Review – Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions

I have really fond memories of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, the first game in the Mario RPG side-series of games. It was a spiritual successor to the previous Mario RPG titles, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars and Paper Mario. What set this game apart from the previous titles was the wacky dialogue and gag-filled humor,  elements which made it quite the refreshing take on the turn-based JRPG genre.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions on the 3DS is a remaster that feels a little strange to me. While it looks beautiful–easily on par with its contemporary iterations Dream Team and Paper Jam–the gameplay feels exactly like it did back in 2003. As a JRPG, Superstar Saga on the 3DS can be refreshing in its simplicity, while simultaneously feeling quite a bit dated in some respects.

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Ranked: Super Mario Games

Previously on Ranked: The Legend of Zelda

With the release of Super Mario Odyssey right around the corner, it’s time to take a look back at the Super Mario Bros. series in this mushroomy edition of Ranked. Now, I have to set some ground rules before I begin. Since there are so many Mario games, I have included a couple of limits on what games make it to this list:

  • Only mainline Mario games are included here. No sports, racing, party, RPG or other spin-off titles.
  • No Yoshi or Wario games. Sadly, that includes Yoshi’s Island on the SNES.
  • Super Mario Maker is kind of its own beast as well, so that won’t be on here, even though I LOVE that game.

Finally, remember that this is just my opinion as a long-time Nintendo fan. Without further ado, let’s get started!

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Review – Metroid: Samus Returns

There was a level in Metroid: Samus Returns where you constantly have to wade around in water, which limits your jumps and slows you down. It was really annoying, and removed the mobility that really defines this Metroid game. Then, partway through, I find the Gravity Suit upgrade, which lets you move around in water unhindered. Now, I felt powerful. The rooms that were giving me trouble previously were now a piece of cake. This is the positive feedback loop that is the mark of a great Metroid title.

Samus Returns,–a remake/reimagining of the second game in the series, Metroid II: Return of Samus–is a monster of a game. It’s been more than a decade since the release of the last side-scrolling Metroid, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I got my hands on this game. I’ll admit that when it was first announced, I was a little bummed that this game was coming to the 3DS and not the Switch, but if I have to pull out my 3DS again, at least it’s for a damn good game.

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Replay Review – The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX

When people talk about the 2D iterations of The Legend of Zelda, the clear standout that most people think of is the SNES title, A Link to the Past. That game is often credited for making Nintendo’s epic adventure series into what it is today. However, one title whose contribution is often forgotten is the fourth entry in the series, Link’s Awakening. Beginning life as a Game Boy port of A Link to the Past, it quickly developed its own identity and became something more.

It was the first game in the series to really focus on the surrealism and strangeness that would later come to define some of the best games in the series, such as Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. The dreamlike scenario, goofy characters and cameos from other Nintendo games set this far apart from the other Zelda gamesEven today, it feels like a much more understated and intimate experience than its SNES counterpart, befitting of its home on Nintendo’s old handheld. Full spoilers for a 20+ year old game will follow. 

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Review – Mighty Gunvolt Burst

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Mighty Gunvolt Burst is the sequel to 2014’s Mighty Gunvolt, a short crossover between the good Azure Striker Gunvolt games, and the not-so-good Mighty No. 9. I never played the original Mighty Gunvolt, but I can vouch for this game being a good throwback to the classic Mega Man games. Developed by Inti Games, the developers behind the excellent Mega Man Zero series on the GBA, Burst elegantly packs enough nostalgia for those who crave a new Mega Man game, while carrying enough unique ideas to set it apart.

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Review – Splatoon 2

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The first Splatoon on the Wii U was a pleasant surprise at the time. On the Wii U, a console that was lacking in “fresh” games, as it will, it was thrilling to see a game that was so original, deep and fun as that game was. On top of that, Splatoon‘s popularity made it an obvious choice for a quick sequel on Nintendo’s new Switch system. So, does Splatoon 2‘s obvious similarities to the first game make it lack the freshness of the first game, or does it still wow with its squiddy goodness?

Well, fortunately, Splatoon 2, for the most part, is good. It takes the excellent foundation of the first game, and builds upon it to deliver a game that is doubtlessly better than what came before. While there are no huge changes from the original, there are big additions and smaller changes that make this more than worth the purchase for any returning squid, and a must-purchase for any new fish out there.

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Review – Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

Fire Emblem Gaiden is considered by many to be the “black sheep” of Nintendo’s turn-based strategy franchise. When it was released on the NES in 1992, the game touted many changes to the underlying mechanics, much like with some other NES sequels of the time, like Zelda II, for example. Gaiden introduced an explorable world, dungeons and more complex character progression. Like Zelda II, Nintendo ultimately back pedaled when it came time to make the third entry, returning to the roots of the first Fire Emblem game. Since then, the Fire Emblem series has progressed in other forms, ultimately reaching its own excellence in games such as Fire Emblem 7 on the GBA (The first game in the series to be released in the west), and Fire Emblem Awakening on the 3DS.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is a full remake of this NES game that does not attempt to hide the quirks of the original, nor impose the mechanics of the newer games. The series’ staple rock-paper-scissors weapons triangle? Nowhere to be found. Marriages and love? Look elsewhere. Instead, Echoes sets out to take the mechanics of the original game and improve on them in order to make them the best that they can be.

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