With the Legend of Zelda series finally getting a new game on 3DS after the console’s two years on the market, expectations were running high. A sequel to A Link to the Past in a familiar style? A proper overworld to explore with a ton of interesting content and connected locations? Difficult arcade based gameplay? That all sounded a tad ambitious back when the game was first shown. Heck, some people were even worried this title was going to hurt the legacy of the SNES classic with its association alone.
Thankfully though, everything has turne d out fine. And based on my recent full playthrough of The Legend of Zelda A Link Between Worlds, I can hence say that the game is one of the best, most well designed and thoroughly enjoyable titles in recent Nintendo history. Here’s my review of this modern day classic…
As of a few days ago, Mario & Luigi Dream Team was released in Europe, giving me the chance to play it through to the ending. It had a tough job following up on Bowser’s Inside Story (thanks to its predecessors high quality in general), and some people were skeptical it could. After all, other recent Mario games were a bit disappointing…
But now I’ve played it, I can safely say it is most definitely a worthy follow-up to the previous Mario & Luigi games, with a level of quality and gameplay depth that makes even the best elements of the last few games pale in comparison. So here’s my review of it at last, Mario & Luigi Dream Team (Bros).
The first thing to mention here are the graphics of the game. Yes they’ve got a 3D look to them rather than the cartoony sprite style of the first few games. But damn, they look amazing.
Above: Mario & Luigi Dream Team’s visuals are utterly fantastic, and work really well.
The colours are vibrant, the backgrounds and settings are full of detail, and the characters even have a range of unique sprites for just about every possible scenario. As far as converting the series look to 3D goes, Dream Team succeeds brilliantly.
Musically, Mario & Luigi Dream Team is absolutely amazing. No really, it’s arguably got one of the best soundtracks of any Mario game going, and one which is even better than that from Bowser’s Inside Story.
The boss battle themes? Epic. The normal one is good enough…
But then things like the giant battle theme or a certain villain’s boss theme blow even THAT away:
There’s also the catchy and overly dramatic final boss theme, but obviously I can’t spoil that too much.
Normal music wise, this game is definitely an improvement too. The dream world much is suitably upbeat and catchy with a weird feel that has to be heard to be believed, and each normal area has a memorable theme that fits it perfectly. And the character leitmotifs are catchy too…
All in all, it’s an amazing soundtrack with not a single bad song included. And refreshing too, given how many Mario games with bland, generic music we’ve been given in recent years (New Super Mario Bros, Mario 3D Land, etc). The music here is great.
On to the gameplay now, which I can say is pretty much the best RPG gameplay around.
Of course, on a gameplay level… this isn’t your typical RPG game. Expecting a glacially slow turn based game where enemies stay still while you attack them and any done in return is unavoidable? Or where the most ‘action’ you ever have is walking round an overworld map? Well that’s not this one. In fact, Mario & Luigi Dream Team is arguably the most dynamic, interesting RPG you’ve ever seen.
For one thing, there are two interesting ‘worlds’ to explore here, the real one and the dream one. In the real one, Mario & Luigi have to use special abilities like the spin jump, ball and Mole Mario to access different areas and solve puzzles. Like Superstar Saga or Partners in Time to be honest, to the point it’s arguably more like a platformer outside of combat. It’s also got some rather interesting and original location ideas, like the bizarre muscle based Mount Pajamaja or the creepy and mystical Somnom Woods, the home of the Pi’llo civilisations lost temple and deity.
Above: The forest area is a fantastic place to explore in the ‘real’ world.
But this just pales a bit compared to the dream world, where all rules of logic go out the window and literally anything can happen. The view changes to a side on one, the gameplay changes to that of a 2D puzzle platformer (like Bowser’s insides in the last game) and Luigi suddenly gains mystical powers that can interact with the environment. Like possessing the sun and causing the temperature to change based on what happens in the real world. Or flipping gravity in four directions Super Mario Galaxy style. Heck, at one point, he can even speed up and slow down time to let Mario pass obstacles!
Add how the level design goes absolutely nuts with crazy labyrinth style designs and the presence of monsters fought in large hordes rather than individually, and the dream world part of the game is absolutely fantastic.
Above: This is the most normal Dream World screenshot around.
Combat is where the game truly shines though. Up to now, Mario RPGs were basically just turn based battles mixed with quick time events in the form of action commands. Oh sure, Mario and Luigi could jump or hammer things away and what not, but it was still basically just one very well-timed button press. Not this one. For starters, many normal enemy attacks actually let you move around freely when countering, so you can take into account depth as well as height. But then you see things like enemies that chase you into the screen while firing missiles and laser beams in your general direction, or enemies that you have to hit by firing into the background, and you realise that combat in this game is far closer to that in an action RPG rather than just your typical turn based title. And the final battles of the game are even better, to the point the last Antasma battle makes you sometimes forget what genre you’re playing while in the middle of it.
Above: An example of a dynamic action sequence.
Above: This battle is cool enough you forget you’re even playing an RPG at some points, it’s that dynamic and action packed.
Did I forget Bros attacks/Luiginary abilities? Yeah, these are another interesting part of the combat system. In the real world, Mario & Luigi can team up with special attack items like a helicopter helmet or a rideable star, and then beat what amounts to a quirky mini game using the gyro sensor or the like to do massive damage to an enemy or boss. In the dream world on the other hand, Mario teams up with an ARMY of Luigi clones to do massive damage with some clever dream strategising, leading to things like him riding a ball made of them or using a bunch of them to form a giant sledgehammer to send down on foes. It’s absolutely hilarious, and makes the battles literally ten times more enjoyable as a result.
Above: This is the kind of wackyness that Bros Attacks and Luiginary attacks consist of.
There are also giant Luigi battles, where Luigi has to become a giant via the power of dreams and take down wacky foes that you’d never have expected to see. And wacky is pretty much the best word for these things. A volcano that comes to life and tries to smash you to a pulp? Okay then, time to fight it with the 200 foot tall plumber and sledgehammer! Or how about that battle with the island’s GOD/guardian? That’s sure something to experience, with your foe even opening dimensional rifts and flying through portals in zero gravity while Luigi gives chase. Oh, and if you thought they were a bit… easy/non dynamic in Bowser’s Inside Story… well, you’re in for a surprise here. The giant bosses have about ten different attacks each, multiple new forms and weaknesses that have to be exploited by cleverly using the gyroscope and touch screen to block their attacks and counter. It’s far more strategic, far more action packed and honestly, awesome enough that Nintendo should probably just make a spinoff game based around the mechanic already.
