Review by KeyBlade999
"A dream of a game"
~ Review in Short ~
Gameplay: Imagine Bowser's Inside Story improved: dynamic, challenging, and entertaining.
Story: Similar to other Mario & Luigi RPGs, Mario must once again save the world with more help than ever from his brother.
Graphics: Varied and colorful, with the 3D's quality varying, but satisfying on the whole.
Sound and Music: A number of new and remixed themes (many in the genres of rock and techno) help accentuate the themes.
Play Time: About forty hours for a standard playthrough, or sixty for a comprehensive one.
Replayability: Moderately high.
The Verdict: Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is definitely a game worth buying; if you're having trouble deciding from not having played the other Mario & Luigi RPGs, there is a demo on the Nintendo eShop.
~ Review in Long ~
You know, Mario has been around our video gaming consoles for well over twenty-five years now. We have seen him save princesses, stop evil turtles' plans for world domination, cure diseases, beat the stuffing out of people, and a number of other things - he has come to be almost a jack-of-all-trades in video gaming. He fits well into most genres - platformer, RPG, fighter, puzzle, the list goes on - and often succeeds well there, too. However, as the more recent DS and 3DS entries into the series have begun to show, the Mario series is slowly oversaturating itself with a lack of innovation; playing a 2D platformer a bunch gets boring, even if they are somewhat different from the originals.
So I could probably see why people would begin to shy away from Mario & Luigi: Dream Team; if platformers are Mario's place of residence, then these RPGs are more like his summer home. When not seen in a platformer smashing Goombas with his boot, you could probably pick up an RPG game to see him slap them with his hammer. Even the formulas of RPGs are able to be oversaturated and, with Mario finding his way into an RPG every year or two since Super Mario RPG (SNES) released in 1996, the potential is there.
However, I will also say this: after having played Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, I think it will be a long time before the RPG subset of Mario games will be oversaturated if they maintain such a high level of quality.
Mario is more known for his 2D platformer days back in the 1980s and 1990s than anything else. He was first part of Donkey Kong arcade games as Jumpman before later going to the NES/Famicom in 1985 in Super Mario Bros. Soon following were Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 2's Japan version (we know it as Lost Levels), and Super Mario Bros. 3 by 1988. These games, like all Mario games, were created by Nintendo at least in part; some were part of a collaborative effort, to be mentioned later.
Mario continued on to make a number of platformers, including Super Mario World on the SNES, Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64, Super Mario Sunshine on the GameCube, and the New Super Mario Bros. series on the DS, 3DS, Wii, and Wii U. He's also done a number of puzzle games, like Dr. Mario and Yoshi's Cookie on the NES, the Mario Kart racing series, and done rather "out there" ones like Mario Paint and Mario Teaches Typing. The franchise is wide and versatile, but if platformers are the main thing Mario is known for, then RPGs are second.
These began in 1996 with the release of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars on the SNES in a collaborative effort between Nintendo and Final Fantasy creator Square. While this was the only Mario RPG for the SNES released, the RPG theme continued much further. Paper Mario was released for the Nintendo 64, with subsequent entries in the series on the GameCube (The Thousand-Year Door), Wii (Super Paper Mario), and 3DS (Sticker Star). These aforementioned games comprise the majority of the Mario RPGs today; however, almost an equal number are in another Mario RPG series.
Mario & Luigi RPG Series:
The particular series to which Dream Team belongs is one where Alphadream cooperated with Nintendo to make another RPG series. It began back on the GameBoy Advance in 2003 with Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. In 2005, the sequel Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time arrived on the Nintendo DS, offering expanded features through the Touch Screen, but few in all. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, released on the Nintendo DS four years later, really changed that for the better. The August 2013 release of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team on the Nintendo 3DS expands that functionality even further!
