A new Mario & Luigi RPG has been released in Japan. We've got a copy fresh off the import circuit to let you know what to expect when the game is localized for North America. One thing really matters….more Fawful! I HAVE FURY!
The Story Begins...
The story of the game revolves around an illness that makes toadstools grow to enormous sizes and roll around uncontrollably. Princess Peach and the government of the Mushroom Kingdom are discussing the problem when Bowser shows up to try and kidnap the princess.
Thankfully, Mario is on hand to save the day and Bowser is ejected from the castle. He lands in a strange forest and gets a mushroom by a sinister character. Bowser eats the fungus, begins shrinking and inhaling everything around him. The mushroom-giver is actually Fawful, the humorous villain's sidekick from the previous games in the series. Bowser, inhaling things everywhere, makes his way back to Princess Peach's castle and inhales the whole cast of characters.
This is where the game shines. While Bowser tries to find Fawful -- who is destroying Bowser's castle -- Mario & Luigi are forced to fight through Bowser's body to rescue the Princess. At least, that's how it starts off.
The Gameplay? How's the gameplay?!
If you have played the previous Mario & Luigi RPG games, you won't be surprised by too much in this sequel. There are,, however, a few unique ideas. After the initial story setup and tutorials, Bowser's game occupies the top screen of the DS, while Mario & Luigi inhabit the bottom. The player can freely switch between the two and must do so to solve some puzzles.
For example, early in Bowser's game, he comes upon a rope attached to an island floating in the sea. On the island, a character pleads for help and Bowser (reluctantly?) agrees to help him. To gain the strength to pull the island in, Mario & Luigi travel to Bowser's arm and hit electric orbs into his muscle to power Koopa up. It's a fun little minigame and showcases the interaction between the two sets of characters.
Addtionally, Bowser unlocks an attack that will allow him to shrink and inhale enemies during battle. This drops the baddy into his body where Mario & Luigi are waiting to help out. If the player chooses this, all three characters will gain experience for the battle. It also allows the game to throw enemies at Bowser that Mario & Luigi are better equipped to fight.
In battle, the game still allows players to completely avoid damage and even counter-attack with careful timing. In the Mario & Luigi game, which plays like a 2D platformer, you'll need to time your jumps with both Bros. carefully.
Apart from that, the game still has the level-up system, gear, healing items, and abilities. The Bros. abilities, simultaneous attacks from Mario & Luigi are now item-focused. For example, the Mario Bros. get a turtle shell that they can repeatedly kick back and forth at their enemies. It's a simple rhythm minigame that allows the player to rack up a lot of damage in exchange for some Special Points (SP).
Should I import the game?
If you don't know Japanese, no, you should not import the game. The game is a text-heavy RPG and relies on dialogue to deliver the story and humor -- arguably the best part about this series. If you do understand Japanese, go ahead and import away as the DS is not region locked. Either way, the chances of a US localization are high, so it's something to look forward to playing...hopefully by the end of 2009.