Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions Still Has Us Jumping For Joy
If you ever owned a Game Boy Advance, here’s hoping you played the first—and arguably best—spiritual successor to Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga arrived a whopping 14 years ago, and it’s as much of a crowd-pleaser now as it was in 2003—only with tighter controls and slicker visuals.
As with the original Game Boy Advance title, the story sees Mario and Luigi in search of Princess Peach’s voice, which was snatched up by a new baddie named Cacklette, who wants to rule the Mushroom Kingdom’s neighbouring Beanbean Kingdom. Like all Mario & Luigi games, Superstar Saga is heavy on turn-based RPG, but with a twist that requires you to manage more than one character simultaneously. While the later games got increasingly complex in terms of hero juggling, Superstar Saga remains the strongest and most straightforward entry.
Also like other Mario & Luigi titles, Superstar Saga is loaded with nods to Mario’s past. Enemies, locations, and dialogue cleverly recall older games, yet that doesn’t stop this from being an entirely new chapter in the franchise’s longstanding history.
If you’re already familiar with Superstar Saga—because it’s a great game and you should be—there’s an whole new game packaged here. Minion Quest: The Search for Bowser is a fresh, if not leaner, adventure that so happens to intertwine with the Superstar Saga’s story. With Bowser’s army scattered across Beanbean Kingdom, it’s up to Captain Goomba to retrieve them and rescue the big bad himself, who has been kidnapped.
Along with Captain Goomba, as the story unfolds you’ll also unlock Captain Koopa Troopa, Captain Shy Guy, and Captain Boo. As for this game’s main villain, once again you’ll be squaring off against Fawful, who you might remember as Cackletta’s number one henchman in Superstar Saga.
Apart from its shifted minion perspective, one thing that distinguishes Minion Quest from Superstar Saga is its squad-based battle sequences. Each character on your team (of which there are over 50 to recruit and control) has a unique, colour-based type of attack (red for melee, orange for ranged, and blue for flight) that creates a rock/paper/scissors scenario in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Before a fight begins, you’ll want to study your enemy’s attack types and overall squad level so that you can assemble the best squad to take them down. If you played Miitopia on the 3DS, you should be somewhat more accustomed to the gameplay here.
During battles, both sides will perform automatic attacks, leaving you to focus on specific action commands like timed special attacks and dodges. More important are captain commands, which can inhibit enemies from using special skills and increase your team’s overall defence, offence, and ability to perform special skills at optimal speed. As your characters level up, they’ll be granted new squad skills to help your entire team, as well as gain newfound strengths and even weaknesses. Also remember to collect as many beans as possible on your travels, which can be exchanged for increased experience and powers between bouts.
Even if you enjoyed Superstar Saga 14 years ago, it’s still well worth revisiting in this incarnation, especially considered there’s a whole other game packaged here. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions is out Friday, October 6 exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS. Check out the trailer below.