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Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga Review - GBA

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Raise your hand if you are sick of all the Super Mario Advance games. Nintendo keeps dishing them out at a good $80+ each, and we've played them all before. It's refreshing to see them release a brand-spanking new Mario game for GBA - and they've even thrown in his taller brother as well.

Gameplay

The story goes as such: Princess Peach is greeting a diplomat from the neighbouring Beanbean Kingdom, when the diplomat reveals herself as the evil Cackletta. She then proceeds to steals Princess Peach's voice. Cackletta and her minion, Fawful, plan to use Princess Peach's voice to activate the Beanstar, for it is said that only those with the purest voice will awaken it, and then in return it shall grant a wish. Of course, Cackletta's wish is to rule the world. Mario and his green brother (literally in tow) arrive to find that Peach's voice has been replaced by explosives, and Bowser is upset because he can't steal her - she'll wreck his palace! This sets off a huge adventure into the mysterious (and previously unheard of) Beanbean Kingdom.

This Mario adventure is an RPG, and Nintendo has done a really good job with it. It is the spiritual successor to Paper Mario (which Nintendo recently announced a sequel to for Gamecube) and Super Mario RPG. You'll travel through a huge kingdom full of monsters and towns. I say 'monsters', but they are just as Nintendo-ised as you'd expect. You can buy potions to heal health, syrups for Bros. Points (explained further on) and all the other items you'd expect. You'll have to equip clothes and badges to up your stats, and when you level up through battling, pick a stat to increase.

You might be thinking this is all the same, but when Mario and ... the green one get into a battle, it starts to get interesting. Nintendo has created a very cool battle system. The enemies walk around (no random battles - YES!) so you can dodge them if you want. By jumping on them, or hitting them with a hammer, you'll enter the battle and hurt them, so that's the best way to go about it. Once in the battle screen, you can choose from a rotating panel above your head. There are the obvious Run and Item boxes (escape but lose coins and use an item respectively), as well as Attack and Bros. Attack. In Attack you can then pick a move and your enemy, then hit them. If you press A just at the right time you'll bump up the damage, too. After Mario's had his turn (he always goes first), the green one has his shot.

Nintendo's flair on RPG battles is to make it very interactive. When you attack, if you press A at the right time, you'll do extra damage. When an enemy attacks you, you can jump to dodge it, or even do damage back. For example, if an enemy runs towards you, if you press A or ... (continued next page)