Mario & Luigi (JP) is a series of role-playing video games developed by AlphaDream for Nintendo's handheld platforms since 2003. The series features games with long, detailed stories full of battles featuring Mario and Luigi as the titular characters. As in the Paper Mario series, the battle system emphasizes timing and elaborate attacks. Compared to the other RPGs, the tone of the Mario & Luigi games is generally more whimsical and lighthearted, with various in-game jokes and comical references to the heritage of the Mario franchise
The first entry, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, was created in 2003, and featured a unique RPG system that used both brothers together. The second game, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, takes that same formula, but adds two new characters in the mix - Their Baby selves.
The third entry, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, has Bowser as a playable character. The fourth entry, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, was the first entry with 3D graphics and utilized Luigi's dream abilities.
Enhanced remakes of the original and third games, respectively, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions and Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey, include a new game mode Minion Quest: The Search for Bowser and an added amiibo support.
The gameplay of Mario & Luigi differs from most other role-playing games due to its focus on controlling Mario and Luigi simultaneously. During overworld sections, the directional pad controls Mario's movement with Luigi following closely, while Mario and Luigi's other actions are controlled individually with either of two lettered buttons: A for Mario, and B for Luigi. The game begins with them being able to jump independently, though they gain access to hammers and a variety of other techniques as the game progresses. For example, in Superstar Saga, Luigi's hammer can be used to squash Mario into a smaller size, allowing access to small gaps, while placing Mario on Luigi's shoulders allows them to act like a propeller and hover across large gaps. Various enemies roam the overworld, and coming into contact with these enemies initiates a battle. Landing a hit on the enemy while on the overworld allows the player to deal preemptive damage, while the opposite is also possible.
Battles in these games are turn-based. Mario and Luigi can attack normally either by jumping, which can deal multiple hits, though when used against enemies covered in flames or with spikes, Mario or Luigi will get hurt instead of the enemy; or with the hammer, which is powerful, but ineffective against flying enemies. Similar to other Mario RPG titles (Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars and the Paper Mario series), players can time button presses to make their attacks more effective, such as earning an extra jump attack or increasing the hammer's power. Introduced in this series is the way in which Mario and Luigi can defend themselves during an enemy's attack. When an enemy attacks, the brothers will be able to either jump or use their hammer which, when successfully timed, allows them to dodge their attacks and even deal counter damage (for example: if they jump on top of a charging Goomba). Throughout the game, players can unlock Bros. Attacks, which use Bros. Points (BP) requiring players to cooperate between Mario and Luigi's actions to perform powerful combination attacks. Players can also use items such as the Super Mushroom for healing, peppers for boosting stats, and 1-Up Mushrooms for reviving fallen Bros. Defeating enemies earns experience points which help the Bros. level up and increase their stats, with players given the option to further increase the stats of one attribute every time they level up. Players can further improve their stats by equipping new gear to the Bros., or making them wear badges that give them special attributes.
In Bowser's Inside Story, Bowser becomes a playable character who is controlled on the top screen. The world inside Bowser's body, which is played with Mario and Luigi, is presented in a 2D side-scrolling style. The brothers sometimes must directly interact with Bowser in order for the player to progress, and have opportunities to visit the overworld via Warp Pipes as the plot advances. In battle, Bowser plays similarly to Mario and Luigi, but specializes in punching and breathing fire. He can inhale to suck up defenses and enemies from the top screen, similar to Kirby, a character from another Nintendo franchise. Any enemies inhaled will enter his body, where Mario and Luigi will fight them instead. Bowser earns new abilities by rescuing his caged minions, or by finding living kitten-like blocks called Blitties. Further, the Mario Bros. play various minigames where they help out Bowser from inside his body in order to progress: for example, the Arm Center, where the brothers hit spark-like items into a muscle to strengthen Bowser's arms; the Leg Outpost, where they stomp on leg muscles to strengthen Bowser's legs; and the Gut Check, where they help digest food that Bowser eats. One location, the Rump Command, has the player accumulate adrenaline in order to supersize Bowser if he is crushed, leading to a new battle system in which the DS is held vertically like a book and all attacks require the stylus and microphone.
Bowser's Inside Story also introduced a new ranking system in which, after a character has reached a specific level, his rank will increase. Upon reaching these milestones, that character will receive a special bonus, such as an additional equipment slot, being able to visit specific shops or receiving a certain piece of equipment. Mario and Luigi each have six ranks, but Bowser has four. The badge system from previous games has also changed, now possessing effects that Mario and Luigi can use by charging a meter with attacks. When the meter is filled, players can touch the meter to activate its effect, which varies depending on the combination of badges equipped, such as health recovery or stat raising.
