System: Nintendo DS
Players: 1 player
Release Date: Nov 28, 2005
Rumble Pack Compatible
Mario certainly has a long resume in gaming. He’s starred in numerous platforming games, countless sports, pinball, and even RPG games. When Mario and Luigi’s Superstar Saga was released for the GBA, Mario fans were exposed to a fine game, which was similar to Super Mario RPG and the notorious Paper Mario series. Following in its predecessor’s steps, Mario and Luigi Partners In Time delivers a fabulous game that blends adventure and RPG elements for a pure, magical Mario experience.
Upon starting the game, Professor E. Gadd has produced a new device. His new invention, a time machine, is fueled by energy from the Cobalt Star. Princess Peach was extremely thrilled about the invention. Therefore, she decided to test-drive it, and visit the Mushroom Kingdom of the past. However, when the time machine returns, Peach is nowhere to be found. Instead, an alien has replaced her. To make matters worse, she has been lost somewhere in the past.
Following the defeat of the alien, time warp holes begin appearing over the Mushroom Kingdom. Of course, Mario and Luigi are up for the challenge. They journey to the Mushroom Kingdom of the past, in hopes of bringing back the princess to the present. They encounter their childhood selves, and set off to find the princess. However, the four of them later learn that the Shroobs have taken over the castle from the past. What originally seemed to be an easy-to-accomplish mission now emerges as an impossible task.
Shroobs have invaded the castle…What will the team do now?
The word that best describes this game is unity. Taking advantage of both screens, the game exploits all four characters – Mario and Luigi, and their childhood counterparts. With the help of the second screen, you can control all four characters at the same time. There is a slight learning curve, but it doesn’t take much time to fully understand the mechanics of game. Mario and Luigi, and their younger equivalents have unique abilities. While Mario can roll over the babies so they can access small areas, Luigi can spin across large gaps. In addition, baby Mario can smash objects, such as buttons with his hammer. Meanwhile, baby Luigi can dig into the ground. Recently learned tricks and techniques are presented when you are in a new area and offer unique puzzle scenarios. Instead of wasting these actions, they are utilized later in the game. Before the game really starts, there are simple tutorials that instruct you about the gameplay. As the game goes on, the difficulty increases just enough so as not to overly challenge the player.
Baby Mario and Luigi are taught a new trick. You’ll surely need this later on.
Just as the title suggests, the four brothers travel back in time. However, there is really no advantage in traveling back to the present. Most of the time, the purpose of such travel is to view a few cut-scenes, buy items from the Shroom Shop, heal, and learn new techniques. It was a bit disappointing to discover how insignificant time travel is for the game. I also dislike the fact that there is only one block in the entire game when you can hit in order to heal. This is extremely inconvenient because if you have no healing items (and low health), there’s a good chance you’ll end up dying. Oh yes…, and if you die, you restart from your last save point. Luckily, there are numerous save books throughout the game so that the player won’t have to worry too much.
Amazingly, Partners In Time does not take advantage of the touch screen or the microphone. However, the game works well without these devices.
When you’re not roaming, you’re battling. Unlike typical RPGs, you’ll always be involved one way or another in battle – whether it be attacking, defending, or counterattacking. Usually, there isn’t a break in the action. However, the battles don’t take place out of the blue. You actually have to touch an enemy, which is definitely a plus. Otherwise, you can’t battle (with the exception of boss battles). Timing is the key to effectively winning your battles. Even before you do start your duel, you can jump on your opponent whom you see to get a quick advantage and inflict damage early. Also, when you’re attempting to attack your opponents, you have to press the button at just the right time in order to cause greater damage. The same goes with defending. Every enemy in the game has a very unique way of attacking. Sometimes, you can dodge or even counterattack.
The brothers head to the sky, ready to pounce on their enemy.
Besides attacking, you can use Bros. Items and regular items. Bros. Items replace the Bros. Attacks from the previous game. There’s a plethora of Bros. Item to utilize. As time goes on, you can earn new ones. Of course, the Bros. Items get everyone involved. For example, the green shell item requires the older bros to hit the shell back and forth to each other while hitting the enemy first. However, when a baby bro is with you, you can press the appropriate button for that baby just when you’re near the enemy for extra damage.
If you win, you’ll receive experience, coins, and occasionally items. Depending on your experience, you can level up. This is important because your stats can increase greatly and will help you defeat the more challenging enemies later in the game. Of course, the higher level you have, the better off you are. With coins, you can buy items at the Shroom Shop in Peach’s castle in the present. The shop also has Bros. Items, clothes, and badges. With clothes, you can increase your stats. Badges have specific powers. For instance, one badge allows you to lose fewer coins when fleeing from opponents. Naturally, defeating enemies isn’t the only way to obtain coins. There are blocks scattered all over the game. Simply jump, (sometimes it requires the appropriate character – red for Mario and green for Luigi) and you’ll get the coin.
Believe it or not, the top screen is extremely useful. When it’s not guiding you through a certain area, it’s sometime used for combat. On occasion, bosses can span across both screens. Or, opponents will fly from the top screen to the bottom one. Thus, you must carefully watch the attacks and you must direct your attention to both screens. This feature is really a good thing since it adds to the test of your skills.
What a nice long neck you have there!
One of the game’s shortcomings are the tedious boss battles. Perhaps it’s just me, but I felt these clashes seemed to drag on forever. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever played a game with boss battles this long. I understand that bosses are supposed to be difficult, but I honestly don’t think they should go on as long as they do in this game.
The top screen isn’t essential simply for defense. Some Bros. Items require you to press a button corresponding to a particular character. Thus, you have to look at the top screen and be prepared to press the correct button. If you do this incorrectly, an item’s use can be short lived.
The cut-scenes are hilarious. Throughout the game, Luigi runs into so many problems truly make you laugh out loud. Only those who are on the internet can truly understand one scene in the game – and it’s funny. Two of the characters you encounter, the L33T H4MM3R BROZ., set up a situation which creates a really funny moment. They speak in a way the typical internet user does with atrocious grammar, and attempt to make themselves look cool.
The graphics are strikingly similar to Superstar Saga. The same cartoon look is maintained. However, the character animations are smooth, and the cut-scenes look great. Additionally, the excellent animations produce an array of emotions in the characters. Because of this, there are some pretty funny cut-scenes.
Nice graphics indeed.
Most of the music in the game is just about average. There are only a few renditions of the songs Mario fans have come to love. Sadly, the battle tune always remains the same, and often seems repetitive. The only time the music changes is when you’re fighting a boss. Aside from that, there’s nothing impressive about the tunes. As far as sound effects go, they’re above average. Of course, no one truly speaks in the Mario universe. The characters do have their traditional sounds, however. Luigi has a little squeal, and the characters speak in jibber jabber. These sounds work well since they do add to the humor in some situations, and they do seem to fit the action.
Overall, Mario and Luigi PiT is a great addition to anyone’s DS library. The lasting appeal is definitely there. You’ll get a lot of fun out of this game. Completing the game will take 20+ hours. During this time, there are many memorable moments, challenging battles, and interesting puzzles. And just think – you can do it all again! When you consider the fundamental gameplay, quirky dialogue, and somewhat meaty adventure, this game is a winner.
Overall Score: 9/10 – Despite minor flaws, the game is very entertaining.