Mario and Luigi Dream Team is out now in Europe. But do the mustache wielding mascots of Nintendo succeed in their first 3DS RPG? Well, let’s talk about it.
Dream Team follows Mario and Luigi as they travel to the land of Pi’illo on holiday. (Haha Pi’illo as in pillow.) Surprising to no one, not even the main characters, Princess Peach is kidnapped and it’s up to the Mario Bros to save the day once more. The story is typical Mario at first, but as the game progresses, the story evolves into something found in the land of Adventure Time, a strange story that still manages to make sense. As the game goes on more and more characters are introduced, each of them being unique in their own way. The only problem is that none of these characters are very funny. All of them tend to have one joke and they use it constantly. The only real entertaining character is Luigi, and he gets pushed to the background for most of the game.
Another issue is the amount of dialogue. The game is an RPG and it’s true that it’s the norm for pages of text to be on screen. But the dialogue is never interesting. What characters say often fails to have any relevance to what is going on in the world, and characters that interrupt your game just to make a joke come off as a pain rather than as a funny character. None of the dialogue in the game is engaging and the game constantly takes the control away from you to slowly pan the camera over to a character making a joke that often falls flat, then it will go back to gameplay. It’s boring and sometimes downright aggravating.
The gameplay is similar to the over Mario and Luigi RPG games of late. In fact, it’s nearly identical. You control Mario while Luigi follows behind and you explore the world. You can talk to people and use coins to buy items in the shop. This is all standard RPG fair, and while it doesn’t do anything badly, it doesn’t do anything particularly new. The battles use the A button to control Mario and the B button to control Luigi. Players take it in turns to attack enemies and defend or dodge their attacks. These battles are entertaining and it always feels rewarding when countering an enemy attack. The battles also use special moves that involve the bros teaming up together to perform powerful attacks, these attacks are cool to watch but do surprisingly little damage.
The new feature of Dream Team is the ability to venture into Luigi’s dreams. Mario can explore the deep 2D subconscious of his brother and save the lives of the lost Pi’illo people and defeat nightmares that wander in Luigi’s head. Luigi’s face is on the touch screen and you can interact with it to change the world around you, such as create path ways or blow a gust of wind. It’s a really cool idea at first, until you realise it’s a slighty changed copy of being inside of Bowser in Mario and Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story. The player messes around with a character and it in turn affects the world Mario and Luigi are currently in. It feels like a waste of potential and becomes a gimmick quickly.
A certain aspect can be taken in either a good or bad way. The game is incredibly easy. The game assumes you are new to the series and spends the first two hours of the game teaching you how to play. There is no way to skip this and is very tedious. The game is also littered with healing items and money, meaning you will always be prepared whenever you are low on health. The game will also stop and actually tell you when you are about to fight a boss, letting you know that healing items should be at the ready. The bosses, as unique as they are, never pose a challenge and can often be beaten without having to discover a weakness. Some players will love this, others won’t.
The music in the game is hit and miss. The game follows the shameful pattern Mario games have fallen into of using the same music as every other Mario game. It’s as if Nintendo need to constantly remind us that we are playing Mario. There are a few new tracks and for what little of them there are, they are a nice change of pace. The battle music is forgetful but the music while running around exploring can be quite catchy.
Graphically the game isn’t anything special. The world is 3D and all the character sprites are 2D. The game looks slightly like a Paper Mario game but with a better looking world. The only time the game stood out was during the opening sequence. The 3D aspect however is pointless. The game never takes full advantage of the 3D capabilities except when using super moves in battle, as these moves look amazing in 3D and sometimes the 3D can help figure out how to use the attack effectively.
Mario and Luigi Dream Team is a lazy game. The game lacks the heat and originality the original games overflowed with. It seems like a rushed product that, with a little more time, could have been a fantastic addition to the Mario RPG series. Mario diehards will enjoy the game, and it is a perfect gateway game for RPG newcomers. But as it stands, Dream Team is the weakest Mario RPG games in recent years.