Review: Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros
To celebrate the 30 years since the introduction of Luigi to the Super Mario franchise, Nintendo has seen ﬁt to bless us with another entry into what they have called “The Year of Luigi”. Alongside Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon and the New Super Luigi U DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros is the fourth installment in the popular Mario & Luigi role playing series.
The game opens at Peach’s castle, with the Princess, Mario, Luigi and Toadsworth (Peach’s snarky butler) setting off on a journey to the mystical island of Pi’illo, following the arrival of a guest invitation from Dr. Snoozemore. Snoozemore tells them that he’s doing some research on the science of sleep and has discovered that Pi’illo island has the power to grant it’s inhabitants a really decent night’s sleep. What harm could that possibly do, right?
Upon arrival the group get separated whilst exploring Pi’illo’s massive castle interior, resulting in a scramble to reunite. In doing so, the brothers discover a stone artifact that resembles a pillow. Luigi, who has spent most of the ﬁrst couple of gameplay hours asleep, decides to take yet another nap using the treasure as pillow.
As soon as the sleepy Italian’s head touches the pillow, he falls fast asleep causing a psychedelic portal to open up and devour the hapless princess. If it wasn’t already apparent, the gang discover that this pillow is magic and grants the ability for others to enter the mind of the dreamer. Mario quickly sets about to rescue the princess from an ancient evil intent on making nightmares a reality and joining forces with the Mushroom Kingdom’s most hated villain; Mr. Bowser.
The ﬁrst couple of hours went extremely slowly, with tutorials and near relentless hand-holding woven into every inch of the game’s plot. However, once you get to grips with the core features on offer, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros really begins to get into its stride.
Gameplay on offer here is not so dissimilar to previous entries in the series with the player taking control of both brothers simultaneously and needing to coordinate their jumps to navigate the world. This takes place on a 3D plane, granting a great deal of freedom for exploration, but this changes to the more standard 2D platforming experience when entering the dreamworlds in Luigi’s mind.
Combat is largely turn-based but employs a system with a surprising amount of depth. A great deal of the brothers’ ability to attack and counter, rely on precision timing, as well as being able to read the subtle queues that your enemies display. Standard jump attacks can be devastating if timed right, but as the game progresses, our duo unlock more interesting and complex maneuvers. My favourite of these are the Bros. Attacks which allow Mario & Luigi to unleash a massive double team taking out multiple foes.
Combat within the dream world is slightly different as here, Luigi is replaced by Dreamy Luigi and his army of Luiginoids. These are simply manifestations of Luigi created by his own mind to aid his older brother in battle. With the Luiginoids at his side, Mario is a great deal more powerful and able to unleash even greater nonsensical moves. These enable you to launch an attack with hundreds of Luigis at once. The earliest of these moves sees Mario creating a huge ball out of hundreds of Luiginoids and bowling it towards his enemies.
Silly jargon aside, these moves bring great variety to what would otherwise be quite a dry turn-based experience. They also utilise the motion tilt controls of 3DS extremely well, giving you an added challenge when trying to perfect a move.
As well as battles and puzzles to solve, Dream Team Bros also features an intriguing new system to aid your platforming feats in the dreamworld. These are known as Luiginary Works and enable you to manipulate various objects in the dreamworld by interacting with Luigi’s sleeping face on the lower screen of the 3DS, much like the menu screen back on Mario 64. Tickling Luigi’s nose will cause him to sneeze, creating a hurricane that will move certain objects, while fondling his mustache will allow you to slingshot Mario, propelling him to new heights. These features are really innovative and really get you thinking, adding to the depth of the experience when navigating these levels.
Dream Team Bros also exudes a wonderful sense of humor throughout, with Mario & Luigi acting as a true comedy due, akin to the Marx Brothers. Or maybe that’s the Chuckle Brothers. Regardless, all of the game’s many characters have a unique personality & some of their quirks are guaranteed to raise a smile.
One of the ﬁrst things that caught my attention was the lush visual ﬂare that Nintendo have poured into Dream Team Bros. The vibrant colour palette that fans of the series will be familiar with is back and brings with it some really excellent attention to detail.
Characters are lovingly rendered and inhabit a world which is a joy to explore in terms of variety. There is a very clear distinction between the dream worlds and reality, which is reﬂected in the visual style of your environments, as well as the way in which you play.
Animation in battle sequences is also incredibly well done, adding a real sense of action as you stomp, hammer and roll your way to victory.
To sum up
Despite being incredibly slow to start, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros is a game that I found incredibly hard to put down, even when attempting to start writing my review. It has a few minor issues but ultimately provides a good level of challenge, a plot that is certain to intrigue and is not afraid to laugh at itself or the conventions of the Mario series.
Exactly what a modern Nintendo game should be. Long live Luigi!
Version reviewed: 3DS