I say this week, I actually mean this year – such is the length of Mario and Luigi: Dream Team. I started playing this when it came out almost exactly a year ago, and after 21 hours playing it, I got tired. So last week, I took it up again. Another 19 hours later, and it’s finally over. It’s finally over!
Let’s get one thing straight: Dream Team is a great game. The combat, which consists of timing your jumps or hammer blows exactly right whilst learning enemy tells, is fantastic, and even 40 hours in, always kept me engaged. There are a huge number of enemy types, so learning each one’s attacks is no small task. Thankfully, mushrooms, which restore health, are plentiful.
By far the best aspect of combat however, is the Bros Attacks. These are finite moves where Mario and Luigi team up in a variety of ways (kicking shells, firing each other in a slingshot, and riding a giant star, to name a few) to land a huge hit on the enemy. These attacks are understandably more difficult to pull off than standard attacks, but are balanced beautifully against the cost (Bros Points) of using them, and serve to take the combat up a notch when needed.
As mentioned before, I was tired of this game at about the halfway point, and it took me nearly a year to want to come back. The combat never got old from fight to fight; rather the cumulative effect of spending 20 hours in a game doing (roughly) the same thing grew tired on me. The same feeling was creeping up on me by the time I finished it a year later. Hardcore JRPG fans may scoff, but it is a fault of the game – and perhaps the genre as a whole. Three ‘final’ boss fights (two of which were well over an hour long) is simply overkill.
One thing that never got old, however, is the soundtrack, which is superb. Ranging from the upbeat to the occasionally downright creepy, each track perfectly suits its location, and most get a typically excellent remix when Mario and Luigi enter the dream world.
Talking of which, the dream world sections boast some imaginative level design, requiring use of the lower screen to help a sleeping Luigi interact with ethereal dreamscape – for example, twisting him round to change gravity, or using his nose as a propeller to create wind for Mario to jump a large gap. Though these Luiginary Works were used extensively, they were rarely used together, which would have helped mix things up more.
Lastly, the writing is mostly very good, prompting a couple of genuine laugh out loud moments. One sequence in particular springs to mind, where the writing turns a relatively dull series of fetch quests into a properly heart-warming and funny scene in which Mario and Luigi must help a nervous Hoohooligan propose to his girlfriend. I just wish the script had been denser in this regard – the first quarter of the game is filled with tutorials, and later on, some story elements feel superfluous, needlessly prolonging the end-game. Despite its unnecessary length, however, Mario and Luigi: Dream Team is still an easy game to recommend, and is the best in the series since Superstar Saga.