The fourth game in the Mario & Luigi series for the 3DS. Its Japanese name is Mario & Luigi RPG 4: Dream Adventure and its European name is Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. As with New Super Mario Bros. 2, it was announced late in its development and, therefore, closer to its release date (February 2013-Summer 2013).Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toadsworth, and the many Toads are invited to Pi'illo Island and so they travel to the island for sightseeing. While touring the island, Luigi sleeps on one of the special pillows of the island, opening a portal to the Dream World. This gives an opportunity for the game's Big Bad, Antasma, to kidnap Peach and take her into the Dream World. It is then explained that there are two sources of power in the Dream World, the Dream Stone and the Dark Stone, the latter being shattered by Antasma in order to turn Pi'illos into stone. It is then up to Mario and Luigi to travel across the island, trek into the Dream World, and to free the frozen Pi'illos and to Save the Princess.The game's main gimmick, opposed to Partners in Time (Time Travel) and Bowser's Inside Story ("Fantastic Voyage" Plot), involves a journey in Luigi's dreams. For the first time since Superstar Saga, Mario and Luigi are going on an adventure by themselves (the previous two games paired them up with the Baby Mario Bros. and Bowser, respectively). The catch: for most of the game Luigi sleeps, allowing Mario to visit his dreams. Luigi can still manifest within his own dreams to assist his brother, and he can even multiply himself in this case.Notably, despite the DS' polygonal graphics, this is the first time the style of the games' artwork gets adapted to 3D graphics. This transition is smooth though, so the Polygon Ceiling is thankfully an Averted Trope.
Absurdly High Level Cap: The level counter maxes out at level 100. It's likely you'll be about level 40 when you beat the final boss. And it takes longer to get to level 100 than to literally start the game over and play through it twice more. Similarly, your stats max out at around 999 (assuming, no one's got there yet). Reaching level 100 gives you maybe 400-500 per stat if you're lucky. And grinding to that point with randomly dropped beans is likely another fifty hours worth of gameplay. Either way, don't expect to reach either in the storyline, and don't expect anything to last a single turn in battle (including the final boss) if you do.
Achievement System: The game has the Expert Challenges, which give you points for things like dodging a certain number of enemies, winning fights against each monster without getting hit and using special attacks successfully. This eventually unlocks some useful items.
Actually Four Mooks: Inverted in the beginning, where a two enemy ambush turns out to be just one enemy. Which is weird because right after features one enemy that turns out to be two. Played straight with viruses or the dream world, where one enemy on the overworld ends up being about 16-20 enemies in the battle. Or where background enemies fly in mid battle.
As per the series norm, jumping on a spike-covered enemy results in you taking damage rather than the target. A certain enemy also has a sneaky attack that superheats the ground after you dodge the initial fireball, still resulting in foot pain and a burn if you don't keep jumping.
Dreamy Bowser has an incrediblypainful-looking variation if you reach the end of his chase attack.
Airborne Mook: Par for the course, some enemies fly and can't be hit with hammers or other ground-based attacks. A variation later in the game involves enemies appearing in the background where they cannot be attacked directly. The Taunt Ball item can either defeat them, provoke them into the foreground or provoke an attack that can let the bros do tons of damage via counter-attacks.
All Just a Dream: A version in a non-Dream World context at the beginning, with Luigi dreaming of Antasma attacking the Zeepelin and causing it to crash. And again during the Mushroom Samba.
Always Accurate Attack: Strike Badge powers. Additionally, the first laser/energy ball attack Robo-Drilldigger uses is unavoidable too, with the game then using the damage taken from it as an excuse to teach you how to heal in giant battles.
Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: Inverted. While the background itself is no slouch in the looks department, it is positively outshone by Dreamy Bowser, who is glowing in all colours after inhaling the remnants of the Dream Stone.
Ambidextrous Sprite: The development team took special care in 16 different directions for both bros, as opposed to 8 directions in the previous games. Because Mario always raises his left arm when jumping and Luigi has an L letter on his cap, mirroring their moves would look glaringly obvious.
The Bedsmith. He desperately wants to "nap" on Prince Dreambert and even has hearts emitting from him on one occasion. Later on, seeing how the Mario Bros. get things done, he wants a reward for the things he's done in helping them... namely "napping" on the Mario Bros.! Cue hilariously horrified expressions and Bedsmith's insistence that's it's just a Pi'illo expression...
A more straight (heh) example would be Dreamy Broque Monsieur, who claims Dreamy Luigi is a "dreamboat."
Ambiguously Human: Dr Snoozemore. Even the Mario wiki says "species: unknown". And his fancy facial hair makes it even harder to work out what he's supposed to be.
Apathetic Citizens: Actually, it's averted! Everyone on the island gets changed and understandably terrified dialogue when Neo Bowser Castle appears in the sky and blasts away the barrier islands.
The art style got even more vibrant and colorful for this game, perfectly reflecting the theme about dreams.
Animations, especially noticeable with the Mario Bros, have more frames, making them smoother. Characters also now have separate idle animations, instead of just using the first frame of their walking animation for all but a few characters like the previous games.
Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Giant battles return from the previous game, done with Dreamy Luigi instead of Bowser. You even fight Giant Bowser in this manner near the end, and he doesn't hesitate in calling Luigi out for copying him.
Bag of Spilling: The Mario Bros. have not retained any of their items or Bros. Attacks from Inside Story, as is usual for the series. This trope is subverted, however, in that Bowser has retained all of his abilities from the last game! Up to and including the ability to turn into a ball, which is one of his attacks during the Bowser and Antasma fight, his ability to turn giant (though only in the Dream World), and even the Vacuum Block ability, which ends up being the basis for the final boss of the game!
Battle Theme Music: The game has different battle themes depending on where you battle, either the real world, or the dream world.
Big Bad: Antasma, a literal living nightmare. It later turns out that Bowser was this as well, and not just Antasma's lackey; in fact, he is the one to betray Antasma and use the Dream Stone for himself, not the other way around.
