Copyright Adam Schlosser
Contact:
aschloss@gmail.com


Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser


Posted by Pip

R2A21-Envy Demands Redhead Or Better

“Constant annoyance” is practically on the House of Sin crest. They're not the smartest, most strategic, or strongest, but they're persistent, stubborn, selfish, and they have gumption, moxy, and all those words nobody ever uses. Also, they're totally willing to stab a guy through the head a minute into a fight. Joy knows what needs to be done!
And Armageddon has built up a nice collection over the years. It has all kind of minions and the Sins just got Flattery.


Quick Review: Mario and Luigi: Dream Team- The art in this game is great. The sprites look fantastic, everything is so animated and lively, characters have tons of poses and animations, and the game is so colorful and vibrant. Even if the Princess is way taller than even Luigi. Seriously, she's a giant... The music is also fantastic. The boss and battle themes are great and worthy of listening to on their own. They carry on that peppy Mario RPG "I just want to scrap with something listening to this!" feel. And of course, the Mario and Luigi games have an amazing battle system that just further enforces the idea that turn-based RPGs need to die. It's Grandia or Mario and Luigi or pretty much bust for me these days. That's the end of the nice things I'm going to say about M&L:DT, because the rest of this game is easily the worst of this series and a lousy experience overall thanks to terrible pacing, awful mechanics, and a game that is drawn out to about three times its proper length for no good reason. I beat this game solely out of spite, not enjoyment.
The side characters that were terrible in Bowser's Inside Story are back. I don't know who out there actually likes the coin block people, but I'm fairly certain you're terrible people. The Beef Brothers are fun to start with but you spend several hours with them through multiple dungeons that are devoid of fun so the Brothers' two jokes wear out super, super quickly. Then the big new addition to the franchise is a race of people made out of pillows. Yes, Super Mario Brothers, the game that defined a generation of video games and got thousands of people into this world and the best they can do now is a race of pillow people. It's extra sad too because I have nothing but good memories of the new characters in the Paper Mario games. So I've either just plain forgotten all the bad ones or Nintendo used to do it right. The characters I remember were all built on the Mario lore, with a Koopa Troopa town, the Mousers, Bob Ombs, and kindly Goombas. It helped build the world and showed that there was more to these races than just mindless minions that served Bowser. It was great. But even the new characters were fun like Dooplis, Vivian and the other ghosts, or Rawk Hawk. Now? Pillow people.
The Mario and Luigi games are built on a lot of crazy abilities and powers to make the RPG side interesting, but the powers here aren't fun and they frequently rely on stylus input or terrible motion controls. Nothing should ever rely on the 3DS's gyroscope. That thing is horrible so to have it be a blocker for your progression in the game is inexcusable. That aside, there are too many powers in both the dream and real world. It would have been nicer to see some really creative uses of just a few powers rather than throwing in a lot of different powers that are only useful at defined points. What was the point of the drill power? You only use it a few times and in very specific areas to clear obstacles that only exist to force you to use the drill. There's no skill or thought required, you just see the block that the drill works on, use the drill, and then switch back to normal. Even the special Luigi powers that are a big selling point are totally uninteresting and the game either slows down or grinds to a halt when you have to use them. Just to rub it even more, there are Mega Luigi battles that rely solely on stylus use and motion controls. They're not interesting, they all last too long, and the gesture detection is spotty to the point that it just feels like the game is buggy.
For all the game's failings to make the actual gameplay interesting, it has the audacity to treat you like you're an idiot by shoving never ending tutorials at you. All the tutorials! Even if you've never played a video game before in your life, you will probably find the tutorials extremely intrusive. There is easily something every one or two screens that either tutorializes or stops the action to explain something or add unnecessary text in the first hours of the game and even in the final castle in the game, it's still telling you how to complete the puzzles.. It's not trying to inject story into the action (there's a proper way to do that that works), it's a patronizing hand holding interruption that treats the player like an idiot. In one section of the game, you're told how to complete a "puzzle" FIVE TIMES across the course of the level. It's not even a hard puzzle and it's replicating a puzzle that you had to complete to even get to that area. 12 hours into the game and I was still getting tutorials that were repeats of tutorials for something that wasn't difficult in the first place. I've been using badges for hours, you don't need to give me a refresher course on them! The game actually tutorializes how to use the Start button. No, not at the beginning of the game to give you a heads up on the controls. This is a good chunk into the actual game. Nintendo, your audience isn't THAT stupid and even if they were, just stick it in an instruction manual. Dream Team doesn't come with an instruction booklet. It has a small fold-out of which two panels are spent on actual instruction but then the game itself has encyclopedias on every common sense idea that you cannot skip.
