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Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga retrospective - The funniest Mario game ever

And one of the best RPGs ever...

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Nintendo games are rarely verbose. Everyone hears what Link has to say apart from us, Pokémon only ever say their own names, and Mario doesn't do much beyond confirming it is indeed a-him. Superstar Saga is a rare exception to this rule: the GBA RPG is filled with a daunting amount of dialogue, and it's all utterly hilarious.

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Mario and Luigi themselves never say much, of course, but everyone around them is spectacularly chatty. There's always a joke coming, be it Bowser's inability to remember who Luigi actually is or Prince Peasley's light-up smile and self-aggrandising swagger. The world of Superstar Saga is a mad one, peppered with running gags and bizarre situations.

The Mario brothers are the perfect straight men to this chorus of comedians, their silent comedy reactions the punchline to the quickfire one-liners that surround them. The only exception to the garrulousness of the supporting cast is Princess Peach: the plot hinges on her voice being stolen.

Much like Capcom's Ace Attorney games, most of the credit for Superstar Saga's excellent jokes goes to the localisation team, Nintendo's 'Treehouse'. Breakout character Fawful appears in the western version as a parody of poorly translated games of the past, and his mangled English and cries of "I have fury!" make him the game's undoubted star.

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Superstar Saga is rare example of a Mario game that puts the gags first. This doesn't mean the gameplay is poor - far from it. Timed button presses add a layer of classic Mario precision to traditional turn-based combat. But it does mean that the daft humour takes centre stage. Even the RPG stats are in on the joke, with each Mario brother having a moustache rating to go with their more conventional abilities. By the time you get to the section where Luigi is hypnotised into thinking he's Mario, you'll be convinced; Superstar Saga isn't just the wordiest Mario game ever made, it's also the funniest.

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