REVIEW: Mario & Luigi Dream Team

Finally, after weeks of not being able to, I have been able to play through a significant chunk of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, possibly one of the best Mario RPG‘s I’ve played so far. Let’s not waste any time and jump on in!

Plot:

Mario and company travel to Pi’llo Island to vacation and, of course, something goes wrong. Antasma, a villain hellbent on taking over the world, kidnaps Peach and forces Mario to venture into the Dream World via Luigi once Luigi opens the Dream World accidentally and frees Antasma from his dreamy prison. Dreambert, the prince of an ancient race called the Pi’llos, asks of the help of the Mario Bros. to save his people and stop Antasma, to which they agree. I won’t spoil anything (because, well, I haven’t finished the game yet. I’m close!), but Bowser does get involved, and some of the stuff gets crazy!

But, a typical Mario plot. Nothing to be laugh at, though, as the Pi’llo history is actually quite complex, and the plot is pulled off in dreamlike (ha!) style.

Characters:

So, let me get this out of the way: I never played Bowser’s Inside Story. I will, I swear, but I haven’t yet. So I didn’t know who Starlow was when she was introduced here. However, she’s a little nagging. She’s not an awful character, but I’m definitely not a big fan. The new characters are great, especially since Dreambert is very serious and has to interact with the goofy world of the Mario & Luigi series. It’s very funny.

Mario and Luigi themselves are great, as usual, and the random characters the bros. encounter are fantastic. The dialogue in Mario RPG’s have always been fantastic, and this game is no exception. The dialogue is crisp and witty, and I found myself laughing on more than one occasion!

Also oh MY GOD POPPLE IS IN THIS GAME IT IS INCREDIBLY HYPE!

Gameplay:

The gameplay is the BIG seller, here. In the over world, you are either in the real world as the Mario Bros., or in the dream world with Mario and Dreamy Luigi, a version of Luigi conjured up by Luigi as he sleeps. This Luigi is more Mario-like thanks to the dream embodying Luigi as Luigi wants himself to be. In the dream world, Luigi can also manipulate his dreams through Dreamy Luigi, able to conjure up hundreds of himself to perform certain actions and movements (such as stacking to make a tower of Luigis or like a top to spin into the air). But that’s not even close to the best part.

The combat is where it’s at for this game. In the over world, you battle with Mario and Luigi in classic Mario & Luigi style. Again, the battle animations and timing for the hammer are from Bowser’s Inside Story, and so they looked really cool to me. The badge system is also from there, and while it’s cool, I wish it was more like the original. A small complaint, however, completely negligible once you get to dream world combat.

In the dream world, Mario fights by himself against a small army of enemies with Dreamy Luigi powering him up. That means when Mario jumps, he has the power of at least 20 Luigis added on. Those same Luigis rain down on your enemies after you jump, or the Luigis create a giant shockwave with their hammers after you hammer the ground. It’s a really cool way to show that Luigi is still part of the battle.

And, just as there are Bros. Attacks in the real world with Mario and Luigi (which are awesome), there’s what’s called Luiginary Attacks, which are literally Luigi being a god. He stacks, he creates a giant hammer, he becomes a living Katamari Damacy and then has Mario kick him. The possibilities are endless, and fitting for a game that represents the Year of Luigi. His attacks are ridiculously cool.

AND, to add onto that, it’s harder in the dream world because if Mario dies, it’s game over. Goodbye builds of Mario being the powerhouse and Luigi being the tank; in the dream world, Mario gets bopped because of his low defenses, so you’re punished extra hard for being hit. On the flip side, Dreamy Luigi gives him more HP and BP, but it’s usually not enough.

To put it in perspective, I’m running Super Crit Bros. (where I only upgrade Stache), and my Mario takes roughly 35-50 damage from the small army enemies, and that small army attacks multiple times in one turn. I’ve gotten multiple game overs from regular dream world fights.

I’m not knocking that difficulty, though. I love it.

Oh, OH, and before I forget, Luigi bodies giant enemies by turning into a giant Luigi. They feel epic. I felt epic bodying them. Everything about giant Luigi is epic.

