Mario and Luigi: Dream Team Review


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Mario and his brother have had a number of forays into the RPG genre of gaming, whether it be the (mostly) lovable Paper Mario series, or classic Super Mario RPG, though the younger Mario bro was left out of that one.  Though one of the best adaptations of the brothers in this genre is the Mario and Luigi series of RPGs, starting with Super Star Saga on the Gameboy Advanced.  The series was well known for it’s simple yet fun battle style, and quirky characters and scripts to entertain the masses.  A Mario and Luigi game has been released on every hand held since it’s inception, with Partners in Time and Bowsers Inside Story on the DS, and now it’s time for it’s welcoming onto the Nintendo 3DS with Mario and Luigi: Dream Team.  The question remains though, does it hold up to it’s predecessors?

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Mario and Luigi: Dream Team stars, you guessed it, Mario and Luigi, as they’ve been invited to vacation on Pi’illo Island by not-so-renowned Professor Snoozemore.  As they arrive on the island they’re greeted by a grand celebration, it seems the Professor has been traveling to spread word of the island to bring in tourists.  There they are greeted by French block connoisseur Broque Monsieur (who you may remember from the last game, Bowsers Inside Story) who takes you on a tour of Pi’illo Castle.  There the gang learns of the mysterious Pi’illo race and find a mystical stone pillow.  Upon sleeping on it, Luigi opens a gateway to a dream world, and as is tradition with Mario games, Peach gets snatched up and dragged inside.  After taking the plunge inside Mario finds a figure by the name of Dreambert, who turns out to be the same pillow Luigi is sleeping on!  Dreambert is the prince of the Pi’illo people, and he asks your help in rescuing his people who have also turned to stone, while also seeking the one who kidnapped the princess.

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The  writing for the game is nothing to shake a stick at, it’s all pretty par for the course and the story doesn’t really involve any big surprises.  Characters are as quirky as they usually are, whether it be the work out prone Massif Bros or the ever tired Professor Snoozemore.  The jokes usually fall flat, but occasionally they’ll strike a chord and churn up a chuckle from me.  The full story is about 40 hours long, and there are some mini games and side quests you can do to extend the amount of time you spend playing the game.  While the story doesn’t really do anything to captivate the player, it’s still good enough to keep the player’s interest for the full 40 hours it takes to complete the game.

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Gameplay is where the game really takes it’s shine.  You traverse the main over world similarly to how you do in past games, with the camera giving a sort of isometric perspective.  The environments in the main world are all 3D, while the characters are all sprites, but the art is done in such a way where it’s not an eye sore, and the sprites sometimes give off a sort of 3D model vibe.  When you’re in the dream world sections, you travel about in a 2D platforming way similar to the sections you controlled the brothers in Bowser’s Inside Story.  There is one big difference between the two worlds, other than the perspective, and that is Luigi.  In the main overworld you control both Mario and Luigi similarly to past games, where Mario is controlled with the A button and Luigi with the B button.  The difference this time around is instead of past games where pressing the R button would put Luigi in the forefront, Mario is always the lead this time around.  In the dream world, obviously you don’t have Luigi because he’s sleeping, however you do have access to “Dreamy Luigi”.  Dreamy Luigi works just like regular Luigi, except that he can jump into the background to transform into various objects that will help you in traversing the land scape.

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Battles play out exactly the same as past games.  Enemies appear on the map and battle is engaged when you come in contact with them.  You can get the upper hand on an enemy by jumping on them or smacking them with your hammer, dealing a bit of damage right from the start.  In battles Mario is controlled with the A button and Luigi with the B button, and each bro takes turns dealing damage.  You have access to a Jump attack, a Hammer attack, and Bros moves, which are special attacks that can deal massive damage.  When an enemy attacks you have the opportunity to dodge the attack, or even deal counter-damage.  In the dream world, you only have control of Mario, however Dreamy Luigi joins in by boosting many of Mario’s attributes, such as his Health and even attacks.  For example, in the real world, Mario’s hammer only deals damage to a single enemy, but in the dream worlds his hammer deals damage to all enemies on the ground!  The bro moves, or Luiginary attacks in the dream world, are controlled in various ways, either by simply pressing the A or B button, or even by moving the 3DS system as a whole, using the gyro scope to move something in the game.

