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Review

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • 3DS

Charming, witty, and with a great combat system, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is a thoroughly entertaining mashup of platformer and RPG.

'

For all the guff Luigi's gotten over the years in Mario role-playing games, it was about time he got shown some love. Sure, all those jibes about Luigi's weight, his inferior jumping skills, or his less-than-handsome moustache are still very much a part of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team--and very funny they are too. But now Luigi gets to be the hero, even if it's only in his dreams. Dream Luigi can be 100ft tall; duplicate himself hundreds of times; stack himself high to crush enemies; manipulate the environment to guide a hapless Mario around; and yes, be far more handsome too.

Luigi's newfound abilities certainly provide the wow factor that draws you into Dream Team, but it's the tight combat and irreverent take on the Mario universe that keeps you coming back for more: this is one seriously enjoyable game. For every puzzle solved, there's a great reward that follows. For every well-timed foot stomp during battle, there's a glorious explosion of colour and sound to accompany it. And for those moments when it all gets a bit too serious, there's a bizarre moustachioed French cube there to lighten the mood.

It's the combat in particular that's great here, mixing, as it does, traditional turn-based commands with the timely button presses of a platformer. While there aren't a terribly broad array of attacks, the absorbing nature of the battle system more than makes up for a few missing fire spells. Time a button press just right during a stomp attack and Mario flies through the air for a second bounce. Do it again and you deal a heap more damage. Do the same for a hammer attack on the apex of the backswing and land a "Fantastic" rating for a super-powerful strike.

Special Bros. attacks call for some deft timing too. Fire a red shell at your opponent and expertly alternate between buttons to land blow after blow as the shell bounces back and forth faster and faster between Mario and Luigi. And if you nail that all-important final kick, you're rewarded with an eye-popping display of colour as your opponent is launched into the air and drops back to terra firma with a mighty thud. Even the defence is all about the timing as you watch for tells that indicate an upcoming attack so you can quickly leap out the way of an incoming projectile, or bat away a pesky punch with your hammer.

So far so familiar then. But like previous games in the series, there's a twist to proceedings. Bowser's Inside Story let you play as the grand villain himself, while Partners In Time gave you two sets of brothers to handle. Here you explore the dreams of the Pi'illo people, a bunch of inordinately cute pillow-shaped people with a penchant for taking naps that have become trapped in a dream world and turned to stone. They're scattered across Pi'illo Island, and--thanks to Luigi's uncanny ability to fall asleep at will--you enter the dream world via Luigi to free them from their stony imprisonment.

Unlike the isometric 3D view assigned to the bright and colorful waking world, the dream world harks back to Mario's roots and takes place on a more subdued but no less pretty 2D plane. There you're paired up with Dreamy Luigi, a handsome, more charming version of himself with a diverse set of powers that are used to solve cleverly designed sets of puzzles. For instance, Luigi can turn into a cloud, and by rubbing his nose on the touch screen while he sleeps, you can cause tornados to blow in the dream world that move out-of-reach platforms.

Or you can have Luigi possess a tree, turning his moustache into a set of hands that can fling Mario high into the air. You can also create multiple Luigis that form into a rather wobbly-looking stack that can topple over gaps to push giant switches, or compress down and spring up to leap high into the air. Later, you can even form a pseudo helicopter with those Luigis and hover around levels by navigating passing air flows, all while avoiding giant stone fists that send you crashing back down to earth. And, while the puzzles aren't especially taxing, the intriguing Luigi powers are lots of fun to use.

Dreamy Luigi also changes up the battle system. Rather than the brothers fighting separately, Luigi's powers are absorbed into Mario's. A simple stomp turns into a shower of damage-inflicting Luigis. A hammer attack pounds the ground with multiple hammers, and is ideal for taking down the larger mobs that populate the dream world. Even cooler are the special attacks, which see you tilting the 3DS to build up a ball of Luigis Katamari-style and then launching them with an explosive kick. The tower stack is back too, only this time you build it up gradually by leaping onto separate groups of Luigis. Timing is crucial here, because each wonky landing causes the tower to become unstable and parts of it to collapse, resulting in a less powerful attack.

Tying the combat together is a story that's suitably charming and cheesy in equal measure; it aims for silly and hits it dead on. For a world as bright and colourful as that of Pi'illo Island, it's an ideal fit, and a far cry from the saccharine melodrama of your typical J-RPG. It helps that the cast of characters that populate the island are just as bizarre as the wisecracking French cube Broque Monsieur, and are all too happy to make fun of poor Luigi--particularly his lacklustre moustache--as you explore the island. And there's little that can prepare you for Big and Little Bro, a pair of macho bean brothers with a muscle obsession and a talent for some wildly inappropriate use of the word "beef".

