Fittingly for game so heavily focused on dreaming, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. is bursting with imagination.
As you might assume, you play as both Nintendo's mascot Mario and his brother Luigi. Here the duo star in an approachable and varied JRPG-lite adventure that can be appreciated - no, scratch that - can be loved by pretty much anyone, fan of the genre or not.
Basic platforming and environmental puzzle-solving are mixed in with the all-encompassing JRPG gameplay of Dream Team Bros. Think Dragon Quest, think Chrono Trigger, think Mushroom Kingdom, and you're on your way to picturing the tone and play feel.
The story revolves around Pi'illo Island and its inhabitants. Princess Peach is quickly captured by an unknown force and taken into a world of dreams. Then it's down to the two plumbers to save her.
Luigi is asleep for a significant chunk of the game, though he's every bit as important to the rescue effort as Mario because, unlike his brother, he can open up portals into a land of snooze. In this realm of the unconscious his fabricated counterpart - Dreamy Luigi - can jump into Luiginary Works.
Luiginary Works look a little like Luigi, and when you interact with regular Luigi's features on the lower screen, he reacts in real life. Pull his nose, for example, and he'll sneeze, which will then push blocks in the background of a level into the foreground so that Mario can hit them.
Still Luigi's year
There's a lot of turn-based combat in the game, and it's without a doubt the most enjoyable, lean forward aspect of a thoroughly engaging package.
To spice up the action and to keep your inputs varied the game pins a lot of success in combat on getting the attack timings right.
Baddies might totter in your direction, trip, stumble, and crash into you, causing damage. However, with a well-timed press of either the A button for Mario or B button for Luigi you can jump out of the way. In some scenarios, you can also counter their attacks and inflict damage on them.
Each enemy has multiple ways of attacking you, and your continued survival depends greatly on figuring out their weaknesses and the tells before they launch a strike. Your own arsenal of attacks depend on timing too, being awarded extra damage if you hit the A or B button just as a blow lands.
It's a rich universe to be a part of: the writing is strong, with a good sense of humour, and the narrative will often put you in ludicrous situations to justify new gameplay ideas.
Dream Team Bros. is immediately accessible. If you've never played a JRPG this is a perfect place to start. The experience upgrade system is straightforward, and when you assign new equipment or skill points to spec out your characters, they enjoy notable improvements straight away.
The game is welcoming - asking you whether you need explanations and giving you hints about what to do next - without ever being patronising or slowing the action down.
The map system allows you to scroll freely around to see where you should be headed, and you can save your progress on a whim - making this perfect for shorter periods of gaming.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. is a thoughtful take on the JRPG - a fresh spin on a classic genre. Stripping away the traditional obsession with stats, and getting back to the fundamentals of exciting battles and intriguing storylines, the game then builds on this solid foundation to create an experience that's as feature-packed as any JRPG, and twice as thrilling.
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