Pros: Creative RPG gameplay, excellent graphics, nicely remixed music
Cons: A bit too easy, control takes some time to learn
With the success of Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario another Mario styled
RPG was inevitable. The latest Mario RPG installment takes elements from
both games and expands upon them like any good series. Also like the
Mario RPG series this game features a twist on the typical RPG, some
humor and can be enjoyed by players of all ages.
Mario and Luigi
starts the game with the Princess losing her voice to a baddy from the
Bean Bean Kingdom. Every time she tries to speak explosives come out.
Toad rushes over to Mario's house to help Princess Peach. While at the
castle Bowser is just about to kidnap the Princess when he finds out the
Princess can no longer speak. Of course Mario and Bowser duke it out,
with Toad explaining how to fight. If there's one thing other creative
gameplay games can learn from Mario and Luigi is how it melds in
tutorials. When you're fighting Bowser Toad explains how to give extra
damage on your attacks by hitting "A" as you're about to jump on
Bowser's head and how to dodge attacks by jumping. If you haven't played
a Mario RPG game before, the game emphasizes timing. Nintendo added an
old school gameplay component that tests your reflexes to the RPG genre
in Super Mario RPG. The timing component really gives the game a more
than your typical RPG feel. Battles become much faster when you master
giving a few points of extra damage and when you dodge attacking
Aside from jumping around in battles you'll be doing a lot of jumping
on the overworld map, almost as much as a platform game. However, it
takes a little while to get used to the control scheme. Whoever is in
the front jumps by pressing the A button and whoever is in the back
jumps by pressing the B button. To even climb a set of stairs you'll
need to press forward A and then B so both of the brothers jump up one
step. It takes time to get used to the rhythm of button pressing and at
times you'll find yourself frustrated with it. For instance if Mario has
just jumped over a chasm and Luigi doesn't make it and falls in you'll
need to go all the way back down to get Luigi. You can't continue
forwards unless you have both Mario and Luigi. The control scheme gets a
little better when you gain special jumps like the high jump and spin
jump (which you can switch from your basic jump by pressing L) because
the special jumps automatically bring move both Mario and Luigi. Besides
jumping over pits you'll be jumping to hit the myriad number of question
mark blocks. These blocks contain valuable items like mushrooms and
syrup, which replenish HP and MP respectively or coins, which is the
currency of the game. Another use for jumping is to jump on the
overworld enemies. All enemies are seen on screen so you can choose if
you want to fight them or if you want to avoid them. If you see an enemy
you can jump on its head to cause some pre-emptive damage for all the
enemies in that battle.
Mario and Luigi features some great visuals on the GBA. Besides Mario
and Luigi you'll see many other Mario characters like Goombas, Koopas
and even the Hammer Brothers. There are also plenty of new enemies and
friends that you'll run into like the Cactus-like Hoohoo citizens. Both
Mario and Luigi aren't recycled from the same sprites like in some of
the Nintendo games. Instead they both have individual and different
animations. The designers even took the time to include facial
expressions and some body language which the characters use while
talking to other characters and in response to their environment. Even
the enemies have vivid animations. They have expressions when they
successfully attack and when they're hit. All of the little details make
the game feel like a cartoon, which appears to be the style the
designers were going for. The background visuals are a little bland, but
you won't be paying too much attention to them since you'll be focusing
on your timing.
The sound in the game is standard Mario fare. You'll recognize
remixed tunes from other Mario games and a couple of new tunes that fit
the Mario style. Some of the remixed tunes include Bowser's theme and
the Warp Pipe theme from Super Mario Brothers 3. It's a Mario game what
else can you expect? The sound effects are quite impressive. Voice clips
have been included in the game like the ones included in the Super Mario
Advance series. The difference is there are many more sound bytes. In a
GBA RPG you wouldn't expect Mario or Luigi to actually hear them say
anything, but they do. The sound bytes are neatly blended as when you
would expect voiceovers. Even though the majority of sound bytes are
incoherent blobs of speech, they're still cool.
If there's one downside to Mario RPG it is the level of difficulty.
Once you master all the timing tricks like giving extra damage, jumping
on the enemies heads before battle, dodging and how to get extra coins
the game becomes much easier than any other RPG. Old school gamers will
have no problem mastering this aspect of the game and will end up
breezing through it. That's not to say that it wont be fun through,
but the game doesn't have the same amount of length as your standard
Mario and Luigi is a winner. If you can get past the cutesy graphics
you'll find a game that can appeal to everyone. While the game's story
lacks depth it makes up for it with humor. There are a lot of Luigi
jokes in the game, one is where Bowser can't remember his name so he
calls Luigi Mr. Green. Mario and Luigi acts like a tribute to the Mario
series melded in the mask of an RPG.
The game is being released in the US on November 11th. If you're
importing the game and do not read English you may run into problems
quickly since there is a lot of text associated with the game.
As stated above its being released on November 11, 2003.
If you're a fan of the Mario series you'll enjoy this game for sure.
If you're a die hard RPG fan looking for an epic adventure, this isn't
it, instead it's a break from the standard RPG.