For the year of Luigi, Nintendo has been showcasing various titles to spotlight Mario’s green hat wearing partner. For years, Luigi has always taken a back seat to his more popular brother in many titles featuring the cast of characters from Mario related games, even at times being completely absent altogether. Mario and Luigi: Dream Team is the latest entry of the Mario handheld RPG series of games from AlphaDream. And while Mario is still the main hero of story, a lot of emphasis has been placed on Luigi’s presence within the Mario universe. This time around, Luigi plays a more important role in the adventure the two plumbers have when rescuing Princess Peach. With some platforming elements and a witty sense of humor, players who jump into Dream Team will find an experience to love on their Nintendo 3DS.
The story of the game is both light hearted and humorous at many times. Although tongue-in-cheek at some points and predictable, one can’t help but chuckle at some of the misadventures Mario and Luigi get themselves into. The main plot revolves around Pi’llo Island where Mario and company arrive for a little rest and relaxation, only to have Princess Peach kidnapped by Bowser and the islands main bad guy Antasma. In the beginning of this new adventure things can be very slow to start, with battles against enemies stretching out far between each other. Most of the start of the game involves tutorials and platforming-like sections as players get familiar with Pi’llo Island. Yet further in the game, things begin to pick up pace and battles become more vital for leveling up Mario and Luigi.
Exploring the world of Dream Team comes in the form of some traditional platforming and turn-based RPG exploration basics. Not only will players see many different areas of Pi’llo Island, all of which look visually appealing on the 3DS, but they will also get to see various places within Luigi’s dreams. Since this game was one of the main titles for the Year of Luigi, Mario’s brother plays a key role in getting to different areas within Luigi’s dreams. Utilizing the bottom touch screen, players can change the environment and help Mario in tight spots by influencing Luigi in his sleep. At times players can pull on Luigi’s mustache to extend a vine for Mario to climb on, or cause Luigi to sneeze and bring certain items and platforms within reach. This adds an interesting level of exploration into different areas and a twist outside of just straight platforming, as well as a unique sense of humor throughout the entire game. Messing with Luigi as he sleeps can just be so funny at times despite it being important to get around certain areas.
The combat is where Dream Team shines brightest. Much like in previous titles, such as Bowser’s Inside Story and Partners in Time, the turn-based battles have a small real time twist to them. Players have a chance to not only avoid attacks from enemies, but also counter-attack at the same time. The game doesn’t severely punish for a failed defense or counter-attack, but it does encourage doing so and rewards the player each time. In the dream world, battles become a lot more visually elaborate and dynamic when compared to fighting enemies on Pi’llo Island, as Mario uses a “Dreamy Luigi” as his ally. Most battles are the same throughout the game, and give experience to level up Mario and Luigi, which can be made even stronger with equipment and items to use in battle. You don’t necessarily need to grind for a lot of experience to get through all of Dream Team’s main story, but it does help a lot when not being able to avoid enemy attacks as well as you should.
While not as engaging as many other titles in Nintendo’s vast library of games, Mario and Luigi: Dream Team provides a quirky and interesting experience for those with an open mind. Getting past the slow beginning may be a drag for some at first, but hanging in there for a bit will allow players to jump into the finer parts of the experience when playing Dream Team. Those who have played previous entries of the series will love the returning characters and new story, but just about everyone will enjoy the silliness and humor when moving through Luigi’s dreams. The cute sense of humor alone is enough to warrant anyone with a 3DS to check out Mario and Luigi: Dream Team.
This review was based on a retail copy of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team for the Nintendo 3DS.