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A series of Japanese RPGs for Nintendo handheld systems, starring the eponymous Super Mario Brothers. It's the third RPG series to star Mario, the first being the one-shot Super Mario RPG, made by Squaresoft, and the second being the Paper Mario series.On the surface, the games are fairly standard RPG stuff, with a field screen, a map, and a battle screen, equipment and items to collect, a smattering of statistics, and a suitably grand adventure. What sets it apart is how it integrates classic Mario elements into an RPG. The two leads are joined at the hip, the field screen is negotiated with platform action, and all sorts of action elements are added to the battles, up to elaborate "Bros" attacks which can be shockingly demanding. Enemy attacks can be avoided completely with proper timing, and can even result in counter-attacks.Also, as the title implies, Luigi, ever the Lesser Star in most Mario games, is given a much more prominent role here than in any other Spin-Off game other than Luigis Mansion and its sequel. Many of the jokes revolve around his tradition of staying behind during Mario's other adventures and how hardly anyone knows who he is outside of the Mushroom Kingdom. But at the same time, he also gets to make a name for himself through his own heroics in each entry of the series, to point where he eventually earns the remembrance of characters who start off unable to remember his name.There are currently four games in this series:
Action Commands: Very vital in combat. Aside from boosting your attacks, they can also be used to dodge or even counter enemy attacks.
A Day in the Limelight: Luigi gets a much more prominent role in these games than he does in most other games in the franchise, particularly in Superstar Saga and Dream Team.
Bowser's Inside Story is, naturally, one of these for Bowser.
Partners in Time for the babies, especially Baby Luigi who's usually the one who needs to be saved.
Adventure Duo: Throughout the games, Mario and Luigi explore together the Bean Bean Kingdom (Superstar Saga), Mushroom Kingdom's Past (Partners In Time), inside Bowser (Bowser's Inside Story), in Mushroom Kingdom's Present (also Bowser's inside story), Pi'illo Island (Dream Team) and the Dream World (Also Dream Team).
After Boss Recovery: In the first two games, the Bros. will always be healed after every boss they fight (and fallen ones will be revived).
Butt Monkey: Poor Luigi. At least he regularly gets to wallop Mario on the head. Bowser gets kicked around quite a bit as well. Luigi's status as a Butt Monkey is considerably lessened in Bowser's Inside Story. He still gets the shaft, but not nearly as much (or as forced) like in the preceding titles in the series. Ditto with Bowser, who becomes one of the main characters.
Cap: Levels stop at 99, and you can only carry 99 of each item.
As far as Bowser's Inside Story goes, damage caps at 9,999. It's somewhat impractical though, because only one thing will even have that much HP (Exactly that much.) and it still requires you to power it up. It's Bowser X. Without the Challenge Medal, he has 8,000 HP.
Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Critical hits = "Lucky hits" (in addition to what the games call critical hits: using an attack that an enemy is weak to), Skill/Luck = "'Stache", MP = "BP" ("Bros. Points") in the first game and "SP" ("Skill Points") in the third.
Combination Attack: All of the special attacks are these. Even Bowser's Specials involve teaming up with his minions.
Counter Attack: During the enemy's turn, you can dodge their attacks and hit them back with jump and hammer attacks. Hypothetically, you can even get through an entire game without taking any damage at all aside from a small handful of Always Accurate Attacks.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: Invoked by certain enemies throughout the game; some will switch between attacks you have to jump to dodge and attacks you have to do nothing to dodge. Also, later enemies will especially take advantage of players who press both Bros' buttons at the same time to dodge instead of figuring out which Bro is being attacked by making it so that dodging with the Bro not being attacked will cause him to be hit while jumping.
Denser and Wackier: Without question, these games are the silliest in the Mario Bros. universe.
The Drag-Along: Luigi, literally so in Superstar Saga: when Mario gets the news that Bowser is attacking the Mushroom Kingdom again, he immediately rushes out of his shower and jumps into his clothes, while Luigi is hanging them. This results in Mario running to the castle with the rope still attached to his clothes... and Luigi all wrapped in the rope.
Emergency Energy Tank: The Max Mushroom, which completely restores a selected brother's HP; the Max Syrup, which restores all Bros. Points; the 1-Up Super Mushroom, which revives a KO'd brother with max HP, and the Golden Mushroom (replaced by Star Candy in the third game), which restores all HP and BP.
Escape Battle Technique: The series has a 'Run' option for this. In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, you had to hammer the A and B buttons to make Mario and Luigi run while coins fell out their pockets, in later games you just hit the run command and immediately flee the battle. As per the norm, it doesn't work in boss battles.
