Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA) – Part 07 – Woohoo Hooniversity

-Woohoo Hooniversity-

We continued to do some mild exploration, digging up Chuckle Beans and training with the local enemies, but eventually we headed down to Woohoo Hooniversity as we had previously been instructed to. The fate of the world is at hand after all, we can’t just let that slide forever.

Once inside, the chaos hits us pretty quickly. After hearing panicked shouting, our heroes are nearly trampled by what can only be described as a stampede of scientists as they try desperately to flee the building and escape from whatever Cackletta is doing.

As we approach one unfortunate scientist who failed to escape unharmed, we learn that Cackletta is actually transforming all the professors into monsters. No wonder everyone else was in such a rush.

Then, right before our eyes, it happens. The scientist we were just talking to starts writhing in pain as he himself is transformed into one of Cackletta’s monsters. It’s a sad turn of events, but we have no choice now but to defend ourselves and fight him.

It would appear this scientist has transformed into a Laser Snifit, and is beyond our help. On its own, it isn’t much of a threat, but it’s going to take a few encounters to get the timing right to dodge its attacks. It is quickly defeated and we continue into the school until we find a map of the area. At first glance, this school seems like it’s going to be quite a bit bigger than the Chuckola Woods we just went through, so we had best get going.

Right away, we can tell this place is going to require a fair amount of backtracking. The first large room alone has two pathways blocked off. One path is blocked by a large arc of electricity while the other is shuttered close behind a steel security door. So we’re going to have to find ways to get past both of these.

With only one path open to us, we head north. This room too seems to be blocked off at the moment by an eyeball looking doorway. There is however an !-Block to the right side which conveniently opens up one of the paths back in the previous room. So I guess we’re starting the backtracking early here.

We continue along the path, fighting transformed scientists along the way when we come across a research room that answers one of the oldest questions in the Mario Universe. Who was it that invented the technology to have blocks just floating in the air? Apparently it was perfected right here in the Woohoo Hooniversity Block Research Room. Here we find examples of the various ?-Blocks used throughout the series as well as prototypes of the new blocks we see here in the Beanbean Kingdom.

One of the new blocks I found particularly interesting was the Rally Block. With this block Mario and Luigi will stand across from each other and hit the block back and forth as it progressively gets faster and faster. The longer you can keep it going, the more coins you will get from the block. Of course, this one is just a prototype, so we didn’t actually get any coins from it.

We can find another throwback to older games wandering the halls in the form of enemy Viruses. You may recognize these guys as the same viruses found in the classic puzzle game “Dr. Mario”. As much as I love seeing them, fighting them actually brings even more delight. These Viruses have the odd quirk about them to change color when attacked. Get them all to be the same color and they will disappear from the battle just like they did in their original game.

Getting back on track after being distracted with nostalgia, we continue down the path towards a room described as the “Sun Door”. Outside of this room we find an interesting pattern code that, while no doubt important, doesn’t immediately make any sense to us.

Once Inside the room, things start to click into place very quickly. On the far wall of the room is a door, no doubt the Sun Door, and the room is filled with green mannequins each labeled with either a red or blue colored circle on their chest. Attacking any of these mannequins will cause the circle on their chest to change color and I’m guessing we need to arrange them into the pattern given to us outside.

Once the code is entered, the mannequins will one by one transform into red energy and disappear from sight. As soon as the last one is gone, the Sun Door will open, shining a large beam of light into the room.

From here, the Light beam starts to travel through the building, reflecting off the various large mirrors set up in the halls for just this purpose. It continues on until it hits one of the mirrors straight on. Doing this causes the nearby security door to open and points us to our next destination in the building.

Pressing forward, we find ourselves in a sort of control room with multiple buttons in need of pressing, but none of which are easily accessible. Finding the most obvious button to press, we shrink Mario down and have him squeeze through a small viewing window to press the first button. This opens the gate to the adjacent room, but also locks the window he came through.

