Okay, so can anyone remember the last time Nintendo’s two world-famous plumbers actually kneeled down to fix a toilet or stuck their heads under a sink? The Mario brother’s stint of unemployment has been going on for almost two decades now, and with a new title coming out on the Nintendo DS, the trend doesn’t look like it’s going to be changing at any point soon. Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time will be the fourth RPG adventure to be launched from the Mario Brothers series, and as the title indicates, the theme for the game will have something to do with time—time travel to be more specific.
As always, the story takes place in the Mushroom Kingdom. WHEN it takes place, however, is both the conflict and the twist that players will find themselves tackling not long after the game begins. The intro gives players a slight preview of what is to come by throwing them into a battle between several mushroom shaped monsters and two infants that look a whole lot like Mario and Luigi.
Fast forward a little and we then see that the Mario brothers and the lovely Princess Peach have gathered inside the castle to see Professor E. Gadds unveil his latest new invention: a time machine! Infortunately, when he does and Princess Peach tries to take a close look things go terribly wrong. Despite his assertion that the machine is 99.9999% safe, the princess manages to accidentally turn it on and send herself flying back into the past. Naturally, Mario and Luigi immediately follow after her, but when they emerge from their own temporal distortion they run into quite a shocking conundrum: baby versions of themselves, the princess, and even Bowser. Oh, and of course the adult version of Princess Peach is no where to be seen. Looks like its another grand rescue mission for the Mario brothers.
But a missing princess isn’t the only problem that the two brothers will have their hands in Partners in Time. Even in the past, it seems that the Mushroom Kingdom just can’t stay out of trouble. The group of scary monsters that players battled in the very beginning of the game with Baby Mario and Baby Luigi are actually part of an evil, alien race known as the Shroobs, who are trying to take over the Mushroom Kingdom and make it their new home.
Fans of the first game Mario & Luigi: Super Star Saga, which played on the GBA, will remember utilizing both brothers to get past the obstacles, puzzles, and enemies of the game. In Partners in Time, the number of controllable characters doubles, as the two baby versions of the Mario brothers are thrown into the mix. The Baby Mario and Baby Luigi may be young and small, but players will soon learn they’re far from helpless and just as determined as their adult counterparts to save Mushroom Kingdom and the princess from the forces of evil.
"Most of the time, players will have access to all four characters as a team, but there will be occasions when the adults and babies will have to split up. "
When it comes to controlling the movements of the four different brothers in Partners in Time, players will find themselves making use of the DS’s four-button key pad system. Each button will be mapped to one of the brothers, allowing players to instantly switch between using one or the other. Adult Mario can be chosen via the X button and Baby Mario, the A, while adult Luigi is linked to the B button and Baby Luigi, the Y.
Most of the time, players will have access to all four characters as a team, but there will be occasions when the adults and babies will have to split up. And situations like these are exactly when the DS’s dual screens come into play. The progress of the adult Mario’s will show up on the bottom screen, while the babies will show on the top. Whichever team is not in use will simply exist in a paused status, until called upon.
Battle in Partners in Time will revolve around strategically timed button presses, special moves, and power up items. The fighting styles of the adult and baby versions of the Mario brothers will actually differ from each other in that the former will focus mostly on spinning attacks to clear out enemies, while the latter will rely on hammers. The Spin Jump and the Hammer Dive, for example, are two special moves that players will be able to employ when they want to deliver a little bit of extra damage in a fight. In addition to the two different fighting styles, Partners in Time will also include several combo maneuvers, which will see two or even all four of the brothers working together. Case in point, the adult versions of Mario and Luigi can pull off a special attack called a Bros Ball in which they grab each other by the ankles and roll around the screen in the shape of ball, knocking over and squashing anything in their path. If they get in the way, their infant selves will also be squashed flat by this attack, but once flattened, they can gain access to spaces that they wouldn’t have been able to fit into normally.
Power up items, called “Bros. Items” in the game, can enhance battles by providing the Mario brothers with special abilities. The fire flower will be making an appearance and so will a canon that can load and fire the brothers into the air for a powerful dive bomb attack. Players who manage to snatch up a fire flower can learn an interesting trick called the “hot potato,” in which a fireball is tossed back and forth between the brothers for a short time and then released for a heavily damaging attack.
Every character in the game will start out with his or own fighting style. These styles will revolve around certain long range, close range, physical, and magical attacks. Some moves will be available right from the start, while others will require a certain level of skill advancement before being accessed. New stlyes can be learned through dojo visits and treasure chests.
The graphics in Partners in Time are vibrant and colorful to look at it, and the sprite animations are distinct and detailed, especially around the baby brothers. Other characters that players can look forward to seeing besides Mario, Luigi, Bowser, and the princess include: Yoshi, Kamek, Toadsworth, and Stuffwell, who is a time-traveling suitcase that will act as an inventory holder. For those who like to really feel the action when they play, the DS’s rumble pack cartridge will also offer triggered vibrations for certain in game effects such as explosions and powerful special attacks.
Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time is currently set for a North American release date of November 28.