Funny thing about the 3DS demo stations at this year's and last year's E3: they were mobile. And I don't mean they were attached to rolling podiums. Nintendo hired a bunch of girls to walk around the floor with 3DS units fastened via bungee cords to their waist. It is a most bizarre practice.
I'm explaining this to you because I spent close to 20 minutes playing Mario & Luigi: Dream Team on one device while another dude played a second device, both attached to the same girl, and we were all shuffling along in tandem since the other dude was simultaneously in a line for something else. The girl was a champ, though, and she totally earned her pay for this gig.
Oh yeah, and Dream Team is pretty cool too.
As explained in Hamza's preview, Dream Team follows the Bros. to Pi'illo Island, where the machinations of a new villain require Mario to journey into Luigi's slumbering subconscious. If you journey in the real world, the turn-based battles play out as they did in M&L's past. But in Luigi's dreams, the Bros. fuse together for some rather psychedelic combo attacks.
One thing that I couldn't get a good read on in the trailers was whether the characters were 2D sprites as before or 3D models. On close inspection, I can confirm that they are sprites once again, albeit with a greater level of detail that gives them the illusion of depth. They fit quite well amongst the game's luscious 3D environments.
In dream battles, Mario's standard attacks are boosted by a team of Luigi afterimages -- Mario swings his hammer, and about a dozen "Luiginoids" suddenly appear with hammers of their own. But the special Luiginary attacks are what everyone is excited for.
You already know about the Luiginary Ball, executed by tilting the 3DS to pick up a bunch of stray Luigis to form a giant Katamari and steamroll your enemies. There was a second ability in the demo in which Mario surfs atop a cluster of Luigis, then those Luigis stack themselves atop even more Luigis, and so on until you've got this massive Luigi column with incredible stomping power.
This column also has applications outside of battle, such as being able to pound through breakable surfaces or to compress and rapidly extend like a spring to launch into the sky. While this is happening on the top screen, a sleeping Luigi on the bottom screen reacts to all the actions of his Luiginoid counterparts -- for example, when the Luigi column pounds the ground, the sleeping Luigi's hat slips over his face.
There are also dream boss battles that replace the giant Bowser battles from Bowser's Inside Story. By summoning a mass of Luigis, you are able to form a Godzilla-sized Luigi with Mario riding atop his brother's cap. You'll flip the 3DS on its side, book style, and the stereoscopic 3D effect will be disabled until the battle concludes and the 3DS returns to the proper position.
For the demo, I fought this giant robot who could generate massive tornadoes or transform into a tank / flying death machine. Luigi could deflect the robot's drill missiles with his hammer, and he could smack back the robot's electric death ball like he was Goku. And for the finisher, Luigi launched himself into the stratosphere and propelled his miniature brother towards the creature, forcing you to guide Mario to the target by tilting the 3DS.
One thing that drove me batty about this otherwise fun game is the excess of flow-breaking text boxes, which was my biggest problem in past M&Ls. I know they aren't going anywhere, unfortunately, so I'll just mutter under my breath whenever they appear while enjoying everything else on offer.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team arrives on August 11 in the US and on July 12 in Europe. Tethered 3DS demo girl not included.