Luigi 2: Partners in Time (DS)
of the success of the previous Mario and Luigi game for the
GBA, Nintendo took a chance at taking advantage of the DS
hardware while trying to please their fans.
original was perfectly suited for the GBA, Nintendo had to
keep things fresh and different to apply the same sense of innovation
with a DS based sequel. While you could control Mario's jump
with one button on the GBA, and Luigi with the other face
button, the DS offered a bit more in the way of controls. With
two additional face buttons and the single additional screen,
the game went in what seemed like a natural direction; either
go with another set of brothers (Wario and Waluigi, perhaps...)
or go with an alternate duo of the same good old Mario
idea of controlling four characters with a single d-pad and
four face buttons may sound quite intimidating to the uninitiated,
old fans of the original know what this means; innovation and
addictive puzzle-based RPG fun.
Love it or
hate it, Mario and Luigi 2 does not offer a deep and emotionally
stirring plot like fellow RPGs may promise. Instead, Nintendo
goes in a far more refreshing and appropriate direction for a
portable RPG. Enter Nintendo's unique sense of humor.
plot starts with two sets, or times, of Mario and Luigi. One
in the same present day world in which we all know and love.
The other set being in a contradictory (if you're a Mario
affectioniato, as it were) and more annoying time. In other
words, we are shown a set of adult brothers enjoying an
example of E. Gad's (the inventor of Luigi's Mansion infamy)
latest invention, a time machine. At the same time (from the
player's perspective, not the plot's) two infantile brothers
face a threat from baby Bowser. While the younger brothers
defeat Bowser, an even more important threat looms on the
horizon; alien invasion.
confused at this point, let's just clarify things by saying
some random shit happens in typical Nintendo style. While some
developers may ease new plot developments on the player,
Nintendo has never been afraid to be a bit more...ummmm...blunt.
(alien mushrooms) attack the past Mushroom Kingdom, which is
being visited by the adult Princess Peach, thanks to her
testing of E. Gad's time machine, along with two of her
assistants. Some random shit happens (I could try to explain,
but Nintendo is one random company that usually defies
explanation), and time portals start to open across the
Mushroom Kingdom. So, in order to find their lost Princess,
adult Mario and Luigi set off into the past to find what
happened. It is around this time that they stumble upon their
infant selves, and they soon decide to team up.
doesn't really sort itself out too much from there. However,
this is an RPG that is less about the overall plot, and more
about the situation at hand. While there is a large plot that
rules over everything, it is vague, random, and of little
interest. However, the smaller instances that make up each
moment of the game are where the game really shines. This is
where Nintendo pulls out one of the best senses of humor seem
by a game developer.
In fact, the
main plot will do little for an average gamer, but it will
actually cause potential anger by Nintendo fanboys around the
world. For example, in what many of you may have already
noticed by my recap of the initial plot, baby Mario and baby
Luigi are in the past with baby Princess Peach, despite how
they arrived in the Mushroom Kingdom (according to the Mario
chronology) as adult plumbers from New York. Other instances
of this type of conundrum occur throughout the game. However,
unless you're an easily agitated fanboy, this won't be a
In the end,
the plot will always be silly, it will always be fun to
experience, and it will always show some great character
interactions between the brave and gallant Mario and the
cowardly and clumsy Luigi. This is not even mentioning the
wonderful relationship that forms between Bowser's adult and
baby forms, which work together and battle each other, while
never knowing who each version is truly dealing with.
played any Mario RPG game before, you should know the basic
concept. If you haven't, here's another chance to be confused
and amazed by Nintendo's unique approach to all things
things off, each brother (Mario, Luigi, baby Mario, and baby
Luigi) has a face button mapped out to them. Mario is always controlled
with the A button. If you ever want to make Mario jump, you
will hit the A button. If you want him to perform some other
ability, you will hit the A button. The same applies to B and
Luigi, X and baby Mario, and Y and baby Luigi. It really is
that simple. Since you will always be controlling two brothers
(either the baby versions, the adult versions, or the adult
versions carrying the baby versions) at a given time, this
means you will have to time jumps and other actions
accordingly. For example, if you are approaching a pitfall,
you will have to hit A then B to complete the jump, since
Mario always leads with Luigi following.
