Mario & Luigi Series: Role-Playing Greatness
Make sure you experience this outstanding Nintendo trilogy.
Although Mario normally stars in platform adventures, Nintendo's mascot is no stranger to different genres, especially role-playing games. Fans certainly have fond memories playing such hits as Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars on Super Nintendo, as well as Paper Mario on N64.
Then, in 2003, Nintendo and AlphaDream brought Mario and his brother, Luigi, together for one of the coolest RPGs the world had ever seen, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga for the Game Boy Advance, a critically acclaimed and beloved title that retained basic elements of the genre while incorporating several unique concepts.
The rest, as they say, is history. Superstar Saga was so popular that it spawned two sequels, making Mario & Luigi a must have portable series.
On that note, we're proud to present all three games, as well as the special elements that make each one stand out.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (Game Boy Advance- 2003)
Square Enix deserves credit for reviving the stale RPG genre with Final Fantasy VII on PSOne. That success, unfortunately, resulted in a ton of copycats. As a result, the genre quickly became boring.
That's what made Superstar Saga such a huge breath of fresh air. Here was a light-hearted game starring the Mario brothers, built around a battle system accessible to all ages. Instead of micromanaging an entire party and obsessing over a huge list of moves and special items, players relied on timed button presses to launch and avoid attacks while teaming both characters together for devastating Brothers Moves.
At the same time, the game was not easy by any means. Tougher enemies still packed a punch, while leveling up was key to success.
We also love the plot, which features plenty of humor from a majority of characters, either through dialogue or non-verbal communication. This also marked one of the first games to feature Bowser teaming up with Mario, this time to retrieve Princess Peach's voice from the diabolical witch Cackletta and her assistant, Fawful. Apparently, Hell does freeze over.
Colorful, charming and fun, Superstar Saga made an excellent first impression.
Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (DS- 2005)
Superstar Saga was a tough act to follow, and Nintendo managed to deliver with Partners in Time. Once again, Princess Peach is in trouble, this time getting kidnapped by a group of aliens known as the Shroobs.
To save the damsel in distress, the player fights enemies/solves puzzles as Mario and Luigi as well as their pint-sized counterparts, Baby Mario and Baby Luigi. In some instances, the user will control all four characters at once. In others, he or she must split the group into pairs (babies and adults) to solve puzzles using certain abilities; the babies can go places the adults cannot fit, for example.
Meanwhile, the game retains the series' time-based battles and bizarre humor, making it a must play for DS owners.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story (DS- 2009)
The third Mario & Luigi is by far the strangest, but that doesn't mean it fell short of expectations. On the contrary, it exceeded them, with a plot and concepts that turned the entire series upside down.
Here, the brothers wind up inside Bowser, and must explore the inner workings of their arch nemesis while squaring off against different enemies. Then, players will also control the big lug as he rampages through the Mushroom Kingdom. In some cases, Bowser will even swallow monsters that Mario and Luigi will battle inside their adversary. It reminds us of the 1987 Dennis Quaid/Martin Short film, Innerspace, but less cheesy (and gross, for that matter).
The combat remained largely the same, but the developers added a ranking system that allows players to buy/equip additional items depending on the level achieved. They can also enjoy a bunch of mini-games that take place in different areas of Bowser's body.
The result? An outstanding effort that you'd be foolish to pass up.
At this point, it remains to be seen whether Nintendo will continue the Mario & Luigi series. However, there is a new Paper Mario slated to hit 3DS. On that note, we hope Bowser's Inside Story doesn't mark the last time we'll see the famous duo team up on a handheld system.