Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions is the first RPG adventure of the Mario & Luigi series remade and enhanced for the Nintendo 3DS. The game sees Mario and Luigi travel to the distant BeanBean Kingdom to recover Princess Peach's stolen voice and foil the plans of the evil witch Cackletta. Players will travel the land and fight monsters and bosses and they progress through many different areas and learn new skills that will greatly benefit their efforts. In addition, players will now get to experience what it's like to be a lowly minion attempting to find their leader in the new mode called Bowser's Minions.
If you are an old veteran ready to return or a new player experiencing this quest for the first time, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions is available for the Nintendo 3DS now!
Mario and Luigi's adventure starts when the evil witch Cackletta steals Princess Peach's voice and flees to her homeland, the BeanBean Kingdom. Mario and Luigi, accompanied by Bowser for a short while, journey to the many areas of BeanBean Kingdom in order to defeat Cackletta and save both the Mushroom and BeanBean Kingdoms from her evil. The brothers quickly find that this is a task easier said than done, as the evil witch and her minion Fawful always seem one step ahead. This turns the quest for the Princess' voice into a much bigger one, and the brothers end up needing to learn new moves and people in order to stay on Cackletta's toes. Though rather simple as far as RPGs go, the game hides depth and strategy within, and players will get a great experience out of the characters and the story.
While Mario and Luigi are on their quest, the game introduces another story element to us in the form of the mode Bowser's Minions, which becomes available in the games status menu. Here, the game's story switches to following a goomba determined to get Bowser back from Fawful, and amassing troops of other minions as he goes. It's not much in the way of an epic plot, but it will provide a fun time that will make players smile while going through it and seeing the game from another angle. Both stories are a great time, even if simple, and players will appreciate how it unfolds.
Gameplay in the Mario & Luigi series takes place in two forms – Overworld and Battle. Overword mechanics see Mario and Luigi traversing the land using the A button for Mario and the B button for Luigi. The L and R buttons here switch between various moves the brothers learn to help them progress, such as hammers, the spin jump, and more. Battle mechanics take us into a turn based battle mode similar to the Final Fantasy games. The Mario Bros. have a range of options during battle, being able to hammer foes, jump on them, using items with various effects, and use Bros. Attacks, which are powerful moves that the two learn the more they use them in battle, and they see Mario and Luigi attack together. Additionally, using the A and B buttons with correct timing during enemy attack turns can lead to counterattacks and dodges. Battles earn the pair experience points, which will lead to leveling up and becoming more powerful. The duo find various items in blocks, shops, or get them from battles, and gear also plays an important role.
Gear is usually either given to the pair after battles or bought from stores. These items are things like overalls, gloves, or hammers that raise or lower the various stats the brothers have, and equipping the right gear can mean the difference between victory and defeat in battle. Speaking of stats, however, those are even more vital to players. Stats encompass the numbers players can find on the level up screen and there are quite a few of them. Mario and Luigi each have the stat categories of HP, BP, POW, DEF, SPEED, and STACHE. HP is that brother's health, and when it goes down to 0, they are defeated. BP measures how many Bros. Points the two have, which tells you how many times you can use their powerful Bros. Moves, which all cost a certain amount of it. This is a stat you want to keep an eye on. POW is a measure of how powerful each character is, and though the number shown isn't the damage Mario or Luigi will deal, it does indicate whether they'll deal more damage or less.
DEF is how much defense they have, and it works the same way POW does in that it generally just means you'll have better defense the higher the number next to it is. SPEED is a rather important stat when it comes to battles. Though the duo have a set speed on the overworld, in battle, speed determines turn order. This means that the higher you make your speed, the more you get to attack before enemies do during a fight. Lastly, the STACHE stat is an extra stat that the player has to go and level up by hand, since it won't level up with the others. This helpful number shows you how likely you are to land lucky critical hits on enemies. This should be a priority for players to level up when able to because dealing more damage, even if periodically at random, is always a help.
The Bowser's Minions mode is played as a rock, paper, scissors type game between your army and an enemy army. The units consist of ranged units like Hammer Bros., winged units like Paragoombas, and melee units like standard old goombas. Ranged units are good against Winged, Melee are good against Ranged, and Winged do well against Melee units. Knowing this power triangle is essential for playing well in this mode, so players would do well to memorize and strategize their army formations around that. Additionally, players can press the A button at certain times to allow army units or the leader to perform a more hard hitting attack when a unit gains an aura around them. The leader also gains the ability to issue Captain Commands via the system's touch screen, and can do various things like cancelling an enemies abilities to perform their more hard hitting attacks.
Graphics and Audio
Graphically, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions resembles the 3D visual style seen in the last two titles in the series, Dream Team and Paper Jam, but brings a retro feel to it by making it look like enhanced Game Boy Advance visuals in a way. It looks like GBA met the graphics of the 3DS and came out looking both new and retro at the same time. It's a great style and there is charm added from that. Characters look great, and the landscapes are familiar but overhauled. The influence of the style found in Dream Team is very evident here, but the game's roots on the Game Boy Advance still shine through and it ends up looking great. The expressions of characters in the game got a massive upgrade as well.
The sound effects also have that retro but overhauled feel. They're recognizable but more in line with recent entries in the series. Attack sounds and enemy sounds have gotten a boost and are much crisper now, making the player feel like they did damage when connecting. The music is also overhauled but changes thing up much more. The tracks of old are there, but composer Yoko Shimomura has given the tracks a new feel. The music has upgraded from midi soundchip to what sounds like orchestrated pieces, and the game really is better for it. this change in the audio brings new life to places in the game like Stardust Fields and Oho Oasis, though some choices for this part feel like the developers just wanted to reuse assets, like using a remix from Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon instead of making a new version. Overall, the overhauled audio is a boon to the game, and players certainly won't feel let down by it. It furthers the idea of taking the old and renewing it for a new generation.
Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions ends up being an extremely well done remaster that shows off both why the original was so much fun and why a remade version works. Everything to love about the original has been greatly updated and it's more accessible with the newer series easy mode available for those who want it. The reusing of some assets feels a bit lazy and uninspired, but the rest of the game makes up for that. The turn based gameplay, the strategy, and the redone graphics and audio clearly show that this remade classic hasn't lost it's charms despite how longs its been.
The super moves and controls work great and everything responds like it should. This is a remake that does it right, and both the old and new blend together really well. The touch screen features feel a bit tacked on, though, and it never really felt necessary to use what they offered. The difficulty also felt scaled back a bit in places. Despite the small flaws present, Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions definitely deserves credit for everything it manages to do, and the small flaws don't really hold it back to much. If you're in for a grand RPG adventure with Nintendo's famous pair, this game will not disappoint!
|+ Improved Graphics make it much easier to make out what things and solve puzzles.||– Reused music and sounds from other games feels like there was a lack of effort in certain places|
|+ Bowser's Minions feels like a worthwhile addition to the game with it's rock, paper, scissors play.||– New touch screen additions feel tacked on and unneeded.|
|+ Battle system feels great to master.||– Timing dodges and counterattacks can be a hassle sometimes.|