Before we get to the question of whether this game is worth buying, we need to tackle a more fundamental question: Why does this game even exist?
Nintendo’s releases have been heavy on retreads lately, but most of these re-releases serve a greater purpose: Pokkén Tournament DX expands the game’s audience beyond the paltry Wii U install base, Metroid: Samus Returns throws a bone to fans of a long-forgotten franchise, and the SNES Classic lets players relive the glory days of the 16-bit era. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, however, fits none of these explanations:
- The 3DS has a substantial user base, and every other Mario & Luigi game can be played on it (including the DS games).
- Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam was released just last year, so the franchise isn’t suffering a release drought.
- While the franchise is fairly old, its history still pales in comparison to Metroid and the Super Nintendo.
In short, a grand total of nobody was clamoring for this game to come back…yet here we are.
To be fair, I loved Superstar Saga back when it came out, and if you never got to play the Game Boy Advance version, it’s worth checking out the 3DS remake. However, if you’ve already played this game, you’re free to give this version a wide berth. The game’s story is exactly the same as before, and Nintendo doesn’t provide a compelling reason to revisit it.
Sure, the Bowser’s Minions portion technically counts as an expansion to the storyline, but it feels like an aftermarket add-on than an added layer to the story. Basically, you build up an army of various baddies from Bowser’s army, and then watch them butt heads against a bunch of other enemies while you play the role of benevolent overseer (your options are basically limited to “captain commands” and occasionally tapping minions for charged-up attacks). While this sort of gameplay can be entertaining (it worked really well in Miitopia), it requires the characters to have a lot of charm and personality, and that’s not something the generic Goombas and Koopa Troopas of Bowser’s Minions provide. It’s just not enough to justify re-buying the entire game.
Superstar Saga, like every other entry in the series, is the kind of game you’ll play through once, say “Hey, that was fun!” and then never touch it again. If you’ve never played the original version, then it’s worth picking up now, because it’s a solid, fun RPG on its own merits. If you have played it before, however, you’re better off waiting and saving up for Super Mario Odyssey instead.