Above: Believe it or not… this is the easiest, most BORING of the giant Luigi battles…
So really, Mario & Luigi Dream Team is by far the most impressive, entertaining Mario RPG ever made on a gameplay level. You literally can’t play it and go back to the older titles without thinking something is seriously missing in them.
Now normally, this isn’t really worth commenting too much about when it comes to the Mario RPGs, they’ve always got a ton of content and replay value anyway. But believe this, Dream Team outdoes every single one for both main single player adventure length and optional content.
For starters, the main quest up to the final boss has got to be at least 35 hours long minimum. That’s pretty much the longest main adventure in Mario game history (not that there’s much competition there, Mario games are usually quite short anyway) and it’s only a best case scenario estimate. Seriously, 35 hours is roughly what you’d take if you plowed through the game non stop, sort of like what I did. And it’s also assuming you don’t mess up or get stuck too often.
Above: I’ve played this game for over 40 hours, and it’s still not 100% done.
Which is probably not true of most people. For one thing, there are quite a few sections in this game that are a tad confusing if you don’t know what you’re doing, so anyone trying to beat it without a guide (such as say, anyone in Europe since IGN and GameExplain seem to be under Nintendo of America embargos) is likely going to spend a good few extra hours running around kind of aimlessly trying to figure out what to do next. This is especially true of Neo Bowser Castle and its random doors…
Additionally, the game is actually damn hard. Indeed, of all the Mario RPGs ever made… this is probably the toughest by far. Thought Paper Mario 2′s battles were hard? God help you here boyo, some of these boss battles make those ones look like a walk in the park (thanks to the complex counters needed to block attacks, huge enemy health and paper-thin defences of the Mario bros). In fact, if you have absolutely any trouble with action gameplay whatsoever (aka happen to be a very traditional JRPG fan), the boss battles here will utterly destroy you. That guardian in the forest? Will basically rip poor players in half if they’re not careful. Those later giant Luigi battles (think the last three or four)? Can easily be a major, major difficulty spike if you’re not good with the touch screen or gyroscope controls. Heck, even Big Mastif in Dreamy Wakeport could ruin someone’s day if they’re not prepared to fight him. Add some mini games and challenges that really do require high precision and the fact Giant Luigi bosses seemingly can’t be skipped and don’t take your stats into account whatsoever, and you’ve got a game that can easily cause hours of difficulty hell past the dream mountain area. In fact, that giant Luigi volcano boss is pretty much the best marker of where the difficulty goes up and generally stays there, so you’d better be prepared to practice and put the effort in. That could add another ten or so hours for a mediocre gamer.
Above: He isn’t kidding either, this boss can be annoying as hell to fight in either the Battle Ring or main adventure.
But even outside the main ‘quest’, there’s a lot to do in this game. You’ve got mini games to perfect, picture puzzles to assemble and solve, Pi’llows to find across the kingdom, items and gear to collect… and some rather nice challenge modes called the Battle Ring and the Mad Skillathon. The former is basically the Gauntlet from Inside Story (complete with a giant Luigi battle boss rush), the latter a bunch of Bros item challenges that put your reflexes to the test. Both are way, way harder than they sound.
And once that’s all done… there’s hard mode. Haven’t tried it yet, but apparently it was brutal enough the game’s producer failed the tutorial. And that enemies do a ton more damage than they already do, with faster/harder to dodge attacks still… That’s gonna add a good few hours even for the best players, especially given how the basic game on normal mode is already one heck of a challenge to beat.
So for length and replay value, Mario & Luigi Dream Team is a fantastic game with plenty of both elements.
Yeah, weird choice of category I know. But hey, the humour in the Mario RPGs is arguably as important as the gameplay (as the backlash against Paper Mario Sticker Star shows), so I thought people ought to know whether this game lives up to its predecessors on a story/writing level.
The answer? Yes it definitely does live up to its predecessors on a story and humour level, even if some people online seem to be skeptical.
For one thing, it has a really neat new villain in the form of Antasma, Known as the Bat King, this mysterious baddie was apparently the reason the ancient kingdom fell and has the power to attack those in the world of dreams as well as reality. He’s got an intriguing design based on all the previous Mario RPG villains in one (someone even said that this is intentional, given his concept as a living nightmare), a way of speaking taken straight from old Dracula movies and a personality which strikes just the right balance between ‘menacing’ and ‘having any character’ (unlike say the Shroobs or Dark Star). So at least it isn’t Bowser as the only villain again.
Above: Antasma is an awesome new villain…
Talking of Bowser, he’s handled pretty well here too. Whereas Paper Mario and the first few Mario & Luigi games made him a complete joke and Sticker Star made him a mindless brute, Bowser in Dream Team manages to both be pretty darn entertaining to listen to AND an actual credible threat at the same time. And while I won’t spoil what happens, he gets at least one moment near the ending which actually shows him as more competent than the new bad guy. That’s nice for someone who tends to get beaten up by whatever villain is new on the block in the other games.
Above: But Bowser is portrayed really well here too!
But even outside of the villains, the story is handled extremely well and the characters are kept interesting. Starlow and Dreambert are given personalities and are generally nowhere near as annoying as you’d expect (especially the former), Bowser’s minions from the last game return and get actual lines and a major plot role, the people on the island all seem to actually care about the main storyline and kind of worry when the world goes to hell and every inch of the script is filled with self referential gags and mocking of RPG cliches (one notable scene has the shop keeper literally charge past the duo right when the final dungeon lands to set up a shop outside)
It’s also filled with great shout outs and nods to the past games, complete with numerous major characters either appearing or being given cameo roles in the form of name dropping or pictures. Popple returns, Kylie Koopa returns, the Beanbean Kingdom people return… heck, you even see pictures of the Shroobs and Queen Bean at one point in the game, as well as Broque Monsieur’s obvious major role. It’s pretty much a Mario & Luigi fan’s dream game character wise.
Above: Characters from past games reappear, like this familiar one here.
