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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.