Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA) – Part 05 – The Chucklehuck Woods

-The Chucklehuck Woods-

After some time training, we do finally head southwest towards Chateau de Chucklehuck in the Chucklehuck Woods. We are unfortunately stopped at the gates by a pair of rather fancy looking guards. They tell us that entry into the woods is permitted only for select individuals in order to guard the ecology. Considering we just spent the last half hour or so randomly killing the local wildlife, I don’t really think we should be one of those select individuals. However, one flash of the Beanbean Brooch is enough to make the list. And the guards quickly move aside to allow us entry.

The gate lowers into the ground and the guards encourage us to try to Full-Flavored Chuckola Cola while we’re here. I wonder how it’s related to the Chuckola Reserve. That thought quickly leaves our mind as we start our destruction of the local ecology. No sooner are we out of sight of the guards do we start our systematic genocide of every creature in sight, starting with this pair of Parabeanies. Thankfully for the environment, Chateau de Chucklehuck isn’t very far from the entrance, and only a few creatures were harmed along the way.

Upon entering Chateau de Chucklehuck, we’re greeted with a quick lesson on the creation of Chuckola Cola in the form of several statues depicting the various stages of the brewing process.

Step 1: The main Ingredient of Chuckola Cola is Chuckola Fruit, which grows only in Chucklehuck Woods.

Step 2: Place one Chuckola Fruit in a barrel that’s been filled to the brim with savory syrup.

Step 3: Tell funny jokes to the fruit until it laughs, releasing soda bubbles deep within the brew.

Step 4: Bear in mind that the quality of both the fruit and the jokes will affect the brewing process.

Then the tour ends with a statue of Bubbles, the father of Chuckola Cola and the founder of the Chateau.

From here, all we can do is wander into the warehouse where we find barrels of Chuckola Cola stacked wall to wall and up practically to the ceiling. If it weren’t for small gaps in the barrels to walk through, we wouldn’t be able to move at all. From a gameplay standpoint, this means we’ll have to navigate an invisible maze through the sea of barrels. Somewhere along the way, however, Luigi seems to have been separated from Mario. In his place is this bandit who quickly runs off once Mario notices the swap.

Luigi quickly finds his way out of the maze to reunite with his brother and together they give chase. It isn’t long before we catch sight of the thief once more whom we now know is named Popple. Feeling cornered, Popple calls for his Rookie accomplice to come to his aid.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but this Rookie looks kind of familiar. Judging from Mario and Luigi’s expressions, I can tell they feel the same way. Even the Rookie is having feelings like he already knows our heroes. Weird.

All our attempts at solving the mystery however are quickly cut off by Popple who seems to be in a particularly bad mood. It would seem we’re both after the same thing, the Chuckola Reserve, and he isn’t too happy to have any new competition while trying to get it. At this point, there’s really nothing we can do to calm him down, and our battle is inevitable.

It doesn’t take very long to realize that this fight with Popple is going to be very annoying. Being a thief and all, Popple will use his talents to steal items right out of our pockets. Since we’re still relatively early in the game, we don’t have a whole lot of items to begin with. But to see him use the items to heal himself means this is going to be a long fight.

If that’s how he’s going to fight, we’re just going to have to take him out first. No reason to drag this out longer than we have to. If he were fighting alone, that might even be a good plan. But Rookie appears to be fiercely loyal and will send a barrage of hammers to rain down on anyone that causes harm to his boss.

So if we can’t attack Popple, it looks like we’ll have to take out Bowser Rookie first. But again, this is easier said than done. Thanks to Popple constantly stealing our items, it also means he’s going to be constantly healing Rookie after any damage we do to him.

The battle continues like this for several rounds, with neither side appearing to take any significant advantage. However, the prolonged battle seems to be churning up something inside Rookie, helping him recall some lost memories, and causing his gut to flare up something fierce.

In that moment, Rookie discovered he has the ability to breathe fire! It clearly came as quite the shock to him, but it seems to have just overjoyed Popple who is now even more determined to defeat the Mario Brothers.

