Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time – Nintendo DS
Platform: Nintendo DS
Release Date (NA): November 28, 2005
Genre: Role-Playing Game
Nerd Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Reviewed by Flagostomos
Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga was one of my all-time favorite Gameboy Advance games. It took all of my favorite Mario and Luigi RPG elements from Super Mario RPG: LOTSS and Paper Mario and combined it into one glorious handheld masterpiece of an experience. So when I heard that a sequel for the DS was coming out, I knew it was something I had to pick up.
The gameplay is very similar to the style that was introduced in the original on the Gameboy Advance. Mario and Luigi control with the A and B buttons, respectively, and it makes for an interesting experience both in and out of combat. Jumps have to be timed with each brother, action commands can be performed by using the brothers unique “caterpillar” walking style. However, this game introduced a new twist by playing on the “Partners in Time” theme. Your new allies are the baby versions of each brother. They ride on Mario and Luigi Piggyback style, or can head out and have their own adventure.
This actually gives the game a new level of depth and playability. The puzzles start out using the simple “Mario and Luigi” combo that we learned in the first game, but gradually as the brothers gain more familiarity with each other and their past selves, the puzzles become really complex and have you relying on everything you have learned.
The battle system utilizes this as well. The basic jump and hammer commands return, with the bigger bros doing the jumping and the smaller bros doing the hammering when together. When separated, the babies are quite capable fighters in their own right. However, the most powerful moves are the “Bros moves”, which this time are items that you have to either pickup or buy, instead of being a special attack power like in the original. The bros moves utilize all four of the face buttons, requiring you to time everything perfectly for max damage. I won’t give away which items are best, as figuring out in which situation to use each is a skill that makes them that much more rewarding to use.
The story is probably the first time a Mario game ventured from the classic, Peach is kidnapped by Bowser. It actually starts off showing that the Mushroom Kingdom isn’t the only planet in the galaxy, and shows the gradual takeover of the planet by beings known as “Shroobs”. They are easily more powerful than any resistance the Mushroom Kingdom can put up, except the Mario Bros. set out to stop them anyways. I like the story, actually. I think it’s my favorite of the three M&L games I have played.
The controls play the exact same as they did in the original, this time with the addition of the baby brothers. This simply makes for a more complex control system, but not a more difficult one at that. They actually improved on the fluidity of the controls from the first one marginally. The combat controls are easily executed by even novice players, while more advanced players will find that they can string the powerful Bros. Attacks together for a long time. The timing on the Bros. Attacks gets more and more precise the longer you use the move, as you would rightfully expect.
The graphics are really good for the DS. The animation on the Shroobs is beautifully done, their ships bombarding the mushroom kingdom being one of the best eye-candy moments this game can offer. The weird cutscene you get when traveling through the time portal gets a little trippy by the end of the game, but it gives a good feeling what they cartoony style of time travel would be like in this universe.
The audio sees a lot of classic Mario music from the whole series and especially the first game make a return, with some of its own new stuff thrown in. It’s a Mario game, you know the music will be great.
Unlike the first game where you have to scour the world to pickup everything, the rewards you get by backtracking and using your new moves to revisit old areas isn’t as great. If you are a perfectionist like me you will want to take advantage of this, however most players will just romp through the normal game and call it quits.
The biggest downfall is once you beat this game, you don’t really feel like revisiting it. I do right now but that’s just because it’s been nearly 9 years since I played it.
Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time is a solid entry into the Mario and Luigi series. However, interestingly enough, it is my least favorite Mario and Luigi game. That just shows how good the series is in my opinion. Pick this game up if you have the chance, you can get it on ebay for like 10 bucks.
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