The Mario & Luigi series has made something of a name for itself with a string of successive, quality releases based around a quality battle system and quirky sense of humour. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. carries on this trend, introducing a couple of new features along the way.
First off, the battle system is just as good as in previous entries. The system works on timing to dodge and deal the most amount of damage. It’s fast, colourful and a huge amount of fun. Now, throw in the new special attacks. These can completely change the dynamic of a battle outside of your usual jump and hammer attacks. The special attacks make the most of the 3DS’ hardware, typically using motion controls to aim your attack. The screen-filling attacks are hard to master, but once you get your head around them, they are your most efficient way of dishing out the pain.
Outside of the battles, exploration is very much in-line with previous entries. You run around, talk to people, buy items, solve puzzles and generally, um, explore. However, you can enter Luigi’s dream world. Luigi’s dream world is trippy, like, seriously – Luigi’s trippin’ balls. These sections take place in a side-scrolling environment, rather than in the top down standard viewpoint. In these dream worlds, Luigi is replaced by dreamy Luigi, which means, instead of him following you around, he becomes one with Mario. Sounding strange yet?
The dream worlds are where a lot of the game’s new features are thrown in. Dreamy Luigi can interact with the environment. See a swirling thing in the background? Press R and send Luigi on in there. He can then do stuff like turn into a tree that flicks Mario up in the air with its moustache via the touchscreen. You can also use the Luigi tower, ball or even make him sneeze (by rubbing his nose on the touchscreen). It gets quite wacky, but always remains quite funny and clever.
Indeed, the writing is funny throughout. It can get pretty hilarious and it really has the knack of capturing you off-guard. For the most part, the gameplay matches up to the often brilliant writing. It’s a fun RPG. However, it’s also far too slow. Battles can go on for ages, conversations, too. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. really struggles with pacing. The opening eight hours, for example, moves along at a snail’s pace. Everything is explained in excruciating detail too. Every new move you collect is followed by an incredibly long and detailed explanation. The opening of the game doesn’t let you skip anything, holding your hand in a vice-like grip the whole time.
I found the opening of the game so laborious that I almost gave up on the game altogether. It’s awful. Thankfully, however, I stuck with it. Dream Team Bros. opens itself up to you the further you go along. It might be a right slog at first, but the pace does pick up. Unfortunately, one of the big new features this time around rears its ugly head too many times. Every now and then, Luigi will grow massive (and 3D), requiring you to turn your 3DS on its side to take part in a mighty battle. These battles shake up the game, but in my opinion, they detract from the overall experience. These are slow, laborious battles filled with frustrating gameplay.
Learning to enjoy Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. was an adventure of its own right for me. I hated the opening eight hours or so, I disliked all the long conversations and slow boss battles (especially the ones explained in the above paragraph) and I felt it all went on a tad too long at around 40 hours. However, at its best, Dream Team Bros. is hilarious, brilliant fun and a treat to play, look at and listen to. It’s an inconsistent game, but one worth sticking with.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. is a solid RPG filled with fun and often hilarious moments, but it’s slow pace, excruciatingly painful opening and dodgy 3D boss battles hold it back.