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My biggest gripe with this game is that it’s just a little too easy.  Battles were never really a problem, and according to my end game stats, I only got a game over 5 times in my 40 hours of game time (2 of which were against the final boss, 3 were against a monster I didn’t want to escape and was too foolish enough to heal at the start of battle).  The bros attacks really make the game just a little too easy, as they can deal massive damage to all foes.  There was a time where I even did over 1000 damage to a boss with a bros attack, no stat boosting involved.  The bros attacks require BP to use, so that’s whats supposed to balance them out, however you can get a perk that cuts the cost of Bros/Luiginary attacks in half, allowing you to do twice the damage for the same cost.  I rarely used any of the items I bought until the later portions of the game, where a mistimed dodge can cause big health loss, and since I rarely used items I rarely bought them too, leaving me with over 20k in coins just wasting space.  It felt as if the game was just being a little too lenient on the player, when it could have been just a bit more challenging.  Most of the monsters in the game have no real quirks to defeating them, mostly either just you can only use hammers or can only use jumps to deal damage (with the exception being the virus enemy that’s common in this series, where you can kill a group of them instantly by matching three or more of the same color).  Upon beating the game you do unlock a “hard mode”, but I don’t really think it’s worth it to go through the whole game again just after beating it.

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With those two big problems aside, the game is still a pretty fun adventure.  Despite the low difficulty the battles are still pretty fun and engaging, and while the story is nothing to write home about, there is enough substance to not turn the player away.  For a 40 hour game, I feel Dream Team does it right, giving the player a steady stream of stuff to keep their interest on the game until it’s all completed.  If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll probably still enjoy this game to some degree. If it’s your first time jumping in, then you’ll have a good time experiencing one of the best Mario series on the market.  While the game has its flaws, it’s nothing so bad that I wouldn’t recommend the game to anyone, so I give this game a solid 5/6 on the NUReviews Scale.

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Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage!? Review


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Adventure Time, for those who have had their heads buried in the sand for the last two years, is a cartoon about a boy and his dog going on adventures.  13 year old Finn is joined by his best friend Jake and a cast of loveable and cooky characters as they have adventures across the Land of Ooo.  It is a show that has enticed the imaginations of children and adults a like, and created a fanbase that just continues to grow.  Now imagine the excitement that fans had when they learned that show creator Pendleton Ward was working closely with Wayforward studious to create an official Adventure Time video game, and that is what brings us to the review of said game, Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage!?  But before we kick things off, let’s get in the mood a little bit and listen to my favorite thing to come from the game, the theme song.

I love this song, I could listen to it on repeat, but the important thing is is it shows what this game is good at, which is encapsulating the feel that the show gives off.  Hey Ice King! starts off with Finn having a dream about getting their butts handed to them by the Cosmic Owl, a cosmic entity in the Adventure Time universe that usually shows up when something represents a great omen.  After some basic control training the duo learns that the “infamous” Ice King has stolen all of the hero’s garbage, and is forcing them to challenge the dungeons that he set up to get it back.  The game plays similar to Zelda 2: The Adventures of Link, meaning that you walk across a vast over world with a birds eye view of the area, and all the dungeons and other locations are played as a 2D side-scroller.  All the combat is done in these 2D side-scrolling sections, and is as simple as press an attack button to do damage.  Finn starts off with about three hearts of health, a section of heart taken off every time he takes damage, and can heal himself by eating food he finds, which is found by destroying enemies and then stored in his backpack.  There are also condiments such as ketchup, which you can add to any kind of food to boost it’s healing properties, and other support items taken directly from episodes of Adventure Time, though you’ll more then likely just be using them to clear up inventory space.

