Newest Review: ... from the GBA game to this Nintendo DS version. The graphics are also very similar in terms of the cartoon style although I did notice th... more
RPG trips the Light Fantastic.
Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time (DS)
Member Name: dididave
Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time (DS)
Advantages: Accessible, large levels, intuitive controls.
Disadvantages: Ease of play makes it easy to complete.
Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time is Nintendo’s attempt to bring the Role Playing Game to the Nintendo DS masses. This is “RPG-lite” meaning that by utilising Nintendo’s mascots, they are able to create an accessible game were ease of use is as important as the mechanics of gameplay.
The plot to Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time is functional but hardly original. Princess Peach as been captured by a “Shroom” alien invasion. It is up to the two plumber brothers to rescue the Princess, battle the Shrooms and as a result, saving the Mushroom Kingdom. Nothing unique there. Indeed, the Princess has managed to get herself captured in every Mario game since the 1980’s! However, were Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time differs from other titles is in the development of its plot. Gone are the entertaining, yet fundamentally pointless run and jump escapades of previous games. Instead we have a story we can follow that gives the player freedom to explore.
What makes this game more free-roaming is the use of time-travel. Mario and Luigi are able to travel to lands around the Mushroom Kingdom both past and present using conveniently located “time holes”. This enables them to meet their younger selves in order to team up and tackle the Shroom invasion. Since each character has a different set of abilities, the teamwork aspect of this game is a vital element. The “baby” versions of Mario and Luigi are able to “piggyback” their older selves enabling them to reach otherwise out of reach locations. Mario and Luigi are able to roll into a ball and be hit “croquet-style” by their younger selves enabling them to roll over and under dangerous obstacles. This team-based play gives Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time a tactical bent which adds considerable. The importance of tactics is further re-inforced by the ability to switch between the two sets of characters “baby” and “adult” allowing both sets to explore different areas (using the split screen to good effect). The ability to spilt up and reassemble later is another vital skill you must learn in order to progress through this game.
Being able to switch between past and present gives this game an impressively large level design and lifespan effectively doubling its potential size. Centring around the Princess’s castle both past and present you are able to hop around the Mushroom Kingdom almost at will. Each are host to a different set of challenges, obstacles and enemies all of whom can be tackled in varying ways to varying levels of success keeping the game fresh. Unfortunately however, despite the free-roaming nature of the game there are some restrictions that give a level of linearity. Certain skills can only be learned/acquired at certain points and these are often the only way to access areas. Also, certain battles cannot be avoided no matter how hard you try although these are usually essential to plot progression.
Battles in this game are an intriguing mix of action and RPG. Switching from the three-dimensional isometric view of the main game to a two-dimensional split screen more synonymous with Mario’s platforming adventures. Battles occur whenever you come into contact with an enemy and played out in “turn” fashion. The actual mechanics of the battles are a strange mix of button bashing, reaction tests and skill sets. For the hardened RPG gamer there are a large number of skills and experience points up for grabs. Attributes such as Attack, Defence and Speed all affect how much damage you can do or avoid and the array of items on offer is vast. You can attack and defend in a variety of ways dodging and counter attacking using an intuitive control system that allows you to learn as you play. The various manoeuvres are also demonstrated on the top screen of your DS meaning that this is a game that even the most casual gamer can pick up and play relatively easily.
Unfortunately, this does mean that this game is relatively easy. Clearly aimed at the younger game playing market, this will not tax the seasoned gamer with its simplistic puzzles and battles which, while packed with variety, are straightforward once you get the hang of each enemies weakness. The end of level boss battles while impressive and fiendishly difficult initially, again are just a matter of trial and error to find their weakness. Coupled with perhaps overly numerous save points this is a game you will enjoy playing but complete relatively quickly if you are over ten-years-old. Nintendo do attempt to add longevity with a number of side quests but these are generally tedious or pointless exercises.
Graphically, Mario and Luigi Partners in Time is unsurprisingly a cutesy, colourful cartoon driven affair. By no means groundbreaking they are however, pleasant on the eye and adequate for this style of game. By using an anime style this game plays like an over the top pantomime with Mario and Luigi regularly “mugging” to the camera. This adds plenty of light relief to the steady RPG’ing and this may well be the first slapstick comedy in RPG form. On an audio level sound is clear and sharp with comical side effect, pops and bangs the order of the day. The music throughout, although cute stays just clear of irritating enough to lend itself nicely to the gameplay and changes appropriately to add atmosphere in the appropriate places with the distinctive soundtrack of a Mario game stamped throughout.
Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time is the ideal game to introduce younger people to the RPG genre. It will also be ideal for the casual gamer, convinced they cannot work with the complexities of the standard RPG. Accessible and playable this game will not last you long but is as entertaining as gaming can be for as long as it lasts.
Summary: Ideal for the younger or casual gamer.
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