|Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story|
|Genre||Stomach Rumbling RPG|
|MtAMinutes to Action||5|
|Buy from Amazon|
The Mario & Luigi series has become one of the more interesting handheld exclusive franchises. Although heavily inspired by the console Mario RPG games, it has managed to make a name for itself with its unique battle system and comical dialogue. The series debuted on the Game Boy Advance with Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and continued on the DS with Partners in Time, which many regarded as inferior to the previous title. Developer AlphaDream brings us another entry with an off the wall premise and putting Bowser in the role of co-protagonist. First hour of Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story incoming:
(minutes are in bold)
00 - The camera sweeps over Toad Town before following a toad into his humble home where he finds his mom leaning over the stove. Ah, the cooking mom. One of my favorite RPG clichés. Dad is nowhere to be found (another favorite cliché). The spry youngster goes to check on his dad, and off screen I hear his screams.
01 - A huge fat green Toad crashes through the wall, which is bad since I doubt the Mushroom Kingdom has any insurance companies. A newsreel explains that a mysterious disease called "blorbs" is causing the toads to mutate. The next scene is in Peach’s castle, where a Toad council is discussing the matters.
02 - Instead of investing millions of coins into scientific research, Peach just summons the help of the star spirits, the super powerful beings from previous Mario RPG titles. Instead of that star with an awesome mustache appearing, a sprite named Starlow appears. He kind of looks like a Bob-Omb, which would set up for an amazing twist.
04 - Starlow and the Toad doctors can’t do anything, big surprise. The Toads decide to call upon the world’s greatest hero: Mario. And also Luigi. The brothers appear instantly, with Luigi limping in and losing a shoe (his socks have red and white stripes if you’re curious). The game asks me about some tutorial, but I click no so quickly that I couldn’t even read what the tutorial was about (editor's note: the Suikoden II Dialogue Plague - coining that term now).
05 - I can finally control the bros. The A button makes Mario jump and B makes Luigi jump. Luigi has more HP for some reason, maybe because he’s taller and his cholesterol is probably lower. This room has a lot of Peach statues, it makes her look like a dictator. The next room has a few Toads walking around, I talk to one and he tells me about the blorbs.
06 - I talk to a few more Toads, who say nothing interesting. There are a few ledges I can hop on, and I find a block with a couple of coins in them. Isn’t this technically stealing since the block is on someone’s property?
07 - I find a colorful block with a giant S on it, which is unsurprisingly a save point. I save my game since stuff is probably about to go down. Before I head into the conference room, I find another block and nab a few more coins. In the next room, an old Toad greets me.
08 - I learn that the Toads bought some mushrooms that give a person the blorbs when eaten. That’s what you get for participating in illegal drug trades. Luigi falls asleep during the meeting, I probably won’t need him anyways. Out of nowhere, the King of Awesome Bowser (his words, not mine) invades the room, saying he has a right to be there since he is also part of the Mushroom Kingdom. Bowser proves his awesomeness by punching through the conference table.
09 - Bowser doesn’t really care about the blorbs, so he instead opts to spit fire at Peach. Mario leaps in and saves her (see, I didn’t need Luigi after all). It’s time for Mario vs. Bowser, but this time the old Toad gives me tips on battle. I’ve beaten Bowser about a dozen times, I don’t need some old guy’s help! I listen to him anyways since it’s been a while since I played a Mario RPG. My only method of attack is jumping, but I can press A at specific times during the attack to deal more damage.
10 - Mario can jump on Bowser twice with apt timing. I only dish out 4 HP worth of damage, this is going to take a while. Bowser sprays fire at me and takes off 2 HP. I wish it was like that in the platformers. The Toad tells me I can dodge attacks by jumping at the right time.
11 - I exchange attacks with Bowser. I screw up on the timing sometimes, which ends up with me getting burned by Bowser. After a few more attacks, I get the hang of the timing. As a side note, Luigi is still asleep and scratching himself.
12 - The battle rages on. I finally take Bowser down, but only because Peach used both star power and wish power (whatever those are) to weaken him. Peach then uses some Jedi move to throw Bowser out of her castle and into the horizon. Mario gets a kiss on the cheek for his efforts, which is more than he gets in most games. The scene changes to a forest where Bowser landed, where a Magikoopa heals the battered dragon/turtle/koopa.
13 - Bowser isn’t going to let some blonde bimbo take him down. He decides to head straight back to the Peach’s Castle. I get control of Bowser now, and he uses different buttons from the brothers. X punches, while Y breaths fire. These are way cooler powers than just jumping. Bowser also has a tone of HP, seemingly more than he had in the battle seconds ago.
14 - I can punch through boulders and burn trees, take that nature! I find a warp pipe, but Bowser lacks any jumping ability so I do nothing. In the next screen, I come across a mysterious looking guy with a story. He says "A Winner is You" (seriously) and gives me a Lucky Shroom. I’m sure this is legitimate.
15 - Bowser scarfs down the mushroom, and of course it makes me sick. The store owner reveals himself to be Fawful, one of the antagonists from the first Mario and Luigi game. Bowser starts to inhale everything around him, even the aforementioned warp pipes. The scene switches back to Peach’s Castle.
16 - The Toads decide that dealing with the blorbs is more important than Bowser, who once again bursts into the room. He’s still inhaling things like crazy and eats up everyone in the room. This also wakes Luigi up, who is the last one to go down. Bowser passes out and Fawful appears, mocking me with his improper grammar.