Such an eclectic set of characters makes exploring the colourful Pi'illo Island a joy. You want to uncover every nook and cranny, and speak to every character, just to hear what wacky joke they'll come out with next. You're often rewarded with a neat trinket or piece of gear for doing so too, or sent on a fetch side quest for even greater rewards. And while fetch quests certainly aren't the most inventive way to bulk out a game, the wacky setups and funny dialogue make them far more entertaining than most.

The main story quests are a more diverse affair. You might have to free an agitated maintenance man trapped in a pipe by ratcheting up the water pressure with a one-armed-bandit, or freeing two giant Pi'illo people from the dream world so they can smash through a gate in the waking world. One particularly neat puzzle sees you smashing rocks along a train line, using Mario and Luigi's hammers to activate a roaming drill on the track at just the right moment.

The classy combat and quirky characters combined with a levelling system, ranking system, gear to upgrade, and collectible badges and puzzle pieces that offer up new powers make Dream Team a rich RPG. It's also laugh-out-loud funny, even more so if you're a fan of Mario games thanks to some wonderfully self-aware jokes. And while the core combat system and feel of the game remain largely unchanged from previous games in the series, the dream sections with their Luigi-based silliness add just enough to keep things feeling fresh. Mario & Luigi Dream Team is more refinement than reinvention, then, but boy is it a lot of fun.

'
The Good
Absorbing combat system
Dream world powers are a blast to use
Colourful cast of characters
Irreverent sense of humour
Rich RPG system with lots of content to explore
The Bad
Same formula as previous games in the series
8
Great
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Discussion

241 comments
rushiosan
rushiosan

A refined product with every great mechanics/characters from previous games. Still not as inventive as Bowser's Inside Story, but still far better than Partners in Time in my opinion. The only complaint I have is about slow beginning. Took me about 5 hours to start fully enjoying it. Every single area is delightful and storyline keeps surprising you. Battles get INTENSE after a certain point. I'd give it a 9.0.

the16bitdoctor
the16bitdoctor

Great game. A lot of the creators of this game also had their hand in one of my all time favorites, Super Mario RPG on SNES. The one flaw is that there are so many undesired tutorials that go far into the game (like past the 5 hour mark). But once it gets rolling it is great fun. Love the style, music, gameplay (times hits bring back fond memories of Mario RPG).

razordimeback
razordimeback

Personnaly, I really hate the music in the game, too bland and emotionless, I tried playing the game while listening to the SMRPG soundtrack, it made it a lot better ahaha

Like other people said, I really feel this game never lets you play alone, it's always holding your hand

Maybe I should have bought another game instead, I've been trying to play the mario and luigi series since the first one (playing with my brother's game card) and I never passed the half-game, always hated the battle style (don't get me wrong, I love RPG's), hated having to control two characters, luigi always getting in the way

I'll try and see if I can finish this one, since I bought it (after kind of liking the demo), but I'm not sure I can go through it, bores me to death...

picklesurprise
picklesurprise

Mario and Luigi fan...

Just finished this game and HATED IT. Felt like a giant chore the entire time, too many frustrating/mediocre mechanics in this iteration, too many tutorials/hand holdy, padded length, poor story, writing not as good as previous games, and at best a questionable art style. 

MAN this game was ROUGH. Totally turned off this series from this game. Would not recommend unless you get it cheap.

beyond_17
beyond_17

Playing this right now and loving it!

Silverline62
Silverline62

I would definitely add the ''Sucks you in'' and ''Great soundtrack''  emblems to this one.

notjustin
notjustin

9.5 great game nintendo is so good at maken games

lahonda_99
lahonda_99

Same thing, different setting. Shameful.

StriderKain
StriderKain

Excellent game, i think it deserves a solid 9.5 

GameStarCRONOS
GameStarCRONOS

i think gamespot does not like giving nintendo 3ds games high scores even though they are comming up with some of the best games of 2013

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

I keep coming back to this review to be shocked that it didnt get an emblem or praise for its music. Its REALLY REALLY SO GOD DAMN GOOD. Its a shame its not being represented well.

Warder105
Warder105

Review sounded like at least 9.5 , and it gets an 8? ta heck! This is why im visit IGN more often.

