Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time - Staff Review  

Frustrating in Time
by Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham

15-20 Hours


Rating definitions 

   It's been a long time since the days of Super Mario RPG. The series, if you can call it that, has drastically changed over the span of systems and years. If you are a fan of the initial offering, don't expect the same type of game as Super Mario RPG. That said, don't write this one off completely. In a world where portable gaming is more popular for those often on the go, Nintendo's latest portable Mario offering does have some redeeming value.

   The battle system is where this game both shines and gets irritating. You control the group of Mario, Luigi and their infantile counterparts throughout most of the game. Battles are executed quite simply with one button assigned to each character to perform attacks. The grown plumbers' main method of attacking is the trademarked jump attack, while the youths use hammers. As you progress you will gain use of special attack items such as turtle shells, chain chomps, fire flowers and trampolines. These items are expendable and add a bit of originality to the otherwise dry battle system, though with the high cost of added frustration. The need for precise timing of button presses, while not difficult, can leave those that are easily distracted at a major disadvantage. Unlike many other turn-based RPGs, watching the screen at all times during battle is a must. In order to survive at all you must watch enemies as they telegraph their attacks. Dodging these attacks requires constant attention and precise timing. At times you will feel like you are playing a random button mashing game instead of an RPG. This can be quite annoying.

CaptionYes Boo, we are afraid to look as well.

   Boss battles in Partners in Time are some of the most creative I've seen in any RPG, a true bright point. You can't just hammer your way through the game's unique bosses using brute force as Mario and Luigi are forced to use specific attacks to be effective. The bosses make effective use of both DS screens, expanding the battle across both playing a bigger part than in normal battles. Boss battles mark the only true challenge of the game other than not getting irritated with button mashing.

   The visual aspects of Partners in Time are pleasing to the eye as the game makes the most of the DS with lots of vivid colors. The music however is boring and uninspired. If it wasn't for the advantage of being able to hear enemies, this game could be played on mute without missing out on much. The sound effects are not as cute the twentieth plus time as they are the first. The mumbles of Mario and Luigi and the crying of the babies just gets old really fast.

Caption Babies should not be playing with hammers.

   The game itself is not difficult at all. Puzzles are generally straightforward, having you do things like hit this block sequence, hammer this switch, or roll up this hill really fast. Even the final stage of the game, though fairly large in comparison to others, is still really simple. though some of the later boss battles can be stressful and take forever. Exploration is minimal unless you consider being able to find areas that you can't enter exciting. A linear storyline, simple puzzles, and little exploration add up to around twenty hours of gaming. Not too shabby for a handheld game, but I would have liked to have more for my money, even though by the end of the game I was glad it was only twenty hours long.

   It's truly a wonder that the game even includes equipment. You have a limited amount of pants and badges to equip in order increase stats or give bonuses to HP, power, or defense. It seems almost like an afterthought. “Ok, we've finished the game, but we might want to give the player some character customization options. Let's give them about ten different pairs of pants to choose from and about fifteen or twenty badges. That should be enough.” It was a futile attempt at customization that didn't really pan out.

   Save the princess. That's been the theme of about every single non-sports Mario game since the dawn of Nintendo, and this is no exception. While traveling back and forth in time, both little and big Mario and Luigi attempt to rescue Princess Peach, while collecting Cobalt Star Shards to do so. Along with time traveling, you will encounter classic Mario Bros. characters: Toad people, Bowser and evil alien mushrooms. What more could you ask for? Plot and humor, that's what. Hard to call any of this original. For a game that could have been very entertaining, if not epic, it fell short.

   This DS game uses the dual screen to its advantage in many areas, but the touch screen is almost completely ignored as yet another afterthought. Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time's worst crime is that it has so much untapped potential. This game could have been a lot better had the developers just put a little more effort into it. The lack of humor, repetitive gameplay and rehashed plot are just a few of the things that could have been changed up to improve this title. Partners in Time is a quick time sink for those that are on the go, but not a great game by any means.

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