Longer Post concerning the Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga remake. If you are a fan of the older Mario RPGs, you may want to give this a read.
So, if you are like me you are probably pretty hyped for the Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga remake that is coming out later this year. Also, if you are like me you probably really dig the older Mario RPGs for their unique takes on otherwise generic Mario characters and enemies. You would also know that Nintendo has been (for some inexplicable reason) running away from this aspect of their RPGs
Instead of having, say, unique characters with vastly different personalities, appearances, and names that are of, say, the Toad race, there are instead just generic copy-and-pasted Toads that SOMETIMES have slight variation. Its like this for the Mushroom Kingdom denizens as well as for Bowser’s minions. Every now and then we get a more unique character, but they are always unique because they are plot relevant. In the older Mario RPGs not only were plot-relevant characters really unique (despite being toads or koopas or what-have-you), but so were the random, non-plot-related NPCs that filled the world.
So now, instead of everything feeling fresh due to the large assortment of unique individuals (even if they are they same race), recent Mario RPGs have followed the formula of copy and pasting generic members of the races and then sometimes throwing in a unique individual every now and then. Even if it’s a brand new race (like the Brocks or Shelltops from the M&L series) they are still just copied and pasted everywhere with only a handful of differing ones and the differing ones really aren’t that differing. If you are like me, you probably think this really sucks.
— THE SCHISM —
So, like everyone who enjoys the older Mario RPGs, I was (and still am despite what I will say in this) super excited about the remake of Superstar Saga because of the reasons explained above. Superstar Saga featured both Toads, Bowser’s minions, and new races like the Hoohooligans and Beanish. HOWEVER, unlike the newer Mario RPGs, there was a HUGE variety of all these races. Although there was a limited variety of NPC races, the game kept it fresh by showing a large variety WITHIN these races. And it was absolutely fantastic. It made you want to go out of your way to talk to different NPCs, learn about their stories, and enjoy the RPG to its fullest.
Here are some examples using Superstar Saga.
Note that these sheets are just of the “Generic” citizens (even though they are not generic to each other - ESPECIALLY when compared to recent Mario RPG citizens) there are numerous other “especially unique (more plot-related) characters of the races as well!
Superstar Saga isnt even the best example of this aspect. The early Paper Mario games blow everything out the water when it comes to uniqueness and variety for NPCs!
So you may be thinking right now, “Well its great that Nintendo is remaking Superstar Saga! It will be great to see that aspect of the older RPGs again!”
Well now you shall see why I am upset. I shall show my sadness with VISUALS!
—SADNESS WITH VISUALS—
Royal Chamber Toads no longer get cool capes or SUPER expressive faces!
The Koopa Cruiser staff are no longer pilots with awesome bomber jackets, but just generic koopas!
You thought it was just the Royal Hall Toads that got dumbed-down? Nope! All the Toads in the Castle are generic with only different colored spots!
No more unique outfits, heights, or weights! Call me cynical, but this probably means that the Toads in Little Fungitown all look generic as well - which especially sucks all butt everywhere because that location is supposed to be especially unique being an off-branch of the main Toad race living in the Beanbean Kingdom instead of the Mushroom Kingdom.
Unique Koopa species offshoot that greatly visually represents the outcome of the species originating in the Beanbean Kingdom rather than the Mushroom Kingdom? Naw.
Lets just pallet-swap a regular Troopa and put the leaf on its head! Also, while were at it let’s make the protagonists of the new story just be regular minions with flags on their heads! (at least Private Goomp, Sergeant Guy, and Corporal Paraplonk have been confirmed to make appearances. But, why not use them in the first place?).
— CONCLUSION —
Anyway, I know this is a lot of complaining and I AM still happy about the remake in general. However, it is a huge bummer that Nintendo decided to do this in the remake instead of staying true to the original. It may not be instantly noticeable, but this aspect of the Mario RPGs has a HUGE impact on the feel of the games.
We don’t recognize it, but uniqueness of the original NPCs is one of the reasons why the game was so tantalizing. Even if we were not directly acknowledging them, our brains were passively entertained by this sort of thing and it kept everything fresh - We never knew what we were gonna see next! This world felt alive!
We should all still support the remake, as everything else about it is gold. I mean, just look at the images up there - it looks beautiful! By supporting the remake, maybe Nintendo will understand our love for these older Mario RPGs. HOWEVER, I believe that Nintendo should also know exactly WHY we love these older Mario RPGs - and its because of the little things like this.
The Art of the Dragonlance Saga reveals much of
the design work that went into not only the illustrations, but the world, the
characters and the stories. It is a little hard for me to imagine Larry Elmore,
Clyde Caldwell, Jeff Easley, Keith Parkinson and more doing production work on
the scale that Dragonlance must have demanded. There are hundreds of sketches
and paintings here. The work that went into designing plausible lances for
dragon-back combat is particularly impressive. I’ve picked some faves.
My favorite is “The Last Spell of
Fistandantilus,” by Keith Parkinson (I slightly favor Parkinson over other
artists of this period). There’s such drama here and Fistandantilus is a
picture perfect evil mage. Bonuses for Raistlin’s candelabra staff, the rope
pillar from Sinbad and the tiny Tardis on the shelf by the skull.
Elmore’s painting of my favorite character, the
slain Sturm Brightblade, is an appropriate mix of sadness and steel. It galls
me a bit to realize that Sturm exists and dies largely to propel Laurana’s
story forward. On the other, it is nice to see a guy get fridged for a gal for
Lord Soth’s Charge is a two-page spread, so I
consoled myself with Clyde Caldwell’s “The Hands of Doom.” I still don’t know
how I feel about Kitiara. On one hand, the books seem to punish her for
embracing masculine pursuits (power, promiscuity). On the other, she’s an out
of control jerk. I find I don’t have much sympathy for her here, but Soth looks
I’ve always thought “Dragons of Faith,”
depicting the Perechon’s encounter with the Blood Sea maelstrom, was a great
mood piece. Recent conversation with my pal @SSDillonTattoo has made me doubt
what is going on with the bone structure in the dragon’s wings. My current
theory: not a dragon at all, but a tinker gnome air ship.
Finally, I’ve a fondness for Jeff Easley’s “The
Epic Quest” less because of Dragonlance and more because the portion featuring
Sturm was re-used to front module X10 – Red Arrow, Black Shield.