Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA) – Part 08 – Oho Oasis

-Oho Oasis-

We were already pretty high when we fell off the Beanstar, and that fall seems to have landed our heroes on the Oho Oasis, an island to the east of the main Beanbean Kingdom. Luigi seems to have face planted right on the edge of the beach. Poor guy, a few more feet south and he would have had a softer landing in the water. Luigi is pretty tough though and is back on his feet in no time. And being the loyal brother he is, he immediately starts his search for Mario.

Turns out Mario landed just a few feet north of where Luigi landed. Unfortunately for Mario, he seems to have impaled himself into the ground when he landed and is now being attacked by little beach crabs. Luckily Luigi is there to chase them all away.

With a little bit of encouragement from Luigi, Mario regains his senses and manages to free himself from the ground. Reunited, the brothers can continue their adventure, starting with figuring out where they are and how to get back to the castle.

First things first, we need to investigate this island. As it so happens, there is an abandoned boom box just north of our crash site which has a tape in it from some previous Research Expedition. How convenient. The tape recalls the mysterious natives of the island, which the Researchers have named the Oho Jee. Apparently the Oho Jee use the same vocabulary as the researchers, but something about the way they speak, no one can understand what they’re saying.

Not much to be gained from that recording, so we head west in an attempt to make a lap of the island. It isn’t long before we find another recording and what I’m assuming is an Oho Jee. According to this new tape, the researchers made contact with a Red Oho Jee and accidentally set the poor thing on fire with one of their torches. After being set on fire, the normally docile Oho Jee turned into a monster which attacked the researchers.

Curiously, the researcher who was attacked ended up transforming into an Oho Jee themselves following the incident. The recording also puts an unusually strong emphasis on the fact that, should we wish to set a Red Oho Jee on fire, we should do it from a distance. I’m not sure WHY I would want to set one on fire (Actually now that the thought is planted in my head, I must admit it is tempting) but now I know to keep my distance while doing it.

The tape continues to suggest the Blue Oho Jee may react in a similar way to some other stimuli. What that is seems to be as yet be unknown, so more research must be done. Science demands it!

We currently have no method to set the Oho Jee on fire, but in the meantime we take a moment to talk to them. Their speech doesn’t see all that unusual to me. The first one we talk to is trying to piece together the location of the Oho Oasis Island, though unsuccessfully. Continuing our lap of the island, we come across another who simply asks if they’re strange. They are a little, perhaps, but not as strange as the tapes led me to believe.

As we come back around to the other side of the small island, we eventually encounter the Blue Oho Jee on the east side of the island. The tapes already warned us about the Red Oho Jee turning into monsters, but the Blue Oho Jee actually seem to be scarier. One of them just casually questions if spirits are delicious, while another references fire and brimstone while sharing a secret.

With our lap of the island complete, and having gathered no useful information, we move our investigations towards one of the temples on the island. Since we ended our lap of the island on the east side, we enter the east temple first. Inside we’re told by one of the Blue Oho Jee that this is the Thunder Palace and the other temple is apparently called the Fire Palace.

There isn’t a whole lot to explore here in the temple, especially with the iron gates blocking our path. It looks like Luigi is going to have to explore this first temple on his own since he’s the only one that the tunnel under the gate. With the island as small as it is, the temple is equally small and only really has the one main chamber with an ancient tablet in it.

An ancient tablet which Luigi instantly smashes to pieces with his hammer. As would be expected from an ancient temple, this act of vandalism awakens the spirits and they bring their vengeance down on our green hero.

Suddenly a spirit appears at the top of the stairs and informs us that the Thunder Palace is a training ground for a select few. It doesn’t know how we ended up here, but the spirit is kind enough to ask us to leave rather than attacking us outright.

Unfortunately, that glowing blue orb is just too tempting to just walk away from. It doesn’t matter who you are, you have to go touch that thing before you leave. This may turn out to be a very costly mistake however.

Luigi isn’t any normal person though. Rather than being electrocuted to death, Luigi seems to have gained a new power. Somehow Luigi’s fist is now crackling with electricity, I wonder how we’re going to use this.

The spirit is quick to return after this incident, enraged that someone has touched the Thunderhand Spark. His attitude quickly changes though when we sees Luigi has actually survived the encounter.

After a brief moment of contemplation, the spirit accepts that Luigi must possess the qualities needed to master the Thunderhand Technique. That being the case, the spirit agrees to teach Luigi how to properly harness his newfound powers.

This new ability is simple enough to wrap our brains around. Just select the new Hand Power icon, Press the button to charge it, then release it to create a burst of thunder and lightning.

With instructions that simple, it isn’t long before Luigi is declared a master of the Thunderhand technique. Good for you Luigi.

Now that we are masters of the Thunderhand Technique, the spirit gives us the rather obvious hint of using the power on something that conducts electricity. Then with no explanation, the spirit declares that Luigi has released him and then disappears.