Death Count: Mario – 4, Luigi – 1, Game Over – 1

Under the strain of this new found power, Mario eventually succumbs to his injuries. It’s a good thing Luigi is around, or Mario would have been done for.

Feeling refreshed after coming back from the dead, Mario quickly turns the tables on the battle by taking out Rookie. Apparently his new power was just too much for him and after taking one too many hits, he explodes right in the middle of the battle.

Without Rookie to support him, Popple no longer likes his odds in this battle. At the first opportunity, he too leaves the battle, defeated, but alive to fight another day. And you can bet he won’t forget our heroes, he’ll be back.

Of course, this loss doesn’t do anything to ease Popple’s rage, and so he starts lashing out at Rookie. After all he’s done for Rookie, this is how his kindness is repaid. When Popple found him, he was dazed and confused lost up in the mountains. Popple took care of him and he can’t even defeat his enemies. He should be ashamed of himself.

Unlike most villains, this defeat has not done anything to discourage Popple from his objective. He still plans to find the Chuckola Reserve before we do. In fact, if he leaves now, he can probably even still beat us there. And so off he goes, followed closely behind by his still ever loyal Rookie.

Once again alone in the Chateau, we start our exploration in hopes of finding some clue as to where the Chuckola Reserve actually is. That’s when we stumble upon quite the discovery. After accidentally knocking over a barrel, it breaks to reveal Cork and his younger brother Cask, the two maîtres of the Chateau.

It would seem the two were forced into the barrel by Popple and Rookie as they tried to find the Chuckola Reserve. However, the Reserve isn’t here in the Chateau, it’s somewhere deep in the woods.

That is, if it actually exists at all. Apparently the Chuckola Reserve is so rare that even the two maîtres of the chateau have never had the honor of tasting it. They’ve never even see it in fact. So there is the possibility that it really is just a legend.

Assuming it does exist, the woods are considered a nature sanctuary. As such, nature has fully taken over the area making it quite difficult to traverse. And the monsters of the woods have grown quite dangerous. Not too dangerous for our heroes however. With their ability to jump over obstacles and their hammers to defend against enemies, they might just have what it takes to get through the woods alive.

As strong as we are, we still don’t have the skills needed to make it through the woods. As luck would have it, the brothers seem to know just what we need. Not only that, but they’re willing to teach us two new hammer techniques to show their gratitude that we rescued them. We should feel honored. These techniques have been perfected through generations here in the Chateau and they are willing to now pass them down to us.

The first technique is taught to Luigi. If he takes his hammer and bashes Mario over the head with it, Mario will become very small. Once Mario is that size, he will be small enough to fit through tiny mouse holes or other small openings that he would normally be too big to fit through.

Once he’s done being small, apparently it is as easy as hitting Mario again to turn him back to normal size. I guess the second hit causes major swelling to grow back to normal.

Now that we’ve seen how it’s done, it’s time to give it a try ourselves. So Luigi winds up his swing and really bashes Mario as hard as he can in the back of the head with his hammer. Sure enough, Mario is beaten down to a rather microscopic size after such an impressive blow.

Of course, they did offer to teach us two techniques, and this time it’s Mario’s turn to hit Luigi. The method is pretty much the same, one brother just has to hit the other with the hammer as hard as they can. However, with Luigi’s thinner physique, he does not get flattened down like a pancake. Instead he becomes buried in the ground like a nail in a board.

Unlike a nail, Luigi is apparently capable of moving around underground in this state, much like a mole. Thanks to this, we can use this technique to bypass things like fences which would otherwise block our path.

Again, practice makes perfect, and so Mario winds up for a swing just as strong as Luigi did. Sure enough Luigi is driven down into the ground with only his little hat sticking up to know he was ever there in the first place. Thankfully, Luigi can free himself from the ground whenever he wants. He doesn’t need to be hit again like Mario does when he becomes small.

Not satisfied just showing us the techniques, the two maîtres insist on giving us a test to prove we have it down. As luck would have it, they have just such a test set up in the next room. If we can retrieve the two Cola Goblets, two of the greatest treasures of the kingdom, we will have proven our mastery of these new skills.

