Unfortunately not often enough, does an RPG come around that instantly captures exactly what makes an RPG good. There are plenty of RPG’s that follow the formula but don’t deliver once the game is finished. Thinking back to the days of the PS1 when RPG’s were at their high point, It seemed like every one of them was a treasure. Those days are gone for the most part with the shelves being flooded with a new JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) every other week. I thought back to the PS2 and with the exception of a few Final Fantasy’s there wasn’t much that really made me reminisce about the system. And also now with the inclusion of 3 newer systems that have 3-4 under their belts I can’t really say RPG’s have made any comeback.
This is where the DS, in my opinion, has really shined since its release. I can count at least a good 10 RPG’s that really have made the system stand out the way the PS1 did. With tons of remakes, ports, and even original RPG’s I have really filled that gap by owning a DS over the years. And it keeps getting better now that the newest Mario and Luigi RPG game has been released, and it is unlike any other RPG out there. And that’s a good thing.
Playing Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time a few years back I really found a rare treasure from the minds at Nintendo. We all remember Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, which was co-designed by Squaresoft and Nintendo. Then the Paper Mario series emerged after the Squaresoft and Nintendo fallout. While I enjoyed those games, I didn’t really love them, as I can’t remember even finishing one of them. They are good, there is no doubt, but it lacked a certain spark for me to sit down and finish it. The Mario and Luigi games are really where Nintendo shines as the masters of so many genres.
Okay, the babbling part is over, let’s get to why the newest Mario and Luigi game is incredible. The game starts off like every Mario game. Things are fine in the Mushroom Kingdom, and then all the sudden Bowser shows up and wreaks havoc. However this starts off a bit differently as Bowser is offered a rare mushroom from a market stand in the Kingdom. Once he eats it, it directs him to Peach’s Castle and he ends up inhaling all of its occupants. This is where the story starts. Mario and Luigi are looking for Peach, this time inside of Bowser’s body. Bowser is attempting to find the evil figure “Fawful” in order to get his castle back, and claim his position as the baddest dude in the Mushroom Kingdom.
In every Mario and Luigi game they change up a game mechanic that greatly makes it different from the one before it. In Partners in time, you had the Baby brothers from the past working with the brothers from the present. This allowed for 4 characters to be assigned a button on the DS and attack either together, or seperately. Timing your button presses, much like the previous Mario RPG games was still here and will continue to be as long as the series is around. It really is what sets it apart I think from other RPG’s. In the new game, the brothers are by themselves and each quadrant of Bowsers body is a different zone. Some have an area to move through, fight enemies, solve puzzles, and others are particular to what’s happening with Bowser. Let me explain.
Bowser is also a playable character this time around, and really ends up stealing the show. He walks the top screen around the Mushroom Kingdom and battles enemies, solves puzzles, and so on. But certain situations appear where he may need a boost of strength to lift a heavy object. This is where the bottom screen with the brothers comes in. You travel to the “Arm Center” where a mini game ensues. Each brother has to hit a colored ball of light towards what looks to be a large muscle in Bowsers arm. Alternating their attacks will increase the size of the muscle and allow Bowser to lift the object. Another scenario is Bowser finds a fountain and keeps drinking water, which fills the “Stomach, or Pump Works” area so the brothers can reach places they couldn’t before. Say you need the water to drain? Switch back to Bowser and walk away from the water and watch it drain on the bottom screen. The idea’s that are used in this game are so clever and unique it makes each iteration of the series fun to play. The game has many of these scenarios of which I assume will get even better later on.
Items, equipment, and abilities are still a part of the game as well. This time as you level up, you gain ranks. Ranks are great because each time you go up a rank, you are able to equip more than 1 items. All the way up to 4 items by the end of the game. Abilities are just as fresh this time around as you get to use Bowsers new abilities. I just got one that allows you send a Goomba Brigade at your enemies. As they start to run across the screen, you take the stylus out and click on them as they run toward the enemies. Bowser will shoot a fireball out and catch them on fire which ends up cause triple the damage of a regular Goomba. For as far as I have gotten, I love the changes to make this game stand apart from the previous one.
Graphically the game is colorful, and gorgeous. The music is catchy and the Dialogue is great too. My favorite part is the French Block man you find. The stuff he says will easily make you laugh. One thing I loved about the last one was the dialogue that really made a lot of references that older audiences would enjoy. I think this one does the same.
Overall I’m only a few hours into this game but I can’t help but love every minute I spend with it. I will write up a review once I finish it, but for now just go out and buy this game. Especially if you’re looking for something, funny, fun, and unique.