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Best Boss Music #11: Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga


Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga is one of the cutest and most endearing games I’ve ever played, on the Gameboy Advance or any other console.

Not only that, it’s also a damn fine RPG as well.

Essentially picking up where Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario left off, (and then picked up again…) Superstar Saga is a far cry from the traditional console RPG.

Name another RPG that has EXTREME JUMP ROPING!

As it’s title indicates, Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga is a game that follows the exploits of the 2 plumber brothers as they work together to recover Princess Peach’s voice (it was replaced with word bubbles that turn into bombs) from an evil witch of the neighboring Bean Bean Kingdom named Cackletta.

Pictured: The Hemaphroditic Bowser/Cackletta hybrid known as "Bowletta." You can't make this shit up...

Along the way, the player assumes control of the 2 brothers throughout the entirety of the adventure, acquiring and putting to use a number of interesting and unique powers that can be used in tandem to accomplish any number of crazy (but often necessary) feats.

 

Not sure if playing leap-frog during a life or death battle is all that "necessary," but oh well, to each his own.

It should be noted that the story and gameplay of Superstar Saga are top of their class in every regard.

In particular, like most sprite based RPGs, I found the interplay between the vocalizations, scripting, and pantomime of the various characters to be among the best I’ve encountered in any game, period.

Seriously, every character has at least some sort of trademark nuance or quirk to their movements, speech, or sound effects that makes them, and indeed the entire game world, come alive.

DISCO DANCE!!!!!!!!!!!

That being said, let’s get to the gameplay.

Being as the source material is grounded in the Mario canon, it’s only appropriate that the game include a great deal of platforming and coin gathering to go with it’s turn-based combat and level grinding.

 

While I love Diablo as much as the next dork, I thank the heavens that Mario hasn't tried to bite off it's mechanics. Yet...

The key innovation that Superstar Saga brings to the table, and indeed all Mario RPGs prior and since; is the hands-on approach to gameplay elements that are typically automated in most RPGs.

Said elements are no more apparent, than in Superstar Saga’s highly detailed and interactive combat system.

Monsters are encountered on the overworld map, not as random battles, but in the form of fast-moving and aggressive character sprites that maneuver the landscape.

Once a battle begins, the player assumes control of both Mario and Luigi in a turn-based fashion.

From there, timed button inputs are required on the part of the player to effectively attack and defend.

For the love of God, push the "B" button to not die!

Every enemy attack in the game has a means to be avoided or defended in some way, provided the player has the timing and reflexes necessary to do so.

This effectively makes the difficulty of the combat in Superstar Saga a product of the players skill, rather than the stats of his characters.

Being as I’m really an RPG guy these days, I for one really appreciated this.

 

By the way, thank you Demon's Souls for shitting all over my previous statement.

While the game was far from difficult, the battle system kept the boredom and tedium at bay for the most part, leaving me with a terrific and off-the-wall story to enjoy.

Trust me, if you’re looking for a way to indulge your inner child and feel like a 9 year old all over again, try playing Superstar Saga; you won’t be disappointed.

Anyway, this post was supposed to be about music, so what’s say we get to it shall we?

Superstar Saga, like virtually any Nintendo product, has a wonderful soundtrack.

Composed by the prolific and talented Yoko Shimomura, the whole soundtrack is very well-rounded, and more importantly; thematic and appropriate to the setting and mood.

Superstar Saga is a colorful, light, and “bouncy” game, and the soundtrack was tailor-made to suit those feelings.

Defne Adj. "Bouncy": Any game that includes a sequence wherein 2 Italian plumbers do battle with a barrel of sentient cola.

Despite this, the game is still an RPG nonetheless, and thusly features a wide array of battle themes, not to mention a few boss themes.

While every track of the game is deserving of special notice, the Best Boss Music in Superstar Saga is…

Rookie and Popple:

This track plays whenever Mario and Luigi do battle with the wily thief named Popple, and his new protege, “Rookie.”

The fun part of these battles, comes from the fact that the “Rookie” is in fact Bowser; albeit a Bowser with amnesia.

Scratch that. Amnesia and a pimp-ass hat.

Despite the memory loss, whenever the player attacks Bowser in these fights, a little light bulb will flicker on in his head, and he’ll suddenly bust out some decidedly Bowser-like moves.

I guess you could call it a case of muscle memory winning out over mental memory.

Anyway, this track was only played a handful of times in the game, but I found myself happy to hear it every time it did.

It’s far more energetic than the standard boss theme, and better composed for that matter; but in some ways I feel that Popple and Rookie’s reduced frequency of occurrence in-game is part of what makes it stand out so much.

Despite many of the other Best Boss Music entries listed on this blog being of the more epic or dramatic variety, Popple and Rookie earns it’s spot purely off of it’s fun-factor.

Let it be known, that which makes us happy is often that which is most important to us.

Tune in tomorrow for another real post!