The first goblet was easy enough to acquire. Simply shrink Mario down so he’s small enough to fit through the mouse hole. Then in his small size he can easily enter the room and get the Red Goblet off the table.

The second goblet is a little bit trickier. Getting Luigi under the fence was easy enough. Just as the maîtres said, Luigi was more than capable of tunneling his way around underground and popping up on the other side of the fence. Unfortunately, the second goblet is placed on a stand that is too high even for Luigi to jump up to. Also, without Mario’s help he can’t get under the fence again to get out of the room.

Thankfully, there is a button on the wall that opens the gate. With the gate down, the brothers are reunited and together can perform a high jump to reach the second goblet. Just like that they have the Green Goblet as well and have passed the test.

The maîtres are so impressed with our quick work that they are simply dumbfounded. There is nothing left for them to teach us. We are now the masters of the hammer techniques passed down through generations.

Our training complete, we are finally allowed to enter the Chucklehuck Woods. Just as the maîtres said, it is quite overgrown and enemies are literally falling out of the trees to attack us. You can’t tell from the still pictures, but that spiky little thing over by the tree actually just hatched from a nut that fell out of the tree.

These creatures, called pestnuts, are actually quite the annoying pests. During this first encounter, they quickly scurried off screen to the right. At first I had thought they were simply too scared of the raw power emanating from our heroes and were trying to escape. That thought was almost instantly dashed when it appeared on the left behind our heroes, attacking them from out of sight.

In retaliation, we bash those little buggers as hard as we can with our hammer. So hard in fact that all their quills fall off, revealing the much weaker Beanie inside. We know what to do to take care of them!

As we slaughter our way through the Woods, an interesting thing happens. After knocking the quills off of one of the Pestnuts, the Beanie inside was a bright and shiny looking gold color. I can only imagine this gold beanie would have been worth more experience or possible give more money upon defeat. Unfortunately I may never know because it fled the battle before we could defeat it.

Enemies aside, just traversing the woods is going to be a hassle. Thankfully there is a handy map nearby to show us where to go. There isn’t a lot of detail to the map, but we can piece a few things together. We are currently at the south east corner (just outside the picture) next to the Chateau. In the south west corner appears to be a rather ominous looking door we’ll probably have to open. But most importantly, that smiley face to the North I can only imagine is the location of the elusive Chuckola Reserve.

Before getting too deep into the Woods, we do stumble across one happy discovery. These giant green warp pipes are apparently the fast travel systems of the game. The only other pipe we’ve found so far was back in the Stardust Fields, so it’s the only other location currently available. But as we progress, this will no doubt become quite useful to get around quickly.

It doesn’t take long before we are forced to put our new skills to use. Without Luigi’s ability to tunnel under fences, we would have been stopped right here in the second section of the woods. Even if we logically just walked around this small section of fence, we still wouldn’t have been able to make our way through these small openings if we weren’t capable of making Mario tiny.

As amazing as these new powers are, we still have a lot to learn it would seem. That’s made painfully clear when we find yet another Giant Koopa blocking our path. If we can’t push it aside, I would have thought Luigi would be able to tunnel under it. Sadly that is not the case and we’ll simply have to make yet another mental note to come back here at some point.

With one path blocked, we press onwards down the only other available path. It is here that we come upon our first puzzle of the woods. There is a barrel and a mysterious button on the ground. Naturally, we can’t leave a button un-pressed, and so we step on it straight away. Unfortunately this causes the green head on the nearby cliff side to send a fireball flying straight at our heroes.

Had we taken the extra two seconds to fully explore the area, we may have actually seen this sign telling us what to do to avoid such a fate. Apparently this puzzle is as easy as using Luigi’s new tunneling ability to tunnel under the barrel and pop up inside of it. Once inside it becomes quite easy to move it around.

Now that Luigi is protected with the barrel, the fireball can no longer hurt him. In fact, the fireball will bounce off the barrel and travel right back to the green head, destroying it in the process. Once destroyed, a platform will rise up from the ground, giving up the foothold we need to continue deeper into the Woods.

