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JadeDragon's game reviews and playing tips: Nintendo DSgames
Read our review of the Nintendo DS here!

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time

Reviewed January 2006 by Corbie Dillard

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: AlphaDream
Release Date: November, 2005
ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
Genre: RPG
Price: $34.99

After the success of the pseudo-Super Mario RPG spin-off Mario & Luigi: SuperStar Saga on the Game Boy Advance system, most assumed it would just be a matter of time before Nintendo released the plumbers on yet another exciting adventure on their new DS system. With the release of Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, Nintendo once again tosses the extraordinary Mario brothers into yet another adventure in the Mushroom Kingdom. This time, however, they’ll be exploring two Mushroom Kingdoms, the present one and the past one. Making use of the Nintendo DS’ dual screen format, the good folks at AlphaDream have managed to create an exciting new adventure that makes very creative use of the DS’ dual screens producing one of the most entertaining Mario RPGs to date, not to mention one of the strongest titles yet for the DS system.

Story

Professor E. Gadd, famed inventor extraordinaire, has invented a time machine and Princess Peach can’t wait to try it out. After she hops in and takes a quick trip back to the Mushroom Kingdom of the past, she’s kidnapped by a race of aliens known as the “Shroobs” and the time machine is sent back to the present day in shambles with Princess Peach nowhere to be found. Once again our favorite plumbers are sent on an adventure back in time, to find the missing princess and save the Mushroom Kingdom from the evil Shroobs. The Mario brothers will join forces with the infant versions of themselves and set out on an adventure through time like no other they’ve experienced before.

Gameplay

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time places you right in the middle of a time traveling adventure of epic proportion. You must seek out and explore the many Time Holes that open up as you progress through the game. These holes will send you back in time to the Mushroom Kingdom of the Past where you must battle it out with the alien Shroobs and solve the many puzzles that lay in store for you. Most of these puzzles will involve the creative use of the Mario brothers and their infant sidekicks, forcing you to learn to work together as a team in order to make progress throughout the game. This also holds true for the battle system in the game. While the battles are turn-based in nature, you’ll quickly learn that to be successful during combat you’ll have to learn to use all of the different moves each of the brothers have at their disposal. Unlike the first Mario & Luigi game where the brothers combined skills to pull off special moves, this time around you’ll use special “bros.” items like Koopa Shells and Fire Flowers to attack enemies with. Couple this with the fact that now you have two additional infant brothers to use during battle, you can imagine how much more depth has been added to the game’s combat system. Another unique feature, made possible by the dual screens of the DS system, is the fact that not only do you always have a map available to guide you through the many areas of the game, but you can also separate the adult and infant Mario brothers and have them working on the same task while on two different screens. The dual screen format also comes into play during battles as you’ll find times when you’re being attacked from not only the bottom screen, but also from the top screen, forcing you to keep an eye on both during battles. It’s really a testament to the developers that they were able to make such creative use of the dual screen format without making it feel forced or unnecessary.

It might seem that the game would be a little confusing given the sheer number of moves available to the you, but the game does a very nice job of teaching you new moves at just the right times as to not make you feel overwhelmed. As you’re taught a new move, you’re then given the opportunity to go out and use the new move for a period of time before you’re required a learn a new one. This steady pace will make using all of these the moves in the game seem quite natural after a short amount of playing time. The addition of the “bros.” items to the combat system does give the game a little more of an “interactive” feel to it, since you’re required to use your quick reflexes in order to execute many of these moves during combat. The entire control scheme of the game just has a really tight and responsive feel that makes navigating it a breeze. Couple this great play control with the many new elements introduced in the game and what you have is an outstanding RPG experience that lets you spend more time enjoying the game and less time fumbling with the controls. Overall an extremely well done control system, especially considering it’s an RPG.

 

Screen shots:

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Graphics

While Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time isn’t what you’d call a huge step up from the original Game Boy Advance game visually, the game does have a sharper, more detailed look to it. That, together with the use of the dual screens, just adds a whole new level of visual excitement to the game’s presentation. Some had hoped that the developers would take the game in a more 3-D direction, but it’s clear from playing the game that the use of the colorful 2-D graphics really suits the style and theme of the game perfectly. Each area of the game has its own distinct color scheme and graphics style so you’ll never find yourself getting tired of any one area as you progress through the game’s many different settings. The first Mario & Luigi game had a very distinct style all its own, and this game carries on that tradition superbly.

Sound

Long-time Mario fans will find themselves in for a real treat when it comes to the many musical tracks found throughout the game. Tunes taken from such past games as Super Mario World and even Luigi’s Mansion are all remixed and updated to form one of the catchiest Nintendo soundtracks ever conceived. The game also makes use of some silly voices for each of the brothers that add a more realistic and humorous side to many of the conversations that take place throughout the game. It’s not much, but it’s a nice touch since there isn’t really any voice acting in the game itself. Aside from a few annoying instances of the infant characters crying, the entire soundtrack of the game is extremely well done and a tribute to the time the developers spent updating all of the many classic tunes.

Conclusion

It’s very easy to recommend Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time to any DS owner out there looking for a well-constructed and enjoyable game. Taking all of the great aspects of the first Mario & Luigi game and adding not only dual screen support but also a wealth of new gameplay ideas, the developers have concocted a thoroughly entertaining and challenging adventure that proudly carries on the tradition of the many Mario-inspired RPGs. The game is a little on the easy side, but does offer a fairly long quest that should keep RPG fans of all ages busy for many hours. While some may complain about the fact that the game doesn’t make much use of the DS’ touch screen capabilities, the game is so much fun to play, you won’t even likely notice.

Playing Hints and Tips

- Get in the habit of always stocking up on much-needed items at the shop inside Princess Peach’s Castle.

- Don’t neglect your character’s “Defensive” abilities when it comes time to level up. Good attack power and a high number of hit points are all well and good, but later on in the game you’re going to need a good defense as well.

- Do battle as often as you can as you’ll not only level your characters up, but you’ll also get in some good practice of learning to use the special moves as well.

- ***Read the Signs*** There are signs all over the many areas of the game that will give you hints as to how to solve some of the game’s many puzzles.

- Normally, after you’ve defeated the monsters in a certain area they won’t reappear, so if you’re having trouble on an area, defeat all of the monsters and then use the Save Block.

 

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time might not be the gigantic step up in visual quality many were hoping for, but the game makes very good use of the Nintendo DS’ dual screen format and creates a vibrant and detailed RPG world any Mario fan will love.

Sound

Outstanding use of classic Mario tunes, the soundtrack in this game is almost equivalent to a Nintendo greatest hits collection. If you’re even the slightest fan of the Mario series of games released over the years, you’re going to get a nice trip down memory lane with the music in this one.

Fun Meter

You’d be hard pressed to find a more enjoyable RPG experience on a portable system at present time than Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time. Taking the already brilliant idea of creating an RPG experience built around the many Mario characters that are so popular is good enough, but AlphaDream has really hit the nail on the head with this latest game and there’s no doubt at all that Partners in Time is a must have DS title.

Addictivity

Given the ease of getting sucked into this wonderful game, you can pretty much guarantee that this is a game you’ll pick up and play through more than once. It’s basically everything that the original Mario & Luigi GBA game was only longer and more complete a package. While no RPG has what you would call a high level of re-playability, you can bet you’ll keep coming back to this one for years to come.

Total Score= 4.6 Dragons, 92.5%



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