It’s the year of Luigi! While that’s certainly not what my 6 year old Chinese calendar says on its wearing pages, I know for sure the tall green underdog isn’t quite at the level of fame needed to get up on that pedestal – instead, he’s just getting a bigger role in a couple of video games over these 12 months before being pushed back to the shadow of his stumpy brother.
Regardless of what happens at the year’s end, Luigi is enjoying his year in the spotlight. Proving he could entertain us again with his own misfortune chasing ghosts around haunted mansions and kicking his brother aside for his own round of classic platforming action, Luigi has decided to partner up with his equally moustached sibling once more for a round of… dozing off.
That’s right! Mostly, anyway. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. sees the iconic, out-of-place trade workers break out the hammers to fight battles in a way you’d expect to see in a 10 year old Final Fantasy – but with a twist. Turn based combat becomes intertwined with micro-games to spruce up the ‘traditional’ combat system in 1 ways good and 2 ways bad.
Taking the brother’s out of their comfort zone, Dream Team Bros. drops the major denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom into the colourful Pi’illo Island through the invite and transport of the land’s main man. Rightfully sceptical of the invitation, Toadsworth’s ageing wisdom scores a point as the team gets ambushed by a ghastly force with Peach, again, becoming the targeted victim. What a perfect excuse to have the brother’s reclaim their former turn-based battle prowess!
Seemingly unphased by the attempted abduction – the poor girl must have grown accustomed by now – Princess Peach calms down her subordinates and pushes them to have a good time in the game-show inspired island without caring much at the though of who was pulled the strings of the attack. Despite his absence in the last fight, Luigi soon gets to justify why he should have become the headlining name of the series decades ago by… falling asleep.
Learning that the Pi’illo Island used to play home to a species known as the Pi’illo (as if you didn’t see that coming) you soon come across the treasure the current denizens of the floating landmass had been looking for all this time. A pillow. Genius.
Placing the ageing headrest atop the ancient bed situated in the island’s heritage museum soon makes for an image Luigi just can’t tear himself away from. As if spending so much time with a Princess over the past few decades wasn’t enough, the green-glad ‘hero’ throws away all memory of manners and decides to take a nap on the relic as a much earned reward for finding the crusty old pillow.
Falling into a deep sleep within a matter of seconds, Luigi’s apparent narcolepsy activates the pillow’s ancient magic and tears a whole into the ‘Dream World’ subjecting Peach to the kinds of voices that cause her to lose it and jump through the gateway. Back in slightly-sane ville, Mario notices his que to follow suit leaving Luigi as the lazy gatekeeper staying back to keep the doors open.
The Dream World essentially flattens the planes of the 3D overworld limiting your movement to the standard 2D platforming of the older entries in the series. Hopping and stomping your way through the stage’s obstacles and enemies, with help from Luigi’s dream body ‘Dreamy Luigi’, will eventually lead you to a crystallised character from Pi’illo islands days of old; shatter that and you’ll have yourself booted back into the world of the X, Y and Z axis with a safely rescued Pi’illo citizen to take away from the dozens of other stone pillows dotted around the overworld.
It’s a fairly repetitive process that’ll only slowly expand into a viable puzzle segment later down the line, but does offer perhaps the longest breaks away from constant meaningless character conversations between the action.
Combat doesn’t stray too far from the series’ classic take on the traditional turn-based JRPG brawls. While fighting in the 3D segments with a concious second brother you’ll command the attacks of both judging on the looks of the enemy to make your decision of jumping on them, smashing them down with a hammer or combining the efforts of the two siblings in micro-game style ‘Bros. Attacks’ you’ve picked up along the way to rack up some extra stopping power. In the Dream World, however, you’ll see the emerald brother lend his power to the crimson plumber to essentially rain Luigi’s during every swing – The core aim to watch, judge and counter everything your enemy throws at your during their turn comes across as equal parts a god send to the system as it is a curse – as if to say it strays too far from the genre-defining formula to appeal to the more hardcore demographic.
Pulling away from the game’s quirky characters, shallow puzzle sequences solves by hammers and a tug of Luigi’s moustache and the understanding that you can actually run through the game without being hurt if you’re reaction timings see you capable of the feat, you’ll notice some surprisingly catching music stemming from the talent of the series’ long-standing composer, Yoko Shimomura, and some incredibly crisp and vibrant backdrops for the fairly simple 2D sprites to traverse. Ignoring the obvious flaws, Dream Team Bros. is rather kind to the senses despite the stretched images plastered throughout this review.
Nintendo and AlphaTeam have certainly gone into this idea with the core value of ‘Gameplay over story’ the monolithic developer has employed since its first venture into video games, but this strikes me as the prime example of where one simply can’t stand without the other. While the dialogue will certain see your blank expression turn into a noticeable smile on more than a few occasions, you’ll still be itching to skip the text boxes and look for any option to omit cutscenes from the cartridge itself.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. ultimately suffers from poor execution. A tiresome storyline coupled with constant dialogue sequences makes for one slow and, quite frankly, boring role-playing game only backed up by a slightly interesting twist on the classic turn-based formula and enough comedic tropes to push you ahead just a little further. It’s not going to scratch the itch of any loyal RPG fan, but anyone looking to see the brother’s in a more personal light after all these years may value the purchase. It’s certainly not for everyone.
Audio/Visual – 4/5: Surprisingly catchy tunes and a beautifully vivid world made better with the 3D effect – It’s a shame not opt to turn it off.
Replay Value – 3/5: Without going into too much detail, it certainly isn’t just a campaign run.
Innovation – 3/5: Luiginary and Bros. Attack put another spin on the combat system turned on its head in the past games, but doesn’t offer much more in terms of tactical thinking.
Gameplay – 2/5: Offering little more than past games in the series, Dream Team Bros. couples minimal change and aggravating plot-points to an already mediocre RPG experience.
- Josh reviewed Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros on Nintendo 3DS -