Shortly after this puzzle, we find ourselves in a small area with a few ?-Blocks and a couple of those odd circle patterns with the X on them. That’s when the idea finally struck me. What if we use Luigi’s new tunnel ability to dig up whatever treasure is buried here. X marks the spot after all, there has to be treasure under it. Sure enough, we are right. These odd markings found all throughout the Beanbean kingdom mark the locations of hidden Chuckle Beans. What are Chuckle beans, and why do we need them? I have no idea. But I still feel like I can consider this one mystery solved.

Happy to have made some progress in the growing list of mysteries, we press onward to find our next puzzle. This time we do the smart thing and actually read the signage first. After that, the solution is pretty obvious. Once Luigi gets inside the barrel and moves it into place, Mario needs to jump on top and press the button on the wall which was previously too high to hit.

We know we’ve made some significant progress now when we come across Chuckleroot, the protector of the woods. Just beyond him is apparently the Great Tree: Mother Chuckola. Before explaining anything else about him, I have to point out something weird that he is doing. As you can see, he is very clearly 3 separate parts of tree that are just coming together to make 1 tree. As he talks, he keeps kind of shifting his parts around so that he’s always in a very awkward disjointed configuration.

Anyway, Chuckleroot tasks us with a seemingly simple task which we already know is going to be anything but simple. In the woods there are apparently three different kinds of Chuckola Fruit. There is White Fruit, Red Fruit, and Purple Fruit as he so clearly demonstrates by changing the colors of his three segments. If we can bring back all three fruits, he will let us pass. Naturally, he lowers the nearby gates to grant us access to the deepest parts of the woods where these fruits must be waiting.

Of the two newly opened paths, we choose to take the left path for no reason other than the habit of doing things from left to right. It would seem luck was on our side down this path, as right away we encounter another of the golden Beanies, and this time we managed to kill it before it ran away. Just as I previously suspected, the golden beanies give significantly more experience than their normal counterparts. In this battle we gains 103 experience compared to the 57 experience we usually get from similar encounters.

Onward we travel deeper into the woods when we happen across Chuckleroot’s Granddaughter. She isn’t very pleased that we have simply barged right into her room, but none the less she is willing to tell us a secret since we’re here anyway. How nice of her.

Apparently, this is where we are given the tutorial on digging up the Chuckle Beans. But we already figured that out on our own. Either way, she tasks us with digging up all 5 of the beans hidden in this area before she will lower the gate to the next area for us. Again, I’m not really sure why we want all these beans, but I’m sure we’ll be happy to have them.

Just past the granddaughter, we spot what looks like the Red Chuckola Fruit on the other side of a hedge wall. Unfortunately, it looks like a large wiggler has gone and gotten itself stuck in the only entranceway. But not to worry, our heroes take turns jumping on the creature to ahem persuade it to leave.

With the passage now clear, all we have to do is shrink Mario down so he’ll fit through the small opening, and the first of the three fruits will be ours. Or so we thought. The wiggler we just assaulted seems to have different plans for us as it bursts it way through the hole looking none too happy with our heroes.

If it wasn’t obvious before, it becomes perfectly clear during the battle how pissed this Wiggler actually is. It’s so mad that steam is coming out of its nose. Not only that, but with its massive body, it is capable of whipping itself onto the ground with such force to cause a shockwave to travel towards us.

We have to calm this thing down, and do it fast. What better way to do that than to simply change its color. Right now it’s this angry red color. We don’t want that, we need to change it into a nice calm yellow color. Now that it’s nice and calm, a bash to the head is enough to do some massive damage. This of course simply enrages the Wriggler again and it will be back to an angry red again and we’re right back where we started.

As mad as it may be, it is still just a wriggler. A few cycles of this is all the poor thing can take before it eventually runs away crying. We almost feel bad for the poor thing. But there’s no time for that, we’re here with a job to do. With the Wiggler out of the way, we can go in and grab the Red Chuckola Fruit we were looking for.