Obviously we then switch to Luigi to have him press the button in the newly opened room. Unfortunately, this button locks the door behind Luigi without opening another door. It would seem we’ve fallen into a trap.

Perhaps it’s a bit hasty to call this a trap when actually it’s more of a mini challenge. Shortly after the doors close, an !-Block appears in Mario’s cell. Hitting it explains the rules of our little minigame. Make each of the brothers jump to collect 30 points in 25 seconds and the doors will open. Simple Enough.

At least, it sounds simple enough, but in practice it’s actually…well, not hard…but harder than initially thought. You see, the boxes don’t travel at a set rate or pattern. Sometimes the box will slowly drift across the screen for Luigi so slowly that Mario hits 2 boxes before Luigi can hit his one. Then the next box will come zipping so fast in comparison that we weren’t ready for it. Sad to say, we failed our first attempt, though not by much. We did manage to get 27 points of the 30 we needed. One more try is all we need.

Clearing the challenge opens up the gates as promised, but also opens an additional gate in the room. This small window allows Mario to access the new room, but doesn’t have much in it other than a ?-Block. What it does have however are stairs that allow Small Mario to run along the top edge of the walls and move freely around the room.

Using Mario’s new freedom to run across the edge of the walls, we manage to get into a previously sealed off room and press the button inside. This once again opens another gate in the room. In this case, a room with a wooden barrel inside.

After our experience in Chucklehuck Woods, we know what to do with a barrel. Have Luigi tunnel underneath it and move it into place below the last button in the room so Mario can hit it. Surprisingly, this causes the Mirror back in the hallway to shift, sending the light traveling further throughout the school and opening up yet another passage for us to explore.

We follow the light trail back almost all the way to the main chamber. Here we find our newly opened wing of the building. Shortly after we also encounter another face on the wall like we saw back in the Chucklehuck Woods. Only this time it’s shooting balls of lightning at us instead of fire. Not only that, but there doesn’t appear to be a barrel or any other puzzle elements in this room at the moment. So all we can do is ignore it and move on for now.

The next room has quite an interesting layout. It’s quite tall compared to the other rooms we’ve been in so far. And it has an unusual hills and valleys layout to the floor. There’s also a button in the middle of the room which opens up a small door for Small Mario to walk through, but we’re ignoring that for now to explore this room some more.

While this room doesn’t have much else to offer, there is one big mystery in the form of an !-Block that is currently unreachable. It’s just floating in the middle of a large gap, too low to hit mid jump, and too high to even high jump from the floor below. For now it’s going to have to remain a mystery.

On our way back up to the top floor, we do come across another button on the wall. This may be the one we were looking for as it conveniently drops a barrel out in the previous room with the wall face.

Before we head back out to the previous room however, we take a moment to check out that small door we opened up earlier. After shrinking Mario down, it looks like we’ve started crawling around in the vents for a bit. And I must say, I’m glad we did, as there is yet another button hidden in this tiny crawl space for Mario to press. Curiously, this button drops a second barrel out into the previous room.

We make our way back to the entrance and position ourselves in one of the barrels ready to deflect the electricity back to the stone face. To our surprise however, the electric blast did not bounce back to the stone face, but instead went sideways towards the green statue. As the statue came to life, it immediately became clear why we needed two barrels in this room. Should the statue be hit with the electricity, it will become enraged, rushing up to our heroes, growing in size, and start flashing red until it ultimately explodes.

On our second attempt, we do it correctly. We leave the barrel in front of the statue and instead use the barrel in the middle of the room. This time the electrical attack bounces off our barrel, bounces again off the other barrel and lands directly on the control panel along the way. This causes a claw arm in the other room to come to life, moving out of our way and opening up another path.

Unfortunately, that claw arm moves right over and picks up poor Luigi and carries him off somewhere while Mario looks on helplessly. Looks like Mario is going to have to go rescue his brother. This also means we’re going to have to avoid enemies for a little while or my OCD will destroy me.

