Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
That Bowser's one evil dude. Erm, if you can call a giant, spiky, turtle-like
thing 'dude'. The thing is, now he's just getting plain arrogant. While your
typical overlords would be snorting lines of their latest monologue while
planning world domination, Bowser just gulps a magic mushroom and
inhales a whole bunch of the Mushroom Kingdom - Mario, Luigi, Peach and
all! (At this juncture I must say in Bowser's defence that it's the wannabe
super-villain, robo-Yoda-speaking and quite patently bonkers Fawful, who
tricked Bowser into the ingestion of very dodg substances. Remember,
drugs are bad, m'kay?)
So, I'm not entirely sure what message Nintendo and the developers of
this sequel to Superstar Saga and Partners in Time are trying to send out,
but let's face it, this isn't the weirdest that things have got in the orbit on
Mario, so I'll just soldier on.
As in the aforementioned Partners in Time, Bowser's Inside Story - and
now you know where the 'inside' comes from - the Mario brothers are both
under the player's control, as is the beshelled substance hoover, Bowser.
So, whilst you have the aid of the big, grumpy one in finding the ingenious
Fawful, and dishing out a reign of vengeful, pointy justice not only for
tripping him out, but for blobbing out much of the Kingdom's population
with an affliction known as 'the blorbs'. You must also control the bros as
they trundle about inside the brute Fantastic Voyage-style, sort of using
Bowser as their meat puppet. It's a sensational premise that is handled
extremely well control-wise.
The screen layouts will be familiar. Whilst Bowser's upper screen world
features a classic 3D top down view, the bros' territory is your traditional,
side-on 2D, with pipes, platforms and all manner of sinewy Bowser bits, as
Those who played either of the game's predecessors will be able to hit the
ground running, however new elements have been shush into the tiny DS
cart. As is the RPGical norm, you start off pretty much helpless, and work
your way up from pleb to celeb as far as abilities are concerned. In this
case if your surname is Mario you'll be taking turns dishing the feet and
the hammers at first. But as you progress, you'll pick up the likes of Koopa
shells you can play soccer with, and a vast range of cool items and
powerups. If you're Bowser, you'll progress from basic punching to such
fun as sending your Goomba, Koopa, or Bob-omb armies to fight.
Mini-games feature more prominently, and are many and varied. These
range from Mario and Luigi taking part in such yummy pastimes as
tenderising Bowser's muscles to the yucky ones like helping Bowser digest
the various bits and bobs that he lobs down his throat.
There's so much going on here that it's hard to get nitty gritty in the space
of this review. With about twenty hours of solid, Mariotastic gameplay in
it, it's extremely difficult to analyse it all. My biggest complaint (and
believe me, it's a very short list of them) is that a decent chunk of time,
moreso at the beginning, is taken up by buttoning through numerous slabs
of text. Admittedly, the wild and wonderful story needs quite a bit of
setting up, but those accustomed to non-stop Mario action will find
themselves using their A-Button as stress balls.
Ultimately, Bowser's Inside Story is epic in scale and really good fun to
play - something us DSers don't find in so many games as of late. To
hardcore RPGers, you won't find as much bang for your buck in this, but if
the genre is foreign to you and you've been thinking of dabbling, I cannot
think of a better introduction than this, it really is an impressive accomplishment.