Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (DS) Review
Not so long ago I was sweating with excitement over the new Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga game, having been awe struck by Paper Mario years earlier I could only hope for this game to bring back the formula I loved and adored. I was not disappointed. When news broke of a follow up title on the Nintendo DS I become ecstatic with excitement once again.
Partners in Time is in essence the sequel to the smash Game Boy Advance hit, Superstar Saga and it expands on the already successful formula of duel Mario Bros control. Well, not as much expands but shrinks to about one eight their normal size. In this newest instalment you can get behind the bib and take control of Mario and Luigi’s past selves all the while controlling the older brothers. This is done quite simply with a touch of the A, B, X and Y buttons but more on that later.
The plot behind this quadruple crazed adventure is that from the black bleakness of space an army of Shroobs head towards the Mushroom Kingdom for some reason or another. The past version of the Mushroom Kingdom is taken over bringing up some very interesting but never touched on time parodies. Surprise! Surprise! Peach is kidnapped again after a failed attempt from baby Bowser but not after first giving up a fight. Using a magical Cobalt Star she was able to do something that isn’t explained until the very end of the game in a very big way but basically after learning of it’s powers the Mario Brothers, all 4 of them decide to hunt down the shattered pieces.
The plot can easily be forgotten after a few minutes into the game. As with all Mario games the storyline isn’t that strong but it has its moments. One of these moments is a hilarious conversation between the Hammer Bros. For a number of rolling of floor laughing moments you will watch as the Hammer Bros talk in Leet and call Mario a nOOb and other such leet terms. The humour is very well done in this game and for once actually shows in the final product unlike Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door which at times funny to a giggling extent never captured the humour as well as this game does.
Aside from the new formula of being able to control Mario, Luigi, Baby Mario and Baby Luigi all at the same time which can be quite interesting at times when said puzzle arise that require your cunning and wit and a few extra nifty features. Returning from the Game Boy Advance hit are Badges and Equipment, which was to be expected. What I liked about this instalment were the Mario Bros items which completely adds an entirely different layer of uniqueness when concerning the Battles. Using the Mario Bros items you can fight as two, kicking shells into the enemy or pounding eggs into their face. Or you can choose to fight as a foursome, thumping on enemies heads, becoming thousands of copies and bashing the enemy into submission or even being chased by a Baby Mario and Baby Luigi controlled chain chomp, bashing into said enemies. All in all the Mario Bros. items is a hella lotta fun especially as you progress further into the game and get the good stuff.
The game takes place in the Mushroom Kingdom and surrounding areas but aside from some occasional trips into the present you will spend the majority of the games 15 hours in the past. In all there are about 5 different worlds, from a Yoshi themed world to a Toad Village that has been laid to waste by the evil Shroobs. The worlds are full of puzzles and secrets, baddies and allies. There is a reason to come back to these worlds later on but with a disappointing lack of side quests you wont feel that enticed to return anytime soon. The only complaint here is that everything feels the same after a while and puzzles, though slightly different from the other become like clockwork after a while.
Now typically, as a DS game you would be expecting some sort of use of the Touch Screen, especially from a game straight from the Nintendo development team. Unfortunately that is not the case for Partners In Time despite the fact a Touch Screen could have worked wonders with this game. There isn’t a glimmer of any Touch Screen capabilities except for a 5 second mini game near the very end of the game, not even the menu can be accessed with the stylus in Meteos fashion. The mini game itself is in truth a waste of precious arse whooping time where you just have to leisurely wipe a picture clean of some dirt. Nice thought but pointless implementation. Not all is in dismay though; the D Pad and action button controls are effortless and become second nature after minutes of playing. A and B control Mario and Luigi which of course would mean X and Y control the Babies. You can only control one pair at a time, but jump between pair to pair with a click of a button. L and R are used for the Mario Bros special abilities, which are obtained through years of meditation and prayer to the Nintendo Gods. No not really, a very bad tempered Toad and his past self who cares for Baby Peach will show you a trick or two.
Sadly, the graphics are comparable to the Game Boy Advance instalment with some slight improvements here and their and some fancy light displays. Nothing in this game probably couldn’t have been done on the Advance but the Mario RPG titles were never made for their artistic approval amongst gamers but more for their winning formula and addictive gameplay. The sprites are very well done and very nicely animated just as the Battle Sequences are and the plentiful cut scenes. That being said I was hoping for a little bit more. The cut scenes are a mix of text and random gibbering from the Mario Bros which does make sense despite them speaking some language unknown to the world of man. No complaints with the sound track though the Battle music is easily forgettable, perhaps a little assortment next time around instead of having to endure the same midi every single time.
Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time is a solid RPG that borrows from its predecessors and ensures simplicity over complexity. The Battle mechanics are easy to pick up, the story easy to follow and the learning curve minimal. Aside from a couple of nitpicking features, such as incredibly long Boss Battles though while not hard, just seem to go on forever and out-dated graphics Partners in Time is one of the strongest titles currently on the DS library. A game that doesn’t quite live up to the original but has its own delicious flavour that will make it a must have for everyone with a DS. So order a pizza, sit back and enjoy the best of what Nintendo has to offer.