After Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, Nintendo had some big footsteps to follow.
The DS title had a great story and great gameplay. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team needed to bring something big and new to the table to keep up.
The 3DS title does come with the new Dream World to keep gamers intrigued, but some of the luster from the last title is gone.
However, don’t think that Dream Team is a bad entry at all, as it’s still a highly enjoyable game.
The latest title sends the Mushroom Kingdom crew to Pi’illo Island, a resort destination where the former kingdom’s inhabitants have mysteriously disappeared years ago. Of course, the usual Mario hijinks ensure. The princess gets kidnapped by Antasma, the Bat King, and taken away to Dream Land, where the brothers will have to venture to rescue her.
Unlike Bowser’s Inside Story, though, I never could get fully vested into the story. This may have been because the first 10 or so hours of the story have tutorials off and on, or it may have been because the new cast of characters really doesn’t have any characters that stand out. Even Bowser can’t save the story when he shows up, although he does add some excitement.
What will draw you into the game, though, is the Dream World. About half of the game will take place in Luigi’s dreams with Mario and Dreamy Luigi.
While in this new world, players have to destroy nightmare shards while utilizing abilities Dreamy Luigi has to possess objects in the environment. These possessions, called Luiginary Works, add a variety of dimensions to the world, such as blowing objects to the foreground or launching Mario new places.
While it’s unfortunate that the game finds a need to do a slow tutorial each time a new one is introduced, the Works add an enjoyable randomness to the game because you’ll never know what the next world will have. Sure, the Works repeat itself, but they’re always enjoyable to experience.
The randomness carries over to some of the other events in the world as well, such as boss battles. One battle had me dodging objects coming towards the screen in a top-down view, while another was a giant robot brawl.
Combat is pretty much identical to the last games as well. You can use timed-based attacks to cause more damage, dodge or counter attack as you jump, use your hammer and the co-op Bros. Attacks.
However, the Dream World does add a new feature to the mix. When fighting in that world, Dreamy Luigi merges with Mario to do extra attack boosts. Jumping on an enemy causes Luigis to rain down, damaging nearby enemies, while a hammer attack will have Luigis sending a shockwave on the battlefield. The Bros. Attacks in this universe also hinge around amassing Luigis by tilting the system or timing button presses to launch against the enemy.
The game does keep a decent amount of the humor the series is known for, but not as much as the last title. Seeing a swarm of Luigis in the Dream World always gave me a chuckle, and some of the commentary will have you laughing as well.
As you go through the game, you’ll notice that there’s really no freedom of exploration, which feels like a missed opportunity. Places in the real world that you can’t access early on you’ll be forced to backtrack to later to progress. Leaving these areas as optional with incentives for completion would have been better and kept the game from dragging in places.
The dragging tendency seems to pop up as you get farther into the game. Battles can start feeling repetitive and grindy at times, and long periods of time can pass before a big plot point. However, seeing the next interesting Dream World was enough to keep me going.
The graphics make good use of the 3D effects, with objects appearing in the foreground and background to give the world some real depth. However, it feels like more could have been done with the 3D look for Mario and the group, as they still retain much of their old 2D style. The soundtrack is also enjoyable to listen to, with boss music being a highlight for the title.
- Dream World is enjoyable.
- Boss battles are varied and fun.
- Humor is good throughout.
- Can get repetitive later on.
- Exploration feels forced, as well as backtracking.
- Doesn’t have charm of last title.
Overall, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is still an enjoyable entry to the handheld series. It may not fully capture the charm of the last game, but it still manages to add new features and be enjoyable on its own. If you’re in for a long Mario adventure, give this one a look.
Final Score: 4.1 out of 5