To put it frankly I’m more of an old-school Mario fan, I used to have Super Mario Bros. on the NES and I love New Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS so at Nintendo’s post E3 event in London earlier this year I thought I’d try something a little different and Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. is just that. Different.
The preview at Nintendo’s event didn’t really do the game much justice, it threw you into both real world battles and dream world battles and because I wasn’t too familiar with Dream Team Bros. I didn’t quite understand this RPG-style battle that I was having. I was pretty reluctant to pick up the game because of this, but I did anyway and I’m glad I did.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. is not like any Mario game I’ve ever played though I understand that there’s a fair few games similar to this in the Mario Universe. The game itself takes on a more RPG feel to it with the occasional hearty helping of classic Mario platformer thrown in there. The story is fairly simple from the beginning, good old Princess Peach gets herself in trouble after she gets accidentally taken deep into the castle of Pi’illo Island and of course Mario has to rescue her.
Through out the game you’re slowly introduced into the games mechanics which has a pretty comfortable learning curve. Also, if you struggle there’s always the option to practice over and over again if you so wish. This is one thing I really enjoyed about Dream Team Bros. there was a lot of room for you to mistakes without being too detrimental to the game this allowed you to learn the ropes as it were without needing to start over if it all went wrong.
At first you’re left to control Mario as you learn battle techniques as well as learn how to interact with the environment. The reason you’re left with just Mario is pretty clever, Luigi is asleep – this becomes a key part of the game later on. Once Luigi wakes up you’re then introduces to the dual control mechanics. In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros you control both Mario & Luigi using A and B respectively which at times can get pretty frustrating when trying to jump from one platform to another and you miss the B button and Luigi takes a tumble, but it’s not enough to ruin the game.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. is incredibly in depth thanks to the game having two separate worlds; The real world, and the dream world. You discover the dream world after you rescue Peach for the first time and discover a strange crystal pillow that’s believed to be an ancient Pi’illo artefact. Luigi decides now is a good time for a nap so he takes the crystal pillow and goes to sleep. This causes a huge dream cloud to appear above his head which is later revealed can only be done by those truly asleep – good old lazy Luigi.
Peach being Peach decides to take a closer look and *whoosh* gets sucked into this mysterious cloud resulting in Mario once again having to rescue her. This introduces us into the Dream World which takes on a more classic Mario platformer feel. The dream world also introduces us to Luigi’s Dream Self or, Dreamy Luigi who looks the same but possesses powers only available to him in this state.
The Dream world is probably the most interesting part to Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. and unfortunately makes the real world seem a bit boring in comparison.
As this game is more of an RPG than a platformer we’re introduced to a new type of battle, think Final Fantasy 7 but with Mario and Luigi as the only “party” members. The battles take on similar RPG semantics; each character takes their turn choosing from either an attack, an item, or to flee. Where Dream Team Bros. differs from normal RPG’s is that you can defend yourself at any time by jumping out of the way, there’s no blocking, nor is there the hope that the opponent will miss, you’re fully in control of whether you get hit or not you just need to have a keen eye.
The attacks are pretty straight forward, as you’d expect from a Mario and Luigi game the main attack is to “jump” on the enemy. Later on your introduced to the hammer attack allowing you to hit your opponent with a huge mallet, and finally further down the line you’ll find “Attack Pieces” which will allow you to unlock new and more powerful Bros. Attacks and Luiginary Attacks, these are the things that make battles pretty interesting.
These Attack Pieces allow you to unlock attacks like the 3D Red Shell attack which allows you to kick a shell between Mario the enemy then Luigi and kick it back & forth, other attacks like the Luiginary Ball allows Mario to run atop a giant ball made out of Luigi’s over the top of other Luigi’s in order to make the ball bigger which then runs over the enemy. I should mention this small army of Luigi’s are called Luiginoids singularly.
Unlike the real world where you have both Mario and Luigi attacking the enemy, in the Dream World you’re left with just Mario to perform attacks, but thankfully his attack is backed up usually by an insane amount of Luiginoids doing exactly the same attack but on multiple opponents.
Timing is also the key in battles as most of the games attacks require you to hit “A” or “B” at a key time in order to critically hit your opponent. If you miss, a rather feeble attack is achieved.
Unfortunately I found that the powerful Dream World battles were really over powered and left the Real World battles feeling weak and boring dragging out the play time within the real world. Thankfully though the Real World is backed up by a series of story driven puzzles which kept the game play feeling fresh.
Because this game is more of an RPG than a platformer there is a levelling system in place where you can level up Mario and Luigi ultimately increasing their stats so they perform better during battles. As helpful as the increasing levels became I found it to be a little slow and lacking any real sense of progression which if anything lead me to avoid confrontation with opponents because of this.
So, shooting back to the Dream World, this is where the game really excels. During your time in the Dream World you’ll find certain objects or platforms physically unreachable, this obstacle is overcome by the interaction with Luigi in the real world using the 3DS touch screen. This feature has to be my favourite of all. This feature is called Luigi Works and only comes into play when Dreamy Luigi is near a Luiginary Work, this comes in many forms such as a tree which looks fairly similar to Luigi’s Moustache, a strange sort of whirlwind in the background, or a strange sort of cylinder.
This Luigi Works allow Mario to reach certain objects or high platforms by interacting with the sleeping Luigi in the real word. This is where Starlow comes in use. Throughout the game Starlow is your guide, he teaches you how to play but at the same time he keeps guard of Luigi whilst he sleeps, much to Starlows disliking.
Once Dreamy Luigi enters one of the Luiginary Works – lets take the tree for example – Starlow can pull on Luigi’s moustache in the real world which will cause the tree that Dreamy Luigi has possessed to extend it’s moustache-like branches which Mario latches on to. You then stretch his moustache out and let go which flings Mario to a higher platform in the Dream World.
Overall Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. is an interesting and in-depth game which allows you to experience Mario & Luigi in a different light. Does it work? I think so, but I feel that you have to look at it as a new game based in the Mario Universe and not a true Mario & Luigi game that we’re all used to. There are so many corners to this game that I haven’t touched upon but then where’s the fun in finding out every single little feature before playing it?