A couple of things I have to get off my chest before we get started;
Firstly, for all my fans out there (Both of you), I'm sorry there was nothing new last week, and although the reason for this can mostly be attributed to C3 going gaga, it was a little of my own laziness mixed in there too.
Secondly, in my last review, which was for Pokemon Trading Card Game, I promised the biggest, bestest, most jam-packed review I had ever done. As you can probably guess, this isn't it. Superstar Saga is a brilliant little title, and I wouldn't want to take anything away from this review before I even get started, but there is one special title I am saving for my biggest effort. To do it though, I need jb to give the Reader Review section more flexibility, and given C3's recent state of Bonkers-ness, it isn't the best time to ask. So it'll be a while before this almighty review pops up, but it will eventually, that much I assure you.
In the meantime though, check this one out;
In the legendary days of the all-conquering Super Nintendo, Nintendo placed Mario in quite a few unique games, from Kart Racing to Painting. But none quite as unique as what Squaresoft (Square-Enix before the merger) tried; Mario in an RPG. And to gamers' disbelief, it worked superbly. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars was released to critical acclaim in 1996, and PAL gamers still wait for a version of the game to this very day.
Due to Square and Nintendo arguing over the cartridge format choice for the N64, and then-Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi publicly insulting Squaresoft (fecking idiot you are Yamauchi), the two companies parted ways, and Square kick-started the Era of Playstation domination with their planned-for-N64 masterpiece, FF7. Anyway, Nintendo decided that Mario in an RPG was still a great concept, and teamed up with Intelligent Systems for Paper Mario. Square's absence didn't hurt the game one bit, as it was another great title.
Therefore, it wasn't too difficult to see why Nintendo created another Role-Playing-Game for their Mascot not long after, for the Game Boy Advance, although this one was created by Alphadream, which had quite a morale boost in that it feature ex-Square Staff members. The end result? Brilliance.
Firstly then, perhaps what is the most important feature of any RPG; the gameplay.
As the title would suggest, your party consists of Mario and Luigi only, and takes place in a turned based condition. On both your turn and the opponents, you can jump, to attack and avoid respectively, and use a Hammer too. Alongside traditional Hit Point meters, there is the Bros. Points system, that determines when you can use special tag-team moves with both Mario and Luigi. And of course, there is the items option.
You might be thinking, 'But all this sounds incredibly limited, how can I possibly enjoy playing it?'. Well, one thing I've always touted about Downmarket games like Wii Sports, is that it is not dumbed-down simplicity that is the draw, but accessibility. Superstar Saga, looking back on it now, was like an early glimpse at Nintendo's new market; A breeze to pick up and play, and plenty there for a gamer to master. And trust me, there is, despite how limited it sounds.
The game's story goes as follows; Evil Witch Cackletta steals Princess Peach's voice and tries to use it to awaken a great power for her own evil ends. Guess which two Plumbers have to deal with her? And of whom have to team up with Bowser too (a nice throwback to the SNES title).
Only the first ten minutes or so consist of the Mushroom Kingdom, the rest is based in the Beanbean Kingdom, where you can freely explore such places as Woohoo Hooniversity, or Teehee Valley. Each of these locations houses lots of puzzles for the brothers to conquer, whether they consist of simple jumping, or hitting each other with Hammers.
And that is one thing I wanted to get onto about this game; the Humour. Quite frankly, Superstar Saga has it in spades. Whether it's Cackletta's assistant Fawful spouting nonsense about mustard, or everybody forgetting who Luigi is, or Toad catching Mario in the Shower, this game will make you laugh.
Graphics-wise, it all looks crisp and clean. None of the spectacular explosions or effects like, say, Golden Sun, but Battles are animated well enough, and you always know what to do and where to go.
Superstar Saga doesn't disappoint with the music either. The main battle theme is very catchy, and there are many variations on classic Mario Tunes in the game.
Superstar Saga's main mode is single player only, but vast in the number of hours you'll need yo put into it, and there is the original Mario Bros game for Multi-player endeavors. This game should last you a while.
Overall then, I'd definitely recommend Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga to any DS owner, and price-wise it isn't very much nowadays.
(The trailer below is for the opening of the game, so Spoiler Alert! The sound seems a bit off, by not by much.)