In a move that shocked the Japanese gaming industry, AlphaDream Corporation announced earlier this month that it had filed for bankruptcy and were no longer going to be in business. It’s a huge blow to the handheld scene as the studio had regularly created hit handheld titles since it was founded in January of 2000. The team best known for their Mario and Luigi series of role-playing games that took influence from Paper Mario and Super Mario RPG to create new action RPG adventures starring two of Nintendo’s most iconic characters. However, the developer was more than just that one series and it had shown its versatility by working on its own titles and creating great RPGs for nearly 20 years.
Check out the best AlphaDream games below in order to see how the developer evolved over time and left their mark on the handheld scene over two decades of great titles.
Best AlphaDream Games | Koto Battle: Tengai no Moribito (2001)
AlphaDream wasted little time making themselves known to Japanese gamers as its first game released just a year after the company was founded. Called Koto Battle: Tengai no Moribito, the Game Boy Color RPG revolved around the Japanese concept of “kotodama,” that mystical powers can be attached to names. Players use that power as part of a card battles where players summon multiple friendly monsters in order to take on dangerous creatures and other card players. While seemingly Pokemon-inspired, it managed to do enough of its own thing to grab the attention of Nintendo, who quickly began a working relationship with the studio.
Best AlphaDream Games | Tomato Adventure (2002)
Tomato Adventure was its first collaboration with Nintendo and would grace the newly released Game Boy Advance system. In it, players have to save the Ketchup Kingdom from an evil King. As you can probably guess from the colorful names, this wasn’t an RPG that took itself too seriously and combat was focused around toy-like weapons that the player used by completing mini-games. This is not unlike the system that Mario and Luigi used, as many of those power-ups would play out through a quick mini-game.
Best AlphaDream Games | Hamtaro: Rainbow Rescue (2003)
AlphaDream didn’t slow down any after the success of Tomato Adventure as it put out two games with Nintendo in 2003. The first of which was Hamtaro: Rainbow Rescue, which was based off the popular hamster-based anime. The adventure game wasn’t quite as good as its predecessors by Pax Softnica, but it is still a charming journey.
Best AlphaDream Games | Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga (2003)
Its first game to come out in North America was 2003’s Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga, and they made quite the first impression with gamers. The unique turn-based RPG made sure that players always paid attention since combat could be aided with real-time inputs, and it had an entertaining story filled with memorable characters like Prince Peasley. It’s widely regarded as one of the best Nintendo-published releases on the handheld, and it was eventually remade for the Nintendo 3DS in 2017 (called Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions), so there’s no reason not to check it out.
Best AlphaDream Games | Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Games (2004)
Capitalizing on the Olympics fever of 2004, AlphaDream continued with the Hamtaro licensed by creating Ham-Ham Games. It was an athletic-themed mini-game collection that had the adorable hamsters competing in various sports. Once again, the studio released another solid GBA title and proved itself as a developer that didn’t miss.
Best AlphaDream Games | Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time (2005)
AlphaDream’s first Nintendo DS game saw the developer take full use of the dual screens and additional buttons. Partners in Time saw Mario and Luigi partnering up with baby versions of themselves (which were controlled by the X and Y buttons, respectively) and added a new layer of complexity to the turn-based battles. The RPG had a few small issues, such as a difficulty spike late in the game, but it was yet another success.
Best AlphaDream Games | Hi! Hamtaro Ham-Ham Challenge (2008)
One of AlphaDream’s lesser-known releases was their final Hamtaro release: Hi! Hamtaro Ham-Ham Challenge. It was essentially a cute version of Brain Age, as it featured a number of educational mini-games that were meant for elementary school children. It’s also one of the few games developed by AlphaDream to not be published by Nintendo as Marvelous and Natsume put out the game in Japan and North America, respectively.
Best AlphaDream Games | Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story (2009)
While Partners in Time proved a bit divisive due to its complexity, Bowser’s Inside Story was seen as AlphaDream’s best game yet. Its last DS title saw players getting to play as Bowser himself during segments and featured more of the entertaining hijinks of the Mario brothers. It just received an enhanced remake earlier this year for Nintendo 3DS called Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey, that included an all-new story starring Bowser’s son. It’s a fitting way for the studio to go out on as it is its finest work.
Best AlphaDream Games | Mario and Luigi: Dream Team (2013)
For its Nintendo 3DS debut, AlphaDream released one of their most creative games yet during the “Year of Luigi.” A lot of the puzzles revolve around having to enter the dream world that Luigi brings to life by sleeping. There are plenty of touch-based puzzles, and the battles within the dream world get ridiculous as Luigi can use dream versions of himself to take on enemies. There are even giant Luigi battles, which are similar to the Bowser segments in Bowser’s Inside Story.
Best AlphaDream Games | Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam (2015)
It’s only fitting that the developer’s last major project saw AlphaDream getting to put its own series with a role-playing game with Paper Mario in it. The crossover RPG wasn’t quite as special as the collaboration could have been as it failed to experiment any with the formula, but it was still an entertaining romp that featured plenty of funny moments due to the inclusion of multiple Marios.
While AlphaDream is no longer around, it will live on in the hearts of gamers thanks to its incredible games they put out over the years. The revered team never failed to put a smile on the face of players, and that’s as important a legacy a developer can leave behind.