susurruskarma's Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (Nintendo DS) review

Fun adventure

1. STORY

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time or MLPT as I shall refer to it from now on, is set in the usual Mario setting, yep you guessed it: . You’ll take on the roll of both modern day Mario and Luigi and also baby Mario and Luigi whom must stop the evil Shroom Princess and villains as they attempt to take over the of the past and kidnap Princess Peach in the process. It might sound a bit much to take in, but it’s all nicely told throughout the duration of the game, and never gets technical or indeed scientifically correct at all, instead you just have to believe it. I mean, we are in a for crying out loud, I suppose anything is possible.

So as I was saying, MLPT is you’re basic Mario Brothers storyline of saving the princess (you’d think after the 100th time of being kidnapped, she’d get better security around the place), the Kingdom and everything else associated. However, there are many new elements are characters involved which include the evil Princess Shroom, and of course that whole time travel concept which introduces us to baby Mario & Luigi.

For the most part, the story will keep you playing right up until the end, and although it never really gets anywhere to deserve real kudos in terms of plot, it doesn’t necessarily deteriorate either. Characters are as rich as ever and the humour that was seen in the first game lives on, maybe not as profoundly, but it’s still here nonetheless. So as a whole, the setting and plot of the game is pretty decent on its own but unfortunately for the most part, we’ve all seen it, done it and bought the t-shirt before and it does seem a little repetitive now.


Story Rating: 5/10



2. GAMEPLAY & CONTROL

Controls in MLPT are as a whole, simply and easy to use throughout with only the odd annoyance here and there. First of all, while in both ‘walking around’ and battle mode you will have each of the face buttons (A,B,X,Y) assigned to a member of your party (Luigi, Mario, Baby Luigi, Baby Mario) respectively. Pressing either of the buttons will make the assigned character jump as long as you have selected the group of 2 that you want to move (Adults are paired and Babies are paired together). So you can only make either the babies or the adult jump at the one time and even move them, that is of course until you make the adults carry the babies. Then what you can do is a whole other paragraph.

You see, it would take me forever to go through every single element of control in this game because there is so many different combinations of things you can do with either pair. For an example, the adults can roll up into a ball, and twirl around. Babies can get squashed by the adults roll around to allow them into flat areas as an addition to the fact that they can already go into smaller areas because they are much smaller than the adults. What I didn’t like about the controls however was the fact that you had to press the shoulder buttons in order to switch between jumping and special abilities, it wasn’t that much of a problem but at key times, I found myself twirling around at enemy instead of jumping onto them to engage battle with advantage.

Speaking of battling, well as I’ve said it’s mainly the same controls as with walking around. The face buttons will control each assigned member accordingly which in turn can select anything from jumping on opponents, using a mallet on their heads, or special ‘Bro’s Items’ which include green & red shells, Bro flowers, fireballs and much more. All of these in turn will inflict damage on your enemy as your turn comes in battle, which will vary depending on your skills attributes which increase with experience (see every other RPG game in existence).What’s different about MLBT however is that instead of sitting back and watching your attacks flow, you have to actually interact with the game while the attacks are happening in order to do maximum damage. So instead of simply selecting ‘Green Shell’ from the attack options and sitting back while the damage is dealt, you will have to press the face buttons as required to continue the attack as the shell is passed between Mario, the enemy, Luigi and back again. It’s this element that really made MLPT’s (and in indeed the original game’s) RPG Turn-Based battle system highly enjoyable and fresh. There are no faults here whatsoever and the attacks vary from simple 2 buttons presses on time, to up to 20 and above at one turn, each time increasing in speed. And just when you think you’re done, you have to do the same when defending in order to evade attacks and counter-attack. So although MLPT does use levels and experience points to upgrade factors such as strength, speed and luck etc., most of it will be useless if you don’t have the reflexes required to fully use these attributes toy our advantage.

Outside of battling there’s a whole host of different puzzles scattered throughout your journey, none of which are incredibly challenging, but do get the job done and don’t bog down the gameplay at all like in some RPG’s that force it down your throat. You can also hit the usual floating cubes to receive gold and items. Items include Bro’s Items (which are the weapons used in combat), clothing and badges. Clothing adds (or subtracts) from your character’s stats and only one set can be wore at one time. Badges will affect areas such as receiving gold and items during a battle. One thing that is missing from the typical RPG scene is the interacting with other characters with the game, although having a decent amount of conversation as part of the main story, outside of it there will be almost nobody to talk to; it seems is kind of dry. Is this a bad thing though? Well no, because the story itself isn’t even all that deep as other RPG games, which in turn means that it doesn’t need random characters telling you of past wars and such. So it’s not necessarily a bad thing, I just thought I’d mention it in case there was someone out there hoping to indulge in the rich history of the Mushroom Kingdom, only to be hugely disappointed…

In conclusion, MLPT’s gameplay isn’t like every other RPG game out there, there is indeed and whole new broad range of stuff to do here and it’s all very fun to do.


