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Remembering Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga, one of the warmest, strangest Mario games ever


How well do you know Mario? It turns out that this is quite a weird question to try and answer. Most of the time when you’re playing a Mario game, you are Mario. When you’re right in the middle of it you feel that familiar weight through the fingers, that same elastic pull of gravity during a jump, and you probably don’t think, “That’s Mario jumping,” you probably think, “I’m jumping” – if you think anything at all. Mario becomes weirdly invisible when you’re racing him through his candied worlds. Knowing Mario is knowing yourself in-game: now I can triple-jump, now I can wall-spring, now I’m wearing a hat that can animate everything I throw it at. It’s great being Mario!

But what kind of thing does Mario get up to when he isn’t – or when we aren’t – platforming? Hardly a burning question in 2017, so only a handful of games have tried to answer this. Anyway, one of the very best is just getting a tricked-out re-release on 3DS. Welcome back, Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga. God, you have been missed.

Superstar Saga isn’t the Mario game I return to most often – due to convenience, that’s probably Super Mario 3D Land. But it’s the one I return to most often in my memory. There had been Mario RPGs before this, and there have been Mario RPGs since. They’re all brilliant. Fine. But Superstar Saga is the best.