Mario and Luigi was one of my favorite GBA games at the time. I had never played Super Mario RPG or Paper Mario so this was my first RPG look at Mario and friends. It was fascinating to me. The real-time combat system was so great and felt so uniquely Mario, although to this day I can’t figure out quite why that is. It wasn’t until I played Shadow Hearts years later that it actually occurred to me that non-Mario games could use active combat systems also.

It was the first Mario RPG I played and is still the most recent. While I went back and played Super Mario RPG as well as Paper Mario and TTYD, I dropped off both Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi after this first one. Somehow, the magic faded for me and while I don’t have anything against either franchise, I also don’t really have much desire to play them. Maybe someday that will change but for now, I have my memories of playing Mario & Luigi in the summer sun.

3/10 – Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Hello and welcome. My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

Today’s game is the first in the Mario & Luigi series, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, released on the Game Boy Advance in 2003.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga was created by AlphaDream, a company made up of many former Square developers, including one of the executive producers of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.

Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga sees the player take control of both Mario and Luigi simultaneously. While the player only needs to move Mario, with Luigi following close behind, each button on the GBA controls one of the brothers so players must make use of both. Often, items allow the brothers to interact with each other in various ways to solve puzzles. For example, having Luigi hit Mario with a hammer will shrink Mario and allow him to enter smaller spaces.

Battles are turn-based but use some real-time elements. Players can select an attack and then must try and time their button presses in time with the attack to add extra damage. Players must also be strategic about their attacks as using certain attacks on certain enemies will be ineffective, or can even hurt the players. For example, having Mario jump on an enemy with spikes will only damage Mario.

The story sees Princess Peach get her voice stolen from her by a pair of villains named Cackletta and Fawful. Mario & Luigi team up and travel to the Beanbean Kingdom to get her voice back and defeat the evil pair. The story is light-hearted and filled with references to previous Mario titles.

Reviews for Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga were positive and while some criticised the similarities to Paper Mario and Super Mario RPG, many loved the writing and the active JRPG-inspired combat system. AlphaDream has gone on to develop every game in the series since, including the crossover title, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam.

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