Mario and Luigi Brothership Bros attack kicking red shell
Image via Nintendo

With Mario & Luigi: Brothership, we could be on the cusp of a new Mario RPG golden age

We are so back.

Exactly one week before the June 18 Nintendo Direct, I wrote a short piece on Clair Obscur: Expedition 33‘s reactive turn-based combat and how it not only reminded me of the Mario & Luigi games, but it also made it a perfect substitute due to Nintendo’s series going dormant. I also expressed hope Mario & Luigi would return someday, but I never thought my prayers would be answered a mere seven days later during Nintendo’s latest showcase.

Recommended Videos

Titled Mario & Luigi: Brothership and scheduled for a November launch, the first new Mario & Luigi game in nine years looks exactly how I envisioned the series would look on a home console after exclusively being on Nintendo’s handhelds. The classic turn-based combat, dodging and countering attacks, an entirely new locale to explore and characters to meet, vibrant visuals and physical comedy. Like a shining phoenix, Mario & Luigi is back and looking better than ever. But this doesn’t just mark a return of this specific series. This could very well mark a real return to Mario themed RPGs in general, especially when you look at the last 12 months Nintendo has had.

Super Mario RPG Mallow Geno and Bowser looking up
Image via Nintendo.

Last June, Nintendo announced a remake of 1996’s Super Mario RPG, and then just a few months later confirmed it would remake 2004’s Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door as well. Both games were lionized by die-hard fans for years, revered as the holy grails of their childhood (the latter was one of my personal all-time favorites), yet were barely ever acknowledged by Nintendo, almost to the point where a more conspiratorial mind could accuse the company of trying to pretend they never existed. They’d be referenced occasionally, but calls for re-releases on modern hardware seemed to fall on deaf ears, or so we all thought.

Fans probably would’ve been satisfied had the two games been added to the Switch’s online service, but instead we got full-fledged remakes that managed to retain what made them so beloved in the first place while updating them for a modern audience. In the case of The Thousand-Year Door, I’d argue that—despite some extremely minor grievances—the remake is even better than the original, having been crafted with so much care and attention to detail. It’s clear that the people involving in remaking it held the original in high regard and loved it as much as fans did.

What made these remakes an even bigger deal was the then state of Mario RPGs. Originally, during the 2000’s, you had the Paper Mario games on home consoles by Intelligent Systems while the handhelds got Mario & Luigi by AlphaDream. Despite sharing some similarities, they were two distinct series, and fans like myself were more than happy to partake in both, like the guy in the two cakes meme. But, in the 2010’s, something changed. Paper Mario soon morphed into more of an action-adventure series, with many of the traditional role-playing mechanics ironed out. And while the comedic writing never went away, the stories became less interesting and the character designs less varied due to a supposed mandate that meant the games couldn’t “modify” or “create original Mario characters” anymore (via VGC).

It was also suggested that the reason for the sudden shift was because of the Mario & Luigi games, with Paper Mario producer Kensuke Tanabe telling Eurogamer Germany (as translated by NintendoEverything) in 2020: “Nintendo has another RPG series starring Mario and we wanted to distance ourselves from it by making an adventure game with a focus on solving puzzles.” Honestly, this is a baffling explanation since the two series were co-existing for years just fine. The timing of that statement also wasn’t great, since Mario & Luigi developer AlphaDream had declared bankruptcy the year before, thanks to declining revenue, suggesting its last two games (remakes of the first and third Mario & Luigi titles) underperformed sales-wise (via NintendoLife). In fact, by the time Tanabe made that aforementioned statement, AlphaDream had closed down, seemingly rendering the Mario & Luigi series homeless.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door battle
Screenshot by Destructoid

So, with Paper Mario shifting genres and uncertainty surrounding the future of Mario & Luigi series, the last several years were pretty dire for anyone wanting a Mario-themed RPG. Then, we got hit with the one-two combo of the aforementioned remakes. While this was still cause for celebration, I wasn’t yet ready to call this a new beginning for Mario RPGs. It was evident at the time that Nintendo was prepping for its next console, which would presumably have the real heavy hitters. So, to keep current Switch fans occupied, the company has fallen back on remakes, remasters, and re-releases. Don’t forget, this year we’ve also had remakes of Another Code and Mario vs. Donkey Kong, plus there’s a port of Luigi’s Mansion 2 round the corner and a port of Donkey Kong Country Returns in early 2025.

In the case of the RPG remakes, I suspected Nintendo was also testing the waters, trying to see if there really was as much demand for these games as fans claimed or if it was just a very vocal minority unwilling to let go of their nostalgia. In its last fiscal report, Nintendo revealed the Super Mario RPG remake had sold at least 3.31 million units worldwide, and while we lack exact figures for the Paper Mario remake, it was reportedly at the top of the physical sales charts in Japan for its first two weeks (via Gematsu). According to Chris Dring of, it also topped the UK physical sales charts, with an even stronger launch than the Super Mario RPG remake.

All in all, it sounds like these have been successful, which gave me hope that Nintendo would return to the well of Mario RPGs. Or at least try more remakes, like with the original Paper Mario. The announcement of Mario & Luigi: Brothership, however, makes me think these remakes weren’t an experiment at all, but a new beginning. Brothership will be launching in just five months, so it obviously wasn’t pitched in response to the sales of the recent remakes. All three games had to be in development within close windows, which hopefully means Nintendo is already committed to bringing back its Mario RPGs.

Mario and Luigi Brothership combat dodging boss attacks
Image via Nintendo

Ideally, this could mark a return to form for Paper Mario, although the strong sales for 2020’s The Origami King (the last wholly original entry) means I wouldn’t be surprised if it sticks to its modern formula. (For the record, The Origami King pushed 2.82 million copies in three months, the fastest of any Paper Mario game.) Even if that’s the case, Nintendo’s already giving us a new Mario & Luigi and will hopefully keep the series going, as long as Brothership doesn’t bomb in the sales charts, but what if we end up getting a direct sequel to Super Mario RPG? Or something entirely original that has its own fresh ideas but retains the RPG elements people loved from those remakes?

The fact these three games exist at all is a sign that Nintendo recognizes the Mario RPG audience as one worth selling to, and makes me excited for the possibility of what future Mario RPGs could look like on the Switch 2. Such projects probably won’t happen for several more years, but I have more optimism now than I did this time last year.

At the beginning of 2023, if you had told me Nintendo would be releasing three Mario RPGs, two of them being remakes of beloved retro titles, in the space of a year, I’d have called you delusional. Yet Nintendo is doing exactly that. I could be getting ahead of myself and this all becomes horribly dated at some point in the distant future, but for now, I have faith that the Mario RPG fan-base will continue to eat well.

Destructoid is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Michael Beckwith
Michael Beckwith
Staff writer covering all kinds of gaming news. A graduate in Computer Games Design and Creative Writing from Brunel University who's been writing about games since 2014. Nintendo fan and Sonic the Hedgehog apologist. Knows a worrying amount of Kingdom Hearts lore. Has previously written for Metro, TechRadar, and Game Rant.