In Dream Team, there's a bit more of an open-world feeling to the game. While you are supposed to do a certain set of things in a certain order to satisfy the plot and end the game, you can also delve off the path the majority of the time and go to previously-visited areas or go hunt collectibles and such. For the most part, the game delineates to a relatively unusual RPG pattern: traversing through a mild dungeon to reach a town, solving problems there, then going to the nearby hard dungeon. It's not a consistent pattern, though, so it does keep you on your toes a little as you can't easily guess what will happen next.
If you've played previous Mario & Luigi RPGs, you should have a decent idea of what to expect. The overworld is a varied place with deserts and mountains all on the same island, not to mention what comes between. While the game does have a linear progression plot-wise, you'll notice that you have to backtrack to most areas at least once to gain some key item needed to finish the game.
These were not exactly incorporated distinctly with the environment: it's actually pretty seamless, although you get the idea of "I need to go back there sometime later" on the first trip through, but mostly because you think something useful is in there not something needed. In fact, early in the game, not a lot of the first areas are accessible because you need special abilities to get there, like hovering or jumping high. These techniques are learned in due time and those who remember to backtrack are rewarded with much, including stat-boosting items and money.
Also in the field are a number of enemies. Like other RPGs, they're there to be killed to earn experience, items, money, and the like. Like other Mario RPGs, you can initiate battle with them in a pre-emptive attack - basically hitting them when their back is turned. Some enemies are harder to hit than others (given how they fly or run fast, for example), so they may even get the jump on you, hurting you and you won't even get a chance to respond to it!
Inside the Dream:
About half of the game will take place in the world of dreams if you do a comprehensive playthrough; it's more like one-third otherwise. It's revealed why as part of the plot you enter the dream world, but first think about it. Many games are limited by the simple laws of physics, correct? Gravity goes down, matter cannot be made from nothing, things do not freeze on the whole instantly, stuff like that constricts games to certain parameters. Imagine how Super Mario Bros. would be like you could - nay, had to - alter gravity manually to get past the enemies, or how it would be if there were things in the background that needed to be moved to you.
I use that game as an example because the dream world, unlike the 3D real world, takes place in a 2D platformer format. It does provide variety in that, but the overwhelmingly positive thing about the dream world is the lack of constriction from everyday restraints. Think about any crazy dream you've ever had: effectively, that could be made possible in this game. Granted, all of the "dreams" and their worlds are pre-set in the game and there is not a lot of far-out stuff like frogs swallowing hurricanes and stuff. Rather, it mostly applies to solving a unique - albeit somewhat easy - set of puzzles in the game.
A lot of the time in the game, you are given rather direct directions as to where to go next and how to do it. This seems to remove a lot of the vagueness and puzzle-solving I recall in previous entries in the series, the puzzles only really piling up until the last half (and especially last dungeon) of the game. The puzzles are not difficult on the whole, really. Perhaps I should give some examples?
In several areas of the game, you are capable of altering the direction of gravity so that stuff (and you) fall in a certain direction. You are to use this to maneuver a ball to a certain platform in a maze. Sound hard? It's not, really - the maze is a bit small, and the main thing I found myself doing was working backwards. It's not a technique many would thing to use, but if you can only alter gravity in ninety-degree increments as in this game, it makes sense.
Another puzzle I recall is that there are some things rolling along a conveyor belt and you need them to cross a gap in it to the other side. If you fail, they just keep getting destroyed. The infiniteness of these desired objects lessens the difficulty - so what if you screw up? These puzzles were easily solved by the use of physics (you make them cross by strengthening/weakening air vents) and experimentation because of their infinite quantity.
Overall, I won't say that the game's puzzles are difficult - the solution is generally pretty obvious, although you might have to wander around a bit to get it. I will note that the ability of the dream world to disregard the laws of physics does provide a nice spin on some puzzles, like with the first example mentioned. I mean, with the ability to alter the laws of physics, you open up a much vaster world of puzzles, which Dream Team succeeds in doing partially - the main flaw being that they're not that hard.
A lot of this game will be spent in battle, if not the outright majority. Dream Team continues to take cues from previous games in the series by having a turn-based system like many RPGs (Pokemon, Final Fantasy, et cetera), so veterans of the series will have no worries when it comes to skipping the tutorials. On your side are a couple of allies - you can easily guess who - and there are enemies, often outnumbering you. Everyone has a "Speed" stat attributed to them that helps to determine turn order.
Attacks are executed in a manner similar to Paper Mario and previous Mario & Luigi games on a basis of "Action Commands". Basically, this means acting in a certain way so as to improve the power or effects of your attack. For example, when you jump on an enemy, you could bounce off of them onto them again; when using a melee weapon, you could wind up your swing first; stuff like that. Each attack is unique in its Action Command, including the special attacks to be later mentioned, but they all generally help you.
Enemies can, of course, attack back. This again goes back to previously-mentioned examples, although you mostly only get to jump or hammer for your responses. A well-timed press of a button can let you jump on a Goomba rushing at you so you deal counterattack damage, or perhaps you can smack a cannonball back to an airship. Unlike most other RPGs, you do get to defend yourself in such manners, although it requires a bit of skill and timing. It can also take a bit of observation, as the enemies have an extremely wide variety of attacks you must almost certainly see once before you can effectively counter or avoid it - it's a learning process.
Like most RPGs, the enemies here also have some special designations. In previous Mario & Luigi games, you could find enemies to be flying, spiked, aflame, underground, and having certain elemental affinities. Dream Team disappoints in that regard. Sure, most of the aforementioned did basically say "You can or can't hammer or jump on this and that", regardless of the variety, but it did garner an element of strategy and observation you wouldn't get from most RPGs. (Take Final Fantasy games and their bestiaries: see what I mean?) In Dream Team, it takes a quick glance to see that an enemy has spikes and for you to say "Oh, wait, don't jump on that"; same for flying enemies who dodge hammers. Elemental affinities are relatively hidden in this game, though - but also not really required for defeating enemies, either. This factor mostly boils down to whether an enemy is weak to fire or not, with the circumstances of either option being quite obvious.
A tradition of the Mario & Luigi RPG series are flashy and powerful Bros. Attacks, sometimes supplemented by another kind depending on the context of the plot. The general idea is a collaboration between allies, which explains why Mario and Luigi must not be incapacitated in any fashion for them to work. They function like the "magic" of this game as well, being the only action you can take that uses Bros. Points (BP). A few of them are found by simply going forward in the game; the rest are found scattered across the land. Specifically, each optional special attack can be found by gathering the hidden ten Attack Pieces in a certain area, not unlike Bowser's Inside Story.
Most of the Bros. Attacks don't really use any kind of special parts of the 3DS, like the gyroscope and stuff. They mostly rely on a good sense of timing and skill, like flinging a bunch of bombs at a group of enemies in a baseball-esque form, or dropping down on an enemy from high up. A few of them will take some time to get used to doing, but there is a demo mode in the game to allow you to practice them at will - although, as could be expected, the distractions of the real battlefield can mess even that up!
A few Bros. Attacks do use the gyroscope in the 3DS. This will allow you to tilt the 3DS and thereby affect what is happening in the game. A good example is the Luiginary Ball attack, where you must tilt the 3DS to roll along a certain path: this particular attack I found not unlike driving in Mario Kart 7. Another attack, Slingsniper, allows you to tilt the 3DS around to set an enemy as a target, akin to the targeting system in Face Raiders. About one-fourth of all special attacks use these special gyro functions, though, so it's a bit of a lopsided balance for those without decent coordination.
As with Bowser's Inside Story, a number of bosses in Dream Team will take place in a "giant" form: basically, a big version of you versus a big enemy. These battles are different in that they rely almost - if not completely - on your Touch Screen and gyroscope controls. They also rely on your timing, but not on the buttons, which is relatively unusual and more prone to self-error than in most games.
It also helps to provide a dynamic battle system, since these particular enemies have a variety of attacks and a variety of ways to dodge them: it can take careful analysis to manage them, and it's hard to just analyze on your first counterattack when you could lose a third of your health because of it! Giant Battles are on the whole fun and entertaining, mostly used for show as they can be rather easy up until the last two or three. I do admit that I miss the microphone controls, but given the awkward position of them on the 3DS and how you still have to rotate the 3DS ninety degrees, it's understandable.
Level-Up and Growth System:
The Mario & Luigi RPG series has relied on pretty much the same concepts for leveling up as most RPGs, but with their own twist. Dream Team most notably takes the formula of Bowser's Inside Story and pastes it in a 3DS cartridge, really. As with most RPGs, EXP. (experience points) are earned from beating enemies. Gaining enough experience will end up allowing you to level up, augmenting most of your stats so you can better fight harder enemies later in the game.
A twist to this applied ever since Superstar Saga was the ability to apply bonuses to your stats. With each level-up, you can pick one of your stats to get an extra boost of one to five points (five points being very significant in these games). This boost is applied by the timing of a slot machine with a number of values. These values are determined by how little you've used bonuses on it in recent level-ups: you'll only get ones or twos if you just did it, or fours and fives if it's been a very long time. In the end, it does encourage either one of two things: building allies for certain stats despite the relatively lackluster growth (you can try timing the slots, after all), or an overall balance. It's mostly up to the player as to what direction to take the characters in.
A different aspect applied in Bowser's Inside Story reappears here, with an additional twist. Ranks are a concept applied in Bowser's Inside Story primarily as a way to open up new and better shopping facilities: reach a certain level and you can empty your wallet here! Dream Team does this, too. However, Dream Team applies a concept of Rank-Up Bonuses. These vary greatly and increase in variety further as you Rank-Up, but they're all rather useful. They can include automatically gaining points in a certain stat every time you level up, or perhaps allowing you to equip some more equipment, or perhaps reducing damage dealt to you, or made allowing you to deal out extra damage with certain attacks - it's up to you, but the permanence of these decisions is irremovable, so it takes a lot of forethought to know what you really need to grab. It's an interesting concept, though, especially if you've never found yourself using, for example, all of your equipment slots.
One particular piece of equipment called "Badges" has been a fundamental part of the series since Superstar Saga. However, they didn't get the current spin on their effects until Bowser's Inside Story - before, they were just stat-boosting equipment or effect-inducing ones.
Badges are used to initiate particular effects. You will have two - one for Mario, one for Luigi - and the combination of those two creates a particular effect. For example, a powerful badge with a healing badge may heal 80% of both brothers' HP, or maybe a weak badge with an offensive badge can hit all enemies for a small quantity of damage. There are six badges in this game for each brother, allowing thirty-six combinations, and another aspect in this game that requires you to think ahead before slapping stuff on willy-nilly.
Of course, you can't use those effects as desired, especially when it comes to combos that increase your EXP. or Coin intake. Rather, you must attack enemies and do well to fill up a "Badge Meter". When this meter is full, you will be able to use the combo's effect. However, you can only store so many uses of the badges - an aspect not apparent in Bowser's Inside Story which now makes the game a bit easier for those who want to grind up the Badge Meter before important bosses lest they get screwed over.
Used to, some badge combinations required you to do attacks with a certain degree of quality (which was also reflected in your timing/skills and damage dealt) or the meter would not fill, or maybe even drop right to zero! That aspect is no longer in play in Dream Team, which further makes the game a bit easier. It's not game-breaking, but also noticeable if you are a veteran of Bowser's Inside Story where the double-edged sword still resides.
Typically, the Mario & Luigi RPG series doesn't offer a whole lot in the way of extra stuff. A fundamental sidequest still in place is that of bean hunting - all across the game, in hidden locations, are hundreds of stat-boosting beans to obtain once you obtain the skills to do so. Overall, they won't affect the difficulty much - almost like you're expected to find them - but it's definitely worth trying every now and then to backtrack through familiar areas for beans.
Superstar Saga was perhaps the game in the series most filled with sidequests, while the other two delineated more or less to the aforementioned (and special battle zones in Bowser's Inside Story). Dream Team takes cues from both Superstar Saga and Bowser's Inside Story when it comes to the extras, and even adds in another completely new to the series.
Part of the goal of the game is to rescue "Pi'illos", ancient residents of the game's island stuck inside the dream world. You will end up rescuing about 20% of them through the game's plot simply because you have to, while the remaining 80% are elsewhere. Many of them are rather out of the way, and you may have to go back to some early-game areas just before the end of the game to get the last ones. It can be a little frustrating to try and keep track of which Pi'illos laid where and how you might reach them, unless you happen to just clear out the whole island regularly like me.
Another sidequest is akin to the Gauntlet of Bowser's Inside Story. One aspect, now the Battle Ring, allows you to rebattle previous bosses later in the game. Sounds like it would be easier, no? Well, to be blunt, it can sometimes be an absolute hell, even in the late-game - much more so than Bowser's Inside Story. This is because the enemies have their stats and tactics and general reaction speed boosted all around, sometimes to the point that it is like fighting a new boss. Then there's the fact that you gain nothing from them other than massive amounts of Coins - which is definitely useful late in the game - and that you are restricted to winning within a certain number of turns with only a scarce stock of items. This aspect definitely provides the challenge that most of the other bosses could not - if you think you're up for it, you can always try!
Another aspect of the Gauntlet that made its way here - once under the name of Cholesteroad - is the Mad Skillathon. This is a place to show your stuff when it comes to those special attacks mentioned earlier. You will get an effectively-infinite swarm of enemies and you must defeat as many as possible using your attack. This can vary in different ways. For example, for those specials where you kick the Koopa Troopa shell, you need to keep kicking it for as long as possible, while others are tests of both endurance and memorization skills under pressure. It can be hard to beat those high scores, but there are rewards, if just the high scores.
Finally, we all know that most PlayStation 3 games have a Trophy system and that the Xbox 360 has an Achievements system. Some 3DS and DS games have begun to implement such systems - such as the Trophies in Kingdom Hearts: Re:coded, Kingdom Hearts 3D, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Pokemon Black/White Versions 2, and the Angry Birds Trilogy with an additional aspect of actually useful rewards. In this game, those come through in items. See, there are a number of arbitrary - but often difficult - tasks in this game you can optionally complete, like dodging ten attacks in a row or doing perfect on a bunch of attacks. Each is worth a number of points related to its difficulty, and the more points you get, the better the rewards you find. For example, I found a piece of equipment that bases its stat boosts on the amount of money you have.
Overall, there's a lot of extra stuff to do in Dream Team. I don't think it's the most in the series - Superstar Saga still holds that - but it will definitely take a while to complete most of those "Expert Challenges" (the Achievements) and finding all the Beans and Pi'illos.
The individual aspects of the game have a bit of misalignment to them when it comes to difficulty. Normal battles, boss battles, and early puzzles all tend to be easy as a whole, but then you also have the giant battles and some later puzzles and rare enemies that tend to be frustrating. I suppose you could say that it is balanced like so that people can gain at least part of what they enjoy: the majority of the game is easier than previous games, though, when you think about it. Not game-breaking - it is still fun to play - but definitely noticeable. If that's the case and you prefer a challenge, beating the game does open up a "Hard Mode".
My Overall Opinion:
Overall, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team plays very well. It provides a challenging and unique RPG system to the familiar formula by actually overstepping the bounds of natural laws while varying up much of the game, being dynamic, and giving you a lot to do if you want to do it. It does have a few flaws, I'll admit - I do miss some of the features from Bowser's Inside Story like the microphone controls, and the difficulty is balanced a little more to the easier side unless you play on Hard Mode. But, despite these flaws, the game is fun to play.
Despite the fact that this series is going into its fourth entry, Dream Team contains little canonical relevance to the other three prior games. There are a number of references - most blatantly through characters and their suggested relationships - to previous games, but nothing that will throw you for a spin. If anything, playing the other games will enhance your experience by learning just how everyone came together, but it is by no means a requirement.
As the game opens, we find that Princess Peach has been invited to Pi'illo Island, an island renowned for its ancient ruins and studies on sleep, to meet with the proprietor Dr. Snoozemore. She has requested her ever-present bodyguards Mario and Luigi to come along with her as she represents the Mushroom Kingdom on this trip. The flight there ends badly, however, with a sudden attack from a dark unknown foe, their only fortune being to crash-land safely on Pi'illo Island.
There, Peach soon finds her way past the parading people into the Pi'illo Castle. Dr. Snoozemore is not in at the moment, so the group goes sightseeing. One such sight ends up getting Peach trapped deep in the ancient ruins. It is there that Mario and Luigi get acquainted with a new task. There, they rescue a Pi'illo - a resident of the island from millennia ago that supposedly disappeared, but remained as stone pillows in the real world - from the depths of a nightmare. This Pi'illo is the kingdom's old prince, Prince Dreambert. He requests the help of the unsuspecting Mario and Luigi: he asks them to help him free the ancient Pi'illos from their slumber, a slumber once caused by an ancient villain that is, unbeknownst to them, nurturing an alliance with a modern foe.
The timelines have crossed, and the world is in more peril than what could ever be thought. The records of why the Pi'illos disappeared millennia ago are nonexistent, and the reason why is more shocking than can be imagined, for that same cause is soon to run rampant in the real world. Originally looking for simple domination of Pi'illo Island, this ancient foe wants the Dream Stone, a stone capable of granting any wish, even world domination...
The plot develops rather constantly in this game for the most part, but lightly, only through brief conversations and the like. It also gets rather hot and heavy, as it were, at points. All of the plot is developed primarily through watching the actions of the characters and reading their speech. The characters in the game are rather animated, metaphorically speaking, which leads to a number of one-liners and general nervous fiddling around that leads to a lot of humor the series is known for. The plot also does begin to get really serious and dark in the middle as more details are known about the enemies' forces and their ultimate, true desires. On the whole, it's rather enjoyable; a little more serious than previous entries in the series, but nonetheless good.
The 2D Graphics:
To some extent, the graphics are varied. There are about sixteen individual, unique areas in the game, and each uses generally the same chromatic scheme, so when you're spending ten-plus hours at a time in a single area, it can get pretty "meh" rather quickly. The areas are colorful, though, and the framerate holds steady at 60 frames-per-second all of the time, despite the lag you notice in some loading times between menus. There aren't any glitches in the graphics (like pixels out of place, orange grass, et cetera) that I noticed, either, which is nice.
I suppose mood-fitting is another word you could use to describe the graphics, especially near the end of the game when the plotline is really dark, as the areas themselves begin to favor a black and dark gray color scheme with lava intermixed throughout. That directly contrasts, say, the first few dungeons where you're unsuspecting of what is to come and they're vibrantly colored with a lot of little things floating through the screen like dandelion seeds for a nice visual effect.
The 3D Graphics:
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the 3D. Most games on the 3DS have a problem of only applying a sense of depth more than a "pop-out" effect you expect from 3D televisions and movies. Dream Team has a mix of the two - a lot of the game is seen through a sense of depth, but you'll get plenty of instances (such as battle introductions when colored blocks fly at the screen) where you find an enjoyable background effect. Then there is also how the depth effect is applied: not like looking through a window, but you can actually get an idea of the curvature of the battlefield as it curves off into the distance with the sky or area ceiling playing as an obvious backdrop.
