Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
Nintendo DS
Reviewed: 10/09/2009

A mysterious plague strikes, and when the dust settles, the world’s most famous plumbers find themselves within the plumbing of the their greatest foe: Bowser.

Legendary villain Fawful makes a return in Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, competing with Bowser to be the baddest bad guy in the Mushroom Kingdom. As would be expected by those who’ve encountered Fawful in Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga, he’s both devious and, often times, hilarious. It’s not so much the story itself that garners the love and high score here, but the conversations that take place within said story that make Bowser’s Inside Story so memorable.

Screen Shot
DJ Koopa performs his new

Inside Story‘s visuals are crisp, clean, colorful, charming, and other stuff that may begin with C. The environments and characters have a cartoonish (bam!) look about them that, in short, looks exactly like a modern Mario game should. The music isn’t much to blare outside of the game, but while playing it definitely does the job.

Combat in Bower’s Inside Story is quite systematic — rhythmic, even — as veterans of previous Mario RPGs may expect. Even though generally easy, the fun battle system stays enjoyable throughout the game’s 20-something hour length. In boss battles especially, the player will fall into a certain groove. “Okay, he’s floating. This is when I duck. Right, now let’s see if I can punch that last rock…aaaand…bingo, hit ’em for 45 damage.” Stuff like that. Once the system is figured out, things get somewhat easy for experienced gamers, but that’s not to say that it’s boring. On the contrary and as said, it remains fun all game long. What’s kind of fun is that Bowser can at times inhale enemies and send them downtown to face Mario and Luigi in combat. This is the kind of stuff you think of when you’re a kid, and it’s like, awesome, but you never follow through with it because you’re lame. Thankfully, someone at Nintendo finally decided take that Magic Schoolbus kind of thinking and use it in a game.

Screen Shot
Foreshadowing what part of Bowser we’ll
get to explore next!

In between these fights, there is some tricky navigation and light platforming to be done. Several times, the player will switch between Bowser and the Mario Bros. Certain things that happen to one party can affect the potential and status of the other; Bowser’s diet, for example, can alter the surroundings of Mario and Luigi.

What’s less welcome is that sometimes the game will force the player to perform an awkward task or conquer a side-game before progressing in the game. Some players will not be bothered by this at all, but others might find them a little pointless and just too different from the rest of the game to feel appropriate. One of these interruptions in particular will probably frustrate players whose strong point isn’t musical timing. And really, a game automatically loses points when blowing into that dumb microphone is even suggested.

But that’s only a minor dent in the fender of an otherwise great game. Bowser’s Inside Story uses a great battle system and entertaining dialogue combined with visual and aural strengths to create an RPG that remembers what too many games forget these days: pure fun.

-Heath Hindman

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Great
Story Excellent
Graphics Excellent
Sound/Music Very Good
Replay Value Very Good
The Verdict: Eight point Five