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Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time is the sequel to the hit GBA RPG Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. In this episode, an alien race of creepy mushrooms is set out to conquer Mushroom Kingdom. In Princess Peach\'s attempt to stop them, she gets captured (again!) and it is Mario & Luigi\'s job, with the help of Baby Mario & Baby Luigi, to bring her back. They embark on a journey that spans not only much of Mushroom Kingdom, but a whole generation!

How do I play?

Like most Mario RPGs, each battle is its own screen, but the way the battles play out are unique. Each turn consists of the player’s turn, where he can launch a jump, hammer, or item attack on the opponent. They can press a certain button (usually the same as whatever the bros. button is) at the appropriate time and add a lot more to their damage. You can also jump around or swing a hammer to either counter-attack the enemy who launched it or dodge it. If someone was really good at dodging, it should be possible to never take a hit in the game while playing, as nearly every attack is avoidable. It\'s a lot of fun as you smash those goombas, shy-guys, and especially Shroobs, which are the creepy mushroom-like enemies. After Mario & Luigi join up with their younger selves, they take them up on piggyback and are able to work together to some neat ends. Not only does Mario and Luigi have the standard jump moves, the babies get jumps and hammer attacks, and both sets can use Bros. Items.

Each individual character levels up on their own, so if one passes out, he won\'t get any experience if he\'s not awake by the end of battle. Each set of bros. can affect the power of moves in battle. For example, the little bros. can be used to get an extra hit in on a jump attack. Only the little bros. get hammer attacks, so the big bros. can help by lifting the little ones up to get a more powerful hit. Also, the moves of one bro or another can enhance many bros. items’ power. Several of the most powerful ones only work with the presence of all four brothers. Some of those bros. items will have you really mashing on those buttons to get the most out of them. Each pair of bros. can also separate, which can be useful, in particular with some of the puzzles needed to get through to new areas. One set of bros. might trigger a switch that the other may need to act upon, or the older bros. might toss the younger ones to get to an area that they cannot. Fortunately, the game has a mechanic that helps deal with separated brothers. All you have to do is hit a pipe block, and you will automatically bring the other set of bros. to you. Sometimes, when separated, the little bros. will be shown in the top screen, while the big bros. remain on the bottom. This way you can switch between bros. with the touch of a button, which is very useful for some puzzles.

How are the graphics?

The graphics are generally high quality 2D, with some occasional 3D effects. Battle scenes are initiated with a simple 3D effect, and the time portals have some 3D, also. There are other random 3D effects scattered throughout. The 2D environments are really good looking, within the typical artistic style of a Mario game. The dual screen elements work out well. The touch screen\'s touch sensitivity is never used, but both screens are used extensively throughout. Most of the time the upper screen is a map of the area to tell you what room you are in. Other times it tracks the younger bros., and in many cases it helps tell the story during story sequences. All in all, it works really well, and there is nothing to complain about.

How is the sound and music?

The music of Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time is simple and fun. Much of it in some way reminds you of the music in past Mario games, like the underground music, the castle music, or various other famous Mario themes. I found myself getting some of that music stuck in my head on more than one occasion. The sound effects is an area where this game shines. The simple jump and action noises are more or less what you would hope for. What is neat is the emoting that this game uses via small bits of gibberish. Mario and Luigi, as well as other characters (like Baby Bowser) have signature simple phrases they use that really help clear up their mood and get their messages across. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga did this to great effect, and this game takes it to the next level. It\'s a lot of fun, and works really well.

How appropriate is this game for Christians?

This game is mostly harmless. There is simple, animated violence in the form of jumping on bad guys, hitting people with hammers, and things like that. According to the ESRB rating, there is crude humor. I don\'t remember anything too bad. There are a few ghosts for enemies, and some magic from bosses, but nothing you can use. There is also a very silly scene where an opponent speaks in l33t. It\'s very funny. :) Overall, it\'s pretty clean.

Overall/Conclusion

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time is a fun RPG set in the Mario universe, and a very good sequel to Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. It\'s length perhaps slightly shorter, but still a solid twenty or so hours long. It took me twenty three-ish. It still has a few fun mini-games, but not nearly as many (or as good) as Superstar Saga. I also found this new game a bit funnier at times. Overall it is a lot of fun and I recommend it to any fan of Mario RPGs, especially fans of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga.

Final Ratings

Appropriateness Score: Violence 8/10 Language 10/10 Sexual Content/Nudity 10/10 Occult/Supernatural 8.5/10 Cultural/Moral/Ethical 10/10 Appropriateness Total: 46.5/50 Game Score: Game Play 18/20 Graphics 9/10 Sound/Music 10/10 Stability/Polish 5/5 Controls/Interface 5/5 Game Score Total: 47/50

Overall: 93/100

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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