Atmosphere:

In classic Mario & Luigi style, the atmosphere is RPG-like, yet super-goofy. The dialogue, as I said before, is on point and very funny. There are a lot of reference Easter Eggs. The areas are nicely designed, the 3D is cool (especially during some Bros. Attacks), and the art style is cool. I really like the Dream World designs, especially the longer ones. Most of them are just short mini-levels, though even those are well-designed and not cumbersome.

What I really liked here was the music. Most of the music is great, especially the battle music, and ESPECIALLY boss music. I first heard the music when facing Bowser and Antasma in the beginning of the game, and it felt way more epic than it should’ve because of the music that was playing. Seriously, go to YouTube and give it a listen – it’s great.

Other than that, this is good, but nothing spectacular.

——

If you love Mario RPGs, get this game. If you love the Mario & Luigi series, get this game. If you have a 3DS get this game.

In short: GET THIS GAME.

Score:

Plot: 7/10
Characters: 10/10
Gameplay: 10/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Final Score: 9/10

Just sayin’

REVIEW: New Super Mario Bros. 2

New Super Mario Bros. 2, according to most reviews that I was reading online, was sub-par compared to its predecessor, New Super Mario Bros. So when I picked it up and started playing with my brother, I wasn’t expecting too much, and what I got was something that, to me, was just as good as – if not better – than New Super Mario Bros.

Atmosphere (Music/Graphics):

This is the worst part of New Super Mario Bros. 2. The graphics and music are exactly the same as New Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. While those worlds, models, backgrounds, and music are all passable and allow you to enjoy the game, I was hoping for something a little different. Maybe a different song here and an entirely new level there. If you look at New Super Mario Bros. U, you notice that the style of the game is completely different in backgrounds and in actual models (except for Mario), and I was hoping they’d do something like that with New Super Mario Bros. 2. I mean, would it have killed Nintendo to put in a monochrome or all gold/silver world? That would’ve been cool!

Gameplay:

Where New Super Mario Bros. 2 excels is in its gameplay. I haven’t really played the game solo yet, instead opting to complete the game with my brother, but I would assume it’s still as fun as the rest of the New Super Mario Bros. series. The amount of coins is the only difference you’re going to see in gameplay, and while you’ll probably be obtaining a ridiculous amount of lives, the levels aren’t drop-dead easy, and trying to get as many coins as possible is harder than you think. But let’s talk about the co-op.

The co-op is, simply put, fantastic. Not only do you get a x2 coin bonus when both Mario and Luigi are on-screen, but the levels are just begging to be played in co-op. So far, there is only one level my brother and I found ridiculously difficult with two players, but other than that, every level has been awesome for co-op. In reviews, I heard that the camera is a gripe, but I disagree. My brother and I have been able to stay on-screen for most of our time playing, and when we haven’t, there’s the ever-omnipotent bubble to bring us back together. Many of the harder challenges in single-player (like getting to a specific warp pipe) is made simple in co-op, but it still requires a degree of skill to learn how to bounce each other around (especially when moving forward).

The camera itself will not only focus on Mario. If Mario dies, Luigi is the first to go through a warp pipe, or Luigi reaches the checkpoint first, the camera will switch to him (and vice-versa if the camera is on Luigi). Also, you can take the camera away performing a ground pound on the bro with the camera. Sometimes, the bro without the camera will fall behind and be caught in a bubble loop, but this has happened so few times that it’s negligible to really talk about. If you and your friend are roughly the same level of player, you shouldn’t be having any problems with the camera.

Aside from the co-op, there’s one extra feature that I am currently addicted to, and that is Coin Rush. Coin Rush is very simple – you are randomly selected 3 levels (the last always being a mid-point or ending castle), and you have 100 seconds for each level to get through it as fast as you can and collect as many coins as you can. As a gamer who loves to speed run, this mode is right up my alley, and I love it.