Maybe…

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The Best Track in the Game #11: Tetris Attack

That's right, fresh from the wrapper, baby...

I know what you’re thinking:

“Wait, didn’t the Azn Badger say he was only gonna’ do The Best Track in the Game posts about games he owned?”

Well, as of yesterday, I am the proud owner of Tetris Attack, so fuck you.

Whoops! Think I pooped myself taking this one.

Tetris Attack is one of the better combat-puzzle games out there.

In fact, short of Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo, I’d say it was the best.

Yo Ken, best be packin' it up son, 'cause you bout'sta' take a Shinkuu Hadouken straight up in dah' face, man. Out dah' box, foh' real, yo.

Tetris Attack’s appeal lies in it’s overall simplicity, both from a gameplay, and an aesthetic standpoint.

Unlike a traditional Tetris game, where the objective is to line up horizontal rows of blocks across the playing field to destroy them and get points, the main objective in Tetris Attack is to match 3 or more blocks of the same color and shape in order to destroy them.

I feel it is worth pointing out that, the reason why Tetris Attack’s gameplay is so unlike any other Tetris game, is because it really isn’t a Tetris game at all.

Nor is this, but idiots around the world seem to like it, so oh well...

The original Japanese version of the game is an entry in the Puzzle League series of games called Panel De Pon.

Meh, could be worse.

For the American release, the generic anime inspired sprite designs and backgrounds were replaced with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island elements, and the soundtrack was completely redone.

Other than that, the fundamental gameplay remains the same.

23 years Mega Man... You haven't changed your stripes in 23 fucking years. Lazy bum...

Seeing as Tetris Attack is a combat-puzzle game, a major part of the appeal of the gameplay is that, the player isn’t just required to solve puzzles, they’re also expected to do it faster and more efficiently than their opponent.

Destroying 4 or more blocks at a time causes extra blocks to fall on your opponent’s playing field, thusly piling their stack closer to defeat, while at the same time giving them more block with which to retaliate against you with.

... Or they can just get totally fucked.

It’s a wonderfully simple game that rarely allows for any one player to dominate the match.

More often than not, Tetris Attack matches between two human players take on a sort of tug o’ war dynamic wherein both players come close to losing several times, only to miraculously battle back and put their opponent on the ropes.

It’s these “come from behind” moments, and the giddy excitement that they elicit; that make Tetris Attack so great.

Can't talk about comebacks without talkin' bout Gatti!

Graphically speaking, Tetris Attack is minimalist, as most puzzle games are, but still impressive for the most part.

The game uses characters and settings from Yoshi’s Island, taking full advantage of that game’s vibrant color palette and irresistably cute design scheme.

IT'S ALWAYS A GOOD TIME FOR KITTENS.

While character animations are sparse, and most of the sprites drawn very small, nearly every animation is crisp and clean, resulting in a presentation that is limited, while managing to make the most of what little it has to offer.

While none of the selectable characters in the game offer any variations to the gameplay of Tetris Attack, some of my favorite characters in the game are Bumpty the Penguin (’cause he’s cute), Kemek (’cause he’s badass), and Blarg on account of the awesome “AAAAAARRRRRRGH!!!” noise he makes when you send blocks over to your opponent’s side.

Pictured: Half the Reason Tetris Attack Kicks Ass.

Yoshi can eat a Blackanese cock though.

Tetris Attack is one of those games that I could, and probably will; play forever.

It’s not a game I’m terribly nostalgic about, as I didn’t really play it until I was in high school, but it’s one of those rare games that is almost guaranteed to put a smile on my face whenever I think about playing it.

Anyway, enough of me sucking Tetris Attack’s cock, The Best Track in the Game is…

Yoshi’s Theme:


And…

Boss Stage Theme:

Why?:

I chose to name two Best Tracks in the Game out of respect for the aesthetic that Tetris Attack presents.

You see, Yoshi’s Theme, in my eyes, is the perfect musical representation of the feel that Tetris Attack has.

While the Boss Stage Theme is definitely my favorite track in the game, that by no means makes it The Best Track in the Game.

Yoshi’s Theme is serene and whimsical, akin to something you’d picture playing while skipping through a park or some shit, fitting perfectly with the mood and sound of the game.

I can’t say the track is my favorite in the game, however I also feel that I can’t regard it as a runner-up, as it really does deserve note as the “core” piece of music for the whole game.

The Boss Stage Theme also fits the game exceedingly, however it has a harshness and pounding tempo to it that make it suitable as boss music.

When listening to it, one is reminded that this is music meant to be played over a fast-paced puzzle game.

The Boss Stage Theme really does an amazing job of maintaining the pre-established “feel” to the music, while placing a premium on pressuring the player into feeling the tension as they race to out maneuver their opponent.

It’s by no means an outstanding piece of music in terms of all time time great tracks, however being as it is attached to one of the most outright “fun” games I’ve ever played, it will always stick with me regardless of it’s fidelity or quality of composition.


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