sound confusing. In fact, it should. If you have never played
a Mario and Luigi game before, it will take a little practice
to get this concept down. For the first hour of the game, you
will probably find yourself failing a lot of easy jumps, since
you'll forget to have each brother jump. Luckily, Nintendo is
pretty forgiving with this, and they will give you plenty of
time and lessons on how to handle these controls.
goes without saying, but every aspect of this game involves
action. You don't have a simple world map to move around on in
2D, like many RPGs employ. Instead, you will always have a 3D
based environment to navigate. These will include many pits
(to jump over), ledges (to climb with jumping), hidden areas
(to access with unique brother dependant abilities), and
enemies moving around in real time.
game starts with each brother only having the ability to jump,
new powers will be unlocked with time. For example, the
younger brothers will soon obtain hammers, which can be used
to strike foes, hit switches, and to do some rather unusual
things with (like baby Mario drinking a lot of water, and baby
Luigi striking him with his hammer to use the baby as a
sprinkler). While the babies are the only ones to get hammers,
the adults get their own special abilities. Luigi can initiate
a spinning jump while on Mario's shoulders to hover like a
helicopter for short periods, and Mario can control a
formation with Luigi that makes them into a wheel shape to
speed around the land. Plus, Mario and Luigi can always carry
their baby forms whenever the two groups cross paths.
All of these
abilities, put together, equal a unique chance for an RPG.
While many games will just focus on non-battle and non-story
sequences as a chance to either gain experience or to just get
from point A to point B, Mario and Luigi 2 goes a completely
different route. Each map you traverse will be filled with
small puzzles to accomplish, requiring unique uses of each
brothers' abilities, and small sections of pseudo-action sequences.
action continues in more areas than just the maps. When battle
is initiated, by coming into contact with an enemy, the action
continues. Just starting a battle can be a bit tense, as the
way you initiate contact will determine how the fight begins.
If you touch an enemy, then you will simply fight. However, if
an enemy hits you from an awkward angle (like from behind),
you will usually start the combat in a stunned state (allowing
free attacks to be delivered on your sorry asses). The tables
can be turned as well, and if you start a battle by leaping on
an enemy's head, they will start the fight taking damage from
a jump attack. Plus, if battle begins with a baby brother
hitting a foe with a hammer, then the enemy will start
begins, action and RPG will blend nicely, yet calmly. When
it's your turn, the game will halt while you browse your menus
for what action to perform. You can chose few at the start of
the game, but this list will grow as you gain abilities and
unique items. These attacks will include jumping, striking
with a hammer (assuming the babies are present, since they do
own the hammers in this game), using healing and buff items,
and special "Bro Items" to launch special offensive
actions may be initiated with simple menus, the completing of
these maneuvers require more reflexes and coordination. When
you jump on a foe, you can tap the button that corresponds to
the attacking brother at the right time to deal extra damage.
If you swing a hammer, you can hit the button at the right
time as the baby in questions pulls back with his swing to
deal a little extra damage. If the adults are carrying the
babies, you will be able to time things correctly and get both
involved in the bonus damage (by using both the adult's and
baby's buttons correctly).
All of this
goes a step further with the introduction of Bro Items. While
previous Mario RPG games have involved a use of some sort of
magic point system, M&L2 disposes of this system entirely.
Instead, you collect/purchase/find special offensive items
throughout the game. Some are common, some rare, some cheap,
some expensive, and some unlock as you progress through the
Items are all variations on classic Mario tools and items.
There are turtle shells, fire flowers, chain chomps, and
plenty of variations on these basic themes. When you use an
item, the top screen of the DS will give you an informative
lesson on the proper use of said item, and on how to time your
button presses. Each item will require a quick successive
pressing of the buttons that correspond to the brothers being
used in the attack. For example, a turtle shell will be kicked
by one brother, bounced off an enemy (to deal damage), and
then bounced back to the opposite brother to kick back. For
each hit (either to the brothers or the foe) you will have a
button press to ensure either the shell remains in play or
that the enemy gets a little extra damage.
