Dance, Baby Weegie, dance!
Mario & Luigi 2 for the Nintendo DS is already looking like a winner. Those who have played Alpha Dream's original will find the game very familiar: A controls Mario, B controls Luigi, and R switches between jump and hammer for the character in the lead. Unlike the original, Mario is always in the lead, which reduces confusion outside of battle.
The surprising additions are Baby Mario and Baby Luigi, controlled with the X and Y buttons. Baby Mario and Baby Weegie can either piggy-back on their papas (or is that their older selves?) or be thrown by pushing L to split the team into two parties. Once split, L swaps which party the D-pad controls. Baby Mario and Baby Luigi handle just like their older counter-parts in and outside of battle, but can fit through smaller spaces. Often the tikes will venture into an area displayed on the upper screen, allowing the player to easily keep track of and alternate between both teams (needed to solve various puzzles). Standing one team on top of another re-assembles the crew, and hitting warp pipe blocks summons the abandoned duo to the current location.
Battles continue to expand upon the interactive, turn-based tradition Mario & Luigi founded. Both adults and babies have hammers and their boots to use, which behave exactly as they did in the original. When defending, the face buttons allow you to evade or counter-attack, just like on the GBA.
The sections of the game I played do not feature any Bros. attacks, though they will likely return and vary among the individual teams and the piggy-back combination. They did, however feature some fancy new attack items. The red shell is rallied against enemies: after a shell bounces off of an enemy, it rebounds toward one of the characters, who can kick it back. The process repeats, and the shell increases in speed until the player misses a kick. The more powerful blue shell is similar, but involves the hammers (which are trickier to time). Naturally, the older siblings are stronger than the babies, though the health/damage scale seems to be significantly higher than in Mario & Luigi.
Players can also battle with all four Marios in one team. When in a piggy-back battle players can use four-person items, such as the trampoline. When the player uses the trampoline, all four characters jump high in the air and dive-bomb an enemy; pushing the button associated with the character upon impact increases damage. The babies also act as alternates for Mario & Luigi: if Mario is downed, Baby Mario will carry him to safety and take his place until the older plumber is revived.
The demo did not reveal much plot, but it seems the game takes place in an alternate world--this means we may not see the return of fan favorites such as Fawful. Nonetheless, Mario & Luigi looks like it will be a smashing hit full of the same quirky humor and personality that made Alpha Dream famous.