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Mario & Luigi: Dream Team: Prima Official Game Guide Paperback – August 11, 2013
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The guide is very nicely organized. It starts out with a very comprehensive intro/basics section that should catch up just about anybody, including those who have never picked up a Mario and Luigi game before. It covers controls, the battle system and its intricacies, the RPG mechanics (aka. leveling up, stats, equipping gear, badges, items, etc), the basic theme/mood of the M&L series, story, and anything else you can think of. Great start for newer players, but imminently skippable for experienced gamers familiar with the series.
The majority of the guide itself is a comprehensive walkthrough of the game. It is by far the biggest section of the book, coming in at a whopping 370 pages. Yes, this game is HUGE, quite a bit bigger than past M&L games in fact, and the guide really reflects that. The book itself is 495 pages, but there's a reason why it is that thick that isn't just limited to the fact this is a big game, and I'll cover that later in the review. For now, just know that the walkthrough is deep, it is detailed, and it is very well-written. Dream Team is a more difficult game than some of the series' past entries, and having a helpful guide while playing in the more difficult spots is a luxury you'll be grateful for. Throughout the walkthrough are screenshots that help make sense of things that are being discussed, and every new section you come to features a large map of that area and where all items/blocks/shops/etc can be found. What's really nice is that each map actually tells you what item is found in each block, a very nice feature. So whether the walkthrough is discussing events in "the real world" or "the dream world," the guide is a very good source to know what to do and where to go if you get stuck, and for completionsits looking to find all collectibles, it's fantastic. Battle strategies, whether for minions or bosses, are also very well-written. Great job!
The next thirty or so pages contains a section devoted entirely to every real/dream enemy and boss you will face. Included for every enemy is a fantastic summary of what strategy to use with them, as well as every stat they have in-game, which is helpful if you want to know the exact stats for their hp/pow/def/spd/etc.
Lastly, the last 70 or so pages contains a "Quick Reference" section that breaks down into two things. 1.) A fantastic atlas that features every map/area in the game that you find in the walkthrough section of the guide. What makes this nice is that, if you want to revisit an area for collectibles, you don't have to flip through tons of pages to find it in the guide itself. Now you can find it quickly in the atlas section and since all maps in this section also feature the legend for all items, you'll face minimal hassle when revisiting areas. Bravo Prima, bravo! Besides the atlas, there is also 2.) An appendix that features every number or stat you could ever hope to find in abstract grid format. It's very useful for miscellaneous things, like figuring out what expert challenges are what and where to find them, or what happens at each level/rank up, etc.
The overall presentation of the guide is pleasant and colorful, much like the game it is written for. Dispersed throughout the guide are very nice pictures of official art made for the game itself, mostly character art, that are a joy to take in. I enjoyed reading this guide.
I've been very positive about this guide, haven't I? You may wonder why I gave it a four-star rating and a warning in the title. Well, to put it simply, the guide suffers a bit because of its format. For some reason, Prima has gone to a paperback novel-like size format for all their 3DS guides recently. For more straightforward genres like platformers or games that benefit with having a handy dandy pocket encyclopedia, it works great, but for a deeper RPG like Mario & Luigi, it doesn't work so well. I wish Prima had published this in their older, larger format instead. As it is, all of the words, maps, pictures are much smaller than they would be in a normal sized book, and the guide suffers for it. Maps are very detailed and well-labeled, but you sometimes have to strain to catch finer details. Screenshots are too small and for some reason the printing quality of them feels somewhat smudged and lacking in crisp detail. The fonts used are perfectly fine, but because the smaller format forces the book to be thicker due to less content covered on each page, the guide ends up being more page-flipping intensive, something that annoys me in game guides. This is compounded and made even worse by the fact that the thick binding often makes the book close if you're not holding it open (which is impossible to do while playing such an action-packed game as Dream Team), resulting in you having to search out where you were at when it closed on you, frequently. If you bend the spine too much to keep the book open, I guarantee it'll crack and pages will start falling out soon. What a shame that such a great guide is hampered so badly by its poorly implemented format!
Also, the actual cover to the book is downright hideous. The dust jacket looks great, but the actual cover, designed to look like the transitional zone between the real/dream world in the game, is a blurry, smudged mess that looks like a fourth-grade schoolgirl's obnoxiously colorful binder/school-box ate too much cotton candy mixed with glitter and vomited all over the book. Yuck!
Overall, I'd say the guide is worthy of 4-stars. Don't let my criticisms of the format deter you too much. It really is a great guide, and I like it quite a bit. It's fantastically written with exceptional organization, the info it has is super helpful, and the maps are awesome. There are a lot of strengths in its favor, with some format issues and a hideously ugly cover making it clumsily stagger along the way from time to time. If you can look past those clutsy flaws, then by all means, get the guide. I think you're more likely to be glad that you did. Hope this review was helpful. Thanks for reading. Toodles
It is nice to have something on hand when you get stuck in the game. Instead of taking the game out and not playing it anymore, you will be able to get past difficult area of the game and eventually get to the end. Great purchase!