Big Bad Wannabe: Take a guess who's who. It's not who you think it is: It's Antasma.
Big Beautiful Woman: Madame Broque can count, especially since she has put on a lot of weight since Bowser's Inside Story.
Big Damn Fire Exit: Averted, as opposed to Superstar Saga. Neo Bowser Castle has mostly collapsed when you try and escape, and there's no remaining path out. Thankfully the Zeekeeper is there to save Mario and co when the last bit gives way.
Dreamy Mount Pajamaja, on the summit. Bleak enough in itself (being the summit of an icy mountain), but even moreso in context. While you're in there, everyone in the real world is unconscious, and the portal back to the real world is sealed. It may be the closest the bad guys have ever gotten to winning.
Dreamy Neo Bowser Castle. The regular Neo Bowser Castle has an exciting intensity to its ominousness that keeps it from being too eerie, but the Dream World equivalent has nightmarish chains and Bowser faces floating around and two musical tracks, a dirge-like one for the main portion and a harsh electronic one for Bowser's Dream, that give it a very sinister vibe.
Bonus Boss: Bowser Jr. Making his debut in the Mario & Luigi series on the 3DS.
Boss Banter: Activate: Pi'illodium Robo Speak. With upper hand: mocking. When wings unoperational: depressive.
Boss Bonanza: Neo Bowser Castle has three fights with Kamek and, later on, a gauntlet with Giant Bowser, Antasma and Dreamy Bowser. Luckily you can save in between, and you get healed before the Final Boss.
Pi'illodactyls in Mt. Pajamaja can become this if you provoke them with a Taunt Ball. They take a long time to defeat and can deal very powerful damage to the Mario Brothers. There's also a tougher variation later on in the game in Somnom Woods.
The Gold Beanie too, being the toughest non-boss enemy in the dream world. It even has its own chase attack (a sequence with Mario running to the foreground/background), which is usually only given to bosses. It's come quite a way since ''Superstar Saga''.
Boss Remix: Antasma's Leitmotif is remixed for the final battle with him, as well as the very first battle against him in the beginning of the game.
Played for Laughs, of course. The Zeekeeper refuses to piece the Dream Stone's dust back into its original form because he doesn't want people to use a trinket to get their jobs done for them... Instead, he turns the dust into a massive Dream Coin that he breaks through to shower the island with coins, and then he adds that the money will pay for his illogical services for helping the heroes. Dreambert is crushed by this action.
Brown Note: The Dreambeats. Anyone who hears them that isn't a Pi'illo, Starlow or Antasma instantly falls into a deep sleep. Mario barely got out of it, Bowser simply covered his ears since he expected it, but Luigi wasn't so lucky, to the point of falling into a sleep so deep that the Dream Portal collapsed, trapping Mario in the Dream World he was hiding in.
Buffy Speak: Dreambert's comment before the Earthwake battle is this. "Dreamy Luigi! Focus! Don't freak out! Be at one with defeating this giant... town... monster."
Bullying a Dragon: Popple gets in a fight with a Wiggler and forces Mario and Luigi to help him. Throughout the fight, the Wiggler beats him up with a few of his attacks and Mario and Luigi beat him up when Popple tries to "help." And after you beat the Wiggler, he decides to fight the ones who did all of the work to get them out of the way. Yeah, reeeaaalll smart there, Popple.
Catapult Nightmare: Upon waking from a nightmare where Antasma causes their Zeepelin to crash, Luigi shoots up and starts running in panic across the perfectly intact vehicle, only to fall off so hard that he conks out again. It was an epic nightmare though according to one of the Toads.
Chekhov's Gunman: Downplayed with Dr. Snoozemore. He's mentioned (but doesn't appear) in the beginning, dropped for a while, and then finally appears tells Mario and Co. about the Ultibed, but still plays a relatively minor role.
Pi'illodium's wings. Taking them out causes Pi'illodium to drop to the ground and reduces its power and defense.
Dreamy Bowser's arms. You have to destroy the right arm otherwise he will shield damage to his head.
Common Place Rare: Beans and Wellington Boots (Farmer Boots in the American Localization). Seriously, the only way to get the Pi'illo Island/Mushroom World version of a common real life food item is literally to dig up at random marked spots, kill rare enemies or equip the (equally rare compared to real life) Wellington Boots that let you grind them from normal enemies.
Continuity Nod: Tons, not just to previous games such as the return of old characters like Beanbean Kingdom residents, but also to past (non-RPG) Mario games.
Bowser's portrayal within itself is a huge continuity nod to Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. Corporal Paraplonk, Private Goomp, and Sergeant Guy have all been made elites, and Bowser retains and uses all the abilities he had in that game—including the inhale ability and the power to grow giant (though it's only used in his dreams, ironically).
Another subtle nod to the above game: The poses the bros make after certain Bros. Attacks are the same ones they made when victorious in battles from Inside Story. Namely, their "level up" poses for the Bye-Bye Cannon, and their "battle victory" poses for the Star Rocket.
Dreamy Bowser can summon a number of dream-versions of his common mooks, which look exactly like the regular enemies, only given an overlaying color. Dreamy Goombas are blue.
Contractual Boss Immunity: Gold Beanies are immune to Luiginary Flame. Just Gold Beanies. All bosses? Take normal damage from it. And Gold Beanies themselves take normal damage/effects from everything else but Luiginary Flame. No idea why.
The villains demonstrate their newly gained power by blasting apart a number of small neighboring islands with no visible features and no mentions of casualties.
Similarly, it's very lucky that Dreamy Wakeport's buildings are deserted during the battle against Earthwake. Especially when you consider that the hammer uppercut sends Earthwake flying straight through a line of skyscrapers. Though, as a Dream World location, it's vague as to whether the buildings were ever occupied in the first place.
Cool Airship: There's several of these as background enemies, manned by Shy Guys. Dreamy Bowser can create them, as well.
