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’

A resolution of the New Year variety

Ah, New Year’s Eve; that time of year where people say, “I’m going to do x 3 times a week,” or, “I will stop x’ing”. But that’s not all – it’s also the the time when people try to start with a fresh slate. Unfortunately, that usually isn’t the case. It’s incredibly difficult to habituate something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time. When that next New Year’s Eve rolls around, your resolution may, in fact, be the very same one you had the year before. Talk about depressing.

So, tonight, whether you’re partying into the New Year, working, or enjoying a quiet evening this New Year’s, take it upon yourself to not only make a New Year’s resolution, but to add on a resolution to keep the resolution you just thought up. When you tell your friends what your resolution is, tell them that it’s to keep the “do x”, or the, “stop y”.

Maybe that’ll help.

Just sayin’, happy New Year!

Vacationing 101

Hello, class, and welcome to Vacationing 101. Since I was a young boy, I’ve been driving down to the Florida Panhandle to vacation with my mother’s side of the family. Nowadays, most people just take the plane and make things simple, but not my family! No, we pack up our car and drive the 16-hour drive it is from my house to Perdido Key, Florida, and that’s what we did last Thursday, which inspired me to write about this. So, for all of you out there who take long road trips (and even short ones!), here are some tips and tricks to become a pro!

Section 1: Entertainment

This is probably the most important aspect of the trip because it gives you something to do. Phones, MP3 Players, handheld video game systems, etc… all of these are important items to bring with so you can kill time easily. Being a gamer, it’s very easy for me to kill a couple hours playing a video game. Books are also great, but only if you can read in the car without feeling sick (unlike me).

And that leads me to the second point of this section: power supply. My family uses an inverter that allows us to utilize the car’s battery to charge our devices. This is great for long trips where your service for your phone may drop a couple times and kill your battery or when your MP3 Player is running low on power. They’re relatively cheap, so the investment is definitely worth it. It is absolutely essential for the next part of this section: computers and roaming Internet.

If you’re someone who enjoys to write or have some games on your laptop, then by all means, bring it. However, it’s not that useful if you’re not big on writing or using it to listen to music instead of your MP3 Player or play games, so why else would you bring it? For the Internet, of course! You see, if you root your phone, pay for a wi-fi hotspot service, or have an Internet card, you can enjoy the pleasure of driving along the highway whilst on Facebook and YouTube, watching videos and liking statuses for no reason other than to like them. It’s a great way to kill time – probably one of the best ways since you can spend hours and hours on the Internet. Just make sure your computer and your phone (if you’re using your phone as a hot spot) are plugged in so they don’t run out of battery too quickly.

Section 2: Drinks, Snacks, and You

When it comes to long trips, you’re bound to get hungry and thirsty when you’re on the highway and nowhere near a place to stop for food. When that time comes, it’s good to be prepared; pack non-perishable foods such as granola bars and trail mixes. It’s also good to bring a small cooler filled with some water and other beverages you might want. I wouldn’t pack perishable foods in the cooler because even if you stick a a ton of ice in it, that ice is going to melt and become warm and your perishable food will perish. And try not to pack too much food and drink – unless you’re not planning on stopping for food, of course.

Section 3: Stopping

Everyone has to stop after a few hours in the car to stretch, go to the bathroom, eat, etc…but how much is too much? Well, that depends entirely on when you leave, how much food and drink you’ve packed, and where you’re headed.

As a general rule for long road trips, plan to stop for gas if your car doesn’t have the greatest MPG. You can plan times to eat meals (if you haven’t packed any), stretch, and go to the bathroom around when you think you’ll need gas, which will save time if you’re in a hurry. If you’re making great time, it’s not a bad idea to make separate stops and enjoy some time to eat. And always make sure you have an idea of rest stops along your route so you can stop in case of an emergency. If you’ve packed food and drink for eating meals instead of simply snacking, you don’t really need to plan to eat and focus on when to get gas and go to the bathroom.

Also, I recommend stopping at some of the more scenic rest stops: they’re a great way to keep a road trip interesting!

If you’re taking a short road trip, a lot of this doesn’t really apply because, well, you’ll be at your destination in a few hours, anyway. Of course, if you leave mid-morning, you can stop for a small lunch once it hits noon or 1, and there are always times when you have to stop for something.

Section 4: Sleeping

This is a big one for longer road trips, but the dynamics of it change a little depending on when you leave. If you leave super-early in the morning like me (I left at 4:30 AM for this year’s trip), get some coffee if you’re driving first and switch off every few hours so everyone who has to drive gets some kind of sleep. If you’re the only one driving, get a 5-hour energy or something so you’re not dead by noon. If you leave later in the day and drive through the night, definitely stock up on more than just caffeine, no matter what – you and the others who are driving are going to need it to get through the night.

