Mario & Luigi: Dream Team on the Nintendo 3DS tells the tale of Mario and Luigi who are invited for a sightseeing trip to the mysterious Pi’illo Island, curtesy of the mysterious proprietor, Dr Snoozemore. After a while things take a turn for the worse when Princess Peach is kidnapped and pulled into a Dream World by a new enemy in the series known as the ghostly bat king Antasma.
Super Gamer Dude
The Mario RPGs have been a consistently fantastic and inventive branch off series for Nintendo since the Super Nintendo era. This latest portable edition is riskier than some prior entries, but unfortunately this comes at a cost to its quality and more specifically its pacing.
Before we get too far into where the game struggles, it's important to note the game does carry the typical Nintendo polish and certainly executes, dutifully towards its 'charm quotient'. As always, Treehouse has done a wonderful job translating the dialogue, although at times, exchanges last a few beats too long and there's a feeling that some 'fat' needs to be cut in the future.
Focusing on the game itself, the structure balances a dual-world idea, as the plumber brothers bounce from real to dream world, often tediously. Puzzles feel padded by this duality, pushing our heroes into former areas and making smaller tasks feel more laborious because of the backtracking. The first 15 hours of playtime feels like 8 hours of game, and because of this I found myself clicking through dialogue to just finish it. Instead of looking forward to the next twist, interesting boss, or explorable area; I was hurried because it became a blur of repetition (something that readily eradicates its 'charm quotient').
The saving grace in this monotony however is the classic active turn-based system that remains fresh even today. With a large variety of enemies, and each of them presenting different attack cadences, there's rarely a dull battle to be had. Players actively want to get in battles here although as the game seemingly extends into monotony, additional fights begin to feel tedious because the rest of the game was becoming so repetitive.
Aesthetically, Mario and Luigi is clean and vibrant; employing Nintendo's wonderful palette and pseudo cel-shaded look in 3D. Most gamers will appreciate the subtle 'picture book' look made from the 3D effect, something that works particularly well given the general look of the Mario RPG series. As well, the sound FX are simple and the music quality as always, employing old classics and new joints that fit well alongside the colorful action.
While the game stays close to the formula of battle/grind/explore/cut-scene, there are some successful risks such as the 'Kaiju' boss battles that mix things up. These novel/flip your 3DS segments challenge convention and breath some surprise into the game at a time where the monotony has settled in.
On the whole, Mario and Luigi is a success mechanically, and occasionally with its humor and charm. Unfortunately, it's dual world/dream world mechanic is more tedious than fun, and monotony gets in the way of both the rhythm and momentum of the title. Still, the game has that same wonderful battle system you've grown to love and enough Nintendo whimsy to sink its teeth into you for a little while. The best advice here is to wait for a sale and maybe snag it at $20 as opposed to full retail.