So story wise, Dream Team is as good as any of the previous Mario RPGs and actually feels like a successor to Bowser’s Inside Story.
Overall, Mario & Luigi Dream Team is a brilliant game. It’s got great graphics and music, a wonderfully inventive combat system and dual world gameplay and maintains all the great jokes and humour found in the previous three games. Definitely worth a purchase if you’ve even the remotest interest in Mario in general.
Luigi’s Mansion 2 is a brilliant game. Yeah, that’s pretty much the entire gist of the review and the one message you should care for right off the bat, so there’s no real question whether it’s a game you should buy in future.
But let me explain why it’s a great game in more detail via this review. Basically, Luigi’s Mansion 2 is better than the first game in every way. It’s better on a technical level, it’s better on a gameplay/design level, and it’s so much better on a replay value/difficulty level that the original can’t even begin to compare to it. Let’s start with the technical side and the graphics and music first…
Graphically, Luigi’s Mansion 2 is one of the best games on the 3DS. Every mansion looks absolutely fantastic and is packed to the literal rafters with detail, the ghosts are all generally well designed and it looks so clear and non blurry that the game could quite easily stand on a home console with only minimal changes.
Above: This is running on a handheld system. My god game graphics have come a long way since the Game Boy…
This is even more noticeable in the Secret Mine, where the snow effects and general feel are so outstanding in their quality that you end up forgetting that this is a game that’s running on a handheld games system. Seriously, if you still don’t think the graphics are amazing immediately, go and play through the last few mansions since they are some of the best examples ever of what the 3DS is capable of graphics tech wise.
P.S. There’s also quite a few neat background things. Like how you can see King Boo fly past you in the background in numerous missions…
Amazing. That’s literally the only way to describe the music in this game. Every track fits perfectly, you’ve got all kinds of creepy remixes and unique pieces of music for the most minor areas and sections, and generally it’s at least as good as the original. Have a listen to some samples:
That’s just the tip of the iceberg in how brilliant the soundtrack is. Every mansion has its own fantastic remix of the main theme that fits the feel perfectly (and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout):
Above: Haunted Towers, the Old Clockworks and the Secret Mine music are all great remixes of the same general theme.
What’s more impressive is how many unique pieces of music they came up with for this title. I mean, how many tracks did the original have? About ten? This one on the other hand has an original remix or piece of music for literally every possible situation from you being outside/inside, playing a jukebox or a piano being played in the distance. And every single one of these themes fits the mood perfectly.
Definitely one of the best Nintendo soundtracks of recent years.
As for how Luigi’s Mansion 2 stacks up gameplay wise, it stacks up fantastically and is literally one of the most entertaining games on the 3DS so far.
Yes it’s a bit different from how it was in the first Luigi’s Mansion (you don’t use two analogue sticks to change your view/movement independantly and the ghost busting is very different to before), but it’s arguably much better as a result. For instance, in the original game, the ghost catching process could get extremely annoying. Oh look, I didn’t pull back in exactly the right direction and he got away. Oh yay, I’ve got to whittle down all 100 of the enemy’s health bit by bit. But here all the core ghost busting has been improved. No longer do you fly away from the ghost whenever you make the most minor slip up, it’s forgiving enough that you have to actually not try or get hit to lose your grip. You also have this power meter you can charge up that lets you give the ghost a deadly electric shock whenever it reaches its limit and you press A, which wears it down even quicker. And best of all, dodging enemy attacks while trying to suck in enemies is actually doable now, you can hit B to leap out the way of incoming attacks and projectiles. Much better than the somewhat archaic method used in the first title.
Above: Catching ghosts is much, much better in Luigi’s Mansion 2.
The other controls are well done and easy to get the hang of too. The Slide Pad is obviously used to move (with B as a run button), A is used to activate the Strobe Light, Y for the Dark Light, R to suck things in, L to spit them out and X to interact with the environment (or look up if not near anything). These controls work well enough that the game feels like its entirely based on your skill rather than any fault of the game, and when you fail it feels entirely fair too.
The basic structure of the game works great. You’ve got various mansions to explore, each is split into ten-thirty minute missions with ghosts to catch and puzzles to solve (sort of equivalent to an ‘area’ in the original) and the basic structure has you wandering from place to place while interacting with things in the environment. The level design here is absolutely top notch, each room and hallway has a whole ton of things to do and find, as well a good ton of objects to interact with via the Strobe Light, Dark Light and Poltergust 5000. And believe you me, the puzzles and gimmicks here are amazing. You have to carry balls of spider web and light them on fire, bring objects from room to room to do things like water plants, light a rocket fuse or weigh down switches with buckets of water. These get even more complex later when things like portals/teleportation or conveyer belts get thrown into the mix, and are an absolute highlight of the game. This is what the next Zelda game’s puzzles should be like.
Above: The puzzles in this game are great fun and extremely well designed.
But don’t think combat is only an aside here or that skill isn’t involved. Ghosts now have far better intelligence and teamwork skills than in the original, and can use things like armour, weapons or disguises to aid their attempts at brutally maiming poor Luigi. Ghosts now come in packs larger than any seen in the original. And outside of battle, you’ve also got to do things like ride balloons with the Poltergust, cross narrow swaying tightropes with gyro controls and shoot flaming rocks and bombs at distant targets to take ‘em down. This may be a more puzzle based game than before, but this is also at least twice as heavy on the action and combat.
Bosses are great too. Not going to spoil too much, but wow, the first boss in this game is impressive enough that it arguably required more skill and logical thinking to solve than any of the ‘final’ bosses from most other recent Nintendo games. And the later ones always keep it interesting with new game mechanics and clever ideas.
Above: This one boss is arguably better than 90% of Nintendo bosses in recent years.
This game’s extra mansions are the biggest and best addition though. Remember how in the first game it seemed like the rooms sometimes blended in to each other or how they were a bit too ‘realistic’ at the expense of gameplay variety? That’s not the case here. Haunted Towers has you messing with plants, Old Clockworks with gears and technology and the Secret Mine with dangerous caverns and icy floors. These ‘mansions’ may be less ‘down to earth’ than the first game’s one, but by darn they are far more impressive and interesting to explore. And the last one is the best of all…
Above: It looks the part too.