17 - Mario falls into Bowser’s stomach, where I gain control of him again. There is some weird yellow liquid that kind of looks like acid. Naturally, I jump into it. I don’t take any damage, but I’m spit out of a tube at the beginning of the room.
18 - I find a strange looking block, and hit it to learn that it’s a globin. Globins can give me information about the area or let me save my game, how useful. I find a different block that gives me three Mushrooms. In the next area I find Starlow trapped in a bubble (seriously, how hard would it be to break out of a bubble?).
19 - The nearby globin tells me about the pipes. I jump in one, hit a block, and it raises the other one. I repeat it twice and free Starlow once I get up there. No time to hug, as some weird jellyfish goomba looking thing attacks me.
20 - The goomba goes first. I try to dodge, but he delays his attacks which makes it difficult to tell when he will strike. Starlow jumps in and teaches me that I can counter enemy attacks and how to use items. I finish off the goomba and get three experience points for my trouble.
21 - Starlow tells me that we are in Bowser’s body (I could’ve told you that). A save block is in the next room, so I use it and venture on. I see another one of those goombas walking around, so I jump on him to initiate the battle. Since I hit him on the field first, I get a bonus attack at the beginning.
22 - The goomba falls easily, he is a goomba after all. I jump across a couple of platforms, where I am greeted by another goomba who I defeat. More platforms and goombas get in my way.
23 - I find a pipe and naturally go down it. A globin greets me and heals me up, I’d like them if it wasn’t for their overly wordy and annoying speech. I fight another goomba and find a block with some more coins.
24 - I kill yet another goomba. How many more must I kill before my point is proven? In the next area, I see Luigi stuck in something that looks like a less scary version of those things that hung out on the ceiling in Half-Life 2. I jump up and pull him out, where we have a brotherly embrace. Two goombas come out and break up the bromance.
25 - I can finally battle with both brothers. Like in the field, A controls Mario and B controls Luigi. These goombas have a new rolling attack, but I dodge it and finish one off. Another goomba appears, that’s breaking RPG rules! Starlow comes in and says that one of their attacks has a tell.
26 - During one of their attacks, if the goomba lifts its left leg, it will attack Luigi. A lifted right leg means it’s going for Mario. Starlow says that all enemies have a type of tell like this. I power through and defeat one of them.
27 - The other falls, I guess he can’t regenerate like his friend. Starlow says that Peach is nowhere to be found, so we’ve got to find her of course. Starlow also walks me through the menu and tells me about items and stats.
28 - Starlow insists that I heal Luigi, but he is only missing one HP so what’s the point? The select button brings up the map. It shows past rooms and rooms I haven’t visited yet (although I can’t see what’s in them). Pretty useful as I won’t be wandering around looking for secret rooms where there are none.
29 - I can control the mustached heroes again. I go down a tube and fight an enemy, try and guess which one.
30 - Mario levels up! After my stats go up, I can select another one to boost. I of course select power, and a mini-roulette appears. I stop it and it lands on +3 bonus. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s practically as if I leveled up again but if it only affected power. I have level three strength in a level two body! I fight another goomba, and my attacks are now twice as strong.
31 - In the next area, a globin tells me I should time jumps for getting up on platforms and that I should press jump for both brothers when crossing gaps. Who is he to tell the Mario Bros. how to jump?
32 - I hop over the gaps easily enough. I save in the next room, which is filled with a lot of trash. One box has a hammer in it, but I can’t break it open, so I move onto the next room.
33 - I find a strange block with an A on it, which gives me an "attack piece" after I hit it. If I find ten attack pieces, I get a special attack to use in battle. I find five in the room, I’m going to get that attack sooner than I thought.
34 - In the next area I find some more attack pieces, and before I know it I get ten, which gives me the green shell special attack.
35 - I watch a demo of the special attack, which involves Mario and Luigi kicking a shell back and forth after it bounces off the enemy. It seems a bit excessive, and borderline torture for the baddie. After the demo, goombas wearing black shells jump down. I can’t jump on them due to their head armor, but the special attack should be more than enough hopefully.
36 - Starlow then gives an overly wordy explanation about how to use special attacks. I practice kicking the shell some. It’s easy at first, but it can randomly change speed.
37 - Starlow heals me and I have to do the attack on my own. I mess up the first time, but I get the hang of it and kill the enemy. I hit a box in the next area, which collapses the floor and hurls me down onto the box with the hammers.
38 - I can use hammers now, I wish they would give us this power up in the Mario platformers (outside of Mario 3). Pressing R brings up a new action pallet, with hammers replacing my jumps. I use the hammers to break through boxes and move onto the next room. I hope into a pipe, but it shoots me up. Clearly it is some sort of anti-pipe. I find a gross growth from the wall and slam it with my hammer. It opens up a previously blocked area, but it also sends down a purple and yellow egg that busts open to reveal spiked monsters.
39 - Another tutorial. Thank goodness, it’s almost been five minutes since the last one. Timing plays a key role in this attack too, as I have to hit the button at the right time for the most damage. Waiting too long means that the head of the hammer falls off, Smash Bros. style. I practice the attack and knock out one of the spikeys. Starlow also teaches me how to counterattack with the hammers.
40 - Timing the hammers to get an "excellent" attack is more difficult than timing the jumps, but the hammers can deal out a lot more damage. I get through both enemies and Luigi levels up. I use the slot bonus for power again, but he only gets +1. After the battle, a pipe appears in the field.
41 - More coin blocks and more spikