Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These

I’ve always been a huge advocate for the Mario & Luigi series. Not that it really needs one, the games manage to do very well for themselves without my proclamations of greatness. But, proclaim I shall.

While I wouldn’t say the Paper Mario games have become insufferable, they have certainly been their own worst enemy as of late. While Sticker Star was enjoyable, its good intentions instead came off as trolling. An immediate difference between the most recent entries in either series was that I want and pursue battles in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. That point alone should interest anyone who was disappointed in last year’s papery adventure.

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Dream Team continues to impress as I push onward. I wanted to get pretty deep into the title before I commented on it, lest I sound like a reactionary buffoon to some of the less than kind reviews. Thankfully, there’s no need for me to play the role of an apologist; Dream Team has been treating me quite well.

Important to any fan of the series is the writing, which is as sharp as ever. Once again I’m transported to place where characters are just that; unique beings with their own mannerisms and dialect. There’s no common ‘voice’ that everyone speaks with. Dream Team‘s Pi’illo Island feels and sounds like a vacation hotspot for the Mushroom Kingdom, with a helping of folks from all over the Mario ‘universe’.

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But, as funny as the game is, I’ve continued my heated love affair with Mario & Luigi‘s hallmark battle system. I’m still surprised few have ever imitated its mechanics, instead opting for ‘tap A to win’ formula. AlphaDream tackles any worry of repetition by constantly changing enemies and their attack patterns, allowing every battle to feel as fresh as the first. Using the A button to control Mario and B for Luigi remains as clever as it was in 2003’s Superstar Saga, and shows no signs of growing stale.

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AlphaDream should be commended for their ability to craft interesting ‘dual-worlds’, displayed here by Pi’illo Island and Luigi’s dream land (not to be confused with Kirby’s of course). As with Bowser’s Inside Story, Dream Team‘s story unfolds on two stages; the isometric Pi’illo Island and the side scrolling dream world. You’re constantly zipping back and forth, one path leading to the other. The dream world is that break from the ‘norm’, a purple-hued world where Luigi is capable of everything he pleases. Using the touch screen to futz with Luigi and change the dream world is great fun, and allows the absurdity of the Mario & Luigi series to hit new heights.

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I suppose the charge against Dream Team is the same made for many of Nintendo’s works; it’s too ‘hand-holdy’. While there are pauses that wish to instill information that you may already know, I never found them repulsive enough to warrant a complaint. Maybe recent Zelda entries have groomed me to feel this way, but I don’t find it as off putting as others. The review system must play a role here, considering not only the writer’s play time, but the process of writing and editing as well. It’s all a bit much for an individual to wrap up in a week or so, and the game seemingly falls short as such. Perhaps my prolonged exposure benefitted the game, but not everyone takes as long to finish a game as I do. Regardless, tutorial-heavy or not, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is an excellent game that would be a shame to ignore. Any instance of annoyance from the tutorials is instantly washed away by the charming chortles of a sleeping Luigi.

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