Time Warp Thursday Retro Review: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Time Warp Thursday Retro Review: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Superstar Bros.

Well folks, it’s finally happening. On April 3rd the first batch of Game Boy Advance games will be making their way to the Wii U Virtual Console. On day one, gamers will be able to choose between Advance Wars, Metroid Fusion,  and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga,  three absolutely stellar games that should be in everybody’s library. For this installment of Time Warp Thursday, I’ve decided to take a look at my personal favorite of these three gems and tell you why Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga  is sitting in my GBA right now.

Following in the footsteps of its predecessors Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars  (you can check out our review of that Mario RPG here) and Paper Mario,  Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga kicked off a whole new RPG sub-series for the bros. This time around, players took control of both brothers at the same time as they stomped and hammered their way through the Beanbean Kingdom. This was accomplished thanks to a novel control scheme were half the buttons were relegated to Mario and the other half to Luigi, a scheme that was still used in the DS and 3DS sequels (You want more reviews? Check out our review of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team  right here).

The Bros. doing what they do best.

The Bros. doing what they do best.

This gameplay mechanics made the game play unlike anything that came before. While it took some getting used to originally, after a few minutes things start to feel more natural and only improve from there. Apart from this control scheme, the game is mostly a “traditional” Mario RPG. You will travel through a colorful overworld, explore towns, and engage in turn-based battles complete with the timed hits that fans of Mario’s roleplaying games are familiar with.

Mario RPGs have always featured smart, witty, and hilarious writing, but this was taken to a whole new level with Superstar Saga.  The game features one of the funniest game texts around and will put a genuine smile on the face of even the most jaded gamer. It’s not just the text that will make players laugh – the over-the-top animations that the cast gets into will have most gamers in stitches. Luigi and Bowser are notables in this regard, as almost everything they do is hilarious.

Visually, the game has held up quite well. The graphics are sharp, detailed, bright, and colourful, and the characters and enemies are all distinct. If I have one gripe, however, with the presentation, it would be the over-repeated voices and gibberish which starts to get old after a while – though to be fair, a GBA game even having voice acting is surprising.

Something feels off...

Something feels off…

Overall, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga  will last you roughly 20 hours, which is very impressive for a GBA game (and one that will only cost $7.99 in a week). During those 20 hours, you will be treated to what is arguably the best Mario story period, and a game that is a joy to play.

At the outset of this review, I stated I would give you reasons why I was still, to this day, playing Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga,  and I think those reasons have been made clear. The game is stellar and still stands today as one of the best on the GBA, and will make an excellent addition to the Wii U’s growing Virtual Console library. Do yourself a favor and give this game a go when it releases on April 3rd – you will not be disappointed.

This retro review is based on  Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, which was originally released for the Game Boy Advance on November 17th, 2003.

The Verdict

Gameplay: 8.5

Reinvention of a classic. Can take some getting used to.

Presentation: 8.5

Hilarious dialogue and actions, but soundtrack can be a tad grating.

Value: 9.0

Still a blast to play today.

Overall Score

*Overall score is not an average.