Mario & Luigi (series)
Mario & Luigi, known in Japan as Mario & Luigi RPG (マリオ＆ルイージRPG Mario ando Ruīji Aru Pī Jī), 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 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 Mario & Luigi series consists of five installments and two remakes: Superstar Saga (GBA, 2003), Partners in Time (DS, 2005), Bowser's Inside Story (DS, 2009), Dream Team (3DS, 2013), Paper Jam (3DS, 2015), Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions (3DS, 2017), and Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey (3DS, 2018).
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.
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 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
Despite having different storylines and gameplay, the Mario & Luigi games contain many recurring elements. Some similarities continued for the first three games; others for the first four; and many similarities persist through all five entries (excluding remakes, which contain the same similarities as the games they are based on).
First three games
First four games
All five games