The Mario & Luigi series has found itself a nice home on the Nintendo 3DS – having played host to two new installments. The humble RPG began on the GBA back in 2003; and now Nintendo is ready to give fans a chance to revisit the series’ origins with the release of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions. If you failed to play Superstar Saga on the GBA more than a decade ago, this 3DS release presents the perfect opportunity to familiarize yourself with one of the best Mario & Luigi titles. With a new mode and some gameplay adjustments, fans of the original GBA version may find themselves tempted to return to the Beanbean Kingdom and they would be right to do so.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions illustrates the finest humor and gameplay that the Mario & Luigi series has to offer. If you enjoyed Mario & Luigi Dream Team and Paper Jam, then you owe it to yourself to play Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions.
Given that the original Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga released for the GameBoy Advance more than a decade ago, one must be curious as to whether or not the game has stood the test of time. As is the case with most classic Nintendo games, the game holds up remarkably well and is every bit as charming and delightful as it was back in 2003. It offers the player a witty and entertaining narrative that will keep you engaged for the duration of the adventure – which will take most between 10 to 12 hours.
To provide an incentive to those with previous exposure to the GBA original, Nintendo has given Superstar Saga some superstar treatment by making some alterations, though not all the changes are for the better.
If one is to compare the visuals of the 2003 version to this newly released version, one will notice the change in visual presentation. The GBA version was beautifully animated and felt full of life due to the lively 2D sprites. The 3DS visuals, while appealing to the eye, feel a bit lifeless in comparison. This discrepancy will only be noticeable to those familiar with the GBA version. On its own, the 3DS version of Superstar Saga looks pleasant, the characters carry with them a sense of charisma, while the world settings are vibrant and alluring.
Additionally, Superstar Saga for 3DS brings with it some quality of life modifications that allow for a simpler and more efficient approach to playing the game. While the GBA was limited to just two face-buttons, the 3DS has four face-buttons, a touch-screen, and four shoulder inputs. These supplementary buttons are applied to Superstar Saga in a number of convenient ways.
The touch-screen of the 3DS has proven helpful in many games, and that role continues to be one of importance when it comes to Mario & Luigi. The bottom screen plays host to a map – thus ensuring you don’t get lost, which allows you to mark points of interest. Furthermore, the bottom screen has conveniently placed buttons to quickly access the game’s menu and save wherever and whenever you see fit.
Other notable improvements include the option to swap between abilities with a touch of a button. By touching the L/R shoulder buttons, you can quickly swap between all available abilities. You can also do this via the touch-screen, but using the L/R buttons is quicker. Moreover, the X-button is dedicated to the standard jump – consequently removing the need to swap abilities back to a normal jump.
In comparison to the GBA version, you will find combat easier to understand and to put to use. Taking a cue from the more recent Mario & Luigi games, the changes made to Superstar Saga on 3DS make the game more accessible to players of all skill levels.
For those looking to replay or experience Superstar Saga for the first time, this 3DS release is a perfect place to begin your Mario & Luigi journey.
Releasing Superstar Saga on the Nintendo 3DS would have been more than sufficient; however, Nintendo added a new mode and storyline – Bowser’s Minions. In this mode, you play as characters from Bowser’s army, as you search for your missing master – Bowser.
Access to Bower’s Minions becomes available fairly early on in Superstar Saga’s main game. Once it becomes available, you will be treated to a unique game experience. The objective of the game is to find Bowser and to free him from his captor – Fawful. Along with fellow loyal minions, you will battle enemies and make way to freeing Bowser.
The battle system of Bowser’s Minions is conducted like that of a strategy game, as it features three types of characters – melee, ranged, and flying. Each has its own weakness and strength; melee is strong against ranged, ranged against flying, and flying against melee. Part of this modes appeal is piecing together a well-balanced squad for battle. Once the battle commences, you will be able to issue commands to your troops; be it calling for backup or using special abilities that negate enemy attacks. Winning battles will award you with a chance to recruit new minions to your cause.
While Superstar Saga is the cake of this dessert, Bowser’s Minions provides an extra layer of delicious frosting that makes the overall treat all the more satisfying.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bower’s Minions is a delightful release for the Nintendo 3DS. If you never played this game before, then you are in for quite the enjoyable ride. The characters, story, and humor will keep you entertained for the entirety of the journey.
This is Mario & Luigi at its best.
(Editor’s Note: Nintendo provided a copy of the game for purpose of this review.)