As far as gameplay goes, Luigi’s Mansion 2 is a fantastic game that is better than the original in near enough every way. Like what a sequel SHOULD be.
Difficulty and game length is the next point to mention, and it’s definitely a marked improvement over the first game. Luigi’s Mansion 2 is both far more difficult and far longer than the first game to its benefit.
Length wise, the additional mansions are the main bonus here. Basically, you have five mansions to explore, each with between 3 and 7 missions a piece. With these missions each taking between 5 and 20 minutes depending on your skill and each ‘mansion’ arguably being the same size as the single house from the original game, you can bet your life this won’t be over in a couple of hours.
Above: If you don’t believe my game length claims, just look at how big the maps are on the bottom screen and how many floors each place has.
And as for difficulty, I was not joking when I said this game was significantly tougher. For one thing, the types of puzzles and ideas you have to figure out in this game are way, way more complex than in the original title. Think you’re just going to be racing from room to room in a fairly straight line while catching a few ghosts? Think again, these mansions are basically enormous mazes filled with twisting passageways and rooms that all seem to lead to different places. Indeed, if you don’t have a walkthrough with you, it’s entirely possible to either get stuck at a puzzle or just plain lost in the various houses you end up exploring.
Above: It’s quite easy to get lost in the Secret Mine.
Oh, and don’t you think combat is easier here either. Yeah, sucking in ghosts may be simpler now you don’t have to ‘reel’ them in so much and can generally keep hold of most ghosts you’re sucking in with the Poltergust for longer, but these ghosts tend to have multiple attacks, clever defensive strategies and come in (sometimes rather large) groups that surround you from all sides! Think dealing with Van Gore’s minions from the original was a challenge? Just wait until you try dealing with the more… ‘natural’ ghosts of Evershade Valley!
Above: They may look a bit cute, but these guys are ten times more vicious than the ghosts from the original.
The bosses are no cakewalk either. Remember how before Boolossus was the only remotely difficult fight in Luigi’s Mansion and how the vast majority of portrait ghosts were fairly simple for ‘bosses’? Well that’s all changed. The spider boss in mansion 1 has three difficult ways you have to attack it and learns from your past behaviour, the clock face boss has you swarmed with enemies in a cramped location and the later bosses after that are even tougher. And the mini bosses? Way more aggressive than the portrait ghosts in the original. Poltergeist? Not bad. Three Sisters? Arguably harder than every non boss portrait ghost in the original bar perhaps Sir Weston and the Toy Soldiers (because of how they can swarm you from all sides). And the later ones like the ‘Ancient Poltergeist’ are not particularly easy either, even if I did take ‘em out within a minute or less.
So don’t worry about this being an easy or short game, because it really isn’t. And while some will say the lack of portrait ghosts causes it to lose personality, the honest to God truth is that the mini bosses and bosses you do see there are way, way more brutal and clever than any of the humanoid ones from the original.
Much, much better than the first Luigi’s Mansion. Yeah that’s not exactly a difficult thing to beat replay value wise (especially if you live outside of Europe and got the crappy version of the Hidden Mansion as your only reward), but this game really does outdo it in so many ways in regards to getting you to reply missions over and over.
For one thing, each mission has a Boo to catch. Kind of like how each room in the original game had one, except now it’s far more interesting given the lack of a Boo radar and the fact you actually have to find it in a hidden (Spirit Ball affected) object in one room of many instead of just interacting with random furniture. And if you get all of them? You unlock a secret mission that has you speed run through much of the mansion while catching even more ghosts! No more worthless diamonds here!
Above: The one easy to find/catch Boo in the game.
But that’s not the only thing that’s interesting. Each mansion also has about 10 gem stones you have to collect, which again require you to search the area far and wide and explore even the most optional rooms. I’m not sure what they’re used for yet, but they probably have some effect on the gameplay somewhere down the line.
The big addition however is the star ranking system. Yes, whereas before you just a single grade at the end of the game to say how well you did, here you get a grade of between 1 and 3 stars for every single mission in the game! And with about twenty or third missions and extremely tough requirements for the best rating (you need to be fast, take no damage and collect a ton of cash all in one go), it’s yet another additional feature that WILL keep you coming back over and over again.
Above: Getting 3 stars on all missions is hard. As is finding all the gems. Heck, the fact this screen exists shows how much more replay value this game has compared to the first.
Oh, and there’s always the other nice ‘bonus’ in that you can return to earlier missions with all the equipment, items and powers you get later. It’s not some massive add on (as far as I know hidden rooms are quite rare in this game), but it does give you quite a few rewards if you can go back to the earlier Gloomy Mansion missions and use things like the Poltergust and Dark Light right off the bat.
The multiplayer is the other big thing here. Think you’ve seen and done it all because you’ve beaten all the missions and got everything? Think again, you’ve got the terrifying ScareScraper ahead of you!
Above: The ScareScraper, destroyer of many a Luigi’s Mansion 2 player or team…
First thing to keep in mind here is that the ScareScraper has a TON of options and game modes, as well as its own unique content and unlockables. You’ve got three different modes (Hunter, Rush and Polterpup), all of which offer their own challenges. You’ve then got options for anywhere between 5 and an infinite number of floors (the latter you need to unlock for each mode), a mode which mixes them all… and it’s entirely playable through both downloadable play and over the internet against friends and random strangers. Did I mention the floor plans are entirely randomised? Yeah, this mode has almost infinite replayability.
In addition to this, it’s also damn hard to boot. Think you can stroll through Hunter mode even on normal? Ha ha, you’ve got another think coming, even beating 10 floors on normal can be a challenge with the enemies it throws at you! And then every five or so floors gives you a brand new boss with about 3-600 health and an infinitely spawning army of minions to deal with. And these guys only show up in multiplayer and have to be ‘collected’, so you then have to play over and over just to find and take down extremely difficult monsters you’ll never see elsewhere. Then you’ve got other difficulties, like the near suicidal ‘Expert’ mode which can literally knock you dead in round 1. Oh wait, I forgot about the other modes too. Rush mode will destroy you through lack of time alone.
Above: Oh he looks easy. Then you see his 600 HP and army of minions…
With the ScareScraper, rankings, Boos, secret missions and gems, Luigi’s Mansion 2 has a ton of replay value to the point it makes the original look like a complete joke.