All of the
items come down to this type of mechanic of timed button
presses or rapid successful strikes of a button (button
mashing of the correct button at the correct time). While
repeated button timings may sound annoying, the inclusion of a
dozen or so Bro Items will help to ensure that you never have
a chance to get bored with this combat engine.
The rest of
the game plays much like a standard RPG. Slaying enemies will
give you money (gold coins) and experience. Experience will be
used to raise your level and thus boost your stats. The money
will be used to buy new armor (overalls) and items. You will
fight bosses, you will explore dungeons, and you will talk to
friendly characters. It's all standard issue RPG on the
surface, but silly and unique at it's heart.
for Mario and Luigi 2 are honestly not much improved over the
original M&L. This is a bit of a disappointment,
considering how much more powerful of a graphical processor
the DS has over the GBA. In fact, while games like Animal
Crossing, Nintendogs, and Mario 64 DS look like they could
never have been made for the GBA, this is not the case for
is a bit of a complaint, this is also not too bad of an issue.
While it would be nice to see some greatly improved visuals
for a game on this powerful little handheld, it still does not
take away from the overall experience. The visuals are nowhere
near being "bad". They just suffer from being
mediocre and uninspired when compared to the original, which
came from an inferior game system.
three main aspects to the audio of this game. On one hand, you
have some really forgettable music. You will not leave this
game with any of the soundtrack stuck in your head. In fact,
you will probably not be able to recall any of the music from
this game only 5 minutes after you put it down. That is not to
say that the music isn't good...it's also not saying that the
music isn't bad. It simply doesn't effect the game one way or
effects fall into the same general category as the music, but
with one key difference. You have heard these same sounds ever
since Mario first graced the gaming world. Just like how
Dragon Quest games will usually use the same sound effects as
the older games in that series, Nintendo likes to keep the
classical Mario sounds. Like with the music, this is not good
or bad...it simply is.
acting, if you can call it that, however, is excellent. There
has never, in my opinion, been such a great job of voice work
in an RPG before. While the voice acting is only a little more
refined than the babbling of talk in The Sims, it is quite
appropriate. Considering how we've rarely heard Mario actually
speak (outside of "It's ah-me...ah-Mario!"),
Nintendo did the right thing in keeping our hero almost mute.
However, you will get dialogue, spoken, from the four brothers
(not to mention the two Bowsers, and a few other characters),
but it will amount to a few real words buried in a bunch of gibberish.
this gibberish is golden. Mario will occasionally call for
"Luigi" or the "Babies" by name, while
filling in the majority of the rest of his words with
gibberish. In the end, only a few words are clearly said,
including "Oh No!", a few names, and the occasional
"mama mia!". While some people (mainly those who
played The Sims too many times) will look at this style of speech
as annoying, it fits the game perfectly. Beyond that, it works
perfectly in keeping Mario as a special figure in the gaming
world; a silent, yet noisy man of mystery.
In the end,
there are some definite negative aspects to this game. On it's
own, this game can look to be a technological stumbling block
for Nintendo, who didn't capitalize on the power of their
still new DS. The visuals just don't live up to what the DS
has already shown us.
there's a matter of how long it takes to finish this game.
When someone plays a Mario game, they don't typically come
into the game expecting a long adventure. However, when it
turns out that this Mario game is an RPG, 15-20 hours will
definitely make many people think of this as way too short of
In the end,
however, opinions can change when the sum of it's parts is far
inferior to the final package. The game is shorter than most
RPGs, but it offers a lot of fun, and it's designed to be a
great diversion for a handheld unit. The visuals may not
impress, but they don't hurt the game in any way. Throw in the
brilliant "voice work", the refreshing plot, and the
addictive game play style, and the game will leave you wanting
and Luigi: Partners in Time earns a 8.75 out of 10.
Not the best game ever...but well worth playing.