If there's a series I lost track of over the years it's Mario RPG,
which is really now made up of two series. After the original Super
Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars on the SNES, Nintendo split up
their new Square-spawned role-playing series between their consoles and
portables. The curious Paper Mario started off on the Nintendo 64 and
the even curiouser Mario & Luigi kicked off with Superstar Saga on
the Game Boy Advance.
While I had loved the original Super Mario RPG, I had a bit more trouble getting into Paper Mario. I played through most of the game, but after watching my cousin beat it from start to finish over a long weekend, I packed it away for good. And for whatever reason, I never played any games from the Mario & Luigi series... until now.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story was getting great reviews so I added it to my Christmas list on a whim. I received it, surprisingly, and added it to my portable gaming queue, and after forcing myself to finally beat Zelda: Spirit Tracks and read through the long Miles Edgeworth game, I finally landed on Bowser's Inside Story. Why the heck did I wait so long?
I'd like to apologize for being so wordy this week at the First Hour, but the writers here love to write! I recently asked Ian to tell me about his gaming history, thinking I'd get a couple line reponse about how his parents bought him a Game Boy or something, but along comes a serious epic that will probably seem very familiar to many of us reading along.
If you've got your own story you'd like to tell, reply in the comments or send me an email, I'd love to host it here!
The Mario & Luigi series has become one of the more interesting handheld exclusive franchises. Although heavily inspired by the console Mario RPG games, it has managed to make a name for itself with its unique battle system and comical dialogue. The series debuted on the Game Boy Advance with Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and continued on the DS with Partners in Time, which many regarded as inferior to the previous title. Developer AlphaDream brings us another entry with an off the wall premise and putting Bowser in the role of co-protagonist. First hour of Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story incoming:
Shortly before they began squabbling about cartridges versus compact discs, and long before Square-Enix came crawling back for a suck at the Nintendo DS teat, Nintendo and SquareSoft got around quite nicely. One of the results of this relationship was Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, a Japanese style role-playing game set in the Super Mario Bros. universe. It's one of those games that no one would have ever thought to ask for, but was so successful, it spawned the Paper Mario series that landed on later Nintendo systems (with no help from Square) and the Mario and Luigi RPG series found on their handhelds.
The game itself was quite ambitious, even beyond the cooperation of two major developers. The cartridge had its own onboard CPU, not to be confused with the popular graphics Super FX chip, but simply a co-processor to the main CPU already in the Super Nintendo. The ability to include additional hardware on the actual game cartridge was one of the amazing design decisions that revealed the foresight the hardware team had and kept the console highly competitive through 1996 when Super Mario RPG was released.
Super Mario RPG ended up being one of the last, great Super Nintendo games, being released along with some of my other favorites including Harvest Moon and Kirby Super Star. It's the end of the classic era, in my opinion, but marks the beginning of some bold moves by Nintendo. Here's the first hour of Super Mario RPG for the Super Nintendo.