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Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, known in Japan as Mario & Luigi RPG (マリオ&ルイージRPG?), is a role-playing video game developed by AlphaDream and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance in 2003. Superstar Saga is the first game in the Mario and Luigi RPG series and was followed by two sequels, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, which was released for the Nintendo DS in 2005 and Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, which was released in 2009, also for the DS.

The game begins in Mushroom Kingdom, but progresses to Beanbean Kingdom for the majority of the game as Mario and Luigi combat Cackletta, the game’s primary antagonist. The quest begins when Cackletta, with the aid of her assistant Fawful, steals Princess Peach’s voice after adopting the guise of an ambassador from Beanbean Kingdom.[1]

A role-playing game, it centers on a battle system different from that of traditional games of the genre, with emphasis on timing and more elaborate attacks.[2] The game is whimsical in tone, with various in-game jokes and comical references to the heritage of the Mario series. Superstar Saga was generally well received by critics, and IGN named it the twelfth best Game Boy Advance game of all time in their feature reflecting on the Game Boy Advance’s lifespan.[3]


Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga features a battle system similar to those of Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario, in which timed button presses are crucial to both increasing damage of party attacks and reducing the damage of enemy attacks.[4] This system, however, is even more important in Superstar Saga, as well-timed button presses can not only increase damage inflicted by attacks, but also completely avoid or even counter enemy attacks as well. Unique to Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is the Bros. Moves, which becomes available after new abilities are gained.[2] Brothers Moves allow Mario and Luigi to attack as a combined effort with the use of Bros. Points (BP).[5] How many points used determines the maximum amount of damage that can be dealt and the degree of difficulty required to execute the selected ability. The brother-based abilities do not affect the battle system exclusively; they can also be used outside of combat to solve puzzles to progress further into the Beanbean Kingdom.[6]

In terms of gameplay, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga differs itself from most other role-playing games mainly due to the amount of interaction that is required between Mario and Luigi. Unlike Paper Mario, Superstar Saga requires active and continual co-operation between the two main characters in order to solve environmental puzzles as well as during battle.[7] Where this game differs is to how much correlation there is between the two. For example, gaining an ability in the overworld will also unlock a new skill in battle.[6] Despite the battle system, the game follows many role-playing game traditions in that the players increase power by “leveling up”, in which multiple statistical values, for example speed and defense, are increased by each level gain. Superstar Saga’s gameplay also incorporates collectible items that can be sold or bought at shops, such as badges and clothing that effectively boosts the player’s statistics when worn.[5] The game focuses heavily on puzzle-solving and interaction between non-playable characters to progress the storyline. Like other Mario games released for the Game Boy Advance, Superstar Saga features the classic Mario Bros. arcade game which is compatible with all games in the Super Mario Advance series.[8] The game also incorporates the rumble feature when played using the Game Boy Player.[7]

Plot and setting

Unlike most games in the Mario series, this game is not set in the Mushroom Kingdom.[9] Instead, Superstar Saga introduces the Beanbean Kingdom, a neighboring monarchy to the Mushroom Kingdom. Despite this, traditional enemies such as the Goomba are present, as well as new enemies exclusive to the game. The predominant race are the “Beanish”, although there are other species such as the “Hoohooligans” and the Yoshis. No locations featured in the Beanbean Kingdom, with the exception of Bowser’s Castle, existed in any earlier Mario series games.


The playable protagonists in the game are Mario and Luigi. Superstar Saga deviates from the series’ tradition in that Bowser is not the central antagonist, but the Beanish witch Cackletta is.[10] Despite aiding the protagonists during a period of the game, Bowser’s body becomes possessed by the consciousness of Cackletta to form the creature Bowletta. The original Cackletta is aided by the assailant Fawful, who is often characterized by his comical use of language, as evidenced by his famous quote “I HAVE FURY!” and who is also the antagonist of Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story for the Nintendo DS and the owner of the bean shop in Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time. Additionally, Mario and Luigi have recurring incidents with a thief named Popple, who will engage both protagonists in conflict various times throughout the game, with his sidekick Rookie (amnesiac Bowser).[11] But in one case, Popple will fight alone. In another, he will use an amnesiac Birdo instead of Rookie.

Throughout the game, Mario and Luigi must work with the Beanbean monarchy headed by Queen Bean. Both she and her son, Prince Peasley, offer Mario and Luigi assistance to retrieve the Beanstar. The youthful Prince Peasley is a celebrity figure in his native Beanbean Kingdom. The quest is in aid to rescue Princess Peach’s voice, which was stolen by Cackletta and Fawful.[12]


In the Mushroom Kingdom, Princess Peach awaits an ambassador from the Beanbean Kingdom. The “ambassador” is revealed to be the evil witch Cackletta in disguise accompanied by her henchman Fawful. They steal Princess Peach’s voice, replacing it with explosives. After being summoned to the palace by Toad, Mario and Luigi confront Bowser, who was just attempting to kidnap Peach. Mario easily subdues him, and learns that Peach’s voice was stolen. Bowser decides not to kidnap her now, and teams up with Mario to retrieve her true voice, with the intention of kidnapping her later when she won’t destroy his castle with explosives.