Pushing onwards towards the next Chuckola Fruit, we have to battle our way through a handful of Chuck Guys and Fuzzbushes, Both of which are annoying for their own reasons. The Chuck Guys are annoying because, as their name suggests, they will chuck their spear at us. While still in the overworld, being hit with a spear is the same as touching the enemy and will bring us into battle. The Fuzzbushes on the other hand are annoying because they are the first enemy so far that causes a status effect. The Fuzzbush will send a handful of Fuzzies at our heroes which will poison them if they make contact.

Eventually, we make our way to the Purple Chuckola Cave. Seeing as we had to fight a giant Wiggler for the last one, I was expecting another epic battle here. But that was not the case. Quite the opposite, there was nothing at all in the cave that was of any real annoyance. There were some bicycle pads we had to use to get over a large gap. But other than that, the cave was only filled with ?-Blocks and the Purple Chuckola Fruit.

This cave thankfully circles back around to drop us off pretty much right in front on Chuckleroot. Since there’s only 1 fruit left, and we’ve thoroughly searched the left side of the woods, it’s time to head over to the right side and see what lies in wait for us there. Here we find a puzzle tutorial telling us about controlling the brothers independently of each other. Normally the brothers stick together like glue. But whenever Mario goes through a small hole, or Luigi goes under a fence, the two become separated. We’ve already seen that. However, we now know that we can switch between the brothers during these times. And that’s what this puzzle is all about. Mario will go and open a gate for Luigi, and Luigi will then open a gate for Mario.

We go back and forth like this for a few gates until suddenly there is no button for Luigi to press. That’s when we have to back track and reunite the Brothers. Once united Mario can drive Luigi into the ground and slip right under this gate.

Hitting the final button on the wall opens up the gate to the white Chuckola Fruit, but only for a limited time. We have only 15 seconds to jump the hedge wall to reunite the brothers, rush back to the start, shrink Mario down so he can fit through the opening, and then make a dash to the White Chuckola Fruit before the gate closes again.

Thanks to a few flubbed actions, Mario just barely makes it through the gate in time. It practically hit him on its way up from the ground. But the important thing is we made it through the gate and the White Chuckola Fruit is ours. That makes all three colors of Chuckola Fruit. Time to head back and reap our rewards.

The look on Chuckleroot’s face when we return with all three fruits almost makes the whole experience worth it. He is just so happy and amazed by our actions. He’s even brought to tears as he somehow manages to rapidly change the colors of the three sections of his body. As promised, for collecting all three fruits, he will let us pass and meet the great tree Mother Chuckola.

We’re not the only ones happy by this news however. It would seem Popple and Rookie couldn’t figure out a way past Chuckleroot and decided to just hide in the shadows waiting for us to figure it out for them. Now that the path is open, they have decided to come out and gloat about their brilliantly lazy scheme.

The two rush ahead before we have time to stop them. At this rate, they may just make it to the Chuckola Reserve before us after all. The only thing we can do now is chase after them straight to Mother Chuckola and hope there is another obstacle to stop them again.

I don’t think we were fully prepared for what we actually found inside however. There is a large barrel filled with what I can only assume is the Chuckola Reserve. So in that regard, mission accomplished. But there is also a mysterious old man sitting next to the barrel telling just terrible soda related puns and jokes.

Turns out this is actually Bubbles, the original owner of Chateau de Chucklehuck and the founder of Chuckola Cola Inc. Apparently he is also the “Ultimate Comedian”, but after hearing some of his jokes I would like to bring that title into question. Either way, I had thought he was long dead by now the way Cork and Cask were talking about him. What has he been doing out here all this time?

After a brief moment to explain the current situation to Bubbles, he confirms that this is indeed the Legendary Chuckola Reserve we have been searching for. Not only that, but he is openly offering it to us to enjoy. Or in our case, cure the queen with.

This is made even more generous as Bubbles explains he has been here for the last 1000 years making the Chuckola Reserve. Just sitting here telling it joke after joke until it matured. Trying to make the greatest soda of all time. I take back my jab about him not being a good comedian. If you can keep telling new jokes for 1000 years straight, you may indeed be the greatest comedian ever.

