to save Lord Bowser. This courageous Goomba starts off as your captain in this army, though all his “companions” make fun of him behind his back (more hilarious dialogue).

A Blooper for your Trooper

Your squad is divided up into different three distinct troop types: Ranged, Melee and Flying. It’s very much a paper, rock, scissors scenario whereby ranged troopers are used to take down flying troopers, flying troopers do good damage to melee troopers and… I think you get the point? It gets quite strategic when elemental damage is thrown into the equation. In total, you have eight squad members in your team and requires you to be strategic in each attack. Once a battle gets going it’s one big squabble with your entire team automatically battling it out. As captain, you can perform battle actions that’ll have you pressing the A or B buttons to deal more damage, but to win any battle often comes down to your timing using captain command.

A captain command performs various tasks, depending on what you assigned to the D-Pad. You can either deny a special move from a foe, rally more troops when things aren’t going too well, play dead to have some of the enemy turning their attention elsewhere, take a chance and use a random item or several other commands. Use it strategically at the right time and you can swing any battle into your favour, but be aware that it’ll use CP. After each round some CP points are restored, so using it sparingly is a wise decision. Should your level be lower than your foes it’s not going to be quite as easy and as result, it leaves you doing some grinding to increase your chances of beating a Koopaling boss.

amiibo are supported in that you can scan in either a Goomba, Koopa or Boo as captains and they come with an improved level right from the start. You’re basically buying your way to easier fights. Nothing a bit of grinding can’t solve without the amiibo. The other bit that had me a little disappointed was that there is no 3D support. It’s obviously been developed for the new 2DS system. There were parts that I thought would have looked quite cool in 3D, especially considering to the top-down point of view where it could have provided some depth (like Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds), but that’s been dropped altogether.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions is a fantastic throwback to the RPG roots of the series. The humour combined with the additional content makes this one game in the saga that should not be missed.

Good

  • Traditional battle system that works 14 years later
  • The new Minion Quest is highly addictive
  • The humour is still incredible

Bad

  • No 3D support for the 3DS
  • Improved stats hidden behind amiibo

Summary

Veterans will enjoy the extra content in Minion Quest: The Search for Bowser. It's however the quality of the original experience that still steals the show in this particular saga.
8.5

Great

Married to a gamer and she kicks my ass at most shooters. If the game is enjoyable I'll play it, no matter the format.

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