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Jul 04 2017

Late Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Review

Mario & Luigi are back in action, as the two take on Antasma, an evil bat who wants to steal the Dream stone from the Pi’illos, a race that resemble pillows who allow Mario to jump into Luigi’s dreams, where Luigi can become a Gundam. And I’ve not even taken any mushrooms yet!

This is the fourth entry in the Mario & Luigi series for the handheld devices, released during Nintendo’s Year of Luigi, resulting in Luigi having a greater starring role in this iteration, as the hero who likes to catch forty winks.

The game starts as any other, with an invitation to a strange new island that’s just somehow popped up on the world map, with no questions asked as we board the airship to take the Mario crew on a long deserved holiday (in between all the Mario Parties, Mario Kart races & Mario Tennis). After a turbulent arrival, we bump into Broque Monsieur and Starlow, making a return from the previous Mario & Luigi game. After a drawn out tutorial for combat, the crew get to explore what is referred to as Pi’illo Castle, the tourist attraction that used to be the home of a lost civilisation, known as the Pi’illos. Peach does a segment of pissing around, ending up getting lost in the castle, which the Bros jump in unquestionably to find and save. Once everyone gets together in a collection room, Luigi takes a nap from the jet lag on a pillow, only to open a portal to the dream world, in which a dark figure reaches out and snatches Peach. Once again, Mario goes in after her rather than simply deleting her from his phone book.

In the dream world, Mario chases the dark figure Antasma, coming across a dreamy (not in that sense) version of Luigi, who helps out Mario with his mystical powers in the dream world. Further exploration and the brothers come across a nightmare chunk, that when smashed open, reveals Prince Dreambert, the Pi’illo who the real Luigi is currently napping on. Antasma runs away deeper into the dream world, which Mario & Luigi vow to Dreambert that they will go after and stop him from trying to take over the world with the power of the stone.

What ensues is an adventure that jumps in and out of the real world and the dream world. When in the real world, the world is explorable in a 3D space, which the brothers can further explore later in the game using techniques that combines their skills together. In the dream world, the game becomes a 2D platformer with 3D elements and backgrounds, with certain areas requiring dream Luigi to inhabit an onscreen prop to help Mario advance to the next area. The pixel art in both areas is exceedingly good, with animations quite comical and of a high framerate. Luigi’s poses are something to keep an eye on, as he’s a cheeky chappy when celebrating. The game was outsourced to a studio outside of Nintendo, and have done themselves credit, providing an excellent game making full use of the 3DS hardware.

I have to really commend the use of 3D, it’s used entirely throughout the game, and whilst the vertical resolutions of the screens do leave us with much to desire, the inside 3D resolution is amazing, with great attention to detail that makes it a joy to focus on what’s going in the background of the screen rather than what’s going on in the immediate foreground.

When approaching enemies outside of battle, you have a chance to get the first strike against them by jumping onto them, otherwise they’ll run into you. Combat mode is turn based, where the brothers have basic attacks of using jump and hammer, as well as also having access to Bro moves that require the two to double up on the attack, costing BP points as they unleash some powerful attacks. These attacks do require a lot of interaction from the player, so plenty of practise may be required to get the full potential out of the bro attacks, but as some of them require the use of the gyro controls, don’t always expect it to go perfectly. Enemies attacks are interesting to watch, making full use of the stereoscopic 3D screen and are clearly detailed, which is required when you have to keep an eye on the smallest of tells from the enemy to know which attack they’re about to unleash against which brother. After each battle, Mario and Luigi gain experience points that go towards levelling up and gain stat points.

The game is a 40 hour campaign, in which you will explore many linear themed areas, take on local bosses as well as seeing its counterparts in the dream world. Also in the dream world, there are segments when it becomes an episode of Power Rangers, in which you find yourself against a 100ft towering foe, which Luigi responds with becoming large himself, thus a Zords battle commences, requiring quick use of the stylus to counter attacks and deliver strong hits. These parts I found the most difficult in the game, with very little practise available plus the stylus not registering on the screen half the time for some reason. These were the only time in the game that I would have to retry, and these battles were really strewn out, lasting for upto 10 minutes, so you really have to give it all your attention in this time. I could see this putting players off, it nearly did me a few times as it screws up the pacing of the game, especially the end fight against Bowser which just feels never-ending. All you can do is just practise and rehearse the fight until you nail the timing.

Overall, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is certainly worthy of the Mario & Luigi title. I would say that this game is quite slow at most parts though, and I was hoping for more humour. There are a few inside jokes, but I was just hoping for a little more. Some of the support character’s were annoying, and could have just been condensed down to one person rather than number of characters that only have 2 minutes of screen time, which makes it hard to learn of all the character’s names, even though they’ll probably crop up in the next M&L game which at that time, we’ll have no memory of them by then. Atleast it wasn’t the disaster that was Sticker Stars, but it’s no Superstar Saga, or The Legend Of The Seven Stars which has always been my favourite Mario RPG. If your 3DS is getting dusty in a corner, than this is game is worthy enough for you to blow the cob webs off and have a go at.

 

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