M&L: Partners in Time was a short but engaging RPG.
I haven't played the original M&L game for the GBA yet, but I didn't think I would need to, to enjoy this game. The game was extremely short and there really wasn't any worthwhile sidequests in the game, but for the meat of the game I really enjoyed it, although I would say the replay value was pretty love, since I had it the week it came out and never once thought to played it since. The puzzles were simple but the boss fights could be hard. Overall it was a great game, just way to short.
Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time is a turn-based RPG. The character with the highest speed should go first. You can battle with all four at at time, but when you do that the babies are tossed on Mario and Luigi's backs only used for special moves, or in case Mario or Luigi dies, they sub in for them. The babies are obviously weak, so when you toss a baby into their little area that only they can enter, they will fight really weak monsters.
The battle system is really really fun though, slightly different than Mario RPG or Paper Mario but still kinda similar at the same time. While the game is turn-based, it doesn't mean you can just sit back and not pay attention. The action is quick and you will need to time your moves almost perfectly. The game requires alot of timing on your part, this is mostly to backfire the enemies attacks back to them. While this might sound a little tough, it actually made the game really easy.
Other than that, there's not a whole lot to be said about the battle system because it's the same thing over and over again. It never really got old for me, but it was still the same thing. The boss battles got tough in some spots though. I had to level up about 6 levels before the final boss because she destroyed me the first time I tackled her.
Mario & Luigi and the babies gain experience and levels like any RPG, and can buy armor and weapons too. This is pretty much a straight forward basic RPG at the heart of it, but still different enough to seperate itself from the mess. After each level you and distribute points to any attribute you want, kinda like an WRPG.
----------Characters / Story----------
The story is actually good, not quite on par with Mario RPG or Paper Mario, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. Basically you play as Mario and Luigi (duh) and you go into the time to save the Princess and yourselves from an Alien Invasion. It's about as simple as that.
The graphics are bright and colorful. The enemies looked great, the dungeons are also great looking. The monsters are huge at times, and can take up both screens which is a much better effect than what Lunar: Dragon Song tried to do.
The music is very good, light hearted stuff you would expect from a Mario game. The sound effects are awesome aswell. Overall the sound is great.
The world map is interesting enough, everything is kept within the castle, and you have to find warp pipes inside of it, once you unlock a new move or skill, which will make you able to reach a new pipe (or a new pipe opens within the story) you then go into a new world and walk from there. So everything is connected within the castle.
----------Time to Complete Game----------
I got to the final boss at the 19h mark, but I left to level up and to look for secrets, so the game is about 19 hours long overall, but I wasted alot time running around towards the end. After you beat it, you are warped back to your last save and I don't think anything was unlocked.