Credits Medley: The credits theme uses the beginning of the real world's battle theme, as well as the themes of all of the levels besides Neo Bowser Castle before ending on the end of the battle theme.
You're never gonna believe this one: it's Bowser. He is heavily implied to have been anticipating Antasma was just trying to use him to succeed from the very beginning, and was only waiting to get Peach, the Dream Stone and his new castle so he could kick the Bat King to the curb the moment he showed signs of malcontent. And so he chucks Antasma to the ground to be left at the mercy of the Mario Bros. while he leaves to conquer the world with his newfound power.
Also shows up in his giant battle. After being knocked into the lava by a sideways hammer attack, he calls in airships to erect a barrier there so Luigi can't do it again.
Additionally, many enemies and bosses seem to focus their attacks on dazed, fallen or otherwise status afflicted characters knowing that they can't dodge or fight back in this state. This is especially true of the Pi'illodium boss battle, where it'll use its stun inducing hammer attack on one character, then immediately attack straight after with something else and focus its full power on the currently near unconscious bro it hit just before for a possible KO.
You could also count Earthwake's armour attack as this, since it uses the 'unmovable/unbreakable' armour JUST before its most deadly attack, counting on the fact Luigi can't move twice in one turn and ends up having to dodge/counter it.
Deal with the Devil: Why Bowser and Antasma team up. While Antasma (and many M&L veterans) thought he was the devil in the deal, he finds out all too late that it was Bowser all along.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: If you are knocked out in a battle, you are given the option to try it again, even on easy mode if you so want to, without having to go back to your last save point, and in Giant battles, you can retry as often as you want but there is no easy mode available. Averted on Hard Mode, where dying sends you back to whenever you last saved.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Almost everything Dreamy Luigi does affects the real Luigi in some way. Every time Dreamy Luigi jumps (not Mario; just him), the real Luigi's eyebrows jump with it. This occurs even in cutscenes.
Also, when using a Luiginary move in the Dream World, pressing B will still make Luigi's dream self react in some way.
Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The Zeekeeper battle. To wit: The Zeekeeper is heavily implied to be a Physical God. It can shoot powerful energy blasts, lay explosive eggs, rip open dimensional rifts, and other god-like powers. Luigi manages to defeat him with nothing but jumping, his hammer, a bunch of tree stumps and sheer determination. He even manages to keep up with the god-bird... WHILE ON FOOT.
Difficult but Awesome: Luiginary Wall is tricky to master, but if you do, it can deal more damage than Luiginary Hammer can do.
Difficulty Spike: When you start out the game, things are fine and dandy. it throws you a curveball now and again, but for the most part remains your smooth-sailing Mario & Luigi game. Suddenly, Bowser in Dream's Deep. A bit of a warning sign, not too bad, but unusually hard for being so early on. Then meet Big Massif and his disciples. The game wasn't lying when it said at the beginning that was better to beat every enemy you see, because you will need the levels and understanding of the gameplay mechanics by the time you reach these guys. Steel yourself, because the game pulls no punches now. And you can't even level-grind if you have problems with the giant battles.
Mario and Luigi once again have unique special attacks, after sharing specials in the last two games. The only special attack used by both is the basic shell attack, which is a red shell for Mario and a green shell for Luigi, but even that works slightly different depending on the character: Mario's is aimed at the initially targeted enemy until it dies while Luigi's hits random targets.
You can also enforce this for Mario and Luigi through the ranking system, picking bonuses that the other brother does not have such as HP increases and so on.
As usual for the series, the bros stats develop differently by nature, such as Luigi lacking Speed but having more 'Stache. Level-up bonuses and beans can be used to balance this out or to specialize them more as the player wishes.
Double Take: Upon first encountering Dreamy Luigi in Dreamy Pi'illo Castle, Mario simply nods at his younger brother and keeps walking into the level...only to turn back around and realize that, from his own perspective at least, there's no logical reason for Luigi to be following him in Luigi's own dream.
Also, when Dreamy Luigi first goes giant, he looks down at his own hand in a rather indifferent fashion... then a couple seconds later, he realizes how big he's gotten and starts to panic.
Do Well, But Not Perfect: The Rookie Gloves allow you to use Bros./Luiginary Attacks without using any BP, as long as you don't get a Excellent score.
Dream Land: The main setting aside from the real world.
Dream Walker: Mario journeys through Luigi's dreams, assisted by Dreamy Luigi, Luigi's dream self.
Dream Weaver: Luigi himself can manipulate the environment to help Mario through outside intervention by Starlow, help Mario directly through the same method, split himself up into many Luigis, and give Mario an attack boost and access to "Luiginary" special attacks while in his dreams.
Mount Pajamaja has a weird fountain of technicolor "magic water" that puts Mario and Luigi to sleep, giving a text description of their dreams. Its dream world counterpart has one too, thus giving a use of this trope.
During the final fight with Antasma in the Dream World, if you fail to dodge his bat swarm, Mario can fall asleep and has to dodge another attack before he can wake up.
Drop the Hammer: Mario and Luigi of course. Also, Earthwake and Pi'illodium, who don't so much use a hammer as become a giant hammer and smash into the Mario Bros. in one attack each. And Dreamy Bowser summons one at the end, deciding which Bro. to smash by flipping a coin.
Dual-World Gameplay: Pi'illo Island and the Dream World. The part of the Dream World the Bros. end up visiting depends on where exactly Luigi falls asleep.
Dungeon Town: While the main portion of Wakeport is rather non-dangerous, the outlying sections and the Dream World feature plenty of monsters and puzzles.
Durable Death Trap: Pi'illodium, who despite being the last... active part of the Pi'illo kingdom for how many hundreds or thousands of years, is still in enough working order to try and blow up the Mario Bros. with missiles and lasers and make comments about their imminent demise. Possibly also Earthwake, which has presumably just been left in Dreamy Wakeport for goodness knows how long and yet is still in perfect condition and able to horribly maul the last couple of adventurers confident/stupid enough to try and get the Nightmare Chunk.
