Role-playing fans have much to look forward to this month, as Mario & Luigi: Dream Team makes its long-awaited 3DS debut August 11. The fourth chapter in the critically acclaimed series finds the two brothers exploring the dreamy Pi'illo Island to free its people and once again rescue Princess Peach. Light-hearted shenanigans ensue, with humorous dialogue and the sort of comedic timing that made these games popular. There’s also a generous helping of combat. Thankfully, we have tips to keep you in the fight.

Mario’s sibling plays a big role in this game, even when he’s fast asleep; a portal to the Dream World opens whenever Luigi passes out near a stone pillow. Enter Dreamy Luigi, an alternate version of the character that accompanies Mario in the Dream World. Controls are mostly the same, as you alternate button presses to make both characters jump, hit floating bricks - be on the lookout for M and L bricks, then smash them with the corresponding character - and gather gold coins to later spend on items and gear. On a side note, gear imbues our heroes with special perks.

That said, you’ll notice a sleeping Luigi on the touchscreen. At key moments in the game, you’ll want to press R to transform the Luigi button on the top screen into a curly arrow.  From there, look for a silhouette of Luigi’s face in the background and mess with Sleeping Luigi below. Need to push bricks from the background into the foreground? Pull/tickle Sleeping Luigi’s nose to make him sneeze, whereupon which the gust of wind pushes those objects within reach. Similarly, you can snag Sleeping Luigi’s mustache like a slingshot and let it rip, propelling Mario to otherwise hard-to-reach places. Those are but two ways to solve key puzzles in the game.

Combat works in similar fashion to previous Mario & Luigi titles. You don’t have to pick a fight with each enemy you come across, and can simply jump over these creatures to avoid them altogether.

Naturally, that won’t always be the case, but don’t panic.  Get the timing down and you’ll squash most adversaries. Each enemy has a unique attack pattern, be it rolling into the brothers, crushing them or spitting fireballs, to name a few. You’ll need to jump at the appropriate moments (or do nothing at all) to avoid taking damage; in some cases, you’ll be able to hurt your opponents. Here’s a hint: monsters look towards the person they want to attack.

Once that happens, both Mario and Luigi receive their own turns to strike back. You’ll want to select the appropriate attack – be it a good old-fashioned stomp or hammer strike – and wait until just the right moment. Tap the brother’s respective button and you’ll score an attack bonus; again, it’s all in the timing.  

Dreamy Luigi also takes advantage of Luiginary Attacks, where a small army of miniature Luigi’s appear out of nowhere to bring the pain.  In one instance, they’ll combine to form a wrecking ball that squashes bad guys. All you need to do is tilt the 3DS system to maintain Mario’s balance and let those pintsized Luigi’s do the rest.

Badges prove useful in combat, as you’re able to harness special powers depending on which ones you unlock/equip; the Mush Badge, for example, restores 30 percent of each brother’s HP.  Each successful attack fills a meter on the touchscreen, red for Mario and green for Luigi.  You can only equip two badges along the touchscreen, and you can switch them by pressing the L or R triggers.

In addition, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team has achievements called Expert Challenges. Completing these special objectives give you the chance to earn gear. From our experience, you don’t need to unlock all of these Challenges to advance, but it’s definitely a cool element to the game.

There’s plenty to more to cover with Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, and we’ll have tips and strategies in the week ahead. In the meantime, read our Five Must Have Attacks feature, and get ready to pick up this special game when it hits store shelves on Sunday.

Don't forget the pre-order the offcial eGuide. You can also buy a physical copy from Amazon.