Review: Mario & Luigi – The Mask

The Mask is one of my favorite movies of all time.  Jim Carrey at the peak of his career, amazing cartoony special effects, fast paced action and comedy, this movie has it all.  I also really liked the animated TV show based on the movie.  The Mask, as a concept, just has a lot of creativity to it.  (What sequel?  There wasn’t a sequel.  Sequels don’t exist.  Masks can’t have sons.  Stop being silly.)  So, when I heard there was a series bringing together one of my favorite movies and a highly popular video game franchise, I just HAD to check it out.  Allow me to tell you why I love Mario & Luigi: The Mask.

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The story goes like this:  Luigi is feeling pretty low.  Everyone thinks he’s a coward and Mario is the real hero.  One day, Luigi comes across a strange, green mask made of wood.  He tries it on and suddenly turns into a much different character:  Green Thunder, a mischievous hero with magical powers and a penchant for trouble.  He uses these powers to protect the Mushroom Kingdom… and occasionally harass the Wario bros and chase Princess Daisy in his spare time.

If you haven’t guessed by now, this is a fan work made by a guy named TimeLordParadox.  He’s got more shows on his channel, such as Doctor Wii (a Doctor Who Parody), which are all sprite-based animations like this one.  Although I haven’t watched all of his works (yet), I can already say that this guy has some pretty creative ideas.  I can’t wait to get more acquainted with his work, especially if the rest of his stuff is half as good as this series.

The best part of this series has got to be the plot.  Of course, we have the mask and its wearer reeking havoc through the land while playing the hero.  But we also have a bunch of subplots that are intriguing and mysterious.  My favorite subplot so far involves a character named Ouroboros who seems to have some sort of connection to the Mask.  The whole thing has a good bit of suspense behind it and it creates a great mystery to unfold while the Mask’s usual exploits are going on.

Another high point of praise has to go to the sprite animation of the series.  The sprites are all vibrant, crisp, and colorful.  As these are sprites, TLP obviously uses some previously made animations, most notably from the Mario & Luigi RPG series.  However, there are a few cases where he had to completely make up new sprites (such as with Green Thunder).  The new sprites look like they fit right in with the world.  Like with the movie, the action scenes are appropriately fast paced and cartoony.  The best thing about the action (and slap-stick comedy bits) is that it all feels very fluid.  Every movement flows very well into the next.

The show isn’t without its flaws, though.  Nothing is truly perfect.  For one, the animation does have a few hiccups, mostly when TLP is forced to do hand-drawn animations for particularly tricky characters.  These designs aren’t completely terrible though they are noticeable and a little shaky.  They stand out as not as “great” if only because the rest of the animation is so solid.  The other nitpick I have is in regard’s to the spoken humor of the series.  Frankly, every single character in the show is snarky (aside from one or two who are the idiot characters).  It gets a bit grating when every character has got to be the wisecracking smart-ass.  Still, SOME characters use their snark well.  I just wish this type of humor wasn’t so overly used.

Despite these minor flaws, Mario & Luigi – The Mask is my current obsession.  It’s got good humor, an intriguing plot, and fantastic sprite animation.  I highly recommend it to anyone curious enough to give it a try.  Fans of the movie, fans of the games, fans of sprite animation in general, give this show a watch.  I guarantee, it’s SSSSSMOKIN’! …Shuddup, I had to use at least ONE quote.

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