The expert challenges seem like a good idea in the start. but they're terribly implemented. The challenges are mini-achievements that you beat to unlock gear and they break down into: get 10 perfect attacks in a row, dodge enemy X's attack and beat it without taking damage, get a perfect on X move, and dodge 10 enemy attacks in a row. I made sure to complete every one before moving out of an area but later in the game you start to meet enemies that only randomly appear in battles with other enemies. So unless you get your perfect battle on the first encounter, you have to grind in an already overly long grindy game just hoping this enemy shows up again and you can't just save and reload the game if you didn't do it the first time because the enemy won't usually show up the second time around. For the perfect move ones, you can get too strong to complete them for long stretches of time. If a move requires eight hits to get perfect and you kill the enemy on the fifth hit, the move ends without letting you complete it. The biggest offender is the dodge 10 attacks in a row type. The “perfectly beat enemy X” challenge already covers this, there's no need to do it 10 times in a row. The game is only encouraging you to save before every fight and then if you get hit, quit, relaunch the game, load up your save file, enter battle again, and try again or repeat the process over and over. I spent two train rides to kill a single enemy in the game because I was at 7/10 dodges in a row and that enemy has really erratic timing so I couldn't get a perfect on it. That's not fun. That's bad game design encouraging bad player behavior. Then to run into those enemies that appear randomly and for me to check out on them, those are hours I wasted doing a dumb activity for no pay off.
The side jobs you take on, like breaking rocks or assembling pictures, are never fun. Again, this game is bloated and too long, but they still cram in mini games, fetch quests, and even a trading sequence. I just want to play the damn game. It's pretty good when you're allowed to actually play it but they're determined to stop you with side quests, backtracking, forced talking to NPCs, and a flood of tutorials.
The Dream World segments feel like such a wasted opportunity. You enter into Luigi's mind and everything is pretty much the same as it is in the real world. Luigi even envisions himself the same in his dreams as he does in reality. There's a bit of humor in that where Luigi thinks so little of himself that even with infinite possibilities, he's just the same, but it would have been far more interesting from a gameplay perspective to see Luigi do new and exciting things. Where are the Luigi supermodels/princesses hanging around in his dreams? What are his fears and desires? Does he secretly hate Mario deep down inside and have a Luigi version of Bowser chained up to represent his anger? Just SOMETHING different or interesting. This was their real chance to make something of Luigi, explore his character, and make him interesting. Instead, he falls down a lot. This game also seems like it would have been the perfect chance to bring back Wart or do something with Subcon. It's established that Wart exists in Mario and Link/the Wind Fish's dreams, so for a game that takes place mainly in the dream world... Dream Team doesn't even have a decent villain to begin with. He's super generic and is evil... because? Half way through the game, Bowser shows up and it feels like an admission of defeat by the writers that they just couldn't come up with anything interesting.
Dream Team is a game that suffers from bloat. 15 hours into the game, I was ready for it to be over and had felt I was already seeing repeated content. 28 hours into the game, they bust out the "Oh, now you have to go back to all the areas again and find a special item!" trope. Around 34 hours into the game, I gave up on the Expert challenges, hunting down all the captured pillow people, and finding the hidden beans just so I could finish the game faster. At hour 40, hate was the only allowing me to power through. I refused to let Mario and Luigi beat me. It's far too long without the good content to back it up, the dialogue drags on, there too many powers and they have bad controls, the maps are too big so you're sick of every area by the time it ends, there aren't enough enemy types to justify the number of battles, and while the bosses are almost universally a cake walk until the last area, they all have far too much health so boss fights are an endurance test. There's more merit in a tight, shorter game that is constantly interesting and fun than a sprawling game that wears out its welcome with mechanics that aren't fun and overly repeated "puzzles". I will take a good 10-15 hour game over a game that is 30-40 hours long just for the heck of it.
Whoever designed and approved the giant Bowser fight has no business working in the games industry. It is hands down one of the most tedious, terrible boss fights I've played in recent years. It's overly long without checkpoints, relies heavily on motion controls, seems to be designed to get you to scratch or puncture your touch screen, takes advantage of the fact that there's a gap between the two DS screens to introduce artificial difficulty, and has several bouts of mid-battle dialogue that you can't skip, so if you lose the fight, you have to sit through all of them all over again. The sheer incompetence of that battle pretty much sums up this game. Stay the hell away from Mario and Luigi Dream Team, it's awful.
And yes, I appreciate the irony of a three-page long review for a game that's way too long.