Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story

October 13, 2009

The Mario & Luigi series has had three installments, but the first two didn’t come near the level of notoriety and hype that this newest game has. Well Bowser’s Inside Story is here, and it’s good. But is it that good?

Fawful, the villain from the previous story, is back, and this time he has played games with Bowser. He tricks the Koopa king into eating a mushroom that makes him suck in Mario, Luigi and Peach, trapping them inside his body, and while Bowser ventures in the outer world, Mario and Luigi must help him by exploring the organs and pathways of Bowser’s body. Essentially, this gimmick works better than Partners in Time’s time-travel one, as each half of the action has its own screen and the two interact.

The gameplay is fairly similar to the last two. The battles involve button timing and combos in a way similar to Paper Mario, and this is taken to a new level with the combos where Bowser sucks in enemies to give the plumbers a chance to take them on. The other half of the game is a sort of puzzle platformer, with lots of interactions and places to explore.

The localization is brilliant, as is normal with Nintendo’s Treehouse team. The game’s very funny in a Pixar kind of way: hilarious for all ages. The art style is nice and bright, and you can’t help but smile when you play this game.

Mario & Luigi is satisfyingly long for a DS game, and though there’s no advantage to a second play, shaping characters’ stats can make for different strategies. RPGs suffer from monotony, but M&L packs in what variety it can, with each special move being a minigame in itself and special game events offering interactive challenges.

The Mario & Luigi series has not yet broken the threshold to be equal to the Paper Mario games. Bowser’s Inside Story comes incredibly close, though.

ESRB: E– It’s Mario. It’s safe.
Pros: Compelling RPG
Cons: Not quite Paper Mario

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.