End Game Results Screen: A pretty detailed one shows up after the credits. As a nice bonus, it's set to a soothing music box version of the main theme.
Evil Overlooker: Antasma on the cover. Though not in gigantic head as per the norm, but as a bat.
Prince Dreambert is the other fairy, who is much more direct and eloquent.
Face Fault: All of the time. Mario and Luigi even have a unique animation for it. One scene has them do several in a row in reaction to a character making some bad puns.
Fake Special Attack: When you encounter Bowser's lackeys in his castle, they opt to use their special move: "LETHAL RETREAT!"
Fission Mailed: Drinking from the fountain at Mt. Pajamaja triggers a cutscene where Mario and Luigi fall into a deep sleep, wakes up, discover a huge mushroom patch and begin munching on them. They grow huge, unable to return to normal. Game Over. Until Dreambert wakes them.
Flat "What.": Starlow uses one of these in response to another absurd statement from the Massifs in Mount Pajamaja.
Big Massif: BEEF! Li'l Massif: FOR! Big Massif: TWO! Both: BEEF STEW! Starlow: What.
Flunky Boss: Just about every normal Dream World boss is this or a variant, thanks to how attacks work in the Dream World. Dreamy Bowser also counts, with his ability to summon Dreamy versions of the Koopa Troop.
Finishing Move: Giant Luigi battles end using a special move called Finishing Bros. Dreamy Luigi jumps into the sky to retrieve a star. Mario hops on as Luigi throws it at the boss, allowing Mario to guide it into the enemy for the final hit.
Foreshadowing: Why is it that, for being the main antagonist, Antasma has little to no direct conflict with the Mario Bros., while Bowser and his minions are constantly stirring up trouble? Furthermore, Bowser's visage is all over Neo Bowser Castle, and even the name of the place; why does Antasma get such little emphasis? Because he isn't the main antagonist.
The Power Booster kind; when battling in the dream world, Dreamy Luigi sort of disappears into Mario, leaving a green glow around Mario. The effect is that the brothers get only one turn, but also a huge boost in attack power and turning all attacks into herd hitting attacks.
Antasma and Bowser pull the same trick during the first Bowser battle; Bowser gets a purple aura, and lots of Antasma clones appear for certain attacks.
Giant Luigi is created from hundreds of Luiginoids.
It's very, very possible to have the game completely fail to register gyroscope input during the Zeekeeper and Giant Bowser battles. This pretty much makes them impossible until the game decides to work correctly, since these battles both have parts which have Luigi moved by the gyro only. As mentioned here
If you downloaded it off of the EShop, it is very possible for the save file to randomly become corrupted, forcing you to start all over.
Generic Doomsday Villain: Antasma doesn't have nearly the amount of characterization the other RPG villains have. Which may be intentional, given how Bowser turns out to be the real Big Bad.
The boss of the Dream World version of Mount Pajamaja is... Mount Pajamaja. The volcano itself is sapient and wants to kill you.
Earthwake is a partial example; it's made of the buildings of Dreamy Wakeport, though it's more of a Humongous Mecha controlled by a single computer than a living location.
Genre Savvy: When Bowser gets access to the wish-granting Dream Stone, the protagonists immediately conclude he'll go after Peach again and set off to hide her in the dream world. Unfortunately, they're too late; Peach was swapped out with a disguised Kamek at some point beforehand.
Get Back Here Boss: The Zeekeeper fight consists entirely of you attacking it while chasing it down.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: A few times, like when one character notices that Starlow isn't wearing clothes, or much later in the game when Starlow and Prince Dreambert need to distract the three Fly Guys to get the Driftwood Jellyfish Sheets back, and make up a rumour involving a secret birthmark Bowser has somewhere on his body. It's implied that both its location and its shape are somewhat...interesting.
Giant Flyer: The Pi'illodactyls, as well as the Zeekeeper.
Group Picture Ending: One's shown at the end of the credits montage, with the friendly NPCs in it. The other is shown after the ending/results screen when you finish Hard Mode, and has all the important characters and bosses in it.
Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: The first battle with Bowser. At the end of the fight, he doesn't explode into sparkles like other bosses; instead, he and Antasma simply leap offscreen, ending the battle. Afterward, Bowser knocks the bros. out with his fire breath.
Heavy Sleeper: While Luigi is asleep, Starlow can tickle his nose, pull on his moustache, and even knock his hat over his eyes. He doesn't appear to be disturbed from his sleep despite this. The fact that he also appears to be able to fall asleep at the drop of a hat shows how easy it is for him to fall asleep as well.
Luigi apparently likes being touched somewhere on the side of his face as well, making a rather pleased sound. Go figure.
Beef Cloud, too. In battle, all he does is sleep to heal himself every five seconds — in real-time.
Hijacked by Ganon: For the first time in the Mario and Luigi series, Bowser is the true villain of the story, being Genre Savvy enough to know that Antasma was trying to use him. Using this fact, he was able to make it so that it was actually him that was manipulating Antasma, not the other way around. This game is also marks the first time in the series that Bowser's consciously the final boss of the game.
Considering their species, Goombas in this game are kind of stronger than usual, being mid/late game enemies instead of weak ones. In fact, all of the usual Bowser Minions don't show up until about halfway into the game.
Hermite Crabs, which have two different species, are absolutely tiny... but surprisingly tough when they do attack.
Infinity+1 Sword: Star Rocket and Zee Egg, the last two Bros Attacks. On the one hand, they're found quite out the way, with the former being hidden in the final dungeon and the latter requiring you to save all 52 Pi'illos first. On the other hand, they're by far the best weapons/attacks in the game, ludicrously easy to use and able to make every other attack you have obsolete immediately (especially with the Casual Bros rank up choice). Bowser Jr. can steal these away from you though.
Interface Screw: Apart from the fake Gameover, a minor one occurs after Bowser in the Dream World fakes out, and Antasma flips the screen during one of his attacks.