Gameplay & Control Rating: 9/10



3. hardly ever looks this good, especially on a handheld system. Environments are as colourful as ever, character sprites looks vibrant and full of life and animations throughout are characteristically perfect and wonderful to look at. Menu’s are efficiently and neatly laid out with nor room for confusion whatsoever, and there are a whole host of characters and enemies for you to come into contact with throughout your adventure. Alongside this you have the battle effects which in their own respect look marvellous and fit perfectly into the Mario Brothers world, taking parts of the game’s history and enlarging them to fit inside the game’s already large and detailed animation and visual style. Perhaps one major drawback to the game’s graphical design is the sometimes awkward camera position which can make jumping between fake 3d platforms incredibly tricky and tedious at times.

Graphics Rating: 9/10



4. SOUND

MLPT features a decent soundtrack with the inclusion of both new themes and those all so famous tracks from past titles. As a whole, the music itself is typical Mario Brothers and fits well into the game, the only problem is that it isn’t all that memorable at all with the exception of a couple here and there. The sound effects however are far above the quality of the soundtrack and live up to the title of a Mario & Luigi game. You’ve got all your classic ‘bwong!’, ’bloop’, ‘bling’, and ‘pop’ noises that made the first Mario games such a joy to listen to along with all new character voiceovers which although, not huge in quantity, really do help add a whole new flavour to the franchise. One thing I will warn you about however, there is a lot of crying and wailing to be heard in this game and it can get annoying, after a few minutes of it continuously playing, waiting on you to finish your conversation with someone. Generally however, the sound in MLPT is above average with the odd hint of let-down by the soundtrack.

Sound Rating: 7/10



5. LIFELINE

MLPT’s story mode will last you around 20-30 hours depending on how thorough you level your characters and how quickly you grasp the gameplay. As for replay value, I can see the game offering a second serving but not much more than that and not everyone will want to play through it again.

Lifeline Rating: 4/10



6. DIFFICULTY BALANCE

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time is a game that will take patience more than skill. For your average gamer, this title shouldn’t prove that much of a challenge and will probably be completed without seeing too many ‘Game Over’ screens (I myself only saw it once). So combine the easy gameplay with the long gameplay time of 25 hours+ and you have an experience that does try the patience a little. The game itself does certainly progress in difficulty as you go through, the only problem however is that the experience and gold you receive from battles far outweighs the challenge it takes to get them, so that what you’re left with is more often that not, very beatable enemies due to high player stats and unlimited amounts of mushrooms (which regenerate your health). Puzzles themselves are generally not too hard either, yes; they’re fun, but not too challenging. The only part of MLPT (and indeed the part that defeated me) is the boss battles, which usually throw more attacks and at greater risk to your HP, and of course they have 10 times more HP than your average Shroom stooge.

Oh yeah and it doesn’t help that even when Mario or Luigi does pass out, as long as you have the babies on your back or the other brother is alive, you can revive them back to life in almost an instant with a special mushroom which you can get anywhere. So as I said, I was only defeated once, and even then it was because I didn’t fully understand what I was to do, once I did, it was over in a matter of minutes.


In conclusion, MLPT offers a difficulty that does get harder as you progress, but it won’t get challenging at all until the last 1/5 of gameplay. Younger players will probably find the advanced attacks’ controls hard to grasp, but anyone over the age of 10 should find the game a breeze. Which is kind of a big downfall considering the 25 hours you’ll spend cutting through enemies that after a while just look like giant experience point signs. Redeeming features include the sometimes thought-needed puzzles and button pressing precision battle gameplay which does require quite a few hours of practice.

Difficulty Balance Score: 6/10



7. ORIGINALITY

+ Time Travelling Mario & Luigi babies, RPG Mario Game, Innovative RPG Battle system, New Characters.
- Super Mario Brothers game, sequel.


Originality Score: 8/10



8. ENJOYMENT

MLPT is a game that not only immerses you in its world through the visuals and sound, but also keeps you playing through its addictive and enjoyable gameplay. Although at times the story may drag on and get a little repetitive at times, Partners in Time will no doubt be an enjoyable experience for anyone of any age or background.

Enjoyment Score: 9/10



OVERVIEW

Story & Game Modes: 5
Gameplay & Control: 9
Graphics: 9
Sound: 7
Lifeline: 4
Balance: 6
Originality: 8
Enjoyment: 9
Overall: 57

FINAL SCORE: 7.1/10 (Good)
XGD RATING: 7/10




FINAL WORD

Although a fun game 90% of the time, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time does lack in replay value and game modes. As a result I would recommend this game to everyone with a DS for rental as it really is a highly enjoyable experience, but one that will no doubt be over in less than a week. Only serious Mario and Nintendo DS enthusiasts should go out of their way to buy this game without a try. A good title as a whole that sadly falls short in a few important areas.

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