Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time Reader Review
Every developer wants to take pride in their script, be it the plot, dialogue, or in most cases, both. Despite that, very few games have actually had scripts that developers could take pride in. Sure, some RPG’s have excellent stories, but none have really shone so bright that they stand out on their own as a story, rather than a series of events lumped together. Games just simply do no not seem able to compete with the writing talent found in many books or films. However, there is one particular series of games that has managed achieved this ‘impossible dream’, in some respects. The series is, of course, that of the Mario RPGs. Actually, all the Mario role-players cannot be lumped together as a ’series’ as such, due to them being completely different from each other, even not being developed by the same teams! The characters may still be from the Mushroom Kingdom and each game retains the same wit and humour, but the gameplay mechanic and scenario changes quite dramatically.Arguably the greatest RPG starring the moustachioed plumber and his friends is Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, which brought the Mario RPG format to the pockets of gamers worldwide. The game featured witty dialogue and an exceptional battle system that proved popular with gamers young and old. After great critical and commercial success, a sequel was nothing more than an inevitability…
Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time takes the formula from Superstar Saga, and makes some small improvements over it, meaning that the game is basically giving the player what they want; more of the same! The biggest and most important addition to Partners in Time is the inclusion of the baby versions of Mario and Luigi. That means that you can now control four characters at once, instead of two like in the previous game, as Mario and Luigi give the babies piggyback rides around the various levels. There is an option to let the babies dismount and explore on their own, which allows for some great puzzles as well. You can let the babies loose to cause their own mayhem, with them jumping on springs, for example, which takes them to the top screen, whilst the adults remain on the bottom screen. The split-screen puzzling is a very impressive addition and works perfectly thanks to the Nintendo DS’s set-up. The babies can break boxes and activate switches on one screen, in order to give the adults below power-ups, rare items and also activate lights for in dark areas. It is an interesting concept and is used effectively throughout the game. Switching between characters can get a little annoying, though, but it’s not a major problem.
You are probably wondering how Nintendo has managed to twist the story in a way that Baby Mario and Baby Luigi can actually meet up with their adult counterparts. The basic gist of the story is that the Shroobs, an alien race, are invading the past Mushroom Kingdom, and it is your job as Mario and Luigi to travel to the past to defeat them (Peach also gets kidnapped in the story - surprise, surprise). Along the way you team up with Baby Mario and Baby Luigi, taking part in many battles against the Shroobs. Admittedly, the plot isn’t too great, but the actual script itself is what saves ‘PiT’ from the ‘depths’ (ahem) of mediocrity and is fantastic due to the often hilarious dialogue and scenarios thrown at you. Almost every line will make you grin or chuckle quietly to yourself, whilst some will have you releasing a loud, most likely embarrassing guffaw. Many characters from past Mario adventures feature in this tale, many of which have incredibly funny lines. The Hammer Bros are possibly the most humorous characters in this game. I’d even go as far as saying that they are the funniest characters in a game ever! The reason that they are so comical is because they talk in “l33t” speak. You engage in a battle with them, but before the battle begins, they start trash-talking with side splitting consequences. They say something along the lines of: “We teh r0×0rs, we pwnz0r teh n00bs” and it continues for a while in a similar vein, making you grin all the way through. That part alone is worth the money, but there are so many other moments in the game that you will find almost equally funny, and some scenes that are downright annoying, namely anything that contains the talking suitcase, Stuffwell - who is possibly the most annoying character in gaming (yes, even more annoying than Tom Nook). In terms of gameplay, the game excels in many areas. The battle system is brilliant and easy to navigate, just like its predecessor. The battle menu is incredibly simple to use and consists of: Jump, Run, Item, and Bros. Item. The Bros. Items are very handy, replacing the Bros. techniques from Superstar Saga. They range from green shells that one character kicks at the opponent, then the other kicks at the opponent, then it keeps going and gets progressively faster with every kick, becoming a massive test of skill eventually. There are many others, all of which are fun to use and, most importantly, if performed correctly they can be devastating to your opponents!
Boss fights are a core part of most games and Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time is no exception. On your quest you will encounter many bosses including: a giant Yoshi, aliens and even the Koopa King himself, Bowser. So far so good, but the boss fights prove a huge disappointment. They can drag on for the best part of an hour, which is ridiculous for a handheld game. It’s not exactly handy if you’re playing on a bus, or a train, yet if you are playing at home the matter has slightly less impact. Still, for what is such an instant impact game, this long, drawn out aspect feels both a cheap way of extending the title AND a real bother if you have to rush out at short notice. Another downside about the length is that the bosses can become very repetitive and tedious due to the same moves being used time and time again to be rid of them forever. Those points aside, the bosses are implemented into the game fairly well. They flow with the story, which is always a positive point. They do show some signs of imagination as well. The ways in which they are beaten is always a plus about this Partners in Time. It is just a real shame that it takes so long…
Outside of the battle system, there is a considerable amount of exploring to be done. Surprisingly this proves to be a lot of fun, despite the hub-based nature of the world. Throughout the game Mario, Luigi and the babies obtain special moves. Their sole purpose is to allow you to reach new areas, and to participate in puzzles that would be impossible to do with their normal abilities.
When compared to Superstar Saga, Partners in Time beats it in every area…except two. Graphically, the game shows no sign of improvement over the original. Although the game is bright and colourful, which suits it perfectly, we can‘t help but feel that improvements should have been made. Partners in Time also lacks in the audio department. The soundtrack grows repetitive and generally is not as impressive as the original M&L from AlphaDream. There are some nice sound effects, however, which are suitably comical and the characters occasionally talk, but they are just simple phrases as you would associate with most Mario games.
Despite the games flaws, it more than makes up for it with its humour and gameplay. Not only is this arguably the funniest game ever, it is also one of the best on the DS. This is certainly one to add to your collection, even if it is just to see the Hammer Bros talking in ‘l33t’.
9 / 10