It’s only a short distance before we find our Luigi, he’s at the top of a somewhat large tower with several zig zagging platforms going up the side. To make matters difficult, there seems to be a steady supply of barrels simply rolling down the pathway. Mario will have to jump over these barrels as he carefully makes his way up. One hit and he’ll have to start over from the beginning.

If you can’t tell, this area seems to be paying homage to Mario’s first ever game, Donkey Kong. Personally, I’m loving all the various nods and references we’re finding here. Between the block research lab, the Dr. Mario viruses, and now this, the game developers are really cramming in as much nostalgia as they can. Also just like the original Donkey Kong title, we don’t get to save Luigi when we get to the top, instead he is carried off again by the claw arm.

Left with nowhere else to go at the moment, Mario presses the button on the wall. This just so happens to call back to claw arm and drop Luigi right next to us.

Unfortunately, Luigi immediately starts rolling down the platforms just like any of the other barrels. Eventually rolling back into the previous areas. Poor Luigi rides up and down the various hills until eventually he is launched into the air, smashes against the floating !-Block, and simultaneously activates it and frees himself from the barrel.

Just like before, pressing this !-Block causes the mirror in the hallway to rotate, sending the beam of light farther into the school. This time it eventually settles straight on a mirror back in the Main Lobby area. If I remember the map correctly, this should be the last wing of the building we haven’t explored with the exception of whatever is beyond the sun door.

Back with our heroes, Luigi seems to be a little beat up from his recent exploits. Mario is quick to his brother’s side, and after a heartfelt reunion, the two seem to be back on their feet. But there’s no time to rest yet, Cackletta is still somewhere in the building trying to awaken the Beanstar. We have to hurry to the final wing.

We arrive to find that this wing is having some technical difficulties at the moment. A burst pipe is leaking water all over the floor. That can’t be good for all this high tech equipment. Curiously, there is a sign on the wall teaching us how to do Distance Spitting by hitting an engorged Mario with the hammer rather than jumping on his head.

As expected, it doesn’t take long to figure out what that sign means. In the next room it would seem a robotic mouse has chewed through a rather large electrical cable, disrupting the flow of electricity. Thankfully, its metal body is just the thing we need to bridge the gap. One solid shot with water is enough to knock it backwards and repair the damage it caused, allowing the electricity to flow once again.

Restoring the power causes the fan to turn on, which in turn blows the floating !-Block to an area of the room where we can actually hit it. This of course causes the mirror in the other room to rotate and once again allow the beam of light to continue its path through the school.

We follow the beam of light once again, this time ending up directly in front of the Sun Door. To the side, is one last !-Block to hit which rotates around the lens to focus the beam directly at the center of the door. The door begins to glow and pulse before eventually opening. At last we can see what’s behind this door.

Inside, it would appear we have come too late. A group of Peach-bots encircle the Beanstar as Fawful announces that preparations are complete. Whenever Cackletta is ready, she can unleash Peach’s voice and awaken the Beanstar.

With one press of a button, the Peach-bots activate and start singing to the Beanstar. At least I’m guessing it’s supposed to be singing. The text is just “Ho! Ho! Ho!” like they’re Santa or something. Also, the sound they’re making isn’t exactly a pleasant one.

Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks it’s not a great sound. Instead of awakening to grant Cackletta’s wish, the Beanstar seems to have become quite enraged. Its color immediately changed from its calm green to an angry red as it starts flying around the room, bashing into the floor with such force as to break the metal grating.

The damage eventually becomes so severe that the Peach-bots, the platform, and the Beanstar itself all fall down the hole into the void below. Clearly this is not what Cackletta had planned for. With the plan ruined, Fawful quickly becomes scared for their situation and suggests they flee while they still can.

Our heroes may have been late to the party, but luck seems to have remained on their side. Just the sight of the Mario Brothers is enough to wash fear over Cackletta and Fawful. With the Beanstar lost and the plan failed, there is nowhere for them to run to.

Not wasting a moment, Luigi rushes on Fawful, hitting him with his hammer, and driving the little annoyance into the ground. Now enraged herself, Cackletta takes a more aggressive stance against our heroes, throwing taunts at them all the while.

