The lights are on
Mario and Luigi have seen many adventures over the years, especially in recent times. They've embarked on missions together, alone, and with friends at different times. We've seen Luigi get some of his own love in the limelight with Dark Moon and Super Luigi Bros, and we've also seen Mario get his usual time to shine with Sticker Star and other differing titles. That having all been said, it should comes as no surprise that Dream Team- a combination of what Mario does best and letting Luigi do the rest (hehe, literally in this case), continues the silver standard set for the last few decades. This is a handheld Mario/Luigi adventure that you have no excuse to miss, and its a pretty good all around, family friendly role playing game as well. The witty dialogue, the snappy combat, and the variety of environments and enemies make for a truly imaginative and interesting experience.
First things first, a few things have been changed up this time around, from the normal Mario and Luigi script and story. Chief among all others, a new enemy, the Dream Lord Antasma appears as the major malfunction, and Bowser actually only has a pretty minute role, instead of being the big bad guy as he usually is. Secondly, the story is well written and comedic on cue, centering mainly on freeing talking pillows from the aforementioned evildoer and utilizing Luigi's epic sleeping abilities to change the world on command. Yes, I am being completely serious. You have gameplay that requires sleeping and dreaming, hence the name Dream Team. The majority of the hubworld/overworld looks the exact same as it usually does, in typical map-like fashion, however it is when you start dreaming that things get...weird. The action shifts into two dimensions in classic Mario fashion, platforming is much more intense and challenging than in previous titles, which is surely in homage to the good old days.
During your dreams as Luigi, you will control Mario for the most part, but be able to prompt the sleeping Luigi to change the world by poking and prodding him on the 3DS' bottom most screen. This is an intriguing gameplay gimmick, and also extremely handy to utilize at all the right times. Aside from the already intense platforming, these subtle and not-so-subtle tweaks to the gameplay stimuli change everything from the environment to the gravity to your speed, and make the gameplay all that much interesting. As well as solving puzzles more easily. There always seem to be new ways to get objects and enemies to react, and new discoveries to be made concerning how you can effect the dreamworld around you. Keep in mind, this isn't so much a platforming role playing game as it is simply a role playing one. It isn't like Super Mario Bros. where you only platform, but is instead closer to Bowser's Inside Story and Sticker Star with the role playing portions.
The turn-based combat/timing system is still put to great use, with minimal difficulties and minimal issues. Battles are energetic and a blast to play through, as you will always be on the move, jumping, dodging, attacking, and counterattacking as you go. For a Mario game, it'll get your adrenaline going just as much as it would when you're facing a boss, and that is surely not a bad thing at all in terms of replayability or enjoyability. Combat also adds some challenges by literally giving you challenge tasks to complete for rewards and more powerful upgrades or attacks. This is not only a further good incentive to play and enjoy the game, but it helps you to level up faster, become even more powerful, and to enjoy the experience to its fullest. There are several other minor systems that tie into gameplay such as badges and upgrades, which you can switch between Mario and Luigi for permanent bonuses or instant one-use ones throughout the game. Modifying these is quick and easy, as well as fun and strategic.
There are plenty of side quest-like activities for good measure, and will keep you going well into the wee hours alone, not even taking into account the plethora of main content the game presents. For a handheld, this is an unprecedented amount of gameplay to contain, and even for a console game it offers a lot of activities and content for players to peruse and enjoy. I've put easily twenty hours into the game and have come nowhere near the ending of it, which I hope nobody will spoil for me (looks at GI's 'Spoiled!' crew), and I plan on playing it for at least another twenty hours, assuming time permits. For the content present, the game is definitely worth its weight in mushrooms, and I'd recommend it to you whether you are a role playing fan or simply a Mario or Luigi one. The gameplay never gets old, there aren't many rough spots to speak of, and any inconveniences in gameplay are easily forgotten once you've sunk your teeth into the witty story and action-packed stages.
Concept: Create yet another successful Mario/Luigi title, as well as another successful RPG in the vein on Bowser's Inside Story and Sticker Star.
Graphics: Some more beautiful backdrops to add to the already impressive collection of Mario and Co. level backgrounds across the many years the series has seen.
Sound: The accompaniments are well crafted and come across as melodic and subtle instead of over the top and intrusive. They fade into the background in a good way every time, and quickly you will find yourself humming them after playing for a few hours, if you aren't careful.
Playability: Many of the battles are challenging and difficult, especially for a Mario game, however, with the well refined combat system, you have all the means of dispatching your enemies at your disposal at all times.
Entertainment: It's a lengthy journey worthy of a console role playing spot, but it never gets old no matter how tough the going gets, and it is quite an enjoyable time sink.
Replay Value: High.
Overall Score: 8.75