Inventory Management Puzzle: Hard Mode's item restrictions. Not as bad as many games (it's a fixed limit of 10 of each item rather than 10 items total), but it still means the likes of Taunt Balls, Refreshing Herbs and other such 'one type' items are easy to run out of. Also, the Battle Ring, which gives you a very stingy preset list of items to use against bosses, meaning that you'd better not mess up too often.
Jerk Ass: The Dream Stone's Spirit. So you just want some information on where the real world Dream Stone is. Well, he'd be happy to... NOT TELL YOU! You still insist? SHADDUP! SHADDUP! GO TO SHADDUPVILLE! Oh, you've bumped into it with a Luigi stack? GET THE BIG GUNS OUT! At least until you kick his backside upon which it will finally, finally divulge the secret with "big green".
Jive Turkey: The Mad Skillathon's host is probably one of the more egregious examples of this in the Mario series.
If you are in a battle with some Fire Bros. with one brother down and the other on very low health, then you can still be KO'ed even if you defeat the Fire Bros. One attack launches a fireball in the air that falls down later. It will fall down no matter what and could very well knock you out if you're low on health and do not counter it.
One of the bosses activates a self-destruct at low health, which could result in this as well if neither bro survives the explosion.
If you successfully dodge Bowser Jr's version of the Border Jump, he'll kick the Shy Guys away. Those Shy Guys are actually flying toward Mario and Luigi, so you need to dodge them, too.
Kill Sat: Neo Bowser Castle has one and demonstrates it in the first minutes after first appearing.
Large Ham: Oh, so very much with Big Massif and Lil' Massif, the tour guides for Mount Pajamaja, with their constant references to BEEFY MUSCLES! and being PRIME CUTS OF STEAK! They even mention "HUGE HAM", which is possibly lampshading it.
Little Miss Snarker: Starlow plays this role once again. She will let NPCs know if she thinks something they say is stupid or ridiculous and then, and then there is her hilarious reaction to being told that she is nude...
Lone Wolf Boss: Grobot, Torkscrew, Drilldigger, Big Massif, Mammoshka, Mount Pajamaja, Wiggler, Popple, Pi'llodium, Zeekeeper... About half your opponents are just jerks or characters with no real connection to the Big Bad.
Lost Forever: The 1-Up Gloves are the only missable item in the game. They're a 50% drop from Mammoshka.
Magic Music: The Dreambeats. No ordinary person can resist sleeping when they hear them. The only characters shown to be immune are Antasma, Starlow, and Prince Dreambert. Luigi, who is the characters' portal to the Dream World, is even more affected by the Dreambeats than the rest, as shown when the portal out of the Dream World collapses, temporarily trapping the team inside Luigi's dream. Even Mario is affected, though he manages to resist it long enough to avoid falling asleep. Bowser, while not immune, simply covers his ears.
Make My Monster Grow: Bowser uses several of his usual methods during his boss fight: eating meat, having a near-death experience, and calling upon Kamek. And they stack. What's the final result of this, you may ask? You know how standard Giant Bowser's usually around as tall as his castle in these games? Multiply that size by about five. Yeah. Giant Luigi is barely up to the largest form's knee; "Giant Giant Bowser" could probably body slam a city.
Me's a Crowd: While journeying through Luigi's dreams, Mario can be assisted by an army of Luigis called Luiginoids, either in the field when using a constellation Luiginary Work or in battle.
Mercy Mode: The game will offer to make battles easier if you keep on getting knocked out. Also, if you keep on failing the Star Driver in the final Giant Luigi battle, the game will offer to make the dodging sequence visually easier.
Metal Slime: The Gold Beanie is this proper in this game. Two things make it easier to defeat, though: perfectly countering its attacks will prevent it from running away, and letting it defeat Mario will allow fighting it in Easy Mode, which will forfeit all experience and most of the money, but will still grant its Rare Candy drop.
Milestone Celebration: This game is released as part of the Nintendo-declared "Year of Luigi", celebrating the 30th anniversary of Luigi's debut in Mario Bros.. In an unintentional example, the game is this for the Mario & Luigi series, as this game was released in 2013, ten years after Superstar Saga was released.
Mini-Game: Several are part of the main story line, such as the drilldigger. And then there's Kylie Koopa's photo puzzles, which are optional, but net you some beans.
Money Spider: Best not to think about how defeating the likes of Mount Pajamaja gives you a human sized pair of gloves, a couple of thousand coins and some edible items. Or how come the items dropped by the monsters and bosses all come in a nice gift box with a ribbon and bow.
Mushroom Samba: Mario and Luigi come across a spring of "magic water" on Mt. Pajamaja. Should you choose to drink from it, they instantly fall asleep and we're treated to a trippy description of their dream, which involves a literal field of mushrooms, culminating into a fake Game Over.
Bowser's theme is the same as the one he had in Bowser's Inside Story, but sounds more sinister and has ominous chanting.
Mythology Gag: After passing the first elevator in Neo Bowser Castle there are four coloured tiles, which are Yellow, Red, Blue and Green clockwise, the colours of the Super Nintendo controller (when viewed at a 90 degree angle). This is the only time these four colours are together, and the only time they're arranged as such.
Never Say "Die": Averted with Britta. She appears to be dying after being spat up by Torkscrew and as her workers crowd around her, the screen goes black and depressing music plays, only for her to shout "I AIN'T DEAD!" Played straight later on with the Zeekeeper talking about leading you into the light and Bowser wanting to make the Mario Bros 'disappear'.
No Man Should Have This Power: When Antasma was about to be sealed in the Dream World in the past, he destroyed the Dark Stone as a final curse on the Pi'illo, petrifying them all. Peach and Starlow later do this to the Dream Stone in an attempt to save Mario and Luigi from Bowser wishing them away, but then he inhales the fragments, and absorbs all the power. Dreambert tries to have it restored afterwards, but the Zeekeeper instead uses up all of its power to make millions of coins, saying it's for the best.
