Mario is Missing! (SNES)

Mario Is Missing! Front Cover

Prediction

Mario might be the mascot of the series, but Luigi has always pulled his own. He’s even gone so far as to star in a few of his own games. Most people would probably know of Luigi’s solo adventures in the Luigi’s Mansion Series, but he was actually the star of his own game long before that with Mario is Missing.

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To be honest, this is a game that I know mostly by name only. I know the previous fact of it being one of Luigi’s solo adventures, but other than that I only know what I’ve gathered from the rare screenshot. These are very confusing because they show Luigi running around what looks like normal cities as opposed to the usual mushroom kingdom settings. So really, I’m not sure what to expect going into this.

Gameplay

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So the game starts with Mario falling down a hole and somehow landing in the Antarctic in front of a castle. Luigi and Yoshi are there already for some reason and are witness to Mario falling through yet another trap door. Looks like it’s up to Luigi to storm the castle on his own to save Mario.

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Inside, Luigi finds himself trapped in a room with 5 doors to choose from. Picking the first door, we’re somehow transported to the real world city of Rome, Italy. Of course, this isn’t immediately obvious. No, you need to talk to people walking around on the streets to gather up this information because it turns out we’ve accidentally started playing an educational game.

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As we wander around town taking in the sites, we find out that when Princess Peach isn’t running her kingdom or being kidnapped by Bowser, she apparently has a side job as a tour guide. Unfortunately, there has been a rash the thefts which have forced many of the world’s tourist spots to close to the public until the stolen items are returned. These items include a Gladiator’s Spear from The Colosseum, Coins from the Trevi Fountain, and somehow even the entire ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. How do you manage to steal an entire ceiling?

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With all these Koopa Troopas running around town, it’s really no question who is to blame for stealing these items. As with most of the Mario games, the attack of choice is to stomp on their heads to kill them. For most, they will explode into stars similar in animation to Super Mario World. However, the guilty Koopas will react differently by either violently exploding, shattering like glass, or my favorite blasting off into space like rockets. Regardless of which form of death befalls the thief, they leave behind their stolen items for Luigi to return.

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Of course, Peach can’t just take your word that you’re returning the real items. You have to answer trivia questions about the item to prove it’s the genuine article. Apparently there are a lot of people walking around with fake ceilings of the Sistine Chapel just looking for the opportunity to offload them. If you answer the questions correctly, Peach will believe it to be authentic and once again allow entry to the tourist spot.

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This process is repeated with the other stolen items until all three have been returned. Unfortunately, there is a Pokey enemy sticking out of the only warp tube back to the castle. If you want to get rid of him, you’ll have to guide Yoshi across the world map to your location. With Yoshi’s help, you’ll scare away the pokey and finally be done with this stage.

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Each of the other doors follows the same basic formula. You’ll visit Beijing, China where you must find a stone from the Great Wall of China, The Gate of Heavenly Peace from Tian An Men Square, and The entire Hall of Good Harvest from the Temple of Heaven.

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Then you’ll travel to Nairobi, Kenya on the East coast of Africa. Here a Headdress from the Maasai Village, an Ancient Human Skull from the National Museum of Kenya, and a baby elephant which looks suspiciously like a zebra from the Nairobi National Park were all stolen.

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From there, we travel to Moscow Russia. This time a Cannonball from the Tsar Cannon in the Kremlin, The Cathedral Dome of St Basil’s Cathedral, and ballet slippers from the Bolshoi Ballet have all been stolen.

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Passing through the final door brings us to San Francisco, California right here in the USA. The Koopas managed to steal the fog horn off the Golden Gate Bridge, windows from the Coit Tower, and impressively the entire top floors of the Transamerica Pyramid.

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Returning all the stolen items from all 5 of the doors brings us to our first “Boss Battle” against one of the Koopalings, Ludwig von Koopa. You’ll notice I put quotations around “Boss Battle” and that is because it’s an insult to the term to use it here. As an educational game, Luigi has no health bar, and therefore can take no damage. So with no threat of dying, Ludwig simply runs back and forth across the room without ever attacking or creating any sort of threat. To further add insult to this “Boss Battle” Ludwig is programmed to actively avoid Luigi, turning around in fear whenever you come too close. This combined with Ludwig’s speed make it rather difficult to actually land any attacks on him. But with no threat of dying, it’s really just a matter of time before you win, opening up another floor with another 5 doors that someone else will have to explore because I’ve already gone over on time for this review.

Verdict

As far as educational games go, this one isn’t bad. It’s not great, but it still manages to be entertaining to play. I’m a little upset it’s not an actual Mario game, but such is life. At least I didn’t pay full retail price for it. I admit I was kind of flying though the game since it’s meant for kids, but there were still a few interesting facts I felt I learned by playing it. So mission accomplished.

Price – $13.50

It must be because it’s a Mario game that the price is even this high. I’ve seen better games sell for less.

Fun Rating – 7 / 10

To be clear, as a standalone game, it’s pretty bad. However, looking at it strictly through the eyes of an educational game and it’s actually quite enjoyable. Most of the sprites look like they’re ripped straight from Super Mario World, which they probably are. The music was always remixes of Mario songs with some local flavor thrown in, which I thought was rather enjoyable. Then the trivia was entertaining without being very demanding. However, the information gained from people on the street was often useless to the point that I stopped talking to them entirely. Not that it mattered, the pamphlets Peach gives you have all the information you actually need.

Play Again? – Maybe

It’s not something I’d be willing to play for hours at a time. But maybe in small bursts. Just to see the end.

Total Deaths – 0 Deaths

Luigi couldn’t die, they wouldn’t let me kill him.

 

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Let me see if I understand this. The Mayor offered a $1500 reward for the safe return of “a few coins”?

Tax dollars at work!

 

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