Mario and Bowser fly to the Beanbean Kingdom via Bowser’s new airship: the Koopa Cruiser. Luigi is accidentally conscripted into Bowser’s expeditionary force, and is taken along for the journey. During the flight, Fawful attacks the cruiser and blows it out of the sky. In the aftermath, Bowser is separated from the brothers, who continue their mission alone. They reach Beanbean Castle Town in ruins, and proceed to the castle. Inside, they are confronted by the same “ambassador” who visited Princess Peach, and is again Cackletta in disguise, who drops them into the castle sewers. After escaping, the group realizes that Cackletta’s goal is to activate the Beanstar,[13] which once awoken with Peach’s voice, will grant all of Cackletta’s wishes.

The brothers are too late to stop Cackletta from taking the Beanstar from the castle, who deploys a mutated Queen Bean of the Beanbean Kingdom against them. After defeating her, Mario and Luigi travel to Chucklehuck Woods to retrieve the Chuckola Reserve, a soda which will allow them to restore Queen Bean. On their journey, the brothers encounter Popple, a thief also after the Chuckola Reserve, and an amnesiac Bowser (referred to as Rookie) as his accomplice. After defeating them, the brothers obtain the Reserve and return to Beanbean Castle Town.

With Queen Bean cured, Mario and Luigi travel to Woohoo Hooniversity, where Cackletta plans to awaken the Beanstar. Upon being exposed to Peach’s voice, the Beanstar goes berserk and destroys the room it’s held in. Mario and Luigi then reach and severely injure Cackletta, so that Fawful must suck up her soul in his “vacuum helmet” to save her life. Cackletta commands Fawful to attack, but he is stopped by Prince Peasley, who knocks him with his sword out of Woohoo Hooniversity. When going to retrieve the Beanstar, they run into Popple and “Rookie” again. After defeating them, the Beanstar is accidentally exposed to Peach’s voice and goes berserk again. Mario, Luigi, Popple, and Bowser all grab it and it shoots into the sky. As its passengers fall off, Bowser suddenly regains his memory. The Beanstar then explodes into four pieces, which scatter across Beanbean Kingdom.

The brothers return to Beanbean Castle, where they discover that Peach’s voice had never been stolen. Peasley learned of Cackletta’s plot and warned the Princess beforehand, so they disguised Birdo as Peach, who had her voice stolen instead of the real Peach, explaining the Beanstar’s reaction to “Peach’s” voice. Peach had been unable to tell the brothers the truth, due to Bowser’s presence. Meanwhile, Fawful imbues a weak Bowser with Cackletta’s soul, resulting in the twisted Bowletta.

After arriving in Beanbean Kingdom, Princess Peach takes the brothers to Little Fungitown, a community of Toad immigrants within the Beanbean Kingdom. While there, Mario contracts a disease, and Luigi goes to Guffaw Ruins to find the cure. Just as he returns, Peach is kidnapped by Bowletta, who demands the brothers retrieve all pieces of the Beanstar in exchange for Peach. Luigi cures Mario and they search the whole of the Beanbean Kingdom to retrieve the four pieces.

After retrieving the Beanstar, Mario and Luigi travel to Joke’s End, an arctic palace off the coast of the Beanbean Kingdom, to make the exchange, having been given a fake Beanstar by Peasley and one of Peach’s spare dresses by Toadsworth. Bowletta, as expected, refuses to hand over Peach, but Mario pulls off a double-bluff that results in Luigi, clad in Peach’s spare dress, being taken in Peach’s stead. He is taken aboard the repaired Koopa Cruiser, but manages to escape, retrieving the Beanstar in the process. Upon returning to Beanbean Castle Town, the brothers discover it to be under attack by Bowser’s floating castle, which has been taken over by Bowletta. The brothers and Peasley fly to stop Cackletta once and for all.

In Bowser’s castle, Mario and Luigi battle past the Koopalings and Fawful before making it to Bowletta. After pretending to be defeated, she knocks them out from behind with a Bob-omb, and swallows them both. After waking up in her belly, the brothers conquer Cackletta’s soul for good, returning Bowser to normal. Afterwards, the brothers escape the castle before it explodes from a bomb set by Peasley. After the explosion, the castle falls into the ocean, with the Mario brothers having saved both the Beanbean Kingdom and the Mushroom Kingdom.


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