Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Review for Nintendo 3DS

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Review for Nintendo 3DS

Dream Until Your Dream Comes True

Mario and Luigi are incredibly popular worldwide, but let’s face it: They’re more mascots than they are actual characters. There’s the heroic Mario, fearless and respected savior of the mushroom kingdom, and then there’s poor Luigi, the clumsy and callow brother who has been the butt of many jokes in recent Nintendo history. Few games go deeper than those caricatures, but Mario & Luigi: Dream Team does. It retains the zany fun of this RPG series but enhances it with a gentle celebration of brotherhood.

Exotic Pi’illo Island, an up-and-coming vacation resort being visited by the Bros. and Princess Peach, is more than it seems. It plays host to a seemingly extinct society of pillow-beings and an ancient, evil bat creature who emerges from the realm of dreams and befriends none other than Mario’s nemesis, Bowser. This setup leads to the discovery that Luigi is an epically talented sleeper, and that Mario must enter Luigi’s dreams and cooperate with his brother’s inner self to save the world from Bowser’s new supervillain team.

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Trailer

There’s plenty of traditional Mario & Luigi RPG action in Dream Team . While wandering Pi’illo Island, Mario and Luigi have their signature stable of moves that they’ll need to use in order to explore and solve puzzles. While moves like hammer pounds and spin jumps are familiar from older games, the designers have created plenty of puzzles and mini-games that require new uses for these old moves.

The popular hybrid turn-based/action combat system from the series returns as well, with all-new special Bros. Attacks that make use of various 3DS features. Attacks are chosen from a turn-based menu but executed using timed button presses. Defending against enemy attacks, a must since enemy moves can be deadly, requires timing, good reflexes, and a keen sense of observation. As always, the combat system is easy to learn but challenging to master, and new twists have been added, such as enemies that appear in the background to make life even more difficult for our heroes.

When Mario ventures into Luigi’s dreams, the world changes from 3D to 2D. Mario is accompanied by an idealized version of his brother, Dreamy Luigi. Dreamy Luigi has the ability to possess objects in the Dream World, which can then be manipulated by using the stylus on Luigi’s sleeping body on the touch screen. This can involve simple actions such as tickling Luigi’s nose to make him sneeze, which blows background objects to the foreground, or more complex puzzle-solving such as rotating a beach floatie on which Luigi is sleeping in order to alter the gravity in the Dream World. Mario will even manage to ride atop a giant stack of multiple Luigis, and then he’ll learn to change the stack’s shape for even more puzzle-solving fun.

Mario and Dreamy Luigi fuse into one during Dream World battles, and several Luigis will pop out of Mario to follow up on attacks. This means Mario is pitted against large groups of enemies in the Dream World, and the player will need to stay sharp while defending since Luigi isn’t around to pick Mario up if he’s hit with a status abnormality.

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Screenshot

Boss battles can be particularly deadly in the Dream World if Mario is tripped, dizzy, or burning, because bosses can get several attacks in while he’s helpless. Get knocked out during a battle and you’ll be presented with the option to repeat it in Easy Mode, which is quite tempting for a few bosses that are hit-point sponges. Easy Mode pumps up Mario and Luigi’s strength to a ridiculous degree, though, so you’ll probably feel cheap for taking advantage of the offer.

The Dream World also contains several Giant Battles in which Dreamy Luigi grows to an epic height in order to save his brother from an angry, giant boss monster. The player must turn the 3DS sideways and use stylus movements to control Luigi. Giant Battles are over-the-top, stompy fun (who can argue with Luigi slap-chopping a volcano monster?) and though rare, they’re a great addition to the game.

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Screenshot

Both in the real world and Dream World, there’s a constant stream of new and interesting things to do, such as mini-games, new moves to learn, different types of puzzles, and brand-new enemies. Most of these are balanced quite well so that they offer a challenge without throwing up a huge roadblock in front of the player. Some, particularly in the realm of mini-games and Bros. Attacks, will feel too gimmicky for certain players, especially those who dislike stylus-based or gyroscope gameplay. I personally enjoyed the different gameplay varieties, though I found many of the Bros. Attacks to be too unforgiving to be worth the attempt. There’s a demo mode in which the player can practice Bros. Attacks, but the slightest error in pulling one off lowers the attack’s damage so much that it’s safer to stick to regular attacks, which are much easier to perform perfectly.