At last, we get to punish Cackletta for all the harm she has done. Doing so will be no easy task however. Cackletta is actually quite powerful and opens the battle by throwing voids across the room. Falling into any one of these will inflict a Heavy G status affect which makes it harder to move, which in turn makes it harder to attack and dodge.

Not only that, but Cackletta will use her vast magic to create clones of herself. There doesn’t appear to be any way of knowing which one is the real one, and hitting the wrong one will simply make it disappear in a swarm of bats. Getting hit by one of these vermin will instantly cause poisoning and drain a little of your health every turn.

From there, Cackletta’s attacks just keep on coming. Should she ever extend her arms outwards to both sides, we knew we needed to dodge quick. If we didn’t, we’d quickly be struck by a bolt of lightning she has summoned down from the sky. Naturally, by the time we see it, it’s already too late to dodge.

Though, we had to pay close attention to Cackletta’s arms when she does this. If she only extends one arm, she would attack our heroes one after the other rather than both at the same time.

With all these attacks coming, it’s all we can do just to keep our heroes up and fighting. We’ve only landed a small number of attacks so far and we don’t have a huge supply of items to keep the fight going for too long.

With some luck, we managed to hit the real Cackletta first after one of her splits. Turns out that if you attack the real one, the fake ones will all disappear in an instant. This might be the opening we need to get a few good hits in before the next string of attacks come.

As the battle continues, Cackletta becomes more and more enraged. After a short exchange, she launches more voids at our heroes in hopes of ending this fight quickly.

She never does calm down again for the remainder of the battle, maintaining her menacing stance and sending volley after volley of voids our way. While we don’t manage to avoid all of these voids, we do manage to get a lucky swing in, bringing an end to our battle.

Defeated, Cackletta crumples to the ground, broken and unable to move. Finally, the world is safe from her evil, or so we thought. Before we have time to react, Fawful frees himself from the ground, and uses his headgear to suck up Cackletta’s remaining life energy.

Now nothing more than a disembodied soul, Cackletta instructs Fawful to give our heroes one last attack before the pair make their escape. Unfortunately for her, Prince Peasley shows up at the scene and knocks Fawful off his feet.

He then proceeds to attack the pair with such force as to launch them through the wall and clear off into the distance. This I feel is going to haunt us later. As good as it might have felt to beat them up like that, he basically just aided in their escape. It would have been better for everyone if we had actually captured them.

What’s done is done I suppose. In any case, we need to head down to the fallen Beanstar before someone else gets ahold of it. Then again, we might not want to get near it after it went crazy like that from hearing Peach’s voice.

Prince Peasley hints to the fact that he knows more about the situation than he is letting on. Unfortunately he’s not going to share any of that information with us until we get the Beanstar back. On that note, he flies away again.

It would have been nice if the Prince had simply flown down the hole to get the Beanstar himself, seeing as he can actually fly. Since he didn’t, and since we can’t, it looks like we’ll have to take the long way around as we make our way down into the basement.

Upon reaching the bottom floor, it was instantly apparent that we were not going to have an easy time finding the Beanstar. For starters, the basement is just as filled with monsters as the upper floors are. There are also new enemies down here like the Mecha-Chomps to give us even more trouble.

There are also apparently going to be some puzzles we’re going to have to solve. The first of which actually has us scratching our head. There is a water source for Mario to fill himself up with, and there is a pipe which is the only other thing in the room. Clearly you’re intended to spit water into the pipe, but it doesn’t seem to take the water in at the moment. For now we’ll just have to walk past it and comeback later.

Farther down into the basement, we come across another puzzle. This one is much clearer what we’re supposed to do, but actually doing it is the hard part. Like earlier, there is a power cable which little robot mice have chewed through. We’ll have to knock the mice into the gaps to bridge the cable and allow the electricity to flow again. The hard part is that these mice are moving, and if we hit them too early or too late, they will hit the side of the cable instead of sliding into place in the gap. If we miss hit 4 mice, they’ll all leave and we’ll have to start all over again.

