Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (Nintendo DS) Review

By Adam Riley 08.02.2006

Review for Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time on Nintendo DS

There are so many role-playing games out on the market nowadays that it is sometimes a difficult task in itself to actually choose which one you should part with your money for. Therefore, many companies now try to sell their products by highlighting key features. But hey, when you have the Mario Bros AND the baby versions of them in the same adventure, Nintendo hardly needs to stand out any more...does it?

There is a problem in the Mushroom Kingdom, as there always seems to be. The bumbling Professor E. Gadd has invented a time machine in which Princess Peach innocently jumps into for a test run. However, unfortunately upon returning, there is no Princess in sight, just a rather damaged transportation device. Thus off trot those loveable heroes, Mario and Luigi, to head back to the past in order to figure out what chaotic circumstances have arose this time...only to bump into none other than their younger selves. Suffice to say wacky antics ensue...

The Nintendo DS was unfortunately 'treated' to a batch of completely ugly games when it was released, as developers had clearly rushed to make the launch window at the sacrifice of graphical prowess. However, now that teams have had longer to play around with the hardware, expectations are much higher. Therefore, the fact that Mario & Luigi looks almost identical to its GBA little brother will come as a major disappointment to most people. Thankfully, though, the GBA title was created in such a cartoon-like fashion that it still retains enough charm to work on the DS. Plus there are little graphical touches that are pleasing on the eye, such as the images used when learning new moves and some double-screen enemies.

Screenshot for Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time on Nintendo DS

Musically the game seems to come off not quite as well as its forebear either. But that is only in the original tune stakes, since the remixes of music such as underground in Super Mario Bros and Yoshi's Island are sublime. But, more importantly, is that of the sound effects and the voice snippets. The comical use of noises add to the whole jovial atmosphere of Partners in Time, and the addition of crazy talking Mario, Baby Mario, Luigi, Baby Luigi et al, leaves such a lasting impression. Extremely chucklesome work...

Two years have passed since the world was shocked by the GBA iteration of Mario's RPG antics, developed by the relatively unknown Nintendo Second Party, AlphaDream. Previously the company had worked on a quirky RPG for the younger generation called 'Tomato Adventure', which was meant to come to the West, but low Japanese sales deterred Nintendo from doing so in the end. However, NCL saw an opportunity in that game and took a chance passing the lucrative Mario franchise to the clearly talented group and it paid off as the best bits of the d

Screenshot for Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time on Nintendo DS

And for this new outing the gameplay mechanic has barely changed, with only a few extras thrown in and even some removed. But thankfully the title has not lost any of its trademark Mario RPG shenanigans that make them all so wonderfully easy to pick up and enjoy. For those that are not in the 'know', Mario & Luigi is a turn-based RPG, except there are no random battles. You take the characters around various locations and once all of the visible enemies have been despatched with, then the imminent threat has been removed, until you reach the next puzzle or Boss battle. And it is the puzzles that add the most value to the game, as the developer has made superb use of the four face buttons and the two-screens of the DS. Players can split the younger and older brothers up, controlling each separately with a respective face button, sometimes sending the youngsters off onto the top screen to help solve a puzzle or get the older versions through to another location by flipping a hidden switch.

The four sets of brothers can also learn special moves that can be used whilst playing (drilling into the ground, twirling through the air and rolling around, for instance), as well as purchase defensive clothing and Badges that add special effects and status attributes. The options are quite extensive and extremely well thought out. Even actual enemy encounters are more interactive than in your run-of-the-mill turn-based RPGs. Players can time their button presses to defend, counter-attack, add extra venom to attacks and, now thanks to the quadruple teaming action, inflict FOUR times the damage! And whilst the amusing Bros Attacks have been removed, Bros Items are just as effective, with players able to choose such items as Fire Flowers, where you must rapidly hit the appropriate button to fling flaming balls at enemies, or the Koopa Shell, which requires quick reflexes to kick between brother-enemy-other brother-back again! There are no real boring fights where you click on button and just wait for the end result.

Screenshot for Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time on Nintendo DS

But the new hub-based system leads to some frustration as exploration as such is stunted. Sure you travel back in time to save the Princess and come across some unusual scenarios along the way, but the present day location merely acts as a map with various ports leading to other past locations. Luckily this is all forgiven thanks to the extremely funny happenings along the way, and the plethora of Nintendo characters that will be instantly recognisable to stalwart fans of the company. The suitcase character in particular, who talks in a strange purposely 'mis-translated' manner (similar to the 'All Our Base Belong To Us' usage in M&L: SS), and the Hammer Bros with their 'l33t' speak, stand out amongst a highly enjoyable crowd. A great follow-up to a superb game...

The one major drawback of Superstar Saga was that it could be completed with ease in just a short time. And whilst Partners in Time seems longer, the same complaint can still be levelled against it as the only reason why it seems lengthier is due to the excessively drawn out Boss battles. Even the whole exploration side of the GBA game has been wiped out due to the 'hub' system. Therefore, it means that the adventure is played out quicker than expected, and without quite as much discovery as before. However, it still proves to be great fun whilst it lasts, so the complaint is not overly harsh.

Screenshot for Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga was a spectacle that everyone should sample. Partners in Time, however, whilst being the best RPG on the DS so far, will struggle against future RPGs due to it not managing to quite match its younger brother. Taken on its own merits, though, and M&L: PiT is definitely one of the funniest and clever DS titles on the market right now. Make sure you do not miss out...






Turn Based RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (36 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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