When Nintendo first announced Super Mario RPG it was hard to imagine one of the best-known platformers becoming a tradition turn-based role-playing game. Even though he had done just about everything from kart racing to tennis, it seemed like a stretch for Mario in full-fledged adventure game. Yet, somehow Square was able to turn something so simple into an epic masterpiece that people still talk about.
When Paper Mario was announced for the Nintendo 64, many wondered if Nintendo would be able to deliver, what with the absence of Square. We worried that lightning couldn’t possibly strike twice; this plumber could not have another big adventure in him. But like Super Mario RPG, we had no need to worry; Paper Mario was a triumph in every possible way.
While Nintendo has given me no reason to doubt them when it comes to making a competent Mario RPG, I still feel somewhat skeptical every time a new one is announced. Thankfully I am here today to tell you that while Mario’s newest RPG, Mario & Luigi: the Superstar Saga, doesn’t quite top Paper Mario, it is one of the best games you could own on the GameBoy Advance.
As with most Mario games, the princess is in a whole mess of trouble. This time her words have been replaced with exploding phrases, making her too difficult for Bowser to kidnap. Knowing this is a bad situation for everybody involved, Bowser teams up with Mario & Luigi and sets out to determine what is wrong with the Princess’ voice.
You take control of both Mario and Luigi at the same time. While walking around, one will always be walking behind you as if they were on a short leash. One button is used for Mario; the other is used for Luigi, no matter if they need to jump, hammer, or any other kind of action available to them in the game.
This sense of teamwork rears its head in combat, as well. For the most part the combat is like a lot of traditional role-playing games; each character takes turn attacking the enemies, and then the enemies have their turn, repeated until one or the other is dead. What sets Mario & Luigi apart, though, is how it allows you to interact with what’s going on when you’re playing both defense and offense. When you are performing your attack, be it jumping on a character, using fire, or whatever your method, you will be able to take more damage if you push the buttons at the right time.
This works defensively, as well. Every character in Mario & Luigi has a pattern for their attack, learning that pattern will allow you to jump over the character or even counter attack. Memorizing what enemy does what is vital to you staying healthy as you adventure out to help the Princess.
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