Some Minor Issues
There are however a few things the game does do wrong. What’s the first of these? Gyro controls.
Now usually, these are entirely irrelevant. Sure, you CAN aim the Poltergust 5000 with them, but the standard non gyro control scheme for this works so well you’ll never want to.
But the narrow rail crossing sections… are not that fun. They’re slow, they’re tedious, they’re used far more than this gameplay mechanic ever should have been used and quite honestly, I don’t think they’re that good in general. Still, just remember that you need to tilt the 3DS away from the direction Luigi is leaning to keep him on the narrow pole/wire, and you’ll get by them eventually.
Above: Many a player’s hell.
The other problem is this game is one of the most minor issues known to man, and it’s only really one if you’re revisiting older mansions to find Boos or other secrets. Basically, some rooms are locked off in these to keep you on the ‘normal’ path. What’s stranger is that this is extremely inconsistent, there’s no ‘practical’ way to know what rooms and paths you can explore and what ones you can’t in any mission. For example, in Gloomy Manor the basement lift is always locked outside of the boss mission… but the doors you reveal with the Dark Light and rooms behind webs aren’t. So wandering through the kitchen and dining room in mission 2? No problem. Going into the ‘secret’ passage accessed via the garden prior to mission 3 or 4? Fine. But then apparently going through the door IN the secret passage is impossible. Why? No clue, the game designers just decided that you couldn’t go there for some arbitary reason. It’s not a big deal (the level of ‘linearity’ in this game is generally on par with the original), but it might bug a few people used to being able to explore earlier/later areas at their leisure.
None the less, both of these are just minor issues in the greater scheme of things, and neither make Luigi’s Mansion 2 anything other than a fantastic game in general.
Luigi’s Mansion 2 is a fantastic game, as both a Luigi’s Mansion sequel and a 3DS title as a whole. If you liked the original game, you should be ready to buy this no questions asked. But even if you didn’t, or don’t normally buy these types of games, I will recommend you go out and purchase it right now, it’s that brilliant.
Luigi’s Mansion 2, as one of the best games on the 3DS as of this time, gets a score of…
Replay Value/Game Length
100% (even more so compared to original)
Note:This review was written based on the European/PAL version of Luigi’s Mansion 2, hence some things may not be 100% identical in the US one. This also explains why the game’s called Luigi’s Mansion 2 rather than Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon.
Mario Tennis Open is the latest game in the long-running tennis series by Camelot. People who have enjoyed the series in the past should know exactly what to expect here in terms of the game’s presentation. All of the iconic Mario characters are present, the courts have a great amount of variety, and there is something to be said about the inherent polish of Camelot’s titles. But does this entry live up to the great games of the series’ past?
For the single player portion of the game, there are three main game types to choose from: Tournament Play, Exhibition, and Special Games (which are mini games). With Tournament and Exhibition we get the main type of game play: actual tennis matches. The game play is essentially the same as the other entries in the series, with one noticeable difference. While you are playing, if momentum swings your way, various icons will appear on the court that correspond to a specific special shot that are performed by pressing a specific button or buttons. Utilizing these special shots are certainly fun to use at first, but over time it feels as though these shots alone become the essential way to beat your opponent. The game begins to feel less about outsmarting your opponent with well placed shots and more about relying on the special shots to push bend to break until your opponent finally loses the point. As a result, getting points and winning matches feels less rewarding than it should. That being said, it is nice to be rewarded for gaining initial momentum, although I feel as though the game would have benefited from a more subdued utilization of the special shots.
Special shots are a huge focus in Mario Tennis Open
The difficulty gradient for AI in this game is something that never feels on the mark. Maybe it’s just me, but this was one of those games where the beginner, easy, and normal difficulty computers for the most part all felt too easy and predictable, resulting in blow out wins on my part. While on the other end of the spectrum, the highest difficulty AI seem to be able to predict your every move before you even take a shot, resulting in glorious defeat. That being said, with 5 difficulty levels there should be one that comes close to what you’re comfortable playing at. For me, Pro (the second highest difficulty) comes closest, but I still end up winning most of the time.
Playing doubles with a computer is one aspect that can be as fun as it is frustrating. While the matches do have their moments of intensity and excitement, such as long rallies where the momentum sways from team-to-team, I still noticed some problems that arose in this mode. Unfortunately, the computer on your team often seems to miss golden opportunities to utilize special shots that could have easily led to a point with your team. Noticing these missed opportunities creates frustration because you know you could have easily made that shot given the chance. Another strange thing I noticed was that the computers on the other team rarely ever hit the ball towards you, except when the opportunity arises to take advantage of a mistake in positioning you may have made. I found myself watching the computers play more than I played myself, and it made me feel disconnected from the experience of the game as such. Nonetheless, doubles play can be fun in its shining moments.
There are four mini games included with the package, and each of them offer a unique twist to the game of tennis that both work as fun distractions if you don’t have enough time to play a full match as well as a good platform to hone your skills for the regular matches. My favorite of the four was Galaxy Rally, which tests both your accuracy and ability to think and react quickly: that being said, they all provide some sort of charm and replay value due to the progression of challenge through them. However, the novelty of Super Mario Tennis, a mini game which allows you to progress through levels of Super Mario Bros by hitting a ball against a screen of the game, will probably be what most people will gravitate towards.
A unique mini game that should provide some fun and novelty
Throughout the game you are able to unlock various characters as well as items (such as rackets and outfits) that you can equip to your Mii character for when you use him or her throughout the game. Unlockable characters give the player incentive to continue playing single player, which gives the game some nice replay value. The unlockable items, on the other hand, for the most part feel completely useless. There is a staggering amount of items to unlock and buy to upgrade you Mii, but thinking of these as upgrades feels misleading. In my experience, I did not notice any difference in how my Mii played on the court with any of the upgrades I acquired. Apart from the aesthetic appeal of customizing your character the way you want to, these items do not feel as though they add anything to the game experience, which they certainly could have by giving the upgrades some sort of substantial impact.