Dream Team requires Mario to enter the world of Luigi's dreams to progress through the plot. Like Bowser's body in the previous game, this "Dream World" takes place in a 2-D side-scrolling environment, where Mario is joined by a "Dreamy" counterpart to Luigi. Throughout the Dream World stages, players will find various phenomenons called "Luiginary Works," into which Dreamy Luigi can embed himself to allow players to interact with the environment by touching the real-world Luigi on the touchscreen. For example, players can tweak Luigi's mustache to manipulate a Luigi-shaped tree to fling Mario to new areas with its branches, or make Luigi sneeze to create a gust of wind that blows blocks into the foreground. Mario can also take command of a stack of Luigis known as "Luiginoids," which takes on new abilities and forms as the game progresses, such as smashing through blocks, creating whirlwinds, and rolling down hills. Also in the Dream World, Mario can combine with Dreamy Luigi in battle and fight against large groups of enemies with assistance from the Luiginoids, which allow him to attack multiple enemies with successful attacks.
In Paper Jam, Paper Mario, which is the paper-like rendition of Mario seen in the Paper Mario series interpreted as a separate character, joins his normal counterpart and Luigi to form a team of three. He can use his paper thin body to perform his own unique actions, such as squeezing through tight gaps or turning into a paper airplane in battle to help the brothers. He can also use make copies of himself, allowing him to deal extra damage or attack multiple enemies at once, as well as use special techniques called "Trio Attacks" where he, the normal Mario, and Luigi attack together. There are also sections where players control giant papercraft versions of Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Yoshi to fight other papercraft enemies.
|Cover, original release, and system||Synopsis|
|Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga|
November 17, 2003
Game Boy Advance
|The first game in the series was Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, released in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance. In the game, two new villains, Cackletta and Fawful, steal Princess Peach's voice. Mario and Luigi jump into the action and travel to the Beanbean Kingdom to stop them. It is later found out that Cackletta had stolen Peach's voice to awaken the Beanstar, a powerful star that can grant all wishes, such as letting Cackletta rule the world, that is awakened by a pure voice. Princess Peach happened to be the one with the "pure" voice.|
|Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time|
November 28, 2005
|A sequel to Superstar Saga was released for the Nintendo DS in 2005, called Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time. This game centers on the Mushroom Kingdom of the past, during the invasion of an alien race known as the Shroobs. Unaware of the danger, Princess Peach uses a time machine built by Professor E. Gadd to travel into the past, where she was promptly captured by the alien leader, Princess Shroob. Teaming up with Baby Mario and Baby Luigi, the adult Mario bros. set off to defeat the Shroobs and save Peach, using Time Holes created by the malfunctioning time machine to travel back and forth through time.|
|Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story|
February 11, 2009
|The third installment, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, was announced at Nintendo's Fall Press Conference on October 2nd, 2008 and released four months later. While Mario and Luigi are still playable, Bowser also becomes a central protagonist in this game as he attempts to reclaim both the Mushroom and Koopa Kingdoms from Fawful, who used an outbreak of a disease known as the Blorbs as an opportunity to launch his own evil plot for world domination. Fawful later gives Bowser a Vacuum Mushroom, making Bowser inhale everything around him, including Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and other characters.|
|Mario & Luigi: Dream Team|
July 12, 2013
|The fourth installment, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, was announced during February 14, 2013's Nintendo Direct. Due to the shift to 3D, the game uses a new art style. In this game, Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toadsworth go on a trip to Pi'illo Island, where the bat king Antasma has turned many residents into stone, and kidnaps Peach. In order to save the Pi'illo Island folk and the princess, Mario must explore both the real, tridimensional world and the side-scrolling world in Luigi's dreams.|
|Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam|
December 3, 2015
|The fifth installment, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, was announced during Nintendo's 2015 E3 Digital event and features a crossover with the Paper Mario series. The story involves Luigi accidentally stumbling over a book and releasing characters from the Paper Mario series into the Mario & Luigi world. Bowser and Paper Bowser, despite some disagreements, decide to team up, combine their respective Koopa Troop armies, and kidnap Peach and Paper Peach. Thus, Mario and Luigi team up with Paper Mario to rescue the princesses, as well as the Paper Toads. This is the first game in the series to be compatible with amiibo.|
|Cover, original release, and system||Description|
|Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions|
October 5, 2017
|Announced during a Nintendo Treehouse Live webcast at E3 2017, a remake of Superstar Saga was released for the Nintendo 3DS under the title Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions. It features revamped and updated graphics akin to Dream Team and Paper Jam (including the use of additional lighting effects), as well as re-scored music. A previously untold storyline also exists in a new mode called Minion Quest: The Search for Bowser, where players corol members of Bowser's army in efforts to reunite and rally his troops and find Bowser, in an adventure relying on new mechanics, with Captain Goomba leading the cause. The game features amiibo functionality, tied to figurines of three enemies of the Mario Bros.: Goomba, Boo, and Koopa Troopa.|
|Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey|
December 27, 2018
|Announced during a Nintendo Direct on March 8, 2018, this remake of Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story was released for the Nintendo 3DS in Japan in December 2018 and worldwide in January 2019. Like the Superstar Saga remake, it features revamped and updated graphics and music, adds in many of the improvements introduced in Dream Team, and features a previously untold story/mode where players control Bowser Jr. on his own adventure. It was the final Mario game to be released for the 3DS.|
To promote Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions, a trivia game was released on the Play Nintendo website called Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions Trivia.