The best part is the ability to play as either regular Mario or White Raccoon Mario (which is a Tanooki Suit and Star combined). This lends itself to some rather interesting strategy – should you play as regular Mario or White Raccoon Mario? I’m sure some of you are thinking White Raccoon Mario, but you’d be wrong – regular Mario is usually the better choice, and here’s why: golden hoops. If you go through a red hoop, you have the ability to get 8 red coins – if you go through a golden hoop, then every enemy becomes golden and has different properties to earn coins (Koopas leave a trail of coins behind them, Lakitus throw coins, Boos spawn coins behind them and run away from you, etc…). As regular Mario, you can take advantage of jumping on Goombas and earning more coins with every consecutive bounce or following a golden koopa shell as it spawns coins after being kicked. Regular Mario has access to the Gold Fire Flower, which makes Mario’s Fire Ball turn everything into coins. White Raccoon Mario does not have access to those, and that really makes the difference in the amount of coins you can get. However, there are certain levels where White Raccoon Mario outperforms regular Mario.

Now, since it’s random when playing normal Coin Rush, this isn’t really something to think about – but when you start using Street Pass to pass along your best record (which you can save), you can challenge those records (meaning you play the same three levels they did), and that’s where picking which Mario to play becomes important.

New Super Mario Bros. 2, while really lacking new graphics and music, makes up for it with its incredible co-op and surprisingly deep Coin Rush mode. If you’re a fan of the New Super Mario Bros. series, definitely pick this game up.

Score:

Atmosphere: 5/10

Gameplay: 10/10

Overall: 7/10

Just sayin’

Why Super Mario 3D Land has the perfect difficulty scale


My girlfriend recently started playing Super Mario Advance 4, and as I watched her play I noticed something – she was having a much harder time playing Super Mario Bros. 3 (which is what Super Mario Advance 4 contains) than Super Mario 3D Land (SM3DL), a game I had suggested to her a while back. I began to wonder to myself why she was having such a hard time with Super Mario Bros. 3, when a thought came to me – Super Mario Bros. 3 has a high learning curve.

To the gamers out there who played the Super Mario Bros. franchise, this may seem a little off. I myself remember Super Mario Bros. 3 to be extremely easy – maybe a little long for my younger self, but definitely not difficult, and when I played it as Super Mario Advance 4 it was even easier. So why, I thought to myself, did Super Mario Bros. 3 have a high learning curve?

I thought back to Super Mario 3D Land (SM3DL). She had almost no experience playing, yet has been able to make it to World 5, and I realized why she’s been doing well: SM3DL has the perfect difficulty scale.

Let me explain. If you die 5 times on a single level in SM3DL, you are given a Tanooki Suit with infinite invincibility. This is for those who are having trouble dealing with the enemies and natural hazards in the game. Now, if you die 10 times on a single level, then you’re given a P Wing (I didn’t know this existed until she played the game), which takes you to the end of the level, no questions asked. This includes boss levels, and this can help alleviate a level that requires platforming that is too great for the player.

The Invincible Tanooki Suit

Mario in the invincible tanooki suit.

This may seem like a cop-out, but keep reading. At a certain point, levels start becoming blocked off unless you have a certain number of special coins. You can collect 3 special coins per level, and you must collect them without dying to obtain them.

When I was playing, I thought to myself, “this is stupid. Why would they impose these limits on players? It’s busy work.” But as I watched my girlfriend play, it dawned on me – they’re to stop the really bad players from breezing through the game with the super-powerful items. They’re forced to go through those levels that they may have used the P Wing for and get those coins, otherwise they won’t be able to progress at all, and hopefully, by the time they’re forced to collect those coins, they’ve improved to the point where they use those items a little less. It forces improvement while still allowing them to progress slowly so they don’t stop playing in frustration.

And for players like myself, the coins serve as a way to increase the difficulty. The game was easy, but collecting the coins in every level was difficult, and doing the same thing in the Special Worlds made it that much more difficult, so the game gave a satisfying sense of challenge, so besides catering to the casuals, it caters to the hardcore, creating the perfect difficulty scale. It can be as difficult as you, the player, make it to be.

Just sayin’.