I’m jealous of anyone playing Mario and Luigi 3 right now. I’d be playing it myself but I’m trying to get through my backlog (and I lent my DS to a friend). I needed a break from Final Fantasy VIII and I remembered I never finished Mario and Luigi 2 despite liking it a lot. A fifteen hour RPG sounds really good right now and I recall fun times.
The reason I never finished it is something that happens to me a lot. When I’m really enjoying a game and know that the end is coming up I don’t want the fun to stop. So I often end up putting it down and go on to play something else and don’t finish the game. I realize this doesn’t make any sense but my brain is a jerk and I hate him. I’ll usually pick up the game again after the sequel is out and I know that there’s more to come. This happened with Professor Layton, it happened with Phoenix Wright, and now it’s happening with Mario and Luigi. And I gots to say, M&L3 looks mighty fine.
Luckily, M&L2 is proving to be pretty great, even if it doesn’t involve trapping around in Bowser’s duodenum. I was surprised to find out that the game was released way back in 2005. The DS doesn’t feel that old, and M&L2 doesn’t seem like a game that’s been floating around for four years. It seems like I was playing it just two or so years ago. Time flies with a system as great as the DS? Since I wasn’t able to play it on my own DS I had to choose between my old DS Tubby or my wife’s pink DS. The pink won.
If replaying Final Fantasy VIII has taught me anything is that there’s no reason for RPGs to be so dang long. At fifteen hours I’m only just finished the first disk. Fifteen hours is the entire scope of M&L2. Part of VIII’s length might be from all the loading the PSX has to do. One battle in the game can easily take five minutes if not ten or fifteen. M&L doesn’t have to put up with any of that. Battles are breezy. And more engaging, thanks to much more interactivity. All the Mario RPGs have some kind of active battle system. The M&L ones allow you to time button hits to do extra damage or dodge enemy attacks. As fun and strategic as VIII’s battles are they still turn into boring “mash X” fests more often than not. Three hours with M&L2 and I’ve already visited two of the game’s five major locations. This is a good thing.
The story is straightforward but often hilarious. Princess Peach is trying out Professor E. Gadd’s (the lame scientist from Luigi’s Mansion) new time machine. She travels back to the past right into an invasion of strange alien mushrooms called Shroobs. Mario and Luigi travel into the past to rescue her from the evil Princess Shroob and recover the cobalt star that powers the time machine. Along the way they meet up with their younger selves and the two generations (?) team up. I think the time traveling thing was a sticking point for most players. It’s really just a contrivance to bring the baby bros. into the picture. You don’t visit any location in both the past and the present. You can’t change things to affect the future. There’s no Chrono Trigger type paradoxes. I think once you get past that there isn’t a lot of time travel-y stuff in a time travel game it becomes a lot more fun. Of course, some things need to be explained away to make it work. If the Shrooms have invaded in the past how come the future isn’t invaded too (Mario and Luigi have already defeated them in the past, duh) and why don’t older Mario and Luigi remember doing any of this stuff already (they were babies at the first time)? But compared to the mental leaps you have to make to understand VIII this is child’s play. Pun intended?