The overall presentation of Mario Tennis Open is one aspect that gets it right in almost every regard. The character models and courts all look great and the visuals are some of the best the 3DS has to offer. Speaking of the courts, there are a good number to choose from and each of them has their own unique aesthetic style and game feel, giving the game a good sense of variety and challenge. Menus are easy enough to navigate and you are able to navigate them with either the touch screen or d-pad/circle-pad, which is a plus. There is really nothing bad to be said about the controls either, as everything feels tight, responsive, and polished. The music in the game is also very impressive throughout. Camelot is known for their strong musical compositions, most notably in their RPG series Golden Sun, so this should come as no surprise. These various parts form the whole of the game that feels well thought out and constructed, and this is one of the shining points of the game.
Character and court designs are visually impressive
Of course it couldn’t be a Mario sports game review without a discussion about the multi-player. And as is normal with most of the games in this genre (ala Mario Kart, Mario Golf), Mario Tennis Open feels at its best when you are playing with a friend. As mentioned before, the AI difficulties may feel unbalanced and predictable to some players, so as a result playing the game with another human feels the most organic and genuine. The game allows you to play multi-player with friends in local matches within the same area, or even online through your 3DS friends list, giving those with friends who have the game reply value as long as the interest in playing is consistent. Even if you don’t know anyone who owns the game, you also have the option to play the game online with people around the world through the Nintendo Network. While this may not be as fun or enjoyable as playing it with someone you know personally, it still offers a rewarding experience and keeps track of your monthly leaderboard, though the matchmaking does not always feel quite right in terms of skill differential. The multi-player option of Open is what will likely determine the longevity and replay value of the experience for most players.
Overall, Mario Tennis Open is a solid addition to the Mario Tennis series, and is one you should likely pick up if you are a fan of the previous entries in the franchise. I feel as though Camelot could have been a little more ambitious and given the game proper RPG elements, like the had in the Mario Golf handheld games, such as potentially a leveling system but mostly to make it feel as though the “upgrades” we were getting actually had bearing on how the game played, or gone the exact opposite route and left them out entirely. I also thought that the special shots, while cool and aesthetically fun to look at, were focused on too much and could have been scaled back to make room for a more balanced, skilled game play. Though if you can look around these flaws, the game does have a distinct charm and game feel, as well as incentives to keep playing with character unlocks, tournament play, and mini games. Though of course, as I have mentioned, the game should be played multi-player for the best experience. Play ball.
Yes, you read that right, we’re now hiring writers and other staff members here at Nintendo 3DS Daily. So do you want to be a part of this website and write articles for us on a regular basis? Maybe take over and run the official Twitter and Youtube accounts for the site and make the site even more popular across social media?
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Apologies for the lack of recent posts here, it seems like the last day or two of content has been lost after the site’s database was corrupted and the site was restored from backups. Still, it’s not all bad news. At least the site isn’t completely down and unavailable any more.
Nintendo 3DS Daily will start updating again in a few hours. Maybe then I can post a few articles I had saved but didn’t get round to posting yet. Or my piece about the best Nintendo remakes in history.
It’s by a guest writer of sorts this time, known as re11ding on the Nintendo 3DS Community forums. He said we could post this up as a review, and since it seems the better of the few reviews the game got on the forums, it’s now an official one for Nintendo 3DS Daily.
There’s also a shorter review of the NES Kid Icarus game.
Re11ding’s original review is below. Pictures added by editor.
Hello all. re11ding here for another faithful review on a game. Instead of one game though, I’m going to review two!
Recently, Kid Icarus: Uprising came out for the 3DS. It was the first game to feature Pit as the main character since Kid Icarus for the NES was released. He featured a sequel on the Gameboy called Kid Icarus: Myth and monsters. No future games featured him as the main character until now. The only other game he was playable in was Super Smash Brothers Brawl featuring a whole new style of looks.
Either way, lets begin the review. First I’ll review Kid Icarus for the NES.
As I made my purchase for Kid Icarus: Uprising at gamestop, I was offered to buy 3D classics: Kid Icarus for an extra five dollars. I gave in and bought it since I never played it on the original system or on the virtual console. As far as I know, the only difference with this game and the original was the 3D added effect (obviously), Parallax scrolling backgrounds, and the ability to save instead of using passwords. Other than that, the game was the same as the original. Here’s the story:
New backgrounds have been added to 3D Classics Kid Icarus
Medusa was the goddess of the underworld while Lady Palutena was the goddess of the Sky World. Lady Palutena game humans life to crops, water, and other things needed to live. Medusa hated mankind and did the complete opposite by killing crops and drying up lakes. For misusing her powers, Lady Palutena transformed Medusa into a hideous one-eyed monster. Seeking revenge, she released her underworld beings and fought against the army of Skyworld. Skyworld’s troops were clearly outnumbered and lost the war. All the soldiers were turned into stone and Lady Palutena is locked up deep within Skyworld.
You start out as Pit, an angel who was imprisoned in the Underworld by the wicked monster Medusa. Lady Palutena used the last of her power to give Pit a bow and arrow. He escapes and begins his adventure to rescue Lady Palutena and defeat Medusa. To do this, Pit had to collect the three sacred treasures guarded by Medusa’s fiercest minions.
As I start the game, I instantly notice the physics to be very similar to Metroid’s physics. You jump high and float back down slowly if you hold the jump button. The B button fires arrows and will continue to fire if you hold B. You begin in the Underworld climbing up to reach the goal. Enemies will spawn in certain places and try to defeat you. When you defeat an enemy, they drop hearts. Hearts are the currency of this game where you can use them to buy items from shops that you encounter during your adventure.
Some items you can get are the feather, bottle, barrel, sacred bow, fire magic, life barrier (if I recall the name right), torches (for maps), pencils (also for maps), and mallets.
- Feathers save you if you fall off screen into a pit.
- Bottles hold potions which heal you if you run out of energy. I forgot to mention that you have health in this game known as “energy”. You start off with one bar. As you defeat enemies to gain more points for your score, you will be rewarded with more energy and also have your arrows powered up to do more damage.
- A barrel allows you to hold up to 9 bottles.
- A torch highlights where you’ve been on a dungeon map if you have one.
- A pencil makes the map appear on the pause screen if you have a dungeon map.
- The sacred bow allows you to fire arrows to far distances.
- The fire magic allows you to fire arrows with a fireball circling it to increase the chance of hitting an enemy.
