Considering that Nintendo’s previous Mario & Luigi titles have the famous duo fight bean people, work with their younger selves, and literally go inside the mind of their common antagonist, you would think that Nintendo would not be able to come up with any more new, outside-the-box ideas for the group adventures.
Well, they have come up with a new idea, or more specifically, they have dreamed up a new idea.
Dreams, and the very idea of dreaming, are the main concept surrounding Mario & Luigi’s latest RPG adventure. Subtitled Dream Team. The bros’ latest journey has them spending time in both the real world of Pi’illo island and inside Luigi’s subconscious, as he starts dreaming vividly thanks to his time spent sleeping on a magic pillow.
Splitting this time between both the dream world and the realistic Pi’illo island world allows you to experience two distinct, yet similar adventures in the same game. Although time spent in both worlds requires the usual mix of exploration and combat, which are both handled through use of the control stick and the familiar assignment of the brothers to the ‘B’ and ‘A’ buttons, what you experience in real life and in Luigi’s dreams will make you feel like you are playing two completely different Mario & Luigi games.
Spending time in the colorful, vibrant Pi’illo island world will having you traveling through different places, conversing with the locals, and occasionally fighting different enemies of all shapes, sizes, and forms. Here you will gain access to the dream world to save the citizens of Pi’illo Island by way of various magic pillows, which allow Mario to warp to the dream world to save the members of Pi’illo Island who have been captured by the game’s main bad guy.
Time spent in this portion of the game will prove most familiar to Mario & Luigi veterans, perhaps overwhelmingly so. I had no problems figuring out how each button functioned and how to work each device. I was able to figure things out quickly, and even if it isn’t the greatest area, I eventually learned to tolerate time spent in this half of the game, which made my time spent in this adventure’s many dream worlds that much more fulfilling.
Entering the game’s many dream worlds lets you see the many creative touches Nintendo took to reinvigorate this iteration of the franchise. Each time Mario enters a dream world by way of these pillows, he is accompanied by “Dream Luigi” while the real green-clad brother sleeps on the lower screen.
Navigating this “dream dimension” requires you to use Luigi to interact with the environment. Expect to complete various tasks such as using his mustache to fling you up platforms and tickling his nose to have him sneeze and maneuver blocks. Controlling Luigi in the dream world while he is sleeping adds some color to the rather standard adventuring, and I found myself doing silly things such as pulling down his hat, tickling his nose, and even playing with his overalls. Of course, Luigi never really reacted to what I did, but it proved a nice diversion nonetheless.
Engaging in combat is a fun yet familiar exercise in both the real and dream worlds, with both brothers having access to both regular and “brothers” attacks via a selectable menu. In the real world, the duo has access to the usual collection of shells, fire flowers, and other items to help defeat their foes.
Combat becomes more interesting in the dream world, allowing Mario to basically fight as two people at once, making Luigi’s hit points his own and inheriting his status enhancements. When it comes time for Mario to utilize combination attacks, he uses Luigi to do the work, through such means as the Luiginary ball.
So did this game’s two distinct experiences come together to form a satisfying product? All in all, I think so. While I think that the game’s graphics are stylish on the 3DS screen and the music contains the same mix of cheery tunes and catchy beats as the previous games in the series, the overall package doesn’t gel together as much as in Superstar Saga and Partners in Time. I guess, when it comes down to it, I found spending time in the dream world preferable to the real world.
Qualms aside, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is still an excellent game, and worth playing if you are a fan of Mario games, Mario RPGs, or just a good adventure.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Mild Cartoon Violence