‘Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga’ is better than ever


Cover art for the game showing the villains on the left and minions on the right. image from Nintendo.com

“Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga” originally came out in 2003, but it’s recently been remade for the 3DS. This new version updates the visuals and adds in a new campaign where you play as minions that work the series’ villain, Bowser. It’s great for anyone who never played the original and for people who played it 15 years ago.

The most surprising thing about this game is how good the writing is. When I first played this game as a kid, I was mainly interested in the gameplay. Now I also see that the game has a good sense of humor too. Luigi is always treated like a second-rate sidekick, Bowser’s minions are fanatically devoted to serving a leader that hates them and no one can understand Mario and Luigi’s language. These running gags manage to stay funny throughout the whole game.

The character and environment design also go a long way in giving “Superstar Saga” a unique personality. The magical Beanbean Kingdom is introduced in this game and it serves as a great setting for Mario and Luigi to feel lost in. The entire kingdom has a fascination with humor and it shows in their architecture and even outdoor environments. Trees often have huge grins, locations have names like Woohoo University and Teehee Valley. The artists and writers clearly wanted a cohesive theme of laughter and they pulled it off very well.

Combat in “Superstar Saga” is turn-based with an emphasis on timing. If the player times their button presses right then they get rewarded with bonus damage on their attacks. Good timing also allows the player to dodge and counter enemy attacks. Turn-based RPG’s like this can get boring when combat is boiled down to pressing the same buttons over and over, so having specific timing matter makes it more engaging. You can’t just spam the most powerful attacks until you win a fight, you have to time them properly too in order to get the most out of them.

A Mario and Luigi game wouldn’t be the same without good boss battles and “Superstar Saga” delivers on this as well. Each boss has a unique design and requires different strategies to beat. A lot of RPG’s have the problem of using bosses that are just oversized versions of regular enemies with their health and stats cranked up. What’s great about the bosses in this game is that they can’t be beaten like every other enemy. They all require you to drain their life to zero, but they also have unique attacks and patterns that you have to pay attention to.

It’s always great when I’m able to play a game I played ages ago and still be able to have fun with it. It’s also rare when I’m able to enjoy and appreciate it even more as an adult. The best thing about this game is that it can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone. It’s solid from top to bottom with only minuscule flaws and it earns five stars.

Final Score: 5/5

Ulises Duenas can be reached at [email protected] or @OrionUlisesD on Twitter.