• Great articles on other sites
  • RSS Great articles on other sites

  • Gaming, Reviews - Written by on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 11:37 - 1 Comment

    Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros: Review

    mario-luigi

    This review comes from Digitally Downloaded.

    review If I think carefully about what attracts me to the RPG genre and keeps me coming back for more, I can come up with a fairly definitive list of features. It’s a genre that has been my personal favourite since I discovered Dungeons & Dragons when I was about seven years old, and I know what I like when I see it.

    Were I to turn it into a checklist for “a game Matt will enjoy” Dream Team Bros. would check off none of that list. And yet, despite this game being something that I should not be interested in in the slightest, I absolutely love Nintendo’s newest stats-and-loot adventure.

    What I look for when I play RPGs is first and foremost a world that engages me in some fashion, and beneath that I like to play through a story that is in some way interesting within that world. It was the world-building and questing side of things that got me into the genre in the first place, as well as the sense of a gently building epic quest that takes me through a wide range of exotic locations to face down a wide range of exotic challenges. The slowly scaling sense that what I’m doing as the player is of critical importance to the game’s world at large was empowering and a delight to my imagination.

    None of that is present in Dream Team Bros. This is a game that’s more interested in making players chuckle and then move on to the next key interest point. Which, on an island about the size of a typical island in Kiribati, is literally a couple of steps down the road. In fact, much of the game takes place within small dreamscapes that are over in a very short time indeed. There’s a self-referential sense of humour running through the game (including what I hope I read correctly as an acknowledgement that the “rescue the princess” plotline is no longer kosher in the modern industry), and I do appreciate a fantasy tale that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but Dream Team Bros. does not have in any meaningful sense an expansive, epic, or especially fulfilling world to explore. Where a game like Skyrim is to be lived in with its wonderful lore and history, Dream Team Bros. is simply to be played through.

    With most RPGs, assuming I’m interested enough in the world to start playing, what I like to see next is interesting characters. In western RPGs that means I want a wide range of customisation options so I can build my dream team. In Japanese RPGs I want characters that are attractive, well-written and preferably sit somewhere above being absolute cliches. Characters are important to me because if I’m going to spend 40-50 hours with someone – even if that someone is a digital avatar – I want to either like them, or love to hate them.

    At risk of being really controversial here, Mario and Luigi are not interesting characters. They’re timeless characters and products of some obscenely brilliant design work by Mr. Miyamoto, but they’re empty shells designed for platformers, not RPGs. There’s no real sense they interact with those around them – they’re simply directed from one “job” to the next in a “the princess is in another castle” style of dialogue. Both Mario and Luigi are caricatures of Italian humour, but there’s no depth to these characters; no real back story, no sense that anything motivates them beyond the fact that if they don’t do something then the game doesn’t continue. Both Mario and Luigi are playing pieces or tools for the player to wield, not characters to identify with in some fashion.

    Once the world and characters have drawn me in I like my RPGs heavy on the strategy. The genre has generally veered towards the side of action in recent years, but back in the day players were required to crunch numbers, cleverly use the resources to hand and otherwise think tactically about how to work through the tougher encounters. Those few games that still do that now almost always get my undivided attention.

    Dream Team Bros. is almost the exact opposite here too. This is a game where resources are plentiful and combat is more about memorising enemy patterns and exploiting their weaknesses in real time than strategically planning out how to take them down. It’s an action-heavy system and I’m in no way saying it’s easy – in fact on a couple of boss battles I needed to retry multiple times – but the game pushes the statistic crunching right to the background, and customisation doesn’t really extend past buying the best weapons and armour and sticking it on the brothers.

    That’s also not to say that the game itself lacks for smarts; it’s filled with puzzles that require just enough logic to work though without being so abstract to be frustrating. It strikes an excellent balance (as has every Mario RPG before it), and it must be said the layout of the levels is breathtaking in the way they are designed and how they encourage players to explore them in full to find everything. But the combat itself is entertaining while not being as deep as I would like.

    Though Dream Team Bros. offers none of what I typically like in a JRPG, I also can’t stop playing it. I’m not even sure why. I know I have had a big grin on my face for every second I’ve had the game on, and I never found myself waiting for the next part of the game to open up, or frustrated that I wasn’t making progress.

    The reality is that this game is so slick and comfortable with what it is offering that it is irresistible. Nintendo knows that variety is the key to success here, and so enemy attack patterns are never really repeated, and every new area brings with it a few battles of sheer curiosity as players figure out what they need to do to counter the enemy attack patterns. Because there are no respawning enemies or random encounters there is no need for players to grind up levels to manage difficulty spikes because the developers were able to scale the challenge level precisely, knowing full what level the player would be at that point in time.

    More than anything else, though, the presentation of Dream Team Bros. is impeccable. The game is gorgeously bright, and though characters and enemies are simple in design, they’re also filled with charm. The music is equally bright and happy, and the game’s sense of humour is worth a laugh out loud or two.

