Retro Review: Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time (DS)

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So, Mario has been in a lot of games throughout the years. He has been in every (or almost every) game genre as well. This game in particular has him in another RPG. This is the second game in the Mario and Luigi series.

Of note, the first Mario and Luigi game had a recent remake, and Nintendo is planning on remaking the third Mario and Luigi game, but currently, not this one. This seems a little odd, as most companies don’t skip a remake if they are doing a series of remakes. I don’t know what Nintendo’s intentions are with this, but I do want to shed some light on this game, and see if it holds up well enough to warrant an eventual remake.

MarioLuigi
Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time box art.

So to start the game features the story of Princess Peach using a time machine (invented by E. Gadd) to travel to the past. She doesn’t return back as expected, and the Mario Bros. discover that the past Mushroom Kingdom is attacked by alien mushrooms called the Shroobs.

Long story short, the Mario Bros. team up with their younger selves, Baby Mario and Baby Luigi. They battle the Shroobs entirely in the past by traveling through time holes, and co-operate in and out of battling in ways that only the adults and babies can.

The babies primarily ride the Mario Bros. by piggybacking, and can separate to reach small areas the adult Brothers cannot, for example. The babies even provide some help in battle, enabling some extra damage when around. In addition if an adult Mario Bro. falls in battle, the corresponding baby will take his place, and can even revive him with the right kind of healing mushroom.

If you never played a Mario and Luigi game, it should be noted that it is possible to dodge or block every enemy attack by pressing the button that corresponds to the right Mario Bro. You would think this would make these games way too easy, but in practice most players will get hit at least a few times, until they get used to the enemy’s attack patterns.

MarioLuigiShroob
In case you were wondering, this is what the Shroobs look like.

All enemies telegraph their attacks in some way. Usually, they gesture at who they are about to hit, but won’t give the player the exact timing. Of note, the babies are the only members of the team who can use hammers. Consequently, you need to press the x or y buttons to control blocking or counter attacking with hammers, even if the adult Mario Bros are active.

The game does feature skipable tutorials for combat, but every new action, and many puzzles feature unavoidable lessons on how to handle something new. On repeat play-throughs, these get a little annoying.

Then there are the Bros. items in this game. They function as stronger attacks that require a more complex sequence of button presses to master. They are quite handy, and the game hands out enough of them to help take out the game’s many bosses. Sure, you could stockpile them to ensure that every boss, or every fight is a relative breeze, but that usually isn’t needed.

I have heard that some players prefer the Bros. attack system from the other games. While the Bros attack system doesn’t require finding or buying new attacks like Bros. items does, there is a perk that using one Bros. item doesn’t limit the number of uses of the other Bros. items. It would be nice if they weren’t tied to finding more of them, but this system is far from unbearable.

There is a lot of visual humor to this game, most of it relating to Luigi. Despite the time travel theme, there are very few time paradoxes (though there is one big exception to this). There is also some text that is unreadable, which occurs whenever a Shroob speaks. I get that it is a separate language, but there are many scenes where they speak quite a bit, and I found I had no idea what is happening until the action reveals what is going on. While I won’t ruin it here, the game also does a bait and switch near the end of the game in terms of a particular plot twist. Replaying the game does show they were hinting at it the whole time.

MarioLuigiCry
When the babies cry, you may want to turn the volume down. This is one of the few funny scenes with crying in it, though.

There is a quick thing to note about a game where the heroes travel with babies. As you might expect, the babies do cry, and it is sometimes unbearable to hear (particularly with Baby Peach). I counted fourteen occasions where a baby cried in this game, which includes multiple cries in some cut scenes. This play-through lasted between 12 and 13 hours, so that is about one crying scene per hour, as some players may take longer with this game.

The levels are well structured too. There are suitable rewards for hitting item blocks, and this leads to enough cash to buy the best available equipment at each point in the game. There are few reasons to make return visits to the games separate areas, but if you do, most areas have shortcuts that you can open up as you travel the first time around.

That is about all you need to know about this game. Here are a few play recommendations to get the most out of your game:

  • There aren’t any real optional tasks in this game. Once you are done with the story, that is about it.
  • Be sure to play to the best of your ability: Be sure to hit each item block as you find them, and buy the best defensive equipment as they arrive in the game’s shops. Limit your badge purchases to those that help the Mario Bros. recover health.
  • The only optional tasks involve getting all the badges, finding rare equipment drops, and reaching the maximum level. None of these are required to enjoy the game to its fullest.

Next, let’s look at some Pro’s and Con’s:

Pro’s:

  • Good humor
  • Fun sound track
  • Appropriate graphics for the time
  • Smooth gameplay
  • Handy use of the two screens

Con’s

  • Some puzzles are somewhat intrusive to progressing
  • Baby crying can be ear-splitting
  • Many tutorials can’t be skipped
  • One noteworthy time paradox
  • Potential Con: Bros. items are a weird substitute for stronger attacks

Final Verdict:

8.4/10 A great game that holds up well


So that is what I thought of Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time. What did you think of this review? Was there something I missed? Have you played this game, and felt differently? Tell me why in the comments below!

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