Wolflink001
Wolflink001

Seriously Gamespot? An 8.0? You guys can't score crap anymore anyways...

snake63
snake63

Same formula? You can say this to all of the Mario games.

bonesawisready5
bonesawisready5

This isn't the first time a GSPOT review has only tacked off for "same formula as previous games". I don't get it. Why would you expect fundamental change? 2 whole points off for that one point is silly. I can understand taking points off for the game suposedly dragging near the end. GTA V will have the "same formula" as previous games

Supabul
Supabul

The game is excellent, the Mario & Luigi games are some of the best RPGs you can play

objection12
objection12

Dear Gamespot: Please start matching your nintendo game reviews to your scores. I have seen many recent game reviews that were completely praised all throughout the review and the score doesn't reflect this. I believe this is important because often, this is the first and usually only thing people look at and they may end up missing out on a great game because they figure that it isn't worth their time. At least this isn't as bad as the Luigi's mansion 2 review though.

pedram007
pedram007

"Irreverent sense of humour" as a +? Reverence is always + the opposite is not..unless ur 12 that is...

Dimanagul
Dimanagul

"Same formula as previous games."   As it's only flaw?   Probably should justify that 8.0  a little better.  

chyng85
chyng85

Another great RPG~ 

JJMK25
JJMK25

it deserves a 9.0 seriously gamespot is never going to be happy with nintendo games, just because is the same formula as its predecessors. why dont you give low scores on call of duty that fucking games is the same shit over and over again. dumb fucks. 

RiKanKiDD
RiKanKiDD

I have played all of the Mario and Luigi games and enjoyed them all. Im so glad i decided to come back to Nintendo for the 3DS. They have been amazing with these releases. Now they Have Pikin 3 for Wii U? I might have to put some money into tha system for the future games 

x-2tha-z
x-2tha-z

I started playing Bowser's Inside Story yesterday. It's surprisingly good. I'll definitely be buying Dream Team in the near future.

alpha_unit97
alpha_unit97

I miss M&L: Super-star Saga so I might get this, first I need a 3ds though. I'm comming back Nintendo!

JudgeSim
JudgeSim

jeez is this on the super nintendo? these graphics are garbage.

OllieBrown
OllieBrown

Hmmm, why did the EU get this so much sooner than the US?

I don't want to wait a month!  :-(

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Wolflink001 

Whoa. You are still coming back here? I suppose that you never broke the habit of bitching whenever someone scores a Ninty game lower than 10, did you?

crazynotstupid
crazynotstupid

@bonesawisready5 2 points weren't deducted for that alone. If you've been following GS reviews for a long time its strange that you'd think that. GS points out the strengths and weaknesses. But a game may have attributes are are decent but not great. Those only get a hint in the detailed review and shaves off some points. I haven't played the game but looking at all the videos 8/10 actually seems a touch generous.

Killermonkey97
Killermonkey97

@pedram007 He meant irreverent as "not serious" or, more specifically, "light-hearted." A reverent sense of humor doesn't make sense! That said, "irreverent" isn't the best choice of words if we want to be nitpicky about it. Probably "silly" or "light-hearted" gets the point more clearly across.

danstrider
danstrider

@JJMK25that`s because nintendo doesn`t give money in exchange for a +9, like others do...

Aladrael
Aladrael

@JJMK25 They gave a fuckin 6.5 to Luigi's Mansion 2, lol. Gamespot sure is a Nintendo hater.

DonBaser
DonBaser

@x-2tha-z You should play Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga too... God did I have fun with that one on the GBA

GSJones1994
GSJones1994

@JudgeSim Ah, you must be one of those people who are like "F**k gameplay! Needs more HD!"

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@JudgeSim 

What are you expecting? It's the Mario & Luigi style that's always had a 2D art style to it, but it's in 3D. Not all games have to be super detailed or realistic looking to look good.

King_Dodongo
King_Dodongo

@JudgeSim These graphics are easily better than PS4 graphix. Here, I made the same sense as you.

Aladrael
Aladrael

@OllieBrown It's a payback for "US having shin megami tensei IV a lot sooner than EU" ;p

modestmouse44
modestmouse44

@Aladrael @JJMK25 Ha, that LM2 6.5 is one for the history books. Imagine if a film critic said "Ugh I just hate watching things move on a large screen!" Yeesh.

OllieBrown
OllieBrown

@Aladrael AHH YES!  That is usually how it goes.  I guess I'm spoiled  :-D

Iamshmee
Iamshmee

@Coldpain It's a 3DS game, I imagine it literally pops out more than the others as well as it totally does graphically.

First of all the environments are 3D and the sprites have about 5x the frames of animation for movements.

Watch a video of the others and you'll see it.

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team More Info

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  • First Released
    • 3DS
    Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is a new installment in the Mario & Luigi role-playing series that takes place on a mysterious island and challenges Mario to go between the real world and Luigi's dreams to rescue Princess Peach.
    8
    Average User RatingOut of 87 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
    Developed by:
    Alphadream Corporation
    Published by:
    Nintendo
    Genres:
    Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    All Platforms
    Mild Cartoon Violence