3DS

North America

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team

by Neal Ronaghan - August 7, 2013, 10:00 am PDT
Total comments: 8

8

Can someone page the king of awesome?

With each new entry in a series, the expectation is that the latest game will be better than the last. When Super Mario Sunshine came out, we all hoped it would best Super Mario 64. Sometimes games don’t live up to the high standards of their predecessors, and unfortunately, the fourth entry in Alpha Dream’s Mario & Luigi series, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is one of those games.

It’s not the first time that the Mario & Luigi games suffered a setback. The Game Boy Advance debut, Superstar Saga, was so spectacular that even the new two-screen mechanics of the DS sequel Partners in Time paled in comparison. Then, the third entry, Bowser’s Inside Story, raised the bar even higher, elevating the formula to wondrous heights. Dream Team is a fun RPG with some clever, unique gameplay elements and memorable moments; it just doesn’t match the brilliance of Bowser’s Inside Story.

The writing is more dependent on Dragon Quest levels of silly foreign accents than ever before, and since Bowser is relegated to barely-there arch villain for most of the story, his sparkling personality and hysterical writing is buried deep within the 30-hour experience. The two most talkative characters are Prince Dreambert, the legendary prince of the story-important-but-boring Pi’illio people, and the Navi-like Starlow. If you couldn’t tell, they aren’t that charming. Most of the best humor is nestled in talking to townsfolk such as Toads and Yoshis that discuss their blogs and how much they want someone to ride on their back.

Dreambert and Starlow’s stale dialogue, which still does have its moments, wouldn’t be as much of an issue if it wasn’t such a consistent focus. The first several hours are more or less an extended tutorial that rely too heavily on the pair to drive the story and gameplay. It also doesn’t help that Dream Team is about 5-to-10 hours longer than other Mario & Luigi games, which were already long in the tooth. Luckily, the combat and exploration are still fun and inventive, so the extra time isn’t completely laborious.

The combat is virtually unchanged, with the A button representing Mario and the B button signifying Luigi. In the real world, it’s the same jump-and-hammer combo that’s been featured in each game of the series. You’ve still got Bros. Attacks, which are fun mini-games that can, if your timing is right, do massive damage. The enemies have entertaining tells that you can use to counter or avoid their attacks. From battle to battle, the pace is brisk even if the experience does have its drawn-out moments. Moments of Dream Team feel like they take forever, while others can suck away an afternoon in what feels like 20 minutes.

In the side-scrolling dream world segments, you control Mario and Dreamy Luigi, with the dream form of the younger plumber occasionally being used for Luiginary abilities. Performing these abilities is awesome, especially as the abilities evolve. I particularly enjoyed assembling Luiginoids into a giant leaning tower of Luigis. Traversal in the 2D areas is made more amusing with that ability, as it features colorful animation that makes all the Luigis look like they are doing their own thing. However, some of the others dive into grandiose levels of slow gameplay, forcing you to switch between the stylus and the Circle Pad constantly. Switching between each Luiginary ability takes a few seconds, and while the animation is fun to watch initially, those seconds add up as you’re switching between abilities more often in harder puzzles.

Battles in the dream world are more reminiscent of how Bowser battles worked in Bowser’s Inside Story. You only control Mario, but he has the power of Dreamy Luigi surging through him, so he is more powerful, usually attacking hordes of enemies at once. Replacing the Bros. Attacks are Luiginary ones that involve rolling Luigi Katamaris, building huge towers of Luigis, and more. Holding the 3DS like a book during big battles also returns, and there is some clever use of the 3DS’ features, including the gyroscope, to fight giant enemies as an oversized Luigi.

The whole experience is gentle and inviting; if you fail a battle, you can start it over and get a hint of what to do. You can even drop the difficulty down to easy at that time as well. If you’re worried about it being too easy, you can take on the deliberately cruel hard mode that unlocks after you beat the story mode the first time.