Evolving Attack: In Superstar Saga, if the brothers used their Bros. Attacks enough times, Mario would pause, think, and then talk to Luigi for a moment, making suggestions. This unlocked a secret alternate version of the Attack, often with its own unique properties. The alternate Spin Jump attack, for example, allows Mario to jump on spiked enemies, ignoring the defenses of The Spiny.
For the Evulz: The only explanation for around half of Fawful's actions.
The Goomba: Each of the games in the Mario & Luigi series puts its own unique spin on the Goomba. The Trope Namer also appears in all four games, playing different roles in each.
The first game, Superstar Saga, takes place in the Mushroom Kingdom's neighboring country, the Beanbean Kingdom, where everything is bean-themed instead of mushroom-themed. Their Goomba equivalent is the Beanie, a creature who looks like a bean with a face and two feet. Actual Goombas also appear in the game as training bosses. It should be noted that the actual weakest enemies in the game are Fighter Flies, who live on the border between the two kingdoms.
The second game, Partners in Time, takes place during an Alien Invasion. The weakest enemies in the game are alien Goombas called Shrooblets. Actual Goombas also appear later on, once again being tougher than normal.
The third game, Bowser's Inside Story, is a "Fantastic Voyage" Plot through Bowser's body. The weakest enemies inside Bowser are single-celled Goombas called Goombules. The weakest enemies outside Bowser are Chuboombas, chubby Goombas who love candy. Actual Goombas also appear as Summon Magic. Flaming Goombas that stomp enemies, no less. The same Goombas are also Bowser's only way of countering one of Dark Fawful's attacks, by punching them into him, no less.
The fourth game, Dream Team, features Grombas as the weakest enemy in the overworld, while Drombas are the weakest enemy in the Dream World. Actual Goombas appear as (somewhat late) midgame enemies where they usually work together with Fly Guys or each other to try to overwhelm Mario and Luigi, either through Zerg Rush (with other Goombas) or through Death from Above (with the help of the Fly Guys). They are even used as cavalry, being carried into battle by the Fly Guys to increase their numbers. Both Goombas and Fly Guys also have stronger versions of themselves that appear as mid-to-lategame enemies. Finally, Goombas remain one of the only enemies that are faced in both the real world, and the dream world (the latter as assisting enemies in a boss battle with the Elite Trio, one of which is a Goomba), and Dreamy Goombas can be summoned by the Final Boss, Dreamy Bowser.
Inconsistent Translation: The Spanish translators give Fawful a different name in every game. It doesn't help that the European and the American teams are different, so there are inconsistencies even between the two localizations of Bowser's Inside Story.
Informed Equipment: You never see any of the special gear or badges on Mario and Luigi's actual sprites. Then again, they could just all look identical to their normal clothing and differ merely by effect, it's never explained.
Luck Stat: 'Stache increases chance of critical hit and improves prices in stores.
Bowser's equivalent stat is called 'Horns'.
Magic Mushroom: Even more mushrooms are added, with plenty of interesting effects. The most prominent is the Vacuum Shroom, which starts off the third game by giving Bowser the ability to inhale stuff, such as the Mario Bros.
Man Hug: Mario and Luigi do this fairly frequently after one or both have been rescued from danger, another way of showing how much they care for each other.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: Fawful goes from being a joke of a shopkeeper in Partners in Time that incessantly mutters about revenge...to actually carrying those muttered threats out in Bowser's Inside Story, where he's the Big Bad!
Likewise, Bowser went from Butt Monkey to a Hot-Blooded Badass, though not without some help from Mario and Luigi.
The games seem to have fallen into the tradition of having Bowser as a tutorial boss (in the second game, it's Baby Bowser). Dream Team broke this tradition by having Antasma as the tutorial boss instead.
Also, a Womb Level is present in the first three games, getting larger as the series progresses. In the first one, it's merely the setting for the final battle. In the second one it's the second half of the second "world". In the third game it takes up about half the game.
Another element present in the first three games is collecting the pieces of a special star. The first game has the four pieces of the Beanstar, the second game has the six pieces of the Cobalt Star, and the third game has the three Star Cures that combine to form the star-shaped Miracle Cure. This is Averted in Dream Team, however: the Plot Coupon is the pieces of the Ultibed which is... a bed that is the only way to get the Bros. to the Zeekeeper.
