A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn about strategy and puzzle solving in this bright and engaging turn-based role-playing game. Players will solve a variety of world-based puzzles while adventuring, figuring out how to get past obstacles, and unlocking new areas using the brothers' special abilities. They'll also need to work out strategies for combat, identifying enemy tells through careful observation, and discerning ways to exploit weaknesses. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team keeps kids thinking while they're having fun exploring two new worlds.
Themes of bravery, respect, loyalty, selflessness, and chivalry run throughout the game. It's also a thinking game. Players are encouraged to explore, discover, and then put the information they glean through conversations and observation to use solving a variety of fantastical puzzles.
Positive Role Models
As always, Mario and Luigi play the selfless heroes. They're out to help Peach at first, and later an entire population of people trapped in a dream world. They do this not only through combat against clearly dastardly enemies, but also by chatting with the locals, helping them, and solving puzzles within the environment.
Ease of Play
The action is forgiving to start, requiring little more than a rudimentary sense of timing. Loads of onscreen instructions and an always-accessible in-game guide provide all the direction most kids should need. Difficulty ramps up gradually over time, but the ability to save at virtually any point outside of battle means players need never lose much progress. If you fail a battle you have the option to restart rather than reverting to the last save; and if you fail several times you can switch on an easy mode that slows down time that makes it much simpler to time your moves at key moments.
Violence & Scariness
Mario and Luigi stomp on enemies -- an odd mix of fantastical creatures including crabs, cacti, and clocks -- with their feet, hit them with oversized mallets, and use a variety of more unusual attacks ranging from fireballs to a giant ball of dream Luigis that flattens all enemies in its path. The two brothers occasionally get knocked onto their bums, become stunned, or faint from exertion. It's all highly cartoonish and without any blood. Defeated characters are assumed to be knocked out rather than killed.
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Products & Purchases
This game is part of Nintendo's popular Mario and Luigi line of games. Countless products targeted at kids -- including toys, board games, and shows -- bear the likenesses of characters featured in this game.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is a whimsical role-playing game in which players fight fantastical enemies (though never to the death) in highly cartoonish turn-based battles as they attempt to save the population of a paradisiacal island. Players divide their time between chatting with non-player characters, solving puzzles, and stomping on or hammering odd-looking enemies (like googly-eyed drills). The game entertains in equal measure with laughs, conundrums, and goofy-yet-surprisingly-tactical battles.
Is It Any Good?
The sheer scope and eclectic nature of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team will make it a must-have for many 3DS owners. It's a massive game that manages the impressive feat of delivering a steady stream of unexpected (and often highly unusual) play moments from start to finish. Each new area brings with it a host of specific puzzle concepts, abilities for Mario and Luigi to learn in both the dream and waking worlds, and new ways to evolve your characters. It's an impressive feat of game design and a ton of fun to play.
Of course, it's not perfect. The dialogue -- while witty and charming -- pops up too frequently and ends up bogging down the action at times. Plus, the run-of-the-mill graphics, while attractive, don't really move the ball forward for Mario & Luigi games (though some scenes -- particularly the special Bros. Powers animations -- have amazing depth when viewed in 3D). Still, there's no denying Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is polished, dense, and incredibly fun play. It's among the very best available for Nintendo's handheld.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.