One to Million to One: Antasma can split apart into a swarm of many bats (He can also do this when "bat" is his default state, making it more akin to Me's a Crowd in those cases), and then reform into his normal form. Notably, jumping on and destroying the bats during this attack will deduct from Antasma's HP.
For the final boss battle, Bowser inhales the fragments of the shattered Dream Stone to become Dreamy Bowser, a giant, technicolor-glowing Reality Warper version of himself with the Dream Stone on his forehead and chest.
Antasma takes on five different forms over the course of the game; a ball of vapor, a pillow, a bat (or bats), his human-sized true form, and the true use of this trope for his battle form.
Luiginary Stack, which is made completely pointless the minute you get Luiginary Hammer (and anything else afterwards).
The Fire Flower Bros Attack which is inferior to everything else for single enemies and outclassed by a massive degree in every respect by the Zee Egg. Fire Flower is, however, excellent for dealing with the Beehoss enemies of Somnom Woods, which have a weakness to fire.
Peninsula of Power Leveling: The entrance to Wakeport can easily be this, especially on Hard Mode. Why? Because it has Hermite Crabs you can fight the minute you enter the Mushrise Park area, which give you much more experience than the stuff found in Mushrise Park or Dozing Sands itself. Very useful if you want to level grind past the point you're supposed to be at.
Plot Coupon: The Dream Stone. It used to be one of a pair, but long ago, Antasma stole the Dark Stone, and broke it when the Pi'illos had him cornered, which resulted in them being petrified and Antasma being trapped in the Dream World. Both stones are able to grant wishes, which is why Antasma wants them.
Plot Tunnel: The dreampoint segment of Dreamy Mount Pajamaja. The dream portal closes and traps you there until you beat the boss (who happens to be a living copy of the mountain itself).
The previous inhabitants of this island are called Pi'illo. They got turned into pillows. Also, the island's tourism, when not about sightseeing, is about being able to sleep well.
The two pairs of larger than normal, Mega Pi'illos you rescue are named Phil and Lowe (pillow) and Cush and Shawn (cushion).
Reality Warper: After inhaling the Dream Stone, Bowser can basically do whatever the hell he wants. Portals? Child's play. Creating dark vortexes? Comes standard. Duplicating himself for a pincer attack? A nonissue. Generating airships and minion swarms from nothing to assail you? Of course! Poofing up piles of meat to heal himself? Would you have it any other way?
During your first trek through Pi'illo Blimport, Broque Monsieur is suddenly seen with a dark purple aura and an angry scowl as he sics several Grombas at the Mushroom Kingdomites while threatening the new guests. Has he suddenly been bewitched or possessed by Antasma to be used as a puppet to attack our heroes? Nope, turns out this was all just another part of the welcoming festivities, and he apparently got that purple aura for no real reason. Or at least, he thinks so.
Reset Button: The Miracle/Silver Badge combo is a badge effect that acts as an any time player-activated version of this, reverting your status to how it was the turn before it was used.
The Reveal: Bowser is the true Big Bad of the game, not Antasma. Bowser was manipulating Antasma to his benefit instead of the other way around.
Ring Out Boss: Earthwake and Giant Bowser. Especially in the gyro control section for the latter.
Robo Speak: Everything said by Pi'illodium and Earthwake, two of the robot foes in the game.
Same Content, Different Rating: Not notably different content-wise from the past games, but for reasons no one will ever be quite sure of, the ESRB saw it perfectly fit to raise the rating a notch. The extra detail resulting from the Video Game 3D Leap, or the surprising increase in sex related jokes (one NPC commenting that Starlow is nude). Oddly, PEGI gave it a 3+, the same as the other games.
Save Scumming: What you might end up doing for all of the "Excellent Ten" and "Dodge Ten" Expert Challenges, as later enemies tend to have very ridiculous attack patterns. In some cases it's actually recommended to do this, as getting enemies to respawn (especially in the Dream World) tends to be a bit of a chore in the Mario & Luigi series, and getting those Expert Challenges out of the way as fast as possible ensures that your fun isn't cut short by frustration.
Save the Princess: This time, she's lost in Luigi's dreams. For a while, anyway. At some point Kamek takes her place and the real Peach is taken to Neo Bowser Castle.
Sequel Difficulty Spike: The enemies hit very hard in this game, and especially the bosses are very capable of decimating you if you're not careful. And if that's not bad enough, they added a Hard Mode on top of that! Enemies are even tougher, and the already-narrow window of timing for button presses practically is cut in half. On the other hand, the game also includes Anti-Frustration Features such as Easy Mode, and there are several combinations of badges and equipment that are plainly overpowered. The game is overall harder than its three predecessors, but includes options to soften the difficulty.
Sequential Boss: The multiple bosses variant is done with Wiggly the Wiggler and Popple. Though unlike most such bosses, your strongest attacks and healing items should be used during your fight with Wiggler.
Shockingly Expensive Bill: The Zeekeeper will only help you out once a price has been agreed. First, Dreambert declares that Mario will hand over every last coin to the cause. (Surprisingly, it's Mario who objects to this the most; Dreamy Luigi doesn't seem particularly bothered.) Then, when the Zeekeeper tots all the expenses up, the final bill comes to 80 million coins. No wonder Mario's horrified by it.
Smurfing: The Hooskis milk this hoo for all its worth. Oddly, the Massifs, as well as Big Massif's Hooraw disciples seem to be exempt from this.
Sneeze of Doom: If Starlow gets Luigi to sneeze while dreaming, this happens within the dream. Also, while in the real world, Luigi has an ill-timed sneeze that causes the boss of Mount Pajamaja to wake up.
Snot Bubble: Luigi has one of these in the Japanese boxart.
