Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
Time. It is an aspect that defines our daily existence. It tells us when to expect the sun to rise, the seasons to change, and the year to end. It allows us to know when to commemorate historical events, go to sleep, and celebrate our birthdays. Time breaks down our lives into mere numbers, with each second slowly ticking away to our eventual death. All we can do is live in the moment, appreciating what we have and looking forward into the years ahead. We may grow old, have a family, become rich, gain and lose friends, retire, die in a gutter, or slowly pass painfully away surrounded by your loved ones. No matter what happens in our lives, time will continually march forth, allowing for the possibility of both the deaths and births of all generations that exist under its reign.
A giant pink dinosaur. Whatever will Nintendo think of next?
But for Mario and Luigi, the importance of time has taken on a whole new meaning. The latest advancements in technology have granted the Mushroom Kingdom a time traveling machine that can send its user back into another era. But as with any other typical time traveling adventure plot, messing with past events have inevitably caused drastic changes throughout the heroes’ home. A quick jump back in time has revealed that a sinister alien force called the Shroob has invaded the Mushroom Kingdom. Though their overall intentions are unknown, their massive weapons and deadly laser beams can’t mean anything good for the peace and prosperity of the land. To top it all off, they’ve kidnapped Princess Peach, the kind of diabolical deed that only someone as evil as Bowser could ever muster. Oh yeah, these guys mean business. It’s up to Mario and Luigi to travel through time and save the past to ensure a future for their home.
Unfortunately, these aliens aren’t your typical Mario game baddies. They’re sporting mutant monsters, death rays, and a wide assortment of unusual gadgetry. To be honest, the Mario Bros. don’t stand a chance against these foes by themselves. Thankfully, they have one small but incredibly deadly ace up their sleeve: the Baby Mario Bros. During their jaunt through the past, Mario and Luigi will be able to team up with their former selves and unleash the most potent tag team to ever set foot in the Mushroom Kingdom. Despite the age and size difference, these four heroes work well together. Their adventure will require them to make use of each character’s capabilities, such as the Baby Bros. lighter weight and agility or the Mario Bros. overall strength and size. The game is covered with puzzles that require you to use all the characters in tandem, being it standing on a switch at once, having each pair on either of the DS’s screens, exploring hard-to-reach areas, hitting certain blocks, and plenty of other moderately complicated obstacles. While none of puzzles are terribly difficult to solve, they will require your ability to multitask with the teams if you hope to succeed.
“After you…” “No, after you…”
However, using teamwork to traverse the levels is just the tip of the iceberg. The four brothers will also have to take down the Shroobs together, forcing them to go mano a mano with aliens on several occasions. While other RPGs sport epic battles with countless specials and beautiful cut scenes, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time reminds us what combat in the Mario series has always been about: jumping on baddies’ heads and crushing their faces in with the heroic plumber’s boots. Accordingly, the basis of the Bros. attack strategies revolve around timing button commands to jump and stamp out anything that gets in their way. Timing of such actions leaves little room for error; one slip may result in a fraction of damage dealt, or the inability to dodge an enemy’s attack. Such a devastating offensive is augmented with the lethal force of the Baby Bros. help. Not only can these little tykes fight as well as their grown-up counterparts, but they can also lend a hand in stringing attack combos, allowing you to dish out massive amounts of damage upon your hapless foes. When you factor in Super Mushrooms, Green Shells, Cannonballers, and tons of other wacky RPG-based weapons and items, you’ve got the makings for some awe-inspiring heroic might.
But the great thing about Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time is that it isn’t supposed to be taken as seriously as the countless other RPGs flooding today’s gaming market. The dialogue and scenes in this game are lighthearted and filled with comedy, like Luigi’s frequent madcap antics or the younger Bowser’s lack of leadership abilities. The epic crusade against the evil aliens is portrayed in a wide array of bright colors and simple graphics, creating an almost cheerful vision of a Mushroom Kingdom on the brink of getting wiped out of existence. You’ll get to explore dark and mysterious forests, traverse a desert, and even visit Peach’s Castle. All four of the 2D Mario Bros. and their countless foes are drawn with excellent detail and fast animation, making them seem lively and engaging. All of this is backed up with a wide variety of sound effects, an upbeat and catchy soundtrack, and limited amount of voice acting as well. While such a pleasant presentation is a far cry from the dark and serious RPGs of other games, the charm of this presentation can’t be helped.
That map may look like I’ve bought up my lunch, but it’s important - you know?
We’ve seen a lot of Mario in the last year. Mario Baseball. Mario Soccer. Mario DDR. Will the list of all these franchise spinoffs ever end? Doubtful. However, it’s not these titles that will capture the hearts of all the jaded fans praying for something new and fresh for Nintendo’s flagship character. Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time gives us a fresh spin on the tried and true concept of a Mario Bros. RPG. It has a story chock full of hilarity, the right balance between fast-paced combat and multitasking puzzles, tons of items and a handful of memorable characters, and presents it to use in a psychedelic blend of 2D animation and a wide array of colors. Is this the traditional Mario game formula that so many fans revere and desire? No, far from it. But considering what it offers, this game stands tall and proud on its own.
Eight out of ten