Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time

There are, of course, a number of areas where Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time could be better. A stronger and thicker script would give more purpose to some of its segments; a fully connected world, like the one from Superstar Saga, could have brought forth a bigger sense of freedom and worked far better than the linear portal-based traveling it employs; and the time-traveling quirk out of which it extracts its greatest new mechanic, the presence of Baby Mario and Baby Luigi, is visibly underused, as it fails to bring any other considerable ramifications in plot as well as in gameplay. Nevertheless, an evaluation of its components reveals a game that is strong, as its humor is undeniably sharp, its animations are lovely, its battle system is highly entertaining, and the puzzles that appear as the heroes explore the world are simple yet fun. Due to that, although it falls short of the greatness achieved by some of the other entries of the series, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time is a very solid role-playing outing by the plumber.

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Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Superstar Saga, though, is not satisfied with one victorious idea. Although simultaneously controlling Mario and Luigi as they explore the overworld and tackle turn-based battles is indeed the main component of its fuel, the game is packed with clever concepts and engaging elements that either derive from that central pillar or adorn it. It is a powerful combination that still makes this Game Boy Advance gem feel fresh and unique, even if various sequels have built upon its central mechanic with some success.

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Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story

Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story is the defining moment of the Nintendo DS. As the handheld approached the end of its cycle, Nintendo and AlphaDream crafted the ultimate double-screen masterpiece, which utilizes every single feature the system has to offer in a very natural and fun way while squeezing every bit out of the machine’s hardware. Match that with great level design, a brilliant core gameplay concept, amazing art, the unique charm of the Mario RPG titles, over twenty hours of gameplay and you have one of the best titles Nintendo has ever put out in the market and one that safely lives up to the wonders of Superstar Saga.

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Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam

Its problem, however, is that its integration with the Paper Mario universe feels half-baked, as if its developers came up with an intriguing premise but failed to deliver the goods. What could have been a gameplay-altering experiment that brought new breath to the franchise, something that the concepts of its three predecessors were able to achieve, winds up resulting in just a few scattered elements that pop up here and there but that are neither well-integrated enough to make much of a difference nor carry enough weight to have the impact that was expected. To those new to the franchise, Paper Jam will certainly be impressive; to those that have been following the two brothers tackle this humorous version of the Mario universe since Superstar Saga, the game will likely feel like it does not do enough things differently in order to justify its concept.

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Jammed Creativity

Paper Jam shuns that structure, a worthy move considering it had already been used three times, and opts to simply make Paper Mario tag along Mario and Luigi. His addition, and that of paper characters and enemies running around the kingdom, does affect gameplay to some degree, especially in battles. However, other than that, standing close to the game’s halfway point, Paper Jam has yet to truly pull off something remarkable and inventive out of that combination. Instead of feeling like a crash worthy of the hadron collider, Paper Jam ha – so far – come off as something that was quickly stitched up together without much thought.

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Mario & Luigi: Dream Team

Still, with over thirty hours of solid gameplay, two distinct worlds that are equally charming and fully developed to their potential, and visuals that are a joy to look at, there is little to complain about Dream Team. With Paper Mario lying dormant, the Mario and Luigi series may indeed be the final bastion of the Mario RPGs, but at least fans can rest assured knowing that the legacy that started being built with Super Mario RPG and gained strength with the first two Paper Mario games is in very talented hands, and although it reaches its fourth installment with Dream Team, it is still able to surprise and produce the unexpected.

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E3 2015: Thoughts And Words Part I

Nintendo’s showing at E3 2015 was notable not because of the games that were shown, but due to the strong negative reactions from fans the presentation triggered. The company approached this year’s virtual conference with a theme of transformation; taking notable franchises out of their comfort zones and into new grounds. While some of the shape-shifting yielded results whose outlooks are promising, others fell poorly flat. Like pretty much everything in our mundane world, the overall output was neither as dark nor as brilliant as it is being currently painted, it landed somewhere in between on a intriguingly gray area. It is time to tell the good from the bad.

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