you probably know that alphadream, creators of the mario and luigi series, declared bankruptcy this month. they cited poor sales from their last few games, remakes of superstar saga and bowser's inside story

i wanted to look back on the games of theirs that i've played or seen and hopefully get a conversation going about their work

Tomato Adventure
i didn't get very far in this once since it was never released in English. it does have a basic fan patch worked on by the mother 3 translation team that translates UI elements.
from what i played it's exactly what you'd expect from an original game by the Mario and Luigi team. it's an action rpg where you play short mini-games to gauge how powerful your attacks will be. alphadream is composed of many former square employees including the director of Super Mario RPG. you can see a lot of that DNA in this game, as if the team wanted to experiment with ideas from that project. overall it wasn't compelling enough to make me finish it in Japanese, but it was interesting on its own.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
it's not controversial to call this their best game by far. i remember seeing a friend playing this after school and it drew me in immediately. a combination of turn-based RPG and normal Mario action gameplay sounded really fun, and the style was like a disney cartoon on the GBA.
playing it, it's like an RPG turned completely on its head. the overworld had light platforming, puzzles and shitloads of secrets. the timing-based combat was similar to the team's previous work, but the way you would learn enemy tells and have to dodge accordingly made it one of the most active and skill-based RPGs i've ever played. the setting, a new region called the beanbean kingdom, is probably the star of the show, constantly fucking with your expectations for a mario game with bizarre locations and weird characters. storywise there's nothing too groundbreaking here, and it even technically ends with mario and luigi fighting bowser, but it stays engaging by being consistently funny and well-paced while surprising the player with wacky twists

Hamtaro: Rainbow Rescue
ok i didn't play this one but i played Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak and that was a really cool adventure game where you solve puzzles by learning words and actions. this is some mini-game collection and they can fuck off for dropping the ball there.

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
i have a hard time evaluating this one fairly. like superstar saga, i played it as a kid, but i gave up in a mix of boredom and frustration. the basic idea seems to be "the same but more." combat and progression work very similarly to the previous, but baby mario and baby luigi complicate things by involving more buttons and possible actions. the shroobs are not very compelling antagonists, mostly just showing up and destroying random shit without an obvious purpose or personality. the setting is more standard mario shit mixed with a few more unique or alien locales.
it's the combat changes that really piss me off. bros moves in SSS are like this perfect combination of style and function. you get creative techniques that play off of cartoon logic, like bashing someone with a hammer so they can disappear underground, and you time button presses along with the action. technically we'd call this a qte, but they add complexity by having the moves evolve and gain more difficult timing as they're used, letting better players get better damage. PiT bros items shit all over that by being generally very generic and simple. wow you can kick a shell and shoot fucking fireballs I've never done that before. on top of being less visually interesting, they usually amount to only one action and go on for way too fucking long. there's no difference between using the copy flower for the first or hundredth time, and it wasn't fun to begin with.
the real fuck up, though, is in the balancing. the North American version dropped first, and bosses had about 40% more HP in that compared to the Japan/EU versions, and less attack. every boss was a battle of attrition, not exciting but still hard due to sheer length. they skipped over this one when doing remakes. i would've liked to see them save it, but maybe they just didn't see anything worth saving

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
since i didn't enjoy the previous game, i didn't put much time into this one, so i'm going to be more vague. the big difference is that bowser is playable. his sections are pretty clearly the highlight, as his gameplay is a breath of fresh air and it feels good to be a powerful angry villain. mario and luigi play very similarly to PiT, with bros items back, though they were redesigned a bit to be shorter and have a more exciting finish. they also went a bit more into the RPG elements, making gear and buffs more important and adding more in-depth sidequests like boss refights. the only other thing i really remember were shitty sections where you had to control bowser with the touch screen and break into castles and shit. not sure why they bothered with that

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
i haven't played too much of this one but i can talk a bit about it. the idea here seems to be they're getting back players from SSS. there's no additional party members, and the setting is a new location with its own lore and characters. again mario and luigi play roughly the same as the last, keeping the changes from BiS, but the dream setting adds some creative, spectacular moves involving luigi clones. i haven't played this one enough to say more about it, other than I've heard it's piss easy and relentless with tutorials. some of the tutorials are skippable, but you do see that Nu Nintendo philosophy of telling people what to do instead of letting them figure it out themselves.

