Stats at clear time:
So system-wise, I don't really think people that have played the previous games would be disappointed. It didn't really change for the worst. You have your usual brother actions and you use them to solve puzzle-like situations. In battle, you use Jump, Hammer, and Brother attacks to defeat your opponent while you try to dodge their attacks.
The enemies all have interesting or funny attacks based on their nature. Even weak ones have several actions. Like usual.
The Dream part of this game worked out pretty well. During battles inside dreams, Mario fights by himself, powered up by Dream Luigi. His attacks work slightly different and you have Miracle attacks instead of Brother attacks (pretty much Brother attacks, except Luigi is used in a different way).
The battle balance wasn't that bad. The weak enemies were weak and the bosses were strong. I even gamed over a few times (I'll mention which ones later) against the bosses.
The only thing I didn't really like was that some enemies, especially bosses, have really long attacks. That stop when they hit you once. But even if you avoid them, you can't counter them or little damage is done. So sometimes, it gets so bothersome you start thinking you might as well get hit to move the battle on.
You get plenty of badges, but as far as boss battles goes, the "Prevents damage 6 times" seemed to clearly stand out as the best. There is also an accessory that has the same effect and by equipping that, you practically never will receive damage during weak enemies ever again. I kind of felt this effect was overpowered.
If you lose, you get to retry. A hint block appears too, which tells you some secrets on how to avoid the certain enemy's attacks. You can also restart on Easy for that battle, so you don't have to worry about Gaming Over.
The biggest problem though are the Giant Battles. Even if you lose, you cannot restart on Easy. The battles are long too and you can easily lose if you receive several attacks without guarding, making these battles the points were people get stuck on or give up. The actions and presentation of these battles are cool though.
The Challenge system was unfortunate... The idea is good, but the entire list is the same thing repeating itself.
-Don't receive damage in battle from * ---- * <-- insert enemy name, for every enemy
-Avoid 10 attacks in a row from enemies in * ---- * <-- insert every area, for every area
-Get Excellent 10 times in a row against enemies in * ---- * <-- insert every area, for every area
-Get Excellent from * --- * <-- insert every Brother/Miracle attack
And it is just these things over and over again. No twist or anything new.
And because the enemies have so many attack patterns (and guarding with the damage prevention effect still counts as getting hit), it honestly became annoying trying to avoid 10 attacks in a row. Heck, it was still annoying saving and loading to get that challenge completed.
However, there are the Expert weapons, that increase strength as you clear Challenges and will eventually become the 2nd strongest weapon available (1st is the Coin weapons, which gain strength according to how much money you have).
Story-wise, it felt dragged out. The game lasts a long 40 hours or so, but the story itself isn't that long, especially if you summarize it. The only reason it is long is it takes a long time getting to each point of the story. And sometimes, for example:
"Okay, time to enter this area. Well, go get these 5 items = 5 short dungeons."
"Okay, time for the last boss? Well, got to go through 3 sets of short dungeons to get through. But oh, then you have to go through 3 more short dungeons."
And it felt like this too many times. However, the climax isn't bad itself. Just that it took a long time to get there.
Characters were fine though.
Other then the main story, there are various things you can work to get better on. Records are kept, so you can aim at a better score each time. For instance:
-How long can you continue a Brother/Miracle attack? (gets harder as you get more points)
-Beat stronger version of the bosses in a certain amount of turns
-Getting all of the beans
-Saving all of the pillow folks
There is also some customization from the Rank Bonus, which you can choose from after reaching certain levels. They all have powerful effects, but you cannot choose them all.
-Number of Accessories you can wear +1
-HP+1 more during each level up
-Receive 25% less damage in battle
Final equipment and stats before fighting the last boss:
So anyways, gamed over on these three bosses. I'll leave a space for people that want to avoid Spoilers:
An ice mammoth:
Not as hard once you realize what to do, but until then...
Left arm and Right arm exist as targets. Left arm can negate your attacks on Bowser.
Also has regeneration skill.