    If I was to criticise anything in the game it is Nintendo’s modern penchant to force players to use the gimmicks of its hardware. Did we really need a special attack that demanded the use of gyro controls, with no way of using regular buttons instead? No we didn’t. I don’t know why Nintendo is so gung-ho about pushing these features, but for people like me who want to kick back and enjoy a relaxing game, we don’t want to be fighting with the controls, thanks.

    That tiny issue aside, Dream Team Bros. is a game that offers me nothing that I look for in a typical RPG, and perhaps that’s precisely why I enjoyed it so much. It’s pure fun; nothing more, and certainly nothing less.

    4.5-stars


    Image credit: Nintendo

    submit to reddit

    1 Comment

    You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

    1. AJ
      Posted 24/07/2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink |

      Just a small recommendation could you please include the platform in the title I ended up finding it was for the 3ds in the tag and the link but having it in the title would be helpful Thanks




    Get our 'Best of the Week' newsletter on Fridays

    Just the most important stories, one email a week.

    Email address:


  • Enterprise IT stories

    • Super funds close to dumping $250m IT revamp facepalm2

      If you have even a skin deep awareness of the structure of Australia’s superannuation industry, you’ll be aware that much of the underlying infrastructure used by many of the nation’s major funds is provided by a centralised group, Superpartners. One of the group’s main projects in recent years has been to dramatically update and modernise its IT platform — its version of a core banking platform overhaul. Unfortunately, the $250 million project has not precisely been going well.

    • Qld’s Grant joins analyst firm IBRS peter-grant

      This week it emerged that Peter Grant, the two-time former Queensland Whole of Government CIO (pictured), has joined well-regarded analyst firm Intelligent Business Research Services (IBRS). We’ve long had a high regard for IBRS, and so it’s fantastic to see such an experienced executive join its ranks.

    • Westpac dumps desk phones for Samsung Android mobiles samsung-galaxy-ace-3

      The era of troublesome desk phones tied to physical locations is gradually coming to an end in many workplaces, with mobile phones becoming increasingly popular as organisations’ main method of voice telecommunications. But some groups are more advanced than others when it comes to adoption of the trend. One of those is Westpac.

    • Ministers’ cloud approval lasted just a year reverse

      Remember how twelve months ago, the Federal Government released a new cloud computing security and privacy directive which required departments and agencies to explicitly acquire the approval of the Attorney-General and the relevant portfolio minister before government data containing private information could be stored in offshore facilities? Remember how the policy was strongly criticised by Microsoft, Government CIOs and Delimiter? Well, it looks like the policy is about to be reversed.

    • WA Govt can’t fund school IT upgrades oops key

      In news from The Department of Disturbing Facts, iTNews revealed late last week that Western Australia’s Department of Education has run out of money halfway through the deployment of new fundamental IT infrastructure to the state’s schools.

    • Turnbull outlines Govt ICT vision turnbull-5

      Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has published an extensive article arguing that the Federal Government needed to do a better job of connecting with Australians via digital channels and that public sector IT projects needn’t cost the huge amounts that some have in the past.

    • NZ Govt pushes hard into cloud zealand

      New Zealand’s national Government announced a whole of government contract this morning for what it terms ‘Office Productivity as a Service’ services. This includes email and calendaring services, as well as file-sharing, mobility, instant messaging and collaboration services. The contract complements two existing contracts — Desktop as a Service and Enterprise Content Management as a Service.

    • CommBank reveals Harte’s replacement whiteing

      The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has promoted an internal executive who joined the bank in September after a lengthy career at petroleum giant VP and IT services group Accenture to replace its outgoing chief information officer Michael Harte, who announced in early May that he would leave the bank.

    • Jeff Smith quits Suncorp for IBM jeffsmith4

      Second-tier Australian bank and financial services group Suncorp today announced that its long-serving top technology executive Jeff Smith would leave to take up a senior role with IBM in the United States, in an announcement which marks the end of an era for the nation’s banking IT sector.

    • Small business missing the mobile, social, cloud revolution iphone-stock

      Most companies that live and breathe the online revolution are not tech startups, but smart smaller firms that use online tools to run their core business better: to cut costs, reach customers and suppliers, innovate and get more control. Many others, however, are falling behind, according to a new Grattan Institute discussion paper.

  • Blog, Enterprise IT - Jul 5, 2014 13:53 - 0 Comments

    Super funds close to dumping $250m IT revamp

    More In Enterprise IT


    Blog, Telecommunications - Jul 5, 2014 12:12 - 0 Comments

    What should the ACCC’s role be in guiding infrastructure spending?

    More In Telecommunications


    Analysis, Industry, Internet - Jun 23, 2014 10:33 - 0 Comments

    ‘Google Schmoogle’ – how Yellow Pages got it so wrong

    More In Industry


    Blog, Digital Rights - Jun 30, 2014 22:24 - 0 Comments

    Will Netflix launch in Australia, or not?

    More In Digital Rights