Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time

The Mario RPGs are built on one of the strongest foundations imaginable. Lovable characters, convention-defying plots, high-quality localizations, and inventive combat mechanics are all seemingly baked into the very identity of the subseries. Partners in Time contains all of these things, but with just a couple of unfortunate missteps, it ends up being underwhelming nevertheless. The first issue is the narrative. The premise features both time travel and a Mario-flavoured alien invasion, but the former is just an excuse to place time-shifted versions of each character in the same room, and it has little to no bearing on the gameplay or plot. This is the largest symptom of what I assume was a lack of communication between writers, as the plot’s incongruous twists alternate between hugely telegraphed and comically abrupt.

Most of the remaining blame can be placed on the implementation of Baby Mario and Baby Luigi. Rather than simply functioning as third and fourth characters, the babies literally piggyback on their adult counterparts and assist with overworld navigation, augment special attacks, and take over as weaker versions of their older selves upon the latter’s defeat. It’s a unique and interesting system in theory, but the added complexity is all but disastrous for the reflex-based combat, and it makes half of the brothers’ movement abilities a constant chore to execute. The letdown is oddly remarkable, because the core is still solid – the controls, visuals, and sound design are competent at worst and excellent at best. The aforementioned issues simply drain too much fun from the experience to warrant the recommendation I’d like to give.

5.5/10
5.5/10

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