To actually fall asleep for a reasonable amount of time is somewhat of a challenge. Listening to some soft music is nice, but the crucial part to falling asleep is to become immune to the many sounds and the shaking that comes with driving on the highway. You also have to find a good position that won’t kill your neck, arm, or back when you wake up. This is not easy for some, and very easy for others. For me, it’s a skill I’ve developed over the years of going on this trip. I consider myself a pro. The only tip I have for you is syrup. Every time I eat syrup I get a good 2-3 hours of restful sleep because of the sugar crash that comes with syrup.

Section 5: Packing

Packing. The one thing people love and hate to do. Packing for a road trip is hard because you don’t want to pack too much and you don’t want to pack too little for the actual part where you’re not driving. For clothes, I suggest packing an outfit for every day and a few for going out, and that’s it. No more, no less. If you want to bring some electronics, pack a small backpack for that with all of your little gadgets, books, etc… so you can keep it nearby. Don’t pack too much food and drink, either. It’s important that you have enough room to fit all of your stuff, so once you find that perfect balance and fit everything in, you’re golden.

That’s it for today, class. There’ll be a quiz next Monday before we go over what to do when you finally arrive!

Just sayin’.

REVIEW: Panty & Stocking

So, last week I decided to start up watching anime again after a 4-5 month period of nothing but school and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. And since I kinda got hooked onto its music a week or two prior to watching, I decided to watch Panty and Stocking!

Panty & Stocking

A quick summary of the series: two sibling angels (named Panty and Stocking) were banished from heaven for being obnoxious as fuck and now have to keep Daten City safe from evil spirits called ghosts. Upon defeat, ghosts drop ‘Heaven Coins’, and once enough are collected the sisters may return to heaven. To help them is Garterbelt, a priest who runs the local church, and Chuck, who is Gir’s (from Invader Zim) long lost younger brother.

Simple enough, right? WRONG. This anime takes the “obnoxious as fuck” part and plays it hard. Combine that with some American-style animation, some of the best music I’ve heard in ages, and a Gainax plot, and you have yourself one memorable anime.

Let me start out by saying that each episode is split up into two mini episodes ala most 90’s American cartoons. After the first part of episode 1, the first thought that ran through my head was, “This is a lot like Powerpuff Girls.” For those of you who remember and loved Powerpuff Girls, I think you’ll really enjoy Panty and Stocking. It’s got a lot of the core elements of Powerpuff Girls with a little bit of standard Japanese anime style thrown in there.

Let’s dive in!

Art and Animation:

I actually really enjoyed the art style because it’s so PPG-esque. I’m not really a fan of American art when it comes to modern-day cartoons, so this was really refreshing to see American style that I really enjoyed. The animation really fit the series. Everything was quick and jarred, and the sound effects being worded out gave it a kind of comic book feel, which really went with the art style. The only episode I didn’t really enjoy was part 2 of episode 5, where they went with a more traditional Japanese style. Other than that, the animation was great!

Score: 7/10

Plot and Characters:

Let’s start with characters. I enjoyed how they took Panty and Stocking and really played the “fallen angel” bit about them. They swore, they stripped, they beat the shit out of shit and other grotesque demons. And the way they interact with each other, Garterbelt, Chuck, Brief, and their two rivals, Scanty and Kneesocks, are hilarious. I especially enjoyed Scanty and Kneesocks, because they reminded me SO MUCH of MoJoJoJo from PPG. And that kind of character was a great addition midway into the series. And Chuck, because he’s like Gir. What a badass.

And now for the plot. I don’t mind the plot; it’s coherent enough where progression happens. It’s the stupid ending that I HATE. I enjoy the occasional curveball, but not curveballs that don’t make any sense. Gainax decided to do that with Panty and Stocking, and that really disappointed me, especially since I had really been enjoying the series until then. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen the series, but prepare yourself… it’s one hell of a curveball.

Score: 5/10

Music:

Listen to this:

Then to this:

And tell yourself this music isn’t ridiculously good. I love the music. It’s great! It’s PERFECT for this series, and it’s memorable. There’s not a lot of anime where I’ll download an entire soundtrack; I downloaded the entire soundtrack. It fits every scene to a T.

Score: 10/10

Presentation:

A no holds-barred show about two angels who need to get back to heaven? Not a bad idea. It reminds me of PPG; great idea! The way the show speaks to the viewer is pretty clear – make fun of everything that presents itself onscreen with crude humor and a hint of satire. There are a lot of references to everyday things (like going to the bathroom and having “the top” in high school) that get blown out of proportion, and it works.

What doesn’t work is the way the show ends and a few parts of episodes here and there that just didn’t seem to fit (I’m looking at you, Chuck to the Future).

All in all, it doesn’t shy away from its message, and the way it presents itself goes pretty well with the art, the animation, and the music. Some polish, I think, definitely would’ve helped.

Score: 6/10

Overall Score: 7/10

R-Rated Powerpuff Girls. Not bad in any respect, but could’ve really worked on a few things (especially that ENDING!!!)

Chuck’s my favorite character.

Just sayin’.