Appearances in other series
Super Smash Bros. series
Artwork from the Mario & Luigi series appeared as stickers in Super Smash Bros. Brawl: Cackletta, Luigi with Baby Luigi, Luigi, Mario with Luigi, Prince Peasley, a Shroob, Stuffwell, and Toadsworth. Additionally, one of the random names in Brawl when naming something (for example, naming a friend code) is FWFUL, obviously referencing Fawful. Additionally, Gritzy Desert's music from Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time is selectable as the Mushroomy Kingdom's stage music. In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Prince Peasley, Fawful, Princess Shroob, Starlow, Broque Monsieur, Prince Dreambert, Antasma, and Papercraft Mario appear as spirits.
A cover of the battle theme, "Try, Try Again" from Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, appears in the Paper Mario stage in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and in Woolly World in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. As the original track, it was composed by Yoko Shimomura. Additionally, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U features original versions of "Tough Guy Alert!" in Woolly World and "The Grand Finale" from Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story in Super Mario Galaxy. In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the tracks appear in the Super Mario soundtrack, along with the battle theme from Minion Quest: The Search for Bowser in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions.
Super Mario-Kun has devoted a few volumes to Partners in Time and Bowser's Inside Story. The art style on the covers even reflect the Mario & Luigi art style (especially seen in the color of Mario and Luigi's insignias). Although the storylines are similar to the story in game, there are multiple variations and twists. General examples include Mario and Luigi being able to speak fully, and Baby Mario and Baby Luigi are capable of talking as well. More specifically, Yoob, for example, is actually a friendly giant Yoshi that Sunnycide manipulates while Tanoomba can transform into clones of Mario and company to cause mischief.
Similarities between games
- Although they do not see a story continuity, with the exception of Inside Story and Superstar Saga albeit loosely, the games do have a basic chronology thanks mainly to Fawful. Superstar Saga is his first appearance and introduction and his supposed death. We know that Partners in Time happens before Bowser's Inside Story because PIS features Fawful as a shop merchant but he he kills himself to try and kil, the Bros in Inside Story. We know that Dream Team takes place after Inside Story instead of the two games because Starlow was a major character in Inside Story and Dream Team although she was only introduced in Inside Story and did not appear before then.
- The first three games have the playable characters say "Nintendo!" when the game boots up (Mario and Luigi in Superstar Saga, Baby Mario and Baby Luigi in Partners in Time, and Bowser in Bowser's Inside Story).
- The first four games are mainly set somewhere other than the Mushroom Kingdom of the present (Beanbean Kingdom in Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga, the Mushroom Kingdom of the past in Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time, Bowser's body in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story and Pi'illo Island and Dream World in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team).
- All five games have unique versions of common enemies (Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga has bean-related enemies, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time has Shroob-like enemies, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story has Fawful-themed, organ-themed and Dark Star-themed enemies, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team has Antasma-themed and dream-themed enemies, and Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam has paper versions of enemies).
- The first three games all feature Bowser as the first boss (although in the second it is Baby Bowser), so that the player can learn about the basic battle gameplay. In the fourth, Antasma takes this role instead. During the initial fights of the first four games, Mario learns the action commands while Luigi is occupied with something else (watching in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, playing in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, sleeping in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, and dreaming about the fight in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team).
- In all the five games, an altered form of Bowser is the final boss (Bowletta, Shrowser, Dark Bowser, Dreamy Bowser, and Shiny RoboBowser). The only forms of Bowser that aren't actually him is Dark Bowser, which is really the Dark Star, and Bowletta and Shrowser were possessed by Cackletta and Elder Princess Shroob, respectively.