Since there’s nothing left to explore or interact with, we make our way out of the temple and quickly put this new power to good use. Apparently these blue orbs can be charged with electricity and act as switches. This one lowers the nearby gate to allow Luigi to reunite with his Older Brother. We’ll have to keep an eye out for these blue orbs as we travel now. If I remember right, we already discovered one in the outskirts around the castle.

Anyway, it’s time to check out the Fire Palace now. Inside it is nearly identical to the Thunder Palace except that now only Mario can enter the deepest parts of the palace. Unfortunately, he’ll have to do so in his mini form as it’s the only way he’ll fit through the tiny opening.

Just like in the Thunder Palace, there is a stone tablet blocking the top part of the stairs. However, unlike in the Thunder Palace, Mario is not threatened and punished for destroying this tablet. Instead, a mysterious item drops from the ceiling and instantly restores Mario to his normal size.

The Fire Spirit then shows itself and is much more welcoming than the Thunder Spirit. In fact, it seems quite happy to see Mario, claiming it has been waiting for his arrival. Waiting and waiting and waiting.

According to the spirit, Mario is the first visitor it has had in over 3000 years! That’s quite the long wait, I can see now why it would be glad to have a visitor.

The spirit questions what brought Mario here, to which he had no answer, we just kind of landed here by chance. So the Spirit tries to explain the importance of the temple, but the 3000 years seems to have rattled its memory a bit. In the end, it can’t remember the speech it was supposed to give to any visitors.

Unsure of what it’s even doing, the spirit leaves and tells us we can just do whatever we want. Naturally, we’re going to touch the bright red glowing orb at the top of the stairs and see if Mario will gain special powers the same way Luigi did.

Indeed Mario does gain a special power of his own. While Luigi gained Electrical abilities, Mario gains Fire ability. This makes sense as Mario has been using the Fire Flower powers ever since the first Super Mario Bros. game. In fact, he’s using the Fire Flower ability on the games box art, so it’s only natural for him to gain fire abilities now.

Just then the fire spirit suddenly returns, having remembered what he was supposed to tell us. It remembered that this is the Fire Palace and it is its job to teach us how to use our newfound fire hand abilities.

Seeing as Mario has already gained the fire ability, the spirit takes it upon himself to teach us the arts of the Firebrand. But before that, I do want to point out that the Fire Spirit is much more talkative than the Thunder Spirit was. You could possibly even describe it as being a bit hyperactive. It’s actually a little bit annoying.

Just like with the Thunderhand, the Firebrand is very easy to perform. Simply hold down the button to charge the ability, and release it to create a fireball.

As I mentioned before, Mario is already well acquainted with the concept of creating fireballs in his hands. As such, it only takes him one try to master the Firebrand ability.

Having taught us all it knows, the spirit leaves us. But not before mimicking the thunder spirit was a bit of equally useless advice of using the Firebrand near something flammable. We already know what that means, we need to light a Red Oho Jee on fire. And it just so happens there is one inside the chamber with us.

Needless to say, the Oho Jee does not appear to enjoy the experience. After making some incomprehensible screaming noises, we are forced into battle with the creature. However, if you’ll remember my mild OCD, I can’t allow Mario to complete a battle without Luigi. If I do, their experience points will be different and I just can’t stand for that. So for the first time, we are actually going to run from this battle. This actually has a rather interesting mechanic. Rather than being a simple command, we actually have to rapidly press the action button to escape from battle. Not only that, but it appears we will lose money as we try to escape. It’s an interesting deterrent to prevent players from trying to flee too many battles.

Upon leaving the battle, the Oho Jee we set ablaze doesn’t seem to be doing too good. Now I feel kind of bad for setting it on fire. Thankfully the little guy is quick to get back on its feet and admit it was only pretending to be dead as a joke. And now I don’t feel bad and want to set it on fire again for tricking me.

Before we do that, we need to reunite with Luigi. Just like in the Thunder Palace, there is a small pedestal that will open the gate once activated. Once we reunite with Luigi, it’s time to start setting these little guys ablaze.

In battle, we can use the hand abilities for an elemental based attack. This is about as close are we’re going to get to magic attacks in this game. Anyway, now that our attacks have elemental attributes, so too do our enemies. The Red Oho Jee for example seems to be healed by Mario’s Firebrand attack, but seems to take critical damage from Luigi’s Thunderhand.

The Oho Jee even goes out of its way to confirm this fact. First by saying it is scared of thunder and that it hurts. Then following that up with an explanation that thunder based attacks will do double damage to it. Looks like we’re going to have to try out our new abilities on other enemies to see if they have any elemental weaknesses.

But that’s enough of tormenting the locals. Now that we’ve explored both Palaces and obtained both hand powers, there is really only one thing left on the island to investigate. Just off the beach where our heroes first landed there is a small section of wall with markings for both the Firebrand and Thunderhand. Activating both sides of the wall will cause a path to raise up from the water and lead us to a yellow warp pipe off the island.