Mario & Luigi: Dream Team

Nintendo has delivered another great addition to the Mario & Luigi RPG series.

By Grayshadow, Posted 07 Nov 2013

Mario & Luigi Dream Team continues the Year of Luigi with the green-clothed plumber teaming up with his notorious brother for a new adventure in the Mario & Luigi RPG series. Like previous installments in the franchise the game is a compendium of RPG and platforming elements that highlight different abilities and powers of the brothers. While you’re continually shown new gameplay mechanics the overall focus and rhythm is not as fluid as past titles because something new is always being introduce, disrupting the flow. But despite this Mario & Luigi Dream Team quickly begins to deliver a creative and delightful experience that will appeal to long-time veterans of the franchise and newcomers.

Mario & Luigi, Dream Team, Review, 3DS, Nintendo, RPG

The game starts with Mario & Luigi taking a relaxing trip to Pi'illo Island when their dream vacation quickly turns into a nightmare. Now it’s up to the heroes of the Mushroom Kingdom to save the world from an ancient evil, unfortunately the only way to accomplish this is to head into the deep recesses of Luigi’s dreams where the laws of reality no longer apply. It’s in here that Mario must save the Pi'illo people, pillowed shaped creatures that have been trapped in their dreams and turned into stone, from their nightmarish imprisonment. You’ll spend the adventure traveling between the real world and Luigi’s dreams, each providing unique powers and abilities that tailor to that specific world.

Despite being called Dream Team you’ll spend a lot more time traveling through the various regions Pi'illo Island solving puzzles, talking to locals, and fighting enemies using wacky attacks. It’s when Luigi is awake that the game will feel like past titles in the franchise. You’ll move the brothers through the 3D environment, jump, and use a series of special abilities to gain access to new areas. But when entering Luigi’s dreams you’ll be face with new challenges that are unique to this title.

Mario & Luigi, Dream Team, Review, 3DS, Nintendo, RPG

It’s in Luigi’s Dreams that the game turns into a 2D platformer where Mario is now accompanied by his dreaming brother. Since the brothers are no longer bound by the limitations of reality Luigi is imbued with new powers that include multiplying into hundreds of Luigis, possessing pillars pulling that can propel Mario to new heights, making the sleeping brother sneeze to blow objects into the foreground, and even growing to the size of a colossus. It’s here where Luigi becomes the star and shows that he can rise to the same heights as his older brother.

These cooperative abilities cross over to the real world, but not in the same way. Now bound by the restrictions of reality the brothers can still access ridiculous skills. This includes creating a powerful drill to smash through blocks and smashing Mario into the ground to tunnel underground. New powers are contentiously being introduced to encourage exploration and back-tracking to uncover ever secret hidden in the sheets of Pi'illo Island.

This insane mentality is maintained in the battles as well. Mario & Luigi have access to basic attacks such as jump and hammer attacks but over the course of the game you’ll gain access to new attacks that combine their powers for some truly cartoonish maneuvers. Some of these include rolling a army of Luigis into a ball and throwing them at enemies or even making the player shift the 3DS on its side, similar to Mario & Luigi: Inside Bowser’s Story, to take on giant enemies. Each attack requires a timed button press for extra damage and a burst of alluring spites and a cheery sounds.

Mario & Luigi, Dream Team, Review, 3DS, Nintendo, RPG

In the dream world Mario & Luigi don’t fight separately but instead play as Mario infused with the powers of his brother’s dream form. Although this shifts the way you fight, as oppose to the dream world, adapting to this new style is easy. In this state Mario can attack multiple targets with a single attack by using Luigi’s energy to multiply Luigi’s form into several forms called Luiginary attacks.

While Mario & Luigi have proven to be experienced defenders you cannot complete this game using brute force. Like other games in the Mario & Luigi franchise learning the tells of each enemy is equally important in succeeding in each battle. Each adversary has specific tells that determine which attack they plan to use and who they plan to attack. Whether it’s attacking or on the defense the combat system’s mechanics ensure that you stay focus during each fight.

Successfully using both defensive and offensive attacks are rewarded by increasing your badge meter. Building on Mario & Luigi: Inside Bowser’s Inside Story’s badge system you can mix and match different badges that offer different perks. By properly attacking targets this meter fills and allows the brothers to use these one-time buffs within fights that can range from healing to temporarily increasing attack power. In addition challenges are included to encourage players to fight using specific styles and attacks, and rewarding the player with items for both Mario and Luigi when completed.

Mario & Luigi, Dream Team, Review, 3DS, Nintendo, RPG

The boss fights test how alert you’re to mechanics of the battle system. Determining how your opponent is going to attack and properly evading those attacks with either a successful dodge or counter-attack is just as vital as inflicting the maximum amount of damage. Boss fights quickly escalate and become more vexing, however if things become too difficult Nintendo has included an option to allow players to either retry a boss encounter or activate easy mode. This mode allows those who have trouble advancing through the title a chance to bypass a difficult task while attempting to teach the player useful tactics so they can play without assistance.

Players will still need to grind for experience, if you choose not to play on easy mode, but things never get too tedious. The use of an elaborate combat system, a colorful world to explore, and a funny narrative easily overshadowed the lack of deep RPG elements. Most of the game relies on standard RPG additions such as stat tracking, simple equipment options, and increasing the level of the brothers. It also doesn’t help that the soundtrack doesn’t deliver a steady stream of entertaining musical scores.

The story of Mario & Luigi Dream Team is a charming tale that is has genuine moments that will make you laugh, but these are sparse. The dialogue is packed with parodies and light hearted moments, however some of the writing can seem tawdry and dry at times. It may not be the best writing of the franchise but the story is still very good.

Nintendo has delivered another great addition to the Mario & Luigi RPG series. The formula hasn’t been altered dramatically, but the dream portions inject new life in what could’ve been a stale experience. Mario & Luigi Dream Team may be an uneven experience at times but the turn-based combat, overworld exploration, and laugh-out-load moments makes this installment in the distinguished franchise a worthy title to add to anyone’s 3DS library.

Adam Siddiqui, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): 3DS
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Developer(s): AlphaDream
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Adventure
Release Date: 2013-07-12

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