Some Dexterity Required: The various Bros. moves and Luiginary moves not only utilise the usual A and B buttons but also tilting left and right, back and forth and the option to have the 3D effect on or off, and if you're not careful, you can easily mess up your timing. This also applies to dodging enemy attacks so you're not just getting attacked from the right or above, but also left, below, back, from the foreground and even the background and they can be pretty difficult to avoid. Now try getting ten dodges and ten Excellent attacks in a row in the Expert Challenges and you've definitely got yourself a challenge. Also, the Giant Battles require the use of the stylus and occasionally tilting as well. Phew.
Sound Test: Unlocked for beating the main game once.
Spin Attack: Bowser has one, and Giant Luigi performs one against Bowser.
Sprite/Polygon Mix: The environments are completely 3D, and some of the characters use 3D models. Most characters seem to still be represented by sprites done to look like 3D models, though, in the same general style.
The Starscream: Private Goomp, Corporal Paraplonk and Sergeant Guy, when hearing about the possibility of a promotion for beating the Mario Bros., imagine being promoted over Bowser and what's more about bossing him around. Of course, that obviously would never happen even if they did win.
While many aspects of Pi'illo Castle have changed since the disappearance of the population, Dreambert vouches that the Battle Ring was their traditional place for competition. Or in other words, Pi'illo fights.
When the Massif Bros. are in full-on Large Ham mode, Starlow reckons, "We've made a massive mistake."
Luigi in particular despite a lot of characters thinking that's he definitely less than buff. Dreamy Luigi is definitely strong if he's able to stop himself from being crushed by Giant Giant Bowser, Giant Bowser made even more massive thanks to Kamek. Dreamy Luigi is also able to block an absolutely humongous fireball from Giant Giant Bowser as well. That's some strength. Starlow also says this outright of the brothers.
Goombas are first encountered around the midgame. What do you expect of Bowser's lowest henchmen that are usually easily squished in many other Mario games (and are usually the first enemies fought in other Mario RPGs)? These Goombas are pretty powerful for when you fight them and they even have a slightly more powerful version later on. There's also the Goombas that fight alongside the Elite Trio ... they can swarm up on you and do an almost unavoidable attack on you.
Suddenly Voiced: Zig-Zagged with Luigi. While he's just as illegible as Mario during most of the game (as in the past games in the series), when you visit Dream's Deep for the first time, you briefly read what's going on in his mind. It the culminates to the point where Luigi directly addresses Mario telling him about what would happen next and asking him if he still wants to carry on, before joining him again as Dreamy Luigi. He becomes illegible again then after, except before every Giant Battle, where you can here what goes on in his mind while he grows.
In the backstory, when the Dark Stone was shattered, the fragments rained down all over the island, turning all the Pi'illo people into stone pillows. The only way to turn them back is to enter their dream world and break all the fragments there.
The Massif Bros. can temporarily turn into stone as a sort of defensive mechanism, though it's mainly used as a shock reaction.
Take Your Time: Neo Bowser Castle won't collapse until you leave the tower before the final boss. Despite the falling bombs.
Taking You with Me: The Pi'illodium will self-destruct once it runs extremely low on HP. If you don't destroy it in time, it will self-destruct (taunting you before it does) and cause massive damage. If both of the Mario Bros get KO'd, it's a game over (or loss in the Battle Ring). Interestingly, the countdown is in real time, rather than being turn-based. As such, the execution time of attacks becomes critical.
Talking to Themself: In Dreamy Wakeport, the tour guide is actually Big Massif. So when Big Massif called him on his phone, it was actually him talking to himself.
Technicolor Fire: One of Dreamy Bowser's attacks is to breathe rainbow-colored flames.
Tempting Fate: During the Elite Trio battle, Private Goomp actually boasts after you KO one the first time "You like that, buddy?! It's called teamwork! Unless you KO all 3 of us at once, we can't lose!" Thanks for making it ridiculously obvious you idiot!
That's No Moon: The giant bosses for the most part. Those drills and machines in the background of Dreamy Dozing Sands? Form the main structure of the boss Drilldigger. That version of Mount Pajamaja in the Dream World? Is alive, and tries to kill you. That weird building holding the Nightmare Chunk in Dreamy Wakeport? That's Earthwake's head, which flies into the air and summons a Humongous Mecha made of buildings before it attacks. You only ever realise any of this right before the giant battles with said foes begin.
Theme Naming: To keep this section short, let's just say that many of the places visited and characters met over the course of the game have something related to sleeping in their names. To the point that the few bosses that don't directly have a name based around sleep/dreaming (Pi'illodium and a few others) get such names in the French/German/Spanish/Italian translations.
Theres No Kill Like Overkill: Miracle Badge and Gold Badge combo + max level + high stats + Zee Egg and Star Rocket over and over + Duplex Crown = 99,999 damage on weak enemies. Enough to destroy the first monsters you see twelve thousand times over!
This Is a Drill: The giant drill machine in the desert (And its Humongous Mecha counterpart in the Dream World). Also Torkscrew, the area boss, has a gigantic horn drill on its head.
Throw the Dog a Bone: Luigi seems to be treated with more respect in this game from nearly every character remembering his name, except Bowser of course (and even he remembers it at the very end after having his tail handed to him by Luigi in the final giant battle and the definitely final battle.) He's generally the one to come up with ideas on how to solve things such as the solution to opening the Pi'illos door panels and significantly, he gets equal credit alongside Mario for helping save Pi'illo Island and, by extent, the world. Even Starlow is (a little) less teasing to him this time round.
Tiered by Name: Like its counterpart in Bowser's Inside Story All of the bosses in the Battle Ring Besides Bowser Jr. are rehashes of older bosses, who also have the same names as the original bosses but with "X" at the end of their names. In addition, all Underground Monkies in this game have the same name as the originals but with "R" at the end of their names.
Every boss in the Battle Ring, with the hard mode fights having shorter time limits and the hard mode giant boss fights having 'do perfect or die' time limits.
