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Critical Reception: Nintendo/AlphaDream's Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time

This week's critical reception looks at the AlphaDream-developed/Nintendo-published DS sequel to the GBA game Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, in the form of Mari...
This week's critical reception looks at the AlphaDream-developed/Nintendo-published DS sequel to the GBA game Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, in the form of Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time. While maintaining the same entertaining action-RPG gameplay formula of the original, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time introduces some new elements by taking advantage of the DS's dual screens. With the Mushroom Kingdom once again in danger, and Princess Peach once again in need of rescuing, the Mario Bros. are at it again, sporting a time-traveling twist that drew significant plaudits from game reviewers, and an average rating of 91% on game review compilation site GameTab. In a unique premise, the game requires you control up to four characters, as it doubles up on the original's feature of allowing you to control both Mario and Luigi at the same time, as GameSpot's Ricardo Torres describes: "The game uses the basic mechanic of assigning a character to one of the DS's face buttons, with A controlling Mario and B controlling Luigi. The biggest addition to this system is Mario and Luigi's preschool alter egos from the past, who are controllable with the X and Y buttons." The DS screens come in handy when, in the words of 1UP's Andrew Pfister, "...sometimes the kids will find their way into the top DS screen and perform tasks that clear the way for the adults on the bottom. It's a logical, yet still clever, way of using the dual screens that goes beyond the gimmicky stuff we've seen until now." Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time also features a battle system that Pfister remarks "absolutely demands you pay attention at every given moment. It's simple on the surface, but satisfyingly complex underneath and makes every single battle a fun experience." Overall, the title hasn't actually changed that much from its first iteration, according to IGN's Craig Harris: "Apart from the second screen and second character aspect, Partners in Time doesn't stray too far from the Superstar Saga original. Many of the gameplay elements that were used in the Mario and Luigi pairing have now been given to Baby Mario and Baby Luigi instead, to spread out the love and make puzzles a bit tougher to see and solve." In fact, the only substantial knock on the game seems to be that it doesn't venture far enough from the gameplay stamp of the original, as IGN's Harris comments: "But even with all the clever additions the Nintendo DS version brings to the table, the original quest is never left in the dust and is still on the same playing field for those who haven't experienced that handheld adventure yet." With a definite dearth of quality role-playing games for the Nintendo DS, and building on the success of its predecessor, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time provides substantial enticement for RPG-playing DS owners just in time for the holiday season, and should do well, through both beloved characters and stirring playability.

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