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam
after Paper Mario: Sticker Star was like a nightmare that you can't wake up from, i and a lot of fans of Paper Mario were hoping mario and luigi would stay creative and avoid being a retread of the NSMB style. then this shit dropped
not only does this game relentlessly reuse the same enemies, locales and characters you see constantly in NSMB, they don't even use Paper Mario ideas like vivian and the other partners, rogueport and other locations, or even variations on mario traditions like the pianta mafia. you cannot get engaged in this story about bowser kidnapping peach and endangering the fucking toads.
which is really sad because the gameplay is probably the best in the series. the overworld sections are designed more like platformers than before, and often require quick movement and timing. adding paper mario adds a lot of meaningful complexity to combat. the enemies and especially bosses have crazy attacks that have you flying, throwing shit and even playing out mini platforming levels to dodge and counter their attacks. your bros and trio items are also wild and super fun to learn. this game replaces badge moves with star cards, which are effectively spells that you can use before your turn. this actually adds a lot of strategy to the system, not as much as Persona or whatever, but setting up your deck and using your star points effectively requires some thought.
the only potential complaint i have is that the game really heavily relies on bros/trio attacks pretty much every turn, so it may feel overly straightforward when you're doing the same attack every turn. i'd say the battles avoid being repetitive because the enemies are so creative and have so many elaborate mechanics. oh also they keep the tradition of a shitty fucking mini-game by having you try to wheel around papercraft vehicles with shitty controls and boring combat. the nicest thing i can say about the papercraft sections is that they're mercifully short and there's only like 5 of them total. overall it really hurts that this is how they went out, because they were demonstrating real mastery of the craft in the gameplay, and yet the game is not appealing enough from the outside to get people in.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions
fuck this game
why didn't they at least add the boss refights and some of the shit that they had in all three of the previous games? there's a bowser RTS but they couldn't add fucking achievements? christ

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr's Minions
Wait, Paper Jam was actually a good game? I had no idea. I might have to try it sometime for the gameplay alone, I was turned off by how fucking generic it looked.

I really want to play PiT with the altered bosses from the later releases, because I genuinely enjoyed the fuck out of that game even though Bros. Moves suck ass. The babies were the perfect addition to SSS's mechanics to make button management more interesting and I liked the Shroobs a lot honestly.

SSS is still the best though. I can replay that game any time and have a ton of fun.
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(Oct 8, 2019 at 5:33 AM)Draku Wrote: Wait, Paper Jam was actually a good game? I had no idea. I might have to try it sometime for the gameplay alone, I was turned off by how fucking generic it looked.
i was too at first, but i gave it a shot anyway and it's fun as fuck. one thing i forgot to mention is that it lowkey reminded me of kingdom hearts 2 with how crazy some of the bosses and scripted fights would get
here's a video of a fairly standard mid-game boss if you were curious how it played

Quote:I really want to play PiT with the altered bosses from the later releases, because I genuinely enjoyed the fuck out of that game even though Bros. Moves suck ass. The babies were the perfect addition to SSS's mechanics to make button management more interesting and I liked the Shroobs a lot honestly.

SSS is still the best though. I can replay that game any time and have a ton of fun.

the later releases of partners in time are definitely way better. still, i think it's one of the weaker entries because it's basically SSS but with shitty bros items.
and yeah superstar saga is just fucking rad

>the part where paper mario folds into a boomerang and you throw him at the boss and enemies chasing you

What the fuck that's brilliant.

Thanks for the heads up, I'll look into it Sometime.
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paper jam has too many fucking toads
i never finished it but i half expected the last boss to be a toad dressed up as bowser
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(Oct 8, 2019 at 5:18 PM)Jetamo Wrote: paper jam has too many fucking toads
Along with Sticker Star and Color Splash. Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi both need to be given to a competent developer that understands what made the first games great.
Fun With Despair
nintendo's been pushing toad hard as like, their own weird equivalent of the minions since sticker star for some reason

i don't think its working, because i don't think i've seen anything but annoyance over the toad wank
Since we're airing our grievances about Toad, who is the Toad? Like who is the Toad in Mario Kart? I've always assumed they're the same person, if they aren't that would kind of piss me off. Since Mario Sunshine introduced the colorful Toads I thought the red spots, blue vest would be reserved for Mario and Luigi's friend, Toad, but this has rarely been the case. The introduction of Yellow and Blue Toad have also fucked Toad out of playable appearances in mainline games. Mario Odyssey forgoes colorful Toads entirely in favor of using red spots, blue vest Toads as all Toad NPCs. Luigi's Mansion 3 featues Toad, Blue Toad, and Yellow Toad as three separate characters, implicitly acknowledging some distinction between them. Who is Captain Toad? What are his motivations? Is he the true Toad looking to make a name for himself after losing his relevance with the Mario Bros.? He does hang out with Toadette, but he could just as easily be a separate character from Toad. We'll never know, because he doesn't wear a colored vest.

This conundrum proves that Paper Mario's Toad OCs were ultimately the way to go. Just adding a tuft of hair or a mustache goes a long way in distinguishing these characters, and though detractors have characterized them as "fan characters" I don't think any Toad is so radically different that it detracts from the charm of the original design.
it's hard to tell, but i think miyamoto himself is pushing that as some weird way to make the Mario story more consistent

Quote:there were two main things that Miyamoto-san said from the start of the project—"It's fine without a story, so do we really need one?" and "As much as possible, complete it with only characters from the Super Mario World."

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