Review: Mario & Luigi Dream Team
By Sean Booker
September 1, 2013 - 12:19
Rating: E10 (Everyone 10 and Up)
Genre: Role Playing Game
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Mario & Luigi Dream Team is the fourth entry in the “Mario & Luigi” series of role playing games (RPGs) and the first on the Nintendo 3DS. Like before, this game doesn’t focus on the tight platforming you’re used to with Mario but instead focuses on having you explore an overworld map while encountering and fighting various enemies. The 3D found in the game is a great addition to a lot of the combat you’ll encounter but features like the 3DS’s StreetPass are unfortunately nowhere to be found. And much like a lot of RPGs, there is far too much exposition and dialogue that will result in a slower and more tedious playthrough of what is otherwise a very fun game.
Dream Team takes place as Mario and his friends are invited to Pi’illo Island for a vacation. There, we find out Luigi can open portals to the Dream World when falling asleep in certain spots. Adventuring around will introduce you to new and fun characters as well as a lot from the previous games. And once Peach gets kidnapped, you’ll be jumping back and forth between the real and dream world in order to save her. And throughout the story you’ll be presented with some really great music. The game is quite funny and the light hearted nature of everything makes for a fun time to play through.
The real world acts like your standard RPG setting (for example: the older 2D Final Fantasy games); you run around a map in order to fight enemies, visit shops and solve various environmental puzzles. Fighting enemies will grant Mario and Luigi with experience points that are used to level up. You can also purchase gear to equip your characters with that will grant stat boosts and perform special actions. Some gear will also tie into some of the 3DS’s specific features in order to provide benefits. For example, some equipment will read the 3DS’s pedometer and get more powerful the more you walk around that day. Along with that, you can outfit your two fighters each with a badge that, when combined, gives your team bonuses every now and then. There’s a lot of customization you can fool around with and the 3DS specific gear is really interesting to see.
The Dream World is a different case as it is a side-scrolling platformer. And though these sections are nowhere near as difficult as the platforming found in the Mario Bros. games, they’re easily some of the most interesting sections of the game. Since you’ll will be entering through Luigi’s dream, he becomes an all powerful being in this world. In battle, attacks Mario performs will be amplified by an army of Luigi’s and the platforming areas allow you to transform Luigi into different shapes in order to pass different obstacles.
The biggest issue with Dream Team is the amount of dialogue you will find yourself reading through when playing. This gets really annoying when the game is teaching you something new. Normally this would be fine, but the game has this annoying tendency to reiterate the same information two or third times to you back to back. Almost every time you are taught something about the game, it will remind you almost immediately afterwards. This annoying exposition gets beyond frustrating considering the game clocks in around 36 hours and it is found throughout the entire story. It’s nice that the game’s length is substantial but dragging yourself through useless conversations the whole time is brutal.
Along with this, the last area of the game does no favors to the overall enjoyment. It’s long and consists of a lot of obstacles that are only there to prolong the final fight. That, and a boss fight that requires some level grinding to take place beforehand are both traits often found in RPGs and are always a disappointment.
In terms of the 3DS’s platform specific features, there are two specific points to be made. The 3D view is great throughout the whole game. This is most evident in combat. You are able to counter and dodge attacks, and the added perspective definitely helps to line up your moves. Along with this, the special team attacks you make will often require tilting the device around and the developers were smart enough to turn the 3D view off automatically during these moments since they knew that the 3D doesn’t work when not seen straight on. The second point is the lack of any StreetPass functionality. Considering the large area, open world nature of the game you would think there would easily be a way to implement something relating to StreetPass. The 3DS’s platform specific features end up being a double-edged sword with this game but nothing too negative.
Dream Team is a good deal of fun for quite a long length of time, it’s unfortunate that some of that length backfires with the irritating exposition you have to sit through. That isn’t to say all the conversations are bad since a lot of them are also quite funny. There’s a good cast of characters to interact with and the amount of gear and equipment customization is nice. Though there are some nice features that utilize the 3DS’s specific strengths, it slightly lacks in other ways. If you’re into standard RPGs, Mario & Luigi Dream Team is a good time but you can easily find a better entry in the genre elsewhere.
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