We also learn the fate of Popple and Rookie who ran in before us. Apparently the soda doesn’t like rude guests, and so the two of them were crammed into barrels and strung up from the ceiling. Serves them right for trying to steal it.

Bubble continues to rain praise down on the Chuckola Reserve which he has spent the last millennium working on. That’s when things get weird. Without warning, the Chuckola Reserve takes on a rather savage form. Fashioning itself a shield from the remains of the barrel it was housed in as well as extending its body into the shape of a sword.

It suddenly enters a death spin, attacking Popple and Rookie and sending them flying. Bubble however continues to praise his creation. For all we know, this is a normal part of the soda making process.

And that’s when Bubble officially turns crazy and sends his creation at our heroes. From the sounds of it, this is EXACTLY, what he was hoping for the whole time, and he has spent the last 1000 years of his life breeding this perfect soda monster.

Death Count: Mario – 5, Luigi – 1, Game Over – 1

This of course is a terrible situation for us. Not only does the Chuckolator (Yes, this thing is called a Chuckolator) have very solid offence and defense thanks to its fluid, shapeshifting nature. I appear to have been incredibly stupid with this fight. We went into the battle with very little health, and for some reason, rather than healing right away, we went on a full offensive. This ended just about as badly as you would expect with Mario collapsing just a few turns into the fight.

With Luigi’s help, Mario gets back up on his feet, and he even manages to destroy the Chuckolator’s shield. You would think this would be a good thing, as it would leave it vulnerable to attack. Quite the contrary. Without a shield to occupy one of its arms, it simply switches to a full offensive mode with a sword in one hand and a soda shooter in the other.

Gradually, we learn the pattern to avoid Chuckolator’s attacks. When it swings its sword, it launches a mass of soda along the ground which is easy enough to destroy with the hammer. Then when it shoots the Soda Gun it launches a bouncing ball of soda. Because of the size of this attack, it is still somewhat difficult to avoid it, but with good timing we can in fact jump over it.

The battle continues for quite some time before we see any noticeable dent being made. After beating it into submission, the Chuckolator eventually shrinks down to a much smaller size, losing its arms in the process. That’s when Bubble comes dancing into the battle to perk up his creation with another of his jokes. I think it’s a terrible joke, it’s barely even a pun, but it was apparently enough to keep the Chuckolator going.

Feeling refreshed, the Chuckolator charges forward into our heroes, doing whatever it can to damage them. However, it ended up being a case of too little too late, as the battle concluded just a few short turns later.

Bubbles doesn’t seem to take his creation’s defeat too well, as he does the typical villain monologue. All the jokes and puns he’s been telling for the last 1000 years were wasted in an instant. I can’t really blame him for being upset. That’s a lot of time to waste.

His rage becomes overwhelming as he starts dancing around with such force that he actually causes cracks to form in the ground. It would seem Bubble was aware of some underground cave below us because his actions finally take form when the ground falls out below our heroes.

Gravity now firmly in control of the situation, we see the barrel of Chuckola Reserve hit the ground first, thankfully it appears undamaged from the fall. That changes quickly as Mario is right behind it, splashing down right into the barrel. Luigi however lands a short distance away, and it would seem it is once again in Luigi’s hands to rescue his brother.

This right here is where my gaming OCS kicks in. Whenever I play RPGs where you keep the same party for the entirety of the game, I am compelled to keep everyone at the exact same experience for the whole play through. As it is, this game has already slightly triggered me in this regard with the fact that the brothers don’t gain levels at the same rate even though they have the same experience. Also, since this is the first time the brothers have been separated, I’m not sure if Mario will gain experience as well, even though he’s not in the party. Some games do that. But I’m going to edge on the side of caution and assume he will not. So for this short cave area, Luigi is going to have to go full stealth mode and try to avoid combat with any of the enemies in the area until we can reunite with Mario.

Unfortunately for us, when we do find Mario it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to pull him out of the barrel, he seems quite stuck. Luckily, Luigi has the brilliant plan to simply push the barrel into the water and drift it downstream like a raft. This has the two fold benefit of freeing us from this cave and safely transporting us right back to the castle, which is apparently just downstream. Hopefully now we cure the queen.