In the end, it took us 4 attempts before we got it right. Once the cable is fixed, electricity will start flowing again down the cable, back into the previous room, and eventually it will open up the door in the previous room.

We backtrack to enter the newly opened room and are immediately shocked at what we see. For starters, we have located the Beanstar. Unfortunately, it has already been discovered by Popple and Rookie by the time we got here. Where did those two even come from?

Unsurprisingly, Popple isn’t very happy to see our heroes. He still hasn’t forgiven us for what happened back in Chucklehuck woods. While he may have missed out on the Chuckola Reserve, he refuses to allow the Mario brothers to take his new treasure from him. Especially since it fell out of the sky and directly into his lap.

It looks like we’re going to have to fight for ownership of the Beanstar. But it’s sitting right in the middle of the floor. We can’t exactly fight around it, we might break it. So first things first, we have to push it to the side where it won’t be in anyone’s way. Mario takes one side while Popple takes the other. Meanwhile Rookie cheers us on, and Luigi… Well, Luigi is sulking on the floor again, probably embarrassed to be a part of any of this…

Anyway, we’ve already fought these two before, so we’re going into the battle at least with some idea of what to expect. Popple will still be incredible annoying with his ability to steal our limited supply of items. And Bowser Rookie will still throw hammers whenever we attack Popple as well as breathe fire for his own attack.

However, we’d be mistaken to believe these two haven’t become more powerful since we last saw them. In fact, they make mention of just that shortly into the fight. After Rookie comments how tough the Mario Brothers are, Popple reluctantly instructs Rookie to use THAT technique.

Apparently THAT technique involves Rookie grabbing Popple by the feet, spinning him around a few times, and then throwing him high into the air. While in the air, Rookie jumps up to meet him and then pile drives Popple head first into the ground, causing a massive shockwave. I can see why Popple might be reluctant to do this move…

Despite the apparent damage Popple must have taken from that attack, he is back up on his feet in no time to taunt our heroes. It would seem the pair have learned their own version of the Bros. Attack system. I wouldn’t really know much about it because I still haven’t really used the Bros. Attacks at all. It’s just not my style.

Another of their Bros. Attacks they bring out in the fight has Rookie setting Popple on fire and then throwing him at our heroes. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I want this fight to go on much longer, for Popple’s sake.

Despite the counter attacks that always come from attacking Popple, we couldn’t help but target him first. He needed to be removed from this battle as soon as possible before he hurts himself from his own attacks.

The fight with just Rookie left actually went on for a while longer than I had expected. He clearly has a lot more health than Popple did. But eventually we do manage to take him down, and with it claim the Beanstar for ourselves.

Unfortunately for all of us, our battle seems to have dislodge one of the Peach-bots from wherever it was hanging from. Upon landing, it started right back up with its odd “Ho! Ho! Ho!…” chanting. This of course awakened the Beanstar once again into its terrible rage.

Popple was the first to react to the situation. Worried that his treasure was about to fly away on him, he quickly jumped on top of the enraged Beanstar. Rookie was quick to follow suit as he jumped onto the back of the Beanstar. Our heroes, not wanting to lose the Beanstar either, also grabbed onto it wherever they could.

Even with the weight of the four of them, the Beanstar still managed to fly away out of the building and high up into the sky. One by one they all lost their grips, falling to the ground below, until only Rookie was left holding onto the Beanstar.

It was at this moment that Rookie remembered who he really was. Whatever the trigger may have been, Rookie remembered that he once was, in fact, Bowser, King of the Koopas. And with that realization we can finally be happy knowing that this isn’t some random character that just happens to look like our Bowser, it really is our Bowser.

However, this realization doesn’t help him maintain his grip any and he too eventually falls off the Beanstar. To make matters worse, the stress of this whole sequence of events must have pushed the Beanstar too far, as it breaks into pieces before falling back to the ground itself. If there’s any silver lining, at least Cackletta can’t use it anymore…