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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Video Game Connoisseur:

Mario

Mario

Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga/Publisher: Nintendo/ GBA/ $29.99/ ESRB: E(Everyone)

I have a confession to make. It’s a deep dark secret that I have hidden from the world and my fellow RPG enthusiasts. I have a hard-on for all Mario role-playing games. Keep your classy music and expensive wine, for a good time give me Mario with turn-based combat. I got the original Mario rpg, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, the day it came out and I replay it every year, and I have been hooked on Mario Role-playing games ever since. Mario role playing games have been great for several reasons. One of the main ones is that they have constantly taken the traditional RPG mold, established by titles such as Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy, and thrown it aside.

Superstar Saga intrigued me for two reasons, one it was a Mario RPG (if you don’t understand what’s so special about that please reread the first paragraph) and second it has Luigi. Now Luigi started out simply as a way to make the original Mario game two-player. They simply recolored the sprites used for Mario and came up with another Italian name, thus Luigi, Mario’s taller yet younger brother, was born. Luigi had his one chance to shine in Super Mario Bros. 2, when for the first time in his short life he looked different from his brother. Then in Mario Bros. 3 he once again became a recolor, which lasted through the SNES’ debut title Super Mario World.

Then he disappeared. For a time Luigi could only be found on the sides of milk cartons and vintage t-shirts. He was missing for the rest of the SNES’ life span and the N64 (although he did have roles in all Mario Karts and Mario tennis on the short lived Virtual Boy he never returned to major Mario cannon). When the Gamecube arrived (previously codenamed ‘Dolphin’ by Nintendo Entertainment) Luigi had his own game for the first time, and it had none of what people generally consider the elements of a Mario game. Anyway that’s a story for another time and I’ve already used up a large chunk of my allotted space so I’ll get on to the game.

Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga, like all other Mario RPGs, has a story that’s a departure from Mario norm. It starts with an evil witch named Cackletta stealing Princess Peach’s voice. Now whenever Peach opens her mouth explosives start going off. So Mario sets off for the neighboring Beanbean Kindom (think Mushroom Kindom only beans instead of mushrooms) in hot pursuit. Luigi, content with staying behind and watching the house, accidentally gets dragged along. Superstar Saga is essentially an action RPG, with the majority of the game spent chasing Cackletta to retrieve the Princess’ voice and the Beanstar, a magical object she stole from the Beanbean Kingdom that can grant any wish. The controls are very unusual and slightly awkward at first. You move both Brothers with the control pad but control their actions separately with the A and B buttons. Thus you have to make them jump separately which takes some time getting used to.

However, the setup allows for some interesting actions. One Brother always follows the other, and you have the ability to change who’s in front. The brother in back can do things such as jump on the one in front to reach new heights or hit the one in front with a hammer to shrink them down so they can fit through small spaces. Another nice touch is the ability to dodge opponents attacks in battle by jumping over them or hitting them with your hammer (I always wondered why characters just stand there in RPGs, if some one was attacking me I’d duck) with some practice it’s possible to avoid taking damage completely in battle. What really strikes me funny is the characters’ stats, you have the normal power, speed, defense but they’ve added a new one, ‘stache.

That’s right, the luster of Mario and Luigi’s mustaches are now a stat with an unusual purpose. The better their mustaches look the more likely they are to do things like double damage in battle and hit more than one enemy, plus shopkeepers will give huge discounts, so keep your ‘stache thick and beautiful. Speaking of beautiful the graphics are very nicely done, showing off what the GBA is capable of. Mario and Luigi have different sprites (goodbye recolor, hello people who take pride in quality) and different poses. Also Mario and Luigi are a lot more vocal, constantly spouting gibberish in an attempt to communicate. The music is also a mix of old and new featuring remixes of some classic Mario themes. I give the game a 9 out of 10; some points were lost for the awkward controls, which can make for some awkward battles.

John Kane III is the Photography Editor of The Mass Media, All opinions expressed in this column are his own; he can be reached at [email protected]. The best dreams I have are about Squaresoft getting together with Nintendo to make another Super Mario RPG.