Pi'illodium looks like one when it activates the self destruct timer in its own battle (oddly, this is a 30 second count down in real time, despite the turn based battle format). However, its quite possible to survive the self-destruct and win anyway, especially with a Boo Biscuit which turns the Bros into Intangible Men. It's also entirely possible for the player to defeat Pi'illodium before it even activates the self-destruct.
Time Stands Still: What happens when the Gold and Miracle badges are used in combination with one another.
Bowser apparently finally, finally learned some cunning before the game, and was using Antasma all along. Good to see you back, Koopa King.
Just as well? Remember Private Goomp, Corporal Paraplonk and Sergeant Guy? The three ragtag rookie minions from Bowser's Inside Story, who Bowser allowed back under the stipulation that they pull their weight? Guess what they go by these days? The Elite Trio. You even have a boss battle against them, wherein Goomp commands the entire Goomba army, Paraplonk airlifts Giant Bob-Ombs and becomes a whirling shell of death, and Guy has a Banzai Bill Cannon and a magic scepter—the kind the Magikoopas use. Nice job, guys.
Kamek has become more dangerous than ever, having gained the ability to summon hordes of Dry Bones as well as incredibly specialized clones of himself. In fact, he and the Elite Trio took such a level in badass that Bowser still praises them at the end despite losing to the Mario Bros.
It's not just the villains, either. Mario and Luigi's abilities, both in an out of battle, are much more dynamic, resulting in situations like Mario swinging around a huge ball of Luiginoids to smash through rock, or using them to create a tornado, or flinging themselves through the air at high speeds to smash through rocks. And they beat aReality Warper Bowser at the end of the game without powering up.
Giant Luigi is made of this trope, particularly the battle with Giant Bowser.
Bowser's Koopa Troop have finally gotten their act together, after the last three games. Every single Koopa Troop enemy is a nonbrainwashed mid-to-endgame enemy, when in other Mario RPGs (Except the first Paper Mario or Sticker Star) including the other three games in the M&L series, they are some of the earliest enemies encountered, and in some games, the most powerful of them are brainwashed into service of someone else.
The Beehoss enemy from the previous game returns with brand-new Spikes of Villainy and now releases a swarm of bees instead of a single one. If the Bros. jump on any of the bees while dodging, the rest will counter with an unavoidable attack.
Bowser Jr, usually a Recurring Boss in games where he appears, is the Bonus Boss here.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Popple is much crueler in this game than in Superstar Saga, especially when he turns on the bros after they beat the Wiggler.
To an extent, Starlow is much more critical and snarky towards Luigi than she was in the previous game, though she also softens up more.
Training Boss: Antasma, believe it or not. Smoldergeists also serve this role.
Transforming Mecha: Both Earthwake and Robo Drilldigger. The former is a mecha made of buildings that can transform into a flying swarm of them and a gigantic hammer, the latter a robot made of drill pieces that can become a tank or a flying vehicle in order to use different attacks.
Underground Monkey: Tougher versions of early enemies appear with "R" added to their names, with the expected Palette Swap. The more iconic foes like Goombas and Spinies don't even get that, retaining the exact same appearance but with increased stats.
Unexpected Character: Bowser Jr. is an interesting case. He usually wouldn't be unexpected, but he doesn't show up at all until he's revealed to be the Bonus Boss, showing up with no foreshadowing whatsoever.
Unique Enemy: There is only one Monolift R in the entire game, strangely. It's in the eastern part of Mt. Pajamaja, in the area with the warp pipe.
Up to Eleven: Hoooooly shnikies, does this game throw scale out the window towards the end. Remember Giant Bowser? Remember how he can grow giant by himself, now? Remember how Kamek used to be in charge of that? Guess what? HE STILL CAN. In the final phase of the final Giant Battle, this results in an actually terrifying final obstacle: a GIANT GIANT BOWSER.
Vacuum Mouth: Bowser kept this ability from the previous game. He uses it to merge with the Dream Stone for the final boss battle.
Hope you're used to dodging in the Dream World by now, and are decent at Luiginary Ball, as Bowser will be a nightmare if you're not, and it's still not easy if you do either, thanks to its multi-hit attacks and ability to attack multiple times per round, while Mario only gets one turn (and Luigi's boost do not compensate for Mario's paper defense and the boss's offensive and defensive stats). Have some Super Shrooms handy for this battle.
Later in the Dream World, there's Big Massif and his disciples. Make sure you're decently-levelled and well-acquainted with all of your current skills, or you won't be getting past them easily.
For Giant Luigi battles, Mount Pajamaja. The previous giant boss Drilldigger was pretty easy, and you even had a point in the fight where Dreambert tells Luigi to heal back to full health, then lets him use Rhythm Mushroom non-stop until he does. The battle with Mount Pajamaja? Has a strategy needed to weaken the boss for attack, a much wider range of moves, some attacks that knock Mario away, preventing the use of Bros attacks, and some nice strategy needed to stop him healing. Think of it as a nice warning about the next few such bosses, who will certainly not go kind on anyone...
For the final boss battle, Bowser inhales the fragments of the shattered Dream Stone to become Dreamy Bowser, a giant, technicolor-glowing Reality Warper version of himself with the Dream Stone on his forehead and chest.
Warm-Up Boss: Smoldergeist for normal battling, which also doubles as a Wolf Pack Boss. Antasma's Dreamy Mario in the Dream World.
Wham Line: In Neo Bowser Castle, after Antasma declares that he has Bowser on his side to back him up, Bowser throws him to the ground and reveals that he was just using Antasma all along.
Bowser: Hmph! I don't work well with others! Antasma: SCREEEK! Vut do you mean by this?! Bowser: I mean you're an idiot! You thought you were using me? ME?! Buddy, I was playing you like a bat fiddle!
You Shouldn't Know This Already: Towards the end of the Wakeport Chain of Deals, a Toad will tell you to look through a pale patch of grass near the pair of fountains. Normally, you're supposed to dig through this after finishing the trading portion. However, if you dig through it earlier than that, you will find nothing.