Players: 1 Player Game | Genre: Role Playing Game
Release Date: 11/28/05
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga hit the Game Boy Advance with practically unanimous acclaim from critics and gamers. It's no wonder that AlphaDream has been working on a sequel for the Nintendo DS.
The original's blend of RPG and platforming mixed with a truly whacky story struck a chord with gamers. The gameplay is based off of Paper Mario. The battles are turn based with many real-time, action elements, and traversing the overworld is a lot like a platforming or adventure game. The catch was that the player controlled Mario and Luigi simultaneously, and that introduced a whole new dynamic to overcoming obstacles, solving puzzles, and defending in battle.
An E3 demo isn't really the ideal way to play a new RPG or adventure game. From what I've seen so far, Mario & Luigi 2 isn't a whole lot different than its predecessor, but it has some interesting new elements. The story could be even crazier than the last one. Somehow, Mario and Luigi have traveled back in time and have encountered their much younger selves. So now the player can control four characters at once: Mario, Luigi, Baby Mario, and Baby Luigi. As before, each face button corresponds to one of the brothers. The Nintendo DS has four face buttons which is perfect for the four characters. In the demo, each button made one of the brothers jump, but if the previous game is any indication, the buttons can be used to perform different abilities once they are acquired.
Normally, the top screen of the DS shows a map, and the bottom screen shows the main gameplay view. However, sometimes it's necessary to split the brothers up. For instance, in the demo, there was a spring that the older brothers were too heavy to jump on, but the baby brothers were sent flying to a higher area if they jumped on it. In a case like this, the top screen shows the location of one pair of brothers and the lower screen shows the other two. Controlling all four characters in two different locations simultaneously will be challenging and fun. Splitting the quartet up like this will be necessary to solve environmental puzzles.
As with the previous game, the way a battle starts depends on how the enemy was encountered in the overworld. So if Mario jumps on the enemy in the overworld, the turn-based battle will start with Mario jumping on that enemy. If the four brothers are together when they encounter an enemy, then all four will fight in the battle. If one pair is off on their own when they run into an enemy, then they'll fight without the other pair with them. The battle view takes up both screens of the DS. This doesn't seem to greatly affect the gameplay, but it does at some additional depth. Some enemies can be so tall that they attack from the upper screen. I would also imagine that flying enemies could appear on the upper screen. Even though the battles are turn-based, many attacks can be dodged or deflected by pressing a button at just the right time. An attack from the height of the upper screen will require different timing than an attack from the lower screen.
Since there are now four characters, expect new team moves and tactics. The Touch Screen doesn't seem like it will be used much in this game. While some Touch Screen action commands during battles would be cool, it could be annoying to switch between touching the screen and using the face buttons.
Nintendo hasn't revealed too much about the game yet. I'm really looking forward to this mainly because of the great job AlphaDream did with the original Mario & Luigi. The dual screen views and the addition of two characters will certainly increase the puzzle and battle variety. However, we'll have to wait and see just how different and how similar the sequel will be. Unfortunately there's no release date, but when it finally does come out, you can expect to have one of the best handheld adventures to keep you occupied for a quite a long time.