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Mario & Luigi: Dream Team – Video Review (Nintendo 3DS)

For many fans, there’s a bit of worry going into Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. By all rights they should be hyped for it, but after the perceived mishandling of Paper Mario: Sticker Star, they’re worried that Nintendo again messed with the formula to one of Mario’s RPGs. Well for those of you that are worried, you can rest easy. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team sticks closely to what came before and turns out to be a great RPG in the process. Dream Team begins Princess Peach and her entourage being invited to take a vacation on Pi’illo Island. While it’s now a tourist trap, it used to be the home of the ancient Pi’illo race that mysteriously disappeared ages ago.

It’s during this vacation that Mario and Luigi stumble across a petrified pillow that grants them access to the Dream World when Luigi sleeps on it. And when Peach is kidnapped by a new villain by the name of Antasma, it’s up to Mario and Luigi to rescue her and the rest of the Pi’illo people. They are helped along the way by Starlow, returning from Bowser’s Inside Story, and the resurrected Pi’illo prince, Dreambert. The story, while nothing mind-blowing, is perfectly entertaining. It’s an easy to follow plot with a few twists and turns along the way and filled with the series’ trademark humor. While not quite as funny as previous games, it will earn more than a few chuckles along the way. My only real problem with it is that you don’t get to encounter the villains much. You hear about Antasma and all the evil he did in the past, but you rarely get to see it. Unfortunately, he’s just not that interesting of a villain. If you’ve ever played a Mario & Luigi game, then you’ll know exactly what to expect from the gameplay.

The brothers explore Pi’illo Island solving one problem after another while battling enemies along the way. Dream Team takes more than a few pages from Bowser’s Inside Story by having both 3D sections in the real world and 2D sections in the Dream World. But while the 2D sections of Bowser’s Inside Story got a little stale due to the lack of variety, Dream Team’s take on them attempts to make up for this. Every Dream World is inspired by the real world, changing up the look though the basic level design tends to remain the same. Where things feel truly different is in the use of Luiginary abilities. Whenever Mario dives into the Dream Portal while Luigi sleeps, he’s joined by Dreamy Luigi who is able to affect the Dream World and Mario in a variety of ways. Whenever he begins to glow in conjunction with an object in the background, he’ll be able to access these abilities.

They can range from blowing objects in the background to the foreground to stacking dozens of Luigis on top of one another to reach higher areas to even affecting time and how quickly or slowly Mario can move. All of these are activated by having Starlow mess with Luigi’s body in some way. But by far the coolest Luiginary ability is when all of the Dreamy Luigi’s combine into a single gigantic Super Luigi to take on other gigantic bosses.

It plays much like the giant Bowser fights in Bowser’s Inside Story but expanded slightly to allow for Mario & Luigi’s abilities. Battles work much like how they did in previous games. Mario is controlled with one button while Luigi is controlled with the other. They can jump on enemies, hammer them, or use special Bros. Attacks to do massive damage. Each enemy takes different strategies depending on how their designed which keeps battles fresh and interesting. Mario and Luigi can also time their attacks to do even more damage and even dodge or counterattack enemy moves provided you’ve learned their patterns. Badges also return which can give an instantaneous boost in battle. Depending on which badges you have selected for each brother, you can have a range of effects from healing you, damaging enemies, or even negating damage for a certain number of attacks.

It all ties into a battle system that is designed to keep you constantly on your toes and rewards you for learning enemy patterns. This also applies to normal Dream Battles where Dreamy Luigi powers up Mario’s health, attacks, and even grants his own set of Luiginary Attacks. But for all that the game does that is fresh and new, it still has a lot of traditional elements. Players still have to hunt down 10 Attack Blocks to unlock new Bros. Attacks. Players can still equip Mario and Luigi with different gear to increase their stats. And the tutorials are still as rampant as ever. It’s unfortunate too as their introduction tends to kill the pace of Dream Team. It’s really bad in the beginning of the game and does taper off as the story progresses, but anytime some new gameplay element is introduced, a tutorial is not far behind.

And then there’s the presentation. Dream Team is just plain gorgeous. It has a style reminiscent of the previous games but enhanced to take advantage of the 3DS’s capabilities. I’m still not sure whether the game is 3D with excellent cel shading done to the models or just really good 2D modeling. Either way, the look works and displays just as much personality as previous Mario & Luigi RPGs. Even the 3D effect is used well, saving it for moments that really enhance its implementation. But by far the best thing about the game is its soundtrack. Every track is a winner and just full of personality. Just by listening to a song, you get a sense of what the place you’re in is all about. It can be light and fun, dark and ominous, or even airy and mysterious. It just plain works. The same can be said for the rest of the design. Mario and Luigi still have their gibberish way of talking and the writing is as sharp, if a bit wordy, as ever. In all, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team does exactly what it sets out to do.

It improves in some areas while providing a fun cast of new and returning characters. It’s not a perfect landing though as the game can drag in parts, specifically a late game fetch quest and its numerous tutorials, but they hardly ruin the experience. For fans of Mario, RPGs, or those just looking for a solid game with a good length, it’s easy to recommend Dream Team. It’s for those reasons that we’re awarding Mario & Luigi: Dream Team 4 and half stars out of 5. Thanks for watching and be sure to keep an eye on GameXplain for more things gaming.

As found on Youtube

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