- The life barrier makes a small crystal circle you as a protection barrier that damages enemies if they touch it. (Can’t confirm this, I never got it myself)
- Mallets are hammers you collect when grabbing a harp that turns enemies into mallets for a short time. You use mallets in dungeons to break the stone that the soldiers of the skyworld are incased in. By freeing them, they help you when you reach the boss of that dungeon. Using a mallet to free a soldier will cause the mallet to break.
The game is both a sidescroller and a vertical scroller. I enjoyed how they mixed the two. The game was short but incredibly fun. Obviously the game was short due to it being an NES game but it’s difficulty made it longer. It’s certainly one of the few NES games that managed to keep my interest and enjoy throughout the whole time that I played it. You can’t beat its music either. It definitely deserved a rating of 10/10 from me.
Now, I begin playing Kid Icarus: Uprising. ……holy s***. What just happened? The little 8-bit guy I used to know and love just got a 3D model with weapons beyond the eye can see. Just play the first chapter of this game and you will obtain that “IT’S ON” feeling.
Kid Icarus: Uprising starts with a beginning that brings you right into the game play without any cut-scene before beginning. Imagine Star Fox 64 and how everyone had a conversation during game play. That happens in this game too. For some odd reason, I love it when video game characters talk to each other during game play without interrupting it.
You learn that Medusa has been resurrected and is reeking havoc all around the world. It’s up to Pit to stop her. Every level begins with a “rail-shooter” as most people seem to call it. Again, imagine Star Fox 64 and it’s game play where you flew in a straight line dodging and shooting while the vehicle moves forward by itself. That’s basically what part of the levels are in this game. You are flying through certain areas in order to reach a certain destination. Once you reach there, you begin land battles. Land battles are more different than air battles. You can control Pit around the area and also execute different moves that you couldn’t while flying. Land battles reminded me of Metroid in a way. It was basically a third-person shooter. You also obtain power-ups throughout the game of which you can equip and use on the field.
I did happen to forget to mention that this game uses the touchscreen to aim. You can also set up controls to use the ABXY buttons to move your reticule or hold R to move it without changing settings. I just stuck with the touchscreen since it was the simplest way.
What was amazing about this game? Oh god, where do I begin?
The gameplay is certainly a good place to start. I explained how there are two different parts of levels. This mix, along with something new from Nintendo, threw me for a loop with amazement. I never played Metroid myself, but I knew land battles were similar since my friends kept saying so. Either way, it was a new experience for me. It was one heck of an experience too.
Another strong point was the music. All the music in this game was orchestrated! Beautiful! That’s not the half of it though. You know what this game did? It literally keyframed the music along with air battles to become more or less dramatic at certain points in order to perfectly fit the move. Amazing move right there. All the tunes are catchy and well done. You will hear the Boss Fight 1 song quite a few times, but that song’s so amazing, you’ll never get tired of it.
My favorite part was the cross-references! There’s nothing more I like than a good ol’ cross-reference to another game. This game didn’t feature 1 cross-reference, not 2, not 5, but over 7 cross-references in the game. The references are usually located in the dialogue so just listen closely when Pit is talking. Oh, this game loves to make fun of its old 8-bit enemies by showing how they looked before and how they look now. All this created many chuckles.
If there’s one thing this game excels at, it’s settings. The settings of this game. My oh my, you’d fall in love. I normally don’t focus on my surroundings in games, but Kid Icarus: Uprising had me in aw. All locations are styled perfectly. It’s almost impossible to complain about one setting.
Replay value. Yes. You couldn’t have asked for such a great game. You know how Super Smash Bros. Brawl had that achievement board that gave you prizes for doing certain things? A similar board is in this game too. Not only that, but like trophies in Brawl, there are Idols in this game! Basically, Idols are the trophies of Kid Icarus: Uprising. You will want to replay the game a few times to get them all. And believe me, you won;t get tired from this game easily.
Online battling. Good call Nintendo. I only tried it once or twice, but you can fight random people online in this game. Based on your performance, you can even earn weapons or power-ups by just playing online!
There’s not much else I can say about the game. It’s actually quite hard to give a short review of this game.
Trust me, Kid Icarus: Uprising is definitely worth getting. It definitely deserves a 10/10 too.
Gaming magazine ‘Edge’ has awarded Kid Icarus: Uprising a rock hard, 8/10
Edge states that Kid Icarus: Uprising is a smart splicing of Star Fox and Zelda, which, of course, is a good thing.
“Kid Icarus is back, then, and it turns out we did miss him. With Uprising, those internet petitioners finally have something they can be proud of. The control scheme initially seems lopsided, but works wonderfully for the flying sections, while any slight clumsiness on foot is countered by a responsive dodge. A worryingly compulsive weapon-fusing system thrown in, adding a chunk of the Pokemon gene to a game that already feels like a smart splicing of Star Fox and Zelda.” ~ Edge
As the years have gone on, it seems like a fair amount of reviewers have begun to get tired of Mario Kart. With all the other Nintendo series getting regularly changed up and gimmicks being thrown in all over the place, the Mario Kart series has begun to seem like a series which merely makes evolutionary rather than revolutionary changes to the core formula in every game.
But forget that. Mario Kart 7 is a good game not because of any crazy gimmicks or massive ‘innovation’, but because the timeless formula works perfectly. It’s improved on the past games in every way that actually matters, the graphics and music are arguably better, the track design and choices are much better, the online is better and the gameplay itself is much fairer than the almost party like free for all that Mario Kart Wii turned into with twelve players.
For one thing, the graphics are fairly good. Are they perfect? No, they look a bit less clear than those in the Wii installment. But they have far more charm than many other recent Mario games do, and the tracks look amazing due to it. There’s no overwhelmingly bland New Super Mario Bros styling here, each track is filled with personality and actually looks top notch. You can see this best with Wario’s Galleon/Shipyard (which looks as eerie as possible), and Bowser’s Castle, which actually looks sort of menacing for once (especially those windows)
Plus, all the retro tracks look at least as good as in the source games (there’s nearly no difference between the Wii versions and 3DS versions), or much better in the case of anything from Mario Kart DS or prior.
