I dream of Luigi.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team see Nintendo’s iconic plumbers take on another platforming RPG adventure after Bowser’s Inside Story, with Dream Team being the first title in the series to make an appearance on the 3DS.
The Pi’illo people inhabitated the island long ago. The people were blessed with the ability to travel in and out of a dream world. On the island there existed two stones – the dream and dark stones, both granters of wishes. The dream stone was formed of happy dreams, whereas the dark stone was a solid manifestation of nightmares. The safekeeping of these stones was handed to the Pi’illo people, but they grew lax and one day the bat king, Antasma, stole the dark stone to fulfish his own wishes. At great risk and great cost, the Pi’illo people fought him and cornered him, but just as Antasma was to be imprisoned in the dream world, he shattered the stolen dark stone. A black rain of nightmare chunks from the dark stone fell all over the island and as the Pi’illo were exposed to the chunks, they were petrified. This is where the two brothers, Mario and Luigi, come into play.
After a brief cut-scene, involving Princess Peach receiving an invitation to visit the luxury Pi’illo Island, you are transported to the island, where you’ll meet the bizarre looking Dr Snoozemore at Pi’illo blimport. Dr Snoozemore is researching the science of sleep. You’ll be given a brief tutorial about exploration of the island, along with a couple of fun and entertaining mini games to get your adventure started.
The core mechanics of the game are quite basic and will see the player transporting back and forth from the real world to the dream world. Luigi is the key to entering the dream world, allowing Mario and a Luigi clone to adventure while the real Luigi has a nap in the real world. The dream world takes on a two dimensional view, whereas the real world can be explored in three dimensions, making the two areas look very distinct. Moving the two brothers through the environment simultaneously can be awkward at times, and takes a little practice, but feels quite natural after a short while.
A large part of the gameplay will revolve around combat as the player takes on the various enemies that they encounter.The game’s tutorial is quite heavy going, lasting far longer than it needs to, and the player is shown a number of different moves that they can perform in combat. Enemies can be seen beforehand, so per-emptive attacks come in handy to get the upper hand. Once in battle, command blocks appear above your head, where you can attack, jump, flee, or use a valuable item such as a mushroom to recover health. Essentially, once you’ve selected what action will be your next move, it’s simply a matter of timing to use your move most effectively.
The battle system is basic, but quite fulfilling, especially when watching mini Luigi’s rain down upon an enemy. Mario and Luigi can earn badges through the game, and these badges can be used in battle for various effects. In order to use these badge effects, a meter has to be filled by performing successful attacks. The different badges offer a variety of effects depending on your badge combo. Also within the game, both brothers can earn themselves wearable equipment to protect them in battle, which is always handy.
The clever way Nintendo have incorporated the two plumbers into the Luiginary works is very interesting, blending and using the game’s background in an entertaining way. Pressing the R shoulder button, an action icon appears, and pressing B enables dreamy Luigi to be connected with a pillar on screen. The bottom screen then enables you to interact with the sleeping Luigi, such as by guiding his moustache to catapult Mario on the top screen, scratching Luigi’s nose to blast the entire area with a strong gust of wind.
During gameplay, you’ll wander the island, exploring dungeons and other areas of interest, and find yourself being transported back and forth from the dream world to the real world through portals, when Luigi lays down and falls asleep on a special pillow. The storyline is engaging, but I did find that the game tried too hard to be funny at times. Some of the characters just fail to be funny at all and left me scratching my head, wondering if I should be laughing. To be honest, I wasn’t keen on Dr Snoozemore and his minions.
The graphics in the game were bright and colourful, but just didn’t feel modern enough. This could have been partially due to playing the game on the 3DS XL – the larger screen really didn’t do the game any favours. But the visuals are only part of the story and the game manages to combine both the 2D and 3D environments with an engaging story and an easy to learn combat system. During the game, you’ll discover the Pi’illo people have been trapped within the chunks of nightmare and their souls have been held hostage, where they were dispersed across the island. It’s down to you to enter the dream world and destroy the nightmare chunks.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team stumbles on its quest to be a truly great game. The extended tutorial slows down the beginning of the game far too much, and the visuals on the 3DS XL were flawed. But that being said, it is a fun game that has a good story, enjoyable combat and loads of collectibles. If you are a fan of the plumber brothers, this is certainly a worthwhile investment.