Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
Mario is completely back. Not only does he make the Wii again a playground for the platform lovers with New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but on top of that Nintendo treats us with a new Mario RPG for the DS. Of should we say a Mario, Luigi and Boswer RPG?
In Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story you’ll spend equal amounts of time with playing the violent Bowser as you get to control the two plumbers. The latter two at the start of the game get, just like Princess Peach and several other characters and objects, sucked up by eternal arch villain Bowser! The result is that half of the game is set in his stomache, vowels, muscles and other limbs and you’ll have to work together in order to bring the adventure to a good ending.
The reason for all these problems is Lord Fawful, he already made his introduction in Superstar Sage on the GameBoy Advance. The evil, and o so funny, genious takes over Mushroom Kingdom, just like Bowser’s castle and his loyal followers. With this new enemy the rest of the characters unite and head off together to set things straight.
What mostly gets noticed for an RPG that many ignorant souls would deem kiddy is the quality of the story, the characters and the dialogues. If I’m not mistaken this is the funniest game I’ve played in 2009. Fawful constantly pouts grammatical nonsense, Bowser plays the over-confident bastard but has to copy with his adversaries sitting in his stomache and they determine whether he can bring missions to a positive ending, and also newcomers like Starlow and some French-speaking square characters, including giant dog, add fun and surprise to all dialogues and inspired situations. More than worth checking out, this story despite the fact that it remains quite linear. But if things are this good, unique and immersive, nobody cares about linearity.
Those that have played a Mario RPG before, will quickly feel at home. The biggest difference is – as said – that you constantly get to change between Bowser, who’s running around in the normal playworld on the top screen, and Mario&Luigi who make themselves useful inside Bowser on the bottom screen. Also there will be plenty of interaction between these two worlds. Mario for instance needs to charge Bowser’s muscles so that the latter can move his castle, you get ordered to get Bowsers flames working again, or have to digest everything he eats on the top screen as fast as possible. Later on you can also leave his body, but we don’t want to spoil the fun by telling too much.
Although this is an RPG, the gameplay is very fluid and filled with action. The controls are just like with every Mario game perfectly set and make good use of both the buttons as the sensitivity of the screen. That’s also necessary as the combat requires good timing next to a well-balanced amount of tactics. You’ll again have to jump to evade things or kill enemies, you get the hammer to hit hostiles with or block their attacks, but you can also this to make Mario small so you can solve puzzles. Standing on each other’s shoulders, perform extra high jumps or use wind by means of a swirljump are also still possible.
Also returned are the special attacks that are funny and very well-balanced: powerful but tricky to perform and obligatory in boss battles. The latter are all unique, tough and a joy to fight against. I also found the save points and possibilities to immediately replay (through the rewind clock) a lot better positioned than in the previous Mario RPG. Good work!
Bowser is played in a similar way but as you can imagine he doesn’t use jumps or fast moves but instead his flammable breath and brute fist work are all he needs. Objects that stand in the way can just be smashed to pieces! Also he’s got some special attacks and he can even suck his opponents up, or at least parts of them. This brings additional health, but is also sometimes necessary to swallow parts so that Mario and Luigi can finish their work inside before you can proceed with the next part of your opponent. Finally at certain times the giant can be made even bigger after which you need to put the DS on its side so you can easily take on bigger threats. You hear it, not only does the gameplay form a perfect whole with the story but also the interaction between all characters is perfectly worked out, and there’s no lack of variation in gameplay and originality.
Those that find this all not enough yet, can also go looking for quite a lot of hidden items, play minigames and collect stuff. The latter can be used to dress up your characters with. Just like in any RPG you can uplift your stats (which can of course also be done by level that you rise by collecting XP), but let’s be honest: this part of the game isn’t really worked out too deep. But again it brings the necessary variation and what’s there is done properly. Contrary to other, so-called “serious” RPGs you don’t have to expect much liberty nor a reason to play the game a second time. After finishing the first time most people will have seen most of it but those that haven’t had enough with so much quality are insane!
A unique story, immersive and varied gameplay, beautiful characters with crazy dialogues, music, graphics and sound that are perfect up to the smallest details, and enough originality to fill ten other games with: those that don’t feel like getting this Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story better give their DS handheld to someone else