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The thing that the game does right 100% of the time is be a good source of fan service.  With Pendleton Ward working closely with the development team, the game feels like it came straight from an episode of Adventure Time.  All the characters act like they would in the TV show, Princess Bubblegum, royal leader of the Candy Kingdom, is normally a sweet person but has quite the bitter side, Marceline the Vampire Queen acts as quite the neutral party, and only does what she does for fun, and Lumpy Space Princess is the drama obsessed gossip queen that fans know and love.  Another thing to note is that one of the sprite animators working on the game is Paul Robertson, who you may know as the guy who did the sprite work for the Scott Pilgrim video game, so the animations in this game are pretty stellar.  However, past the fan service and great animations the game falls flat.  There’s a total of about 4 dungeons, and most of the game time is spent doing a fetch quest or two before you can access the dungeons.  It’s simplistic in gameplay and lacks content, the game can be beaten in one sitting the first time through, and all though it does offer a “more difficult” new game+, I can’t see it extending the gameplay time by any more then an hour or two.  The base run through overs no real challenge past missing a jump in a side scrolling section and falling down a pit, and all the bosses are painfully easy.

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That being said however, I still enjoyed the game.  This might be only because I’m a fan of the cartoon series, in fact I garuntee that’s likely the reason, but even with all it’s fault I enjoyed the time I spent playing it.  I loved the character interactions and how things turned out story wise, and would easily recommend it to any other fan of the show.  That being said however I do insist you wait for a chance to get it cheap, even as a great source of fan service the game is not worth $40 at retail.  If it was a $15 downloadable title, we’d be talking my language, so if you plan on getting it get it cheap, real cheap.  As a gift to the fans, I give the Adventure Time game a 4/6, but as a stand alone title I’d have to give it a 2.5/6.

Adventure Time On The Go!


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The preview for the July issue of Nintendo Power is up and about on the internet, and included in it is an article about the upcoming DS/3DS game, Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage? For those who aren’t aware, the Adventure Time game is being published by D3Publisher and developed by Wayforward (famed for their 2D sprite games such as Shantae and Mighty Switch Force). Another note worthy fact about the game, is that the story is being personally written by the creator of the show himeself, Pendleton Ward. The small preview gives a glimpse into what the show is about (if you hadn’t already seen it), and insight on how the game is going to play. Apparently, the upcoming title will play similarly to Zelda 2, with a top-down-view over world that switches to a side view for side scrolling combat. This is really the first bit of info seen about the game since it was announced, and it really is an interesting insight on the game. We’ll have to wait until the full article is published before we get more info on the game.

Are Visual Novels Considered Video Games?


Today, I just beat 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors. It was absolutely brilliant. I don’t want to talk about the game too much though. I plan on do a full video review of it, most likely next week. However, there is something I do want to bring up.

The game has a fabulous story, which is something I seek in great video games. However, this “game” would be considered more of a visual novel than a game. According to MobyGames.com, this is the definition of a Visual Novel.

Visual Novel: Also called NVL games, “digital novels”, and “choose-your-own-adventure games”: games in which the story is told through text overlaid on a background representing the scene being described. The player’s input is confined to periodically making choices which might affect the direction and outcome of the story. Mostly regarded as a branch of Japanese adventure, but Western examples exist as well.

Many people who frequently “read” visual novels (Ex. /jp/ on 4chan) would consider (insert noun other than ‘video game’ here) like 999 or Katawa Shoujo visual novels rather than games.999 is heavily text driven, besides puzzles you need to solve. There is certain a game aspect to 999, but the text portions are just as important. I guess the question that is on my mind is…
Are Visual Novels considered video games?

I know this is a very subjective topic, so odds are I’ll never get a definitive answer. Nevertheless, I’ll leave you with this quote from Kotaro Uchikoshi, the director/writer of 999, to give you guys something to think about.
“I believe visual-novel games don’t belong in a game store, but in a bookstore – although that might bother some of the game stores who like to sell my games, so perhaps I should rephrase it: games stores can certainly sell visual novels, but they should also be sold in bookstores. The visual-novel genre should not be fighting against major RPG/action-adventure games that developers spend billions of dollars on.”