The final boss of the first three game also has an uncanny habit of entering Bowser and using his powers, as well as being defeated while inside him. In the first one Cackletta's soul possessed him to become Bowletta, and then died after the Bros. were sucked inside him and fought her personally, in the second the Elder Princess Shroob's ghost possessed him to become Shrowser, and was killed when all of Bowser's attacks missed and hit her ghost instead, and in the third the Dark Star entered his body to copy his DNA and become Dark Bowser, who was even destroyed when Bowser inhaled its power source and let the Bros. whale on it. Subverted with the fourth one, where Bowser himself is the final boss. However, he still eats something to power himself up: the shards of the Dream Stone.
There is a fake Peach in every game except for the third. The first has Luigi and Birdo, the second has Princess Shroob, and the fourth has Kamek.
A Wiggler is always a boss, between the Wiggler living in Chucklehuck Woods in the first game, the Shroob-Wiggler hybrid Swiggler in the second, the vegetable farming Wiggler in the third, and the Wiggler from the fourth who is fought with Popple.
Pun-Based Title: When the English localizers named Partners in Time and Bowser's Inside Story as such, they made the titles puns: the first is a pun on the phrase "partners in crime" with the last word changed to "time," which rhymes with it and reflects the Time Travel theme of that game. When Bowser's Inside Story's title says "inside story," it means it literally—the Mario Bros. end up accidentally getting swallowed by Bowser.
Recurring Boss: Bowser will always be fought more than once in every M&L game.
Rhymes on a Dime: Parodied by Fawful who sings an elaborate rhyming song but is unable to think of something that rhymes with his name for the last line and settles for "Something... else that... rhymes... I HAVE CHORTLES!!!"
Rule of Funny: Everything. Also the general answer of anything in the Headscratchers page.
Sequel Difficulty Spike: The stats of bosses and such like in the second game are ridiculously hard compared to the first one.
That's because you have four brothers. That gives you more attack power and more longevity. If the enemies had stats in line with those from the first game, they'd be wiped out.
The third game takes a ridiculous one with the Bro. Attacks and minigames.
The fourth game eventually becomes downright brutal, especially when compared to the previous games. Enemies become powerful enough to take entire chunks out of your hit points, with attack "tells" being much harder to spot. Several bosses have attacks that are both fast and powerful, and the complexity of their bigger moves only adds to the difficulty.note One of the last bosses (Final Antasma) even has an attack that goes on for eternity if you don't stop it yourself. Don't be surprised if the last bosses can kill you in a few hits. There's also the added Expert Challenges, which dare you to fight in certain ways in order to obtain points to unlock rewards.
Sequel Escalation: Stats of both the Mario Bros and enemies get higher in each game, and the damage calculation becomes more unforgiving to match. Partners in Time used division instead of subtraction to calculate damage, so damage in that game went much higher than that in Superstar Saga. Enemies with the same stats would do about twice as much damage in Bowser's Inside Story as what they did in Partners in Time.
Sequential Boss: Every final boss in the series comes in at least two parts. The one for Bowser's Inside Story is slightly different, given that one part is outside Bowser and one part is inside. Averted with Dream Team. Dreamy Bowser is the only Final Boss.
Speaking Simlish: Mario and Luigi speak in a vaguely Italian sounding gibberish babble, in additon to each other's names and affirmative noises. It's pretty well done and at least sounds somewhat Italian. Otherwise, the bros are Heroic Mimes.
Theme Naming: Everywhere! Beans, laughter, and of course the second game stuck the word "Shroob" into anything villainous. Fawful in the third game likes to add parts of his name to his minions, like Crawfuls. The fourth one goes with references to sleep.
Took a Level in Badass: Bowser took levels in badass as the series went along. In Superstar Saga, he's a Butt Monkey. In Partners in Time, he's an actual threat, albeit a minor one. In Bowser's Inside Story, he's a protagonist. In Dream Team, he replaces Antasma, the supposed Big Bad, as the game's main antagonist.
Verbal Tic: In the Japanese version, Gerakobits (Fawful) repeats all of his "ru" sentence endings ten or twenty times. Whether or not the sentence actually ends with a "ru" rurururururururu. The warbling effect isn't unlike Penchinon. While translations of Fawful's dialogue in other languages don't keep this, it can still be heard in his Voice Grunting.
Who Is This Guy Again?: Luigi, at least to Bowser and his goons, who instead call him "Green Mario," "Green 'Stache" and the like. Subverted at the end of Dream Team, where Bowser finally remembers his real name after having deemed him a Worthy Opponent this time around.
Wrap Around: Many enemies have this, such as charging off one side of the screen and coming back from the other.