- All games' storylines are about or heavily feature collecting the pieces of a Star or another magic item (the Beanstar in Superstar Saga, the Cobalt Star in Partners in Time, the Star Cure/Miracle Cure in Bowser's Inside Story, the Ultibed in Dream Team, and Fire Ore to build Papercraft Fire Mario in Paper Jam ).
- All games have the bosses exploding, and the enemies disappearing or a small explosion.
- Fawful appears as a recurring character in the first three games (As Cackletta's assistant in Superstar Saga, as a badge dealer under Princess Peach's Castle in Partners in Time, and as the main antagonist in Bowser's Inside Story).
- The first three games and Paper Jam have Mario and Luigi saying "Let's-a-go!" and "Okey-dokey!" respectively when transitioning into a battle.
- In games after Superstar Saga Mario and Luigi have a partner that store their items, give tutorials, and also speak in Mario and Luigi's stead.
- In the first three games, three versions of Bowser must be battled (Bowser, Rookie and Bowletta in Superstar Saga, Bowser, Baby Bowser and Shrowser in Partners in Time and Bowser, Bowser X and Dark Bowser in Bowser's Inside Story).
- Dream Team and Paper Jam takes it two steps forward, with five (Bowser, Giant Bowser, Bowser X, Giant Bowser X, and Dreamy Bowser in Dream Team and Papercraft Bowser, Bowser, Paper Bowser, Shiny RoboBowser and Dry Bowser in Paper Jam).
- All the five games have a Wiggler boss fight.
- Partners in Time however does not feature a traditional Wiggler, although there is a Shroob version called the Swiggler
- The Wiggler becomes stronger and stronger as the games go on.
- In all the five games, the main antagonists have an alternative form in their final battle. Cackletta transforms in her spirit, Elder Princess Shroob in a biggest and monstrous form, Fawful in Dark Star Core, Antasma in a ghost and Paper Bowser in an armor.
- Since the second game, there are other characters playable over Mario and Luigi. In the second there are the babies, in the third there is Bowser, in the fourth, there is Dreamy Luigi, and in the fifth, there is Paper Mario.
- The first four games all have a character who disguises themselves as Peach for one reason or another. In the first Luigi, in the second Princess Shroob, in the third the memory of Bowser and in the fourth Kamek with the Elite Trio.
- The fifth game pulls a twist on this, with Peach and Paper Peach using fake Princess Peach decoys to escape from Bowser.
- In the first four games, Mario & Luigi always end up inside someone (Superstar Saga was Bowletta, Partners in Time was Yoob, Bowser's Inside Story was Bowser and the Giant Sockop, and Dream Team was inside Luigi's dream.) In fact, this serves as the main founding element of Bowser's Inside Story.
- The first four games feature at least one Beanish character, although the species itself as a whole only appears in Superstar Saga and Dream Team. Fawful appeared in Superstar Saga as the secondary antagonist, Partners in Time as an underground shopkeeper, and Bowser's Inside Story as the main villain. Popple appeared in Superstar Saga as a rival to the Mario Bros, and Dream Team as a minor character.
- Four of the five games have a battle that cannot be won, with Dream Team the exception to this pattern. (Superstar Saga was Fawful, Partners in Time was the three Shroobs and Bowser's Inside Story was Midbus.) In Paper Jam the Paper Goomba Wheel battle cannot be won by Mario & Luigi, and instead must be won by Paper Mario.
- In Dream Team, the battle with Bowser and Antasma in his bat form can be won (as the victory screen shows), but instantly after the battle, Bowser uses Antasma's power to breathe purple flame and knock Mario, Luigi, and Peach out cold.
- All games have Bowser in the same or involved with a similar situation as the Bros at some point:
- Developing his own Bros. Attacks with Popple, as Rookie, in Superstar Saga
- Partnering up with his younger self while traveling to the past in Partners in Time
- Dark Fawful helping Dark Bowser from inside his body, similar to how Mario and Luigi help Bowser from inside his body in Bowser's Inside Story.
- Being powered up by a Dream entity (Mario) and unleashing his power through his dreams (Luigi) in Dream Team
- Teaming up with his paper self, and even obtaining his own Trio Attack Hammer in Paper Jam.
- In all the five games, the game does not save after the final boss is beaten, only resuming at the last save before fighting them.
- Only the last two games show any indication of the game having been finished, with a Jukebox/Music Player options being unlocked, and Hard Mode in Dream Team.
- The third, fourth, and fifth games all have two different normal battle themes: the Mario Bros. and Bowser's battle themes in Bowser's Inside Story, the real world and dream world battle themes in Dream Team and a battle theme for the Mario Bros. with and without Paper Mario in Paper Jam.
- In all the five games, the tutorial themes are all remixes of the Super Mario Bros. overworld theme.