So, it seems I have a fair amount of praise for this game with its 3D - more than I can say for ninety percent of 3DS games, anyhow. It is still nonethelsss flawed. For example, from an RPG, I would expect some areas to be able to use the 3D to provide solutions to puzzles, a la Super Mario 3D Land - of course, since this game is rated E10+ and marketed to children somewhat, it might not have been the best idea to force 3D on children lest seizures be caused, so I can understand that much.
The main problem I noticed was an annoying double-vision effect. You can get an extremist version of it if you tilt your 3DS a few degrees clockwise or counterclockwise with the 3D on, but it wasn't the case here: it was a problem in the game itself. Not only does such an effect just become annoying, but it disrupts the 3D because the two images needed for the 3D are out of alignment and therefore not applying the proper sense of depth or its reverse.
SOUND AND MUSIC: 9/10.
Ah, I could listen to the themes for this game for hours on end - and have in the course of making my FAQ for this game. A number of the themes are blatant (but excellent) remixes of themes from other Mario games, especially Mario & Luigi RPG games - even if you've played them before, you'll enjoy them, and the same for the other gamers who have not. Each area and situation does have its own music attributed to it, which does get a little mundane after about ten hours in a given area, although battles play several themes to break up the boredom some. (And I must also claim that my favorite music comes from those upbeat techno battle themes.) Most of the music tends to fall in the general area of techno and rock (like battles) or classical (overworlds), which comprises most of the music I like, so I suppose I'm biased in that regard.
As far as clarity goes, it's decent most of the time. When playing, I happened to notice a few pops and crackles near the end of the game, but that was probably an issue with my headphones as those themes had not noticeably messed up prior - so, in general, it's clear. The sound effects are also well-synced with their actions and that, like the framerate, holds up well in even high-CPU-stress situations. The only real problems sound-wise came from the relative lack of variety in overworld and the sound effects' lack of variety.
PLAY TIME: 8.5/10.
Overall, this game will last a sufficient while. A general playthrough of the game should take about forty hours - average for most RPGs. A comprehensive playthrough is more time-intensive here due to the forced grinding needed to max out your Rank and problems associated with that (since enemies do appear in the overworld, not at random) - I clocked in at about seventy-one hours when I finished that. I don't really have any complaints with it other than it seemed drawn-out at points near the end, primarily in extraneously long dungeons. There's also the time-intensive process of grinding to get everything in the game - almost certainly going to be forced unless you backtrack often - which can be mundane for completionists. But it lasts a decent while, long enough to get your money's worth from it.
Dream Team replays rather decently. Despite the linearity of the plot, the fact that you can backtrack and redo stuff - sometimes even go to entirely new areas around the game's middle - or do sidequests really helps. Like if you get bored going through dungeon after dungeon, you can always quit hunting the Pi'illos to stop those often-mundane dungeons, or perhaps you can go test your skills at the Mad Skillathon, or maybe you want to dedicatedly go for those Expert Challenges. Dream Team does provide a lot of backups for the entertainment in case you end up bored, the ultimate one being the Hard Mode, since that really makes it harder and more enjoyable, especially if you found the first playthrough easy.
THE END. Overall score: 9.5/10.
Ultimately, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team boils down to a great RPG for the Nintendo 3DS. It provides a dynamic and changing gameplay system that is capable of keeping you on your toes up until the end and it provides new twists on an already successful formula. It was a little easy, though, but the game offers challenges at the right points, and even a Hard Mode for those still finding it easy. The aesthetic qualities were great, if mundanity did come through noticeably, and the plot keeps you on your toes, just awaiting that next inevitable plot twist.
In the end, though, I will first recommend you try the demo on the Nintendo eShop if you're still not sure. It provides a somewhat decent dissection of the game as whole. If you can't access the internet, it's probably worth your money to just outright buy it, especially if you're an RPG fan - for, as I've effectively said before, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is a dream of a game.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/22/13
Game Release: Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (US, 08/11/13)
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