Holiday Travels Gaming: Mario & Luigi Partners in Time and Rayman Legends
Thanksgiving and Christmas always mean handheld gaming for me, as I have to make a long arduous journey southward to visit my parents house where I grew up. I always stress out over which few games I’m going to carry along with me. I have no idea why I do this. I don’t put nearly as much time into thinking about clothing or the other things I need to pack.
I’ve often mentioned my love of the Mario RPG series here on the blog. I’m excited for the release of Paper Jam, but it’s still over a month away here. It’s already out in Europe and Japan, but I suppose Nintendo of America feels that Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon just came out and releasing any more games for this holiday shopping season would be just a little too generous to its fans.
Anyway, during the break I decided to player Partners in Time which is the second Mario and Luigi RPG game. This is the only Mario and Luigi game I’ve never played. I didn’t get to play it when it was originally released on the DS, and, in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever saw a copy of the game on store shelves. I can only assume it was a very limited release. I had to ebay the copy I’m playing on now.
The plot of this game begins with Professor E. Gadd (of Luigi’s Mansion and Mario Sunshine fame) demonstrating his new time machine at Peach’s castle. An excited Peach travels alone to the past to when she was an infant, but when the time machine returns to the present, Peach is missing, and in her place an alien monster jumps from the machine and attacks the castle before being neutralized by Mario and Luigi. The brothers, E. Gadd and Toadsworth learn that Peach has been kidnapped by alien invaders who are running amok in the Mushroom Kingdom of the past. Why no one in the present remembers this alien invasion that took place in the past is never explained…….
As a result of damage to the time machine, time holes to the past begin appearing across Peach’s castle which the brothers to search the past for the princess. There they meet up with the baby versions of themselves that were first seen in Yoshi’s Island. For most of the adventure, the babies ride piggyback on their adult counterparts, but they can also detach and head off on their own. This is important as they are capable of reaching areas that the big bros can’t such as by crawling through tiny holes in the walls or being lofted up onto high ledges by the adults. This is used to create some interesting mechanics in the dungeons.
There are two pillars of M+L that I think are the critical factors in making the games so special. The first are the turn-based battle systems which incorporate timing and reaction-based elements which makes enemy encounters quite a bit more stimulating to me than what is encountered in typical Japanese turn-based RPGs. The second is the humor and offbeat imagination found throughout the series. There are just so many funny and clever characters and situations found in these games.
I’ve heard more than a few people call this the most boring and uneventful game in the M+L series. Now I’m only a handful of hours into the game so far, but I’m having a hard time understanding that position. In terms of the pillars I’ve outlined above (humor and battle system), I would put it (so far) on the same level as Superstar Saga (the first game), which isn’t too far behind Bowser’s Inside Story. The babies don’t really add much to the battle system, but they don’t really detract anything from it either. And one thing I really appreciate is that the game packs a lot more references to the various Mario spinoff games than other titles in the M+L series. Professor E. Gadd is one of my favorite Mario spinoff characters, and he plays a fairly important role in guiding the brothers in this game. I’ve also seen references to other “deep cut” games like Yoshi’s Cookie and both the Japanese and American versions of Super Mario Bros. 2. Kamek also has a funny little “ohhhh….. it’s you kids again” moment when he first encounters the baby brothers for the first time after trying to kidnap them in Yoshi’s Island.
So far, I’m looking forward to completing this game. Also during my break a few weeks ago, I got into Rayman Legends on Vita. I really enjoyed Rayman Origins, but I think Legends may actually top it. I think the art is a significant step up as it features a level of embellishment that wasn’t present in Origins. But more importantly, there’s just something about the level design in Legends that is more “fast and free” than Origins. I’m afraid I have a hard time articulating my feelings on what I mean by that. I think it’s because I always felt a little bogged down searching for the caged electoons in Origins, while their counterparts in Legends, the captured Teensies, are significantly easier to find. The result is that you can move through the levels at a faster pace that results in more satisfying platforming. Also, there’s not as many swimming levels which I found to be a huge relief.
I’ve let too many weeds grow in this blog for the past month, but I hope to get back on a (semi)regular posting schedule soon. Thanks to you all for reading!