It’s been nearly 15 years since Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga hit the Game Boy Advance, but this 3DS remake means fans can finally return to the Beanbean Kingdom. While there are a handful of minor updates to streamline the experience, the new Bowser’s Minions mode is the real attraction for Mario & Luigi veterans.
Mario and Luigi are back in this remake of their original tag team RPG. Remade by Superstar Saga’s original developers, it really captures the charm of the GBA classic. The Beanbean Kingdom’s lovable cast of characters all return and nearly every line of hilarious dialogue from the original is present. However, this certainly isn’t the first time AlphaDream’s series has hit the Nintendo 3DS and it’s obvious that this remake has been influenced by later games in the series.
The majority of the changes in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga are based around modernising and streamlining the more troublesome aspects of the original Game Boy Advance game. This includes a completely redesigned map system for the 3DS’ touch screen. It’s now far easier to avoid getting lost while exploring the Beanbean Kingdom as the new map is far more detailed and segmented. The ability to drop location pins at any point is just icing on the cake. Another change allowed for by the 3DS hardware is the dedicated jump button. While the GBA version forced you to cycle through the brother’s moves to deal with limited face buttons, the 3DS’ X button allows Mario and Luigi to jump in perfect unison in the overworld.
Battles have been similarly streamlined to make them more accessible for beginners. While Mario and Luigi both still have the ability to jump and avoid attacks, the new “Emergency Guard” feature allows the brothers to block much more easily. They will still take minimal damage, but the timing is far more lenient than a jump.
There are some major additions in this remake though and the Bowser’s Minions mode is certainly the largest. After encountering a rogue Goomba during the main storyline, “Minion Quest: The Search for Bowser” will become available to select from the menu. As fans of the original Superstar Saga will know, Bowser is missing for the majority of the adventure. However, this entirely new storyline fills in the gaps left while the player follows Mario and Luigi’s quest. Battles are handled entirely differently here. Instead of the usual turn-based RPG combat, Minion Quest has real-time battles between two hoards. Players choose a squad of classic Mario enemies to fight against a rival team of Beanbean Kingdom enemies. However, there is little the player can do to turn the tide of battle after they’ve been chosen. There are a handful of special moves that can be executed, but it usually boils down to watching the two teams duking it out. It’s a fun distraction from the main game, but it’s only engrossing for so long.
Graphically, Superstar Saga has been completely redesigned for the new hardware. Although it obviously uses the basic designs from the Game Boy Advance original, it’s now very reminiscent of the 3DS Mario & Luigi games. However, as those games don’t really push the boat out graphically, Superstar Saga’s new look isn’t a massive improvement over the original. The new sprites and backgrounds all look great, but it certainly isn’t pushing the limits of what the 3DS can dish out. All of the original GBA music has been completely redone for this version too. Considering that Superstar Saga’s soundtrack was already amazing, the 3DS version sounds incredible.
This is a great place to start for newcomers to the Mario & Luigi series and fans of the original Superstar Saga will appreciate all the subtle changes that improve the experience, but if you didn’t enjoy Bowser’s Inside Story or Dream Team, this 3DS remake isn’t going to be able to win you over. It’s still a great game after all these years; it’s fun to play, funny and packed with Nintendo charm. In the words of Fawful: “I HAVE CHORTLES!”