Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Reviewed by Darryl Linington
Ah the Nintendo 3DS has captured my attention once again; however, instead of spending hours on end in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, I have found myself spending more and more time with Mario & Luigi in their latest handheld RPG adventure on the Nintendo 3DS, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team.
You see, Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toadsworth, and the Toads have been invited to Pi’illo Island by the one and only Dr. Snoozemore. After accepting the invitation, the team heads off to the island; however, Luigi falls asleep during the trip and dreams of Mario fighting a rather dark and sinister Antasma, the primary antagonist of this title, who seems to be no match for the daring plumber. After the fight, the balloon plummets towards the island, which is where Luigi finally realises he was dreaming all along.
Adamant on exploring the island further, the team decide to leave a rather disorientated Luigi behind. After a few tutorials here and there, Luigi re-joins the group… this is where Mario and the rather sleep deprived Luigi discover a magical pillow, which ultimately allows Luigi to indirectly open up a portal to a place called “Dream World” after taking a nap on it. Once the portal is opened, Antasma takes full advantage and pulls Princess Peach into the Dream World. Desperate to save his beloved Peach, Mario ventures forth into the Dream World to face whatever challenges he may come across.
Overall, the storyline featured within Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is one that is pleasant, adorable and well suited to the theme of this title. I found myself chuckling at the rather amusing text conversations as well as the rather comical cut-scenes featured throughout. While the storyline is not one that will get your heart racing and blood pumping, it is still a storyline that is most definitely enjoyable for both younger and older gamers. I mean who wouldn’t want to explore a fictional island with not only the Mario Bros, but also a rather interesting cast of characters to match?
When it comes to gameplay, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is a mixed bag of tricks. You see, while this title is essentially a RPG it is also a platformer which shifts between the real world and the dream world. Players will essentially control both Mario and Luigi, in tandem; however, this can be tricky as both brothers have separate action buttons. Now while having separate action buttons may be a blessing at times, there are times where this mechanic becomes frustrating. You see, Mario and Luigi need to jump across various platforms at the same time; however, having separate buttons for both characters make a simple jump a tedious and frustrating chore.
Combat is played out in a turn-based RPG style and Mario and Luigi have the additional ability to counter attack when the enemy attacks. This makes battles go faster, but also adds more of challenge at the same time. You see, timing is crucial so if you miss those all-important counter attacks you may just find yourself having to revive either Mario or Luigi quite often during the earlier stages of this title.
As with most RPG titles most battle encounters start out easy, but tend to get longer and harder the further you progress. Luckily, you will have the ability to use various special moves, which will ultimately save your skin time and time again. I must admit that the most enjoyable part of playing this pocket RPG is the fact that you really need to strategise when it comes to combat. Enemy attacks come in the form of a mini-game, which basically tests your timing skills. Time your evasion right and you can counter flawlessly; however, time them wrong, and you will be facing a game over screen quicker than you think especially when going up against the game’s many boss battles.
Furthermore, as you are in Luigi’s dream world, the narcoleptic brother has a few extra abilities which come in the form of “Luigination”. While using Luigination, Luigi can transform into a clock, which will allow the player to change the flow of time simply by tapping on Luigi’s mustache on the lower screen, or he might unexpectedly occupy a tree, which will help Mario reach high places. It is all weird a wacky at the end of the day, which ultimately makes this title a pleasure to play. I will admit that I much preferred exploring Luigi’s Dream World to the real world of Pi’illo Island as it seemed so much more exciting. Granted, both the Dream world and Pi’illo Island have their perks, but the Dream World just seemed to capture my attention so much more.
Graphically, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team looks great. It is a title that is colourful, quirky and graphically appealing. The character models are familiar and the world is a pleasure to explore and view. Furthermore, the game makes great use of the Nintendo 3DS’ 3D functionality – which is rarely seen in various 3DS titles.
When it comes to sound, I feel that developer AlphaDream has done a great job with this title. As stated in previous reviews, I generally spend most of the time playing 3DS titles on mute as they tend to be overbearing… especially when it comes to overly repetitive musical loops. Thankfully, the soundtrack within Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is upbeat, cheerful and well suited to this title.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is quite honestly a superb pocket RPG. I found myself playing it anywhere and everywhere I could, just so I could level up and progress further and further within the storyline. It is just a pity that most of the games amazing moments are only present within Lugi’s dream world. Granted, Pi’illo Island is a great setting, but Luigi’s trippy dreams just captured my attention so much more.
Overall, if you are looking for a great pocket RPG then look no further as Mario and Luigi will keep you entertained for hours.