Music is pretty good too. Bowser’s Castle has some nice music for instance, which even remixes parts of the theme from the Gamecube version into it! Other notable examples of good music include the theme from Rainbow Road (obviously), Donkey Kong Jungle (a remix of the Jungle Japes theme from Donkey Kong Country), Neo Bowser City (which actually mixes in part of Toad’s Turnpike from Mario Kart 64), and some of the retro tracks (Airship Fortress especially). At worst some music is a bit bland, but nothing gets grating or takes away from the atmosphere, and there’s thankfully no tunes that could be described as anything worse than ‘good’.
But where this game truly shines is the track design. Gone are the generic concepts that Mario Kart Wii and Double Dash adored, every track in this game is Mario styled to a tee. Rainbow Road alone is amazing, being a three section race to the finish rather than just a loop around a small piece of track done three times. You even go onto planets this time around! Other notable examples are Wario’s Galleon, which actually seems to be a Wario Land reference, complete with a remix of a tune from Wario Land Super Mario Land 3! Yes, I was also shocked when I learnt of this, usually the Mario Kart series disregards the Wario series entirely. Adding to this is Donkey Kong Jungle, which is one big homage to Donkey Kong Country Returns, as well as being an excellent track! It has the style, the enemies, the music, heck, it was even designed by Retro Studios (who designed much of the rest of the game too!) Considering this is a game which references everything from New Super Mario Bros to Super Mario Galaxy to Super Mario Bros for the NES, needless to say the track design is the best yet.
As is the retro track selection. Airship Fortress and Waluigi Pinball are in. That’s probably already worthy of a purchase alone, those were two of the best tracks in the series and the ones fans were desperate to have return in a new Mario Kart game! Heck, there’s even the SNES Rainbow Road, ending a long tradition of not bringing back old Rainbow Road tracks!
As a track list, this is as close to perfect as you’ll probably get in a Mario Kart game.
Another major change is the improved gameplay, with a few changes that make the game much more enjoyable and far less annoying. For one thing, remember the ranking thing with the GPs and trying to get star ranks? That was a nightmare in Mario Kart DS and Wii, since the system picked the most pathetic, annoying reasons to raise or lower the rank possible. Not in Mario Kart 7. Here it might as well be ‘win all four races, and you’ll get a triple star ranking’. At worse winning the cup at all will get you just a star rank, so you’ll unlock those golden wheels (a prize for getting a star on all cups) in no time and without much hassle.
They’ve also made it so there’s only eight karts again, turning the game from something akin to Mario Party with go karts to an actual racing game. Without twelve people, you won’t see Blue Shells more than two or so times a race, and annoying items in general are far rarer to the point you can actually go a while without encountering one.
Talking of items, the aggravating and overly useless ones have generally been removed again. Gone is the POW Block, the Mega Mushroom and the Thundercloud, and in their place are three new, more balanced items. Namely the Super Leaf (gives you a tail which can be used to block or deflect projectiles), the Fire Flower (shoot fireballs, like Mario and Luigi’s special in Double Dash) and Lucky Seven, which is seven random items. However, the last itself is rare enough you won’t encounter it more than three or four times in the game unless you’ve been playing for a fair while, so it’s nowhere near as over powered as it could be. The items just fit well enough you’ll never think they seem out of place like some of the Wii or Double Dash ones.
Customisation also seems to have made it in, with karts being possible to ‘build’ from body, tires and gliders, and every character being usable with every vehicle. It’s like a hybrid of the Mario Kart DS and Wii systems, and while the variety isn’t perfect, it works quite well.
Finally, the main features emphasised in the game, namely the gliding and underwater racing, work well. Indeed, they add a significant amount of choice to how you can approach any of the tracks, seeing as all the new ones have at least one route for each. Not to mention the older tracks have been retrofitted with areas where gliding and underwater driving can come in useful (Daisy Cruiser is most notable here, it’s had the below decks section turned into a proper undersea adventure, with clams and eels all over the place). It works well.
But for many people, the above likely isn’t high on their priorities list. No, the big question people are going to ask is ‘how good is the online in this game?’ Answer: Excellent in general, although still a tad flawed. Yes, there is still a sort of friend code system, but hey, it’s one per console, and you can find peole merely by racing them rather than necessarily sharing friend codes (they come up as opponents, and you can choose to join them very easily). The other big change is the addition of communities, custom groups which anyone can create and join with differing rules. For example, you can choose what cc it is (or if it’s mirrored tracks), what game mode (vs or battle), what items are allowed (to a limited degree) and it even shows who’s registered and who’s won the most races/battles. More to the point, while you get a code to share with people, you don’t technically need codes to join communities, since people you add as friends or go against will ‘share’ communities as recommendations and you can just pick them from the list and join. It’s a really useful feature, although somewhat limited.
Unfortunately, the game’s not perfect. It’s great overall, but there are some areas where it could be better. For one thing, the character roster is extremely poor, with characters like Queen Bee and Metal Mario taking spots from classics like Waluigi, Dry Bones, Diddy Kong and Bowser Jr. It’s not the end of the world nor a reason not to buy the game, it’s just infuriating how bad some of Nintendo’s character choices are this time around.
There’s also the fact this game isn’t really one with a good single player mode, with the game modes available being pretty basic. No 1 player vs mode, no missions, no tournaments/competitions. If you don’t have many people to play against or don’t play online, unfortunately this game probably won’t last you particularly long and might not be the best choice of purchase. More to the point, considering a fair number of bonuses seem to be given for stuff like StreetPasses and VR from online (or an obscene amount of coins), it seems like the game is very much stacked in favour of those people who do play online (really, 100 StreetPasses? 10000 VR for golden kart parts?)
A few problems with unfairness still exist too, like the item distribution being fairly broken (the AI epecially get good items nigh on every time, and the powerful ones are still a bit too common). Not to mention there’s definite rubberband effect going on in the GPs, with AI opponents appearing to accelerate faster and faster the further you end up in front of them (to the point slower karts with less coins can apparently still overtake the faster ones or those with more coins just by driving in a straight line).
Never the less, the game is excellent, and if you’re playing online, that’s worth the purchase price alone. If you want what’s arguably one of the best Mario Kart games yet, and to help the online community at the same time (remember, the more who people buy this game, the easier it’ll be to find opponents on worldwide or in various communities), then buy this game now.
It will be the 3DS’s first real killer app, mark my words.