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is a respectable entry in the annals of Mario RPG history, even if it doesn’t quite match up well against Mario’s best RPG adventures. Outside of the new, impressive graphical sheen, Dream Team simply feels like Bowser’s Inside Story Part Two, but with the best part of that game (Bowser) removed from the primary cast and gameplay. What you get is still worth playing, but the slow pace, humorless main characters, and mostly familiar gameplay drop Mario & Luigi: Dream Team just outside of must-have status.

Summary

Pros
  • Clever writing
  • Good use of 3DS functions
  • Inventive gameplay
Cons
  • Story focus is on unfunny characters
  • Too long for its own good

Talkback

Pixelated PixiesAugust 07, 2013

Great review.

I'm sorry to hear that Dream Team isn't as good as Bowser's Inside Story, although I'm not really that surprised. That's a tough comparison for any game.

I'm still smarting from the disappointment of Sticker Star (which I found to be a supremely unsatisfying game), and while I acknowledge that this is a completely separate series made by a very different developer, I'm just not in the mood to play another Mario RPG just yet.

Basically, what I'm saying is that Sticker Star left a taste in my mouth so bad that it has temporarily soured me on the idea of playing another Mario RPG. It's unfortunate, but it's true.

Dream Team does look neat though and I intend to pick it up a little further down the line.

chilenozoAugust 07, 2013

Interesting to see a different review between the European and American contributors.

I find the difference between a 9 and 8 huge though...it means it's a game worth buying but not comparable to any other entry in the series if you go by 8. I find the humor quite nice actually, for me is closer to a 9 than a 8, only annoying thing it's the tutorials. I wonder what's the age of the American contributor. I find that younger generation are less and less inclined to wait, read, grind in videogames. When there is little or subtle tutorials ppl end up asking "why metroid can't crawl?", when there is too much, ppl think they don't need them.  I think Nintendo needs to provide a way to shut down the tutorials or spend lots of time in development thinking how to bring back the Super Metroid-like tutorials...but that takes cleverness and time...you want to add another 6 months of development in a already delayed game?

ballisticmedicineDrew Martorelli, Contributing WriterAugust 08, 2013

I'm not seeing the name 'Fawful' anywhere in this review. Should I be concerned?

Lucariofan99August 08, 2013

Maybe if they added a wario bros feature it would be even better!
Maybe the Wario bros could trash the party and kidnap luigi or something while mario's in lala land! ;)

Quote from: ballisticmedicine

I'm not seeing the name 'Fawful' anywhere in this review. Should I be concerned?

Yes

StrawHatChopperAugust 08, 2013

I liked Paper Mario: Sticker Star a lot, and this looks to be even better than that. I'm definitely glad I pre-ordered this one.

HotdiddykongAugust 14, 2013

Great review

But honestly the tutorials is the only problem with the game

Bowser's Inside Story set the bar TOO high to where it will never be reached unless its a new person entirely, and its already negated that its back to Mario and Luigi which means it shouldnt really be judged by that.

Either way, the improvements on the elements BiS started ESPECIALLY the giant battles were very improved as well as the games very fantastic Graphics and artstyle with fantastic animation videos cant do justice to. Music is also by far the most amazing thing i ever heard, SoundTrack of the year 2013.

Great review regardless, people need to throw off the Sticker Star excuse, it was Intelligent Systems who were meant to make something different as a handheld version while Mario and Luigi was already in Handheld, there was nothing to be worried about, Dream Team is freaking fantastic, dont let Sticker Star diminish the excellence that Dream Team is

Also no intention of spoilers, but i was caught very off guard with what they did in the end, considering what usually happens in the end of Mario and Luigi games.

HotdiddykongAugust 14, 2013

Also i liked the special treats for fans of the other games Dream Team had, there's atleast something that becomes much better when you know the context from the past games.

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3DS

Game Profile

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Box Art

Genre RPG
Developer AlphaDream Corporation
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
Release Aug 11, 2013
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone 10+
jpn: Mario & Luigi RPG 4: Dream Adventure
Release Jul 18, 2013
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros.
Release Jul 12, 2013
PublisherNintendo
Rating3+
aus: Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros.
Release Jul 13, 2013
PublisherNintendo
RatingParental Guidance
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