Most Nintendo franchises started years ago, including the Mario series, Mario Kart, Metroid, F-Zero and so on. There are still some that are rather fresh, however, including the Mario & Luigi adventure series that got its start with Superstar Saga on the Game Boy Advance back in 2003. Alphadream has been crafting some really awesome entries in the series, including Partners In Time in 2005 and Bowser’s Inside Story in 2009. The series has just gotten better with every entry, with new gameplay twists thrown in and a humorous story every time.
The trend looks like it’ll be continuing later this Summer when the series makes its debut on the Nintendo 3DS. In Dream Team, the brothers tackle a whole new tale in the land of Pi’illo with Princess Peach in tow. They were looking to take a break from the constant barrage of battles with Bowser, but find a new enemy in the most unexpected way: through Luigi’s dreams.
Pi’illo is a fascinating place, as there are portals that allow people to step into someone’s dreams as they doze away. Luigi is unaware of the consequences that await when he accidentally awakens the evil King Antasma, who snatches Peach out of nowhere. Mario is (as always) determined to rescue her and enters the dream world that Luigi has created along with some help from a “dream” clone of his brother and Dreambert, a lost royal member of the Pi’illo people. Starlow, a cohort who was previously introduced in Bowser’s Inside Story, is also along for the ride.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is a game that cleverly combines 2D side-scrolling stages (the Mario tradition) with overworld 3D maps. It’s interesting to see how well they mix together, giving Mario fans some familiar room to run while also keeping role-playing elements in place. This isn’t just a typical entry in the series, as “dream” Luigi can use special abilities that will help the duo move forward into each level.
For instance, you can tap the sleeping Luigi on the touch-screen to change the dream environment that your characters are dwelling in. “Dream” Luigi can then merge with these environments, helping Mario move forward. One example of this involves taking a leaf and stretching it out so it becomes a trampoline for Mario to jump on, while you’re merely tugging on Luigi’s mustache in the real world.
In addition, “dream” Luigi can manipulate his being through multiplication. If one guy isn’t enough to get the job done, he can clone himself multiple times to create a stack that Mario can climb upon or a Katamari-like ball that Mario can roll around on, knocking down enemies and then delivering a thunderous soccer kick to send the ball flying into larger enemies. These abilities differ between 2D (stacking) and 3D (ball rolling, using the gyroscopic controls built into the 3DS) and really make certain battles.
Traditional battle tactics also make a return in Dream Team, as the brothers can individually fight or team up together to execute powerful Brothers Attacks on their enemies. Using a combination of button presses, you can avoid incoming strikes, set up precision blows and even perform combos. Some moves even allow you to use some of the 3DS’ capabilities, opening the door for some creative techniques. You’ll need them all too, because some of these foes get really tough later in the game.
Managing the “dream” Luigis does take a little bit of work, but once you get the team on the same page you can unleash some spectacular attacks on enemies and reach areas that Mario couldn’t access on his own. It’s really cool to see all the stuff you can do throughout, as well as how some of the 3DS’ capabilities are used. One sequence even has you flying around in a helicopter, using the gyro sensors to guide your craft.
Dream Team promises hours worth of gameplay whether you’ve played the previous Mario & Luigi games or are just picking it up for the first time. The battle system is quite accessible like Paper Mario and the way you can utilize “dream” Luigis is rather cool. Throw in a story with plenty of humorous moments (Alphadream hasn’t backed down from the series’ hilarious approach) and a sharp presentation and you’ve got a Dream come true for Nintendo fans.
Check out this tale for yourself when it releases for the 3DS, both digitally and at retail, on August 11th.