Remakes and remasters are rarely seen from Nintendo and even rarer when it comes to their collection of past handheld exclusive titles. Due to this it was a huge surprise to me that Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga was getting the remake treatment for the 3DS. The original release was great on the Gameboy Advance, a Mario RPG, all be it a light one. Yes, it is a great game, but is a remake warranted, is Nintendo just looking for a new audience, and is it worth spending your hard-earned cash on?
Princess Peach has not been kidnapped this time round, but her voice has and it is up to the green and red plumber to come to the rescue. As I said in my introduction, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowsers Minions is a role-playing game, and plays like others such as Paper Mario, Dream Team and the like. The exploration aspect of the game is explored isometrically. You control both Mario and Luigi simultaneously, and work your way around the game world interacting with NPC’s, completing small fetch quests and engaging in small skirmishes. Mario is controlled with A, Luigi with B and both with X and movement with the analogue stick.
The battles are turn based affairs in which you need to react to block or dodge attacks, then use timed attacks to achieve multipliers. It all works marvellously well and increasing damage with additional timed hits is very satisfying. Each battle allows you to increase both Mario and Luigi’s stats, either for attack, defence or special moves. Due to being able to dodge nearly every attack with a well-timed jump, the defence stats feel useless.
The open world has so much to explore and contain many platforming puzzles to complete. The reward for completion is opening new areas and hidden items, but the greatest reward is completing the puzzles themselves. They are reasonably tricky and always fun, and the number of puzzles within the game is huge, there is just so much to do. Thankfully you can able to speed up the interactions with the text for npc’s, of which there is plenty. This is a new feature of the remake and one that is welcomed.
The Bowsers Minions portion of the game almost feels like a completely different experience. Not contained in the original Advance release, Bowsers minions feels more like a real-time strategy game. You control Bowsers Minions to fight for and save your master, Lord Bowser. This is done by moving from one encounter to the next, swapping out older weaker minions for newer, stronger ones between fights. Having your battalion of minions in a battle is great fun, again the fights are turn based but they seem quite grand and chaotic with a multiple of allies and enemies. Bowsers Minions plays entirely separately but parallel to Mario & Luigi and you can flip between the two modes as you please which is fantastic.
The graphics have been cleaned up for the remake and the addition of 3D is fantastic. I am happy to say that the overall look and design of the game remains faithful to the Advance release, which looked fantastic back then and still holds up well today. It still shows as a bright, colourful and fun looking game but now the pixels are smaller giving better detail to the characters and environments.
The game also moves along at a crisper rate than the original. It feels familiar but is much improved and everything looks and flows much smoother than the 14-year-old original, as you would expect. The move to D can feel a little strange at times as the level design was originally planned for 2D, but it still feels and looks great.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowsers Minions is an excellent game and offers a huge amount of value, especially for new comers to the game. It is a lengthy, satisfying adventure with fantastic controls, characters that everyone loves and a well written story. It is what you would expect from Nintendo, a big, fun, smooth Mario title that I gladly recommend for a purchase.