Although it often takes a back seat to the gameplay, the writing in Dream Team is quite well done. I criticized the extreme wordiness I encountered in Dream Team’s playable demo, but the final game has been properly edited. Most tutorials can be skipped if needed, most scenes don’t go on too long, and there are some great characters with hilarious personalities to encounter. I was a particular fan of the Massif Bros., who are Nintendo’s answer to Saturday Night Live’s classic Hans and Franz. Bowser, who is wonderfully written in this series, has some great scenes as well.

Behind the usual zaniness are some touching moments that shine the spotlight on Mario and Luigi’s relationship as brothers. Although they only speak in unintelligible gobbledegook that is interpreted by other characters, the game’s superb sprite work clearly shows their emotions. We see Mario as the devoted older brother who never gives up on Luigi and graciously takes a supporting role when Luigi’s dream powers bring him to the forefront. We also see Luigi as the younger brother who idolizes Mario and dreams of throwing off his own reputation as a clumsy screw-up. It’s rare that we see sibling relationships explored in games, and it’s quite heartwarming to experience this human side of Nintendo’s venerable mascots.

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Screenshot

The high-quality sprites for Mario, Luigi, and the game’s other characters aren’t the only bright spots in its audiovisual presentation. Both the 3D Regular World and the 2D Dream World settings are sharp and vivid. Each Dream World is a weird, topsy-turvy version of the area from which it was accessed, giving plenty of diversity to the Dream World environments. Great animation brings everything to life, from the movements of each individual Luigi in a Luigi stack to the over-the-top moves in Giant Battles.

Although it’s not up to the standard of Nintendo’s best Mario soundtracks (I miss you, Mario Galaxy ), the music in Dream Team is high quality and catchy. The sound effects are great, and Charles Martinet’s memorable Mario and Luigi voice clips are used to good effect. There’s still no real voice acting in the game, but considering the outrageous accents many of the characters have, that’s probably just as well. What’s funny in text could easily be mauled by a voice actor.

Now in its fourth incarnation, the Mario & Luigi RPG series keeps things fresh by adding crazy new gameplay concepts into each game. The Dream World is the best of these so far, and allows the game’s creators to advance Mario and Luigi’s character development in a way that’s rarely seen from Nintendo. A game that feels fresh and fun throughout, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is recommend for anybody with decent reflexes. Role-playing fans will be happy that unlike Paper Mario: Sticker Star , this game retains its RPG elements. Other gamers will simply enjoy the solid gameplay, colorful world, and the sense of humor and fun that pervades the entire experience.

Sharp, vibrant world design and excellent sprite work add greatly to the overall game experience. 3.9 Control
Control is generally precise, but certain gameplay segments will feel too gimmicky for some players. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Catchy tunes and great sound effects make up for a lack of voice acting. 4.5 Play Value
Dream Team is fairly lengthy and there are always new things to see and do, keeping gameplay fresh. 4.4 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Spawn hundreds of Luigis that mold into different forms such as bouncy towers, wrecking balls, and giant hammers for special attacks or to pass obstacles.
  • Poke, tickle, and move a sleeping Luigi on the lower touch screen to alter the dream world on the upper screen.
  • Master two worlds by switching between controlling both brothers when battling in the real world and controlling Mario and an army of Luigis in dream-world battles.
  • With the Nintendo 3DS system turned sideways like a book, experience larger-than-life Giant Battles with a gargantuan-size Luigi on one screen and the enemy on the other screen.
  • Find new items and gear to customize Mario & Luigi to fit your play style.
  • To help players through the adventure, the game offers various support features, such as a Hint System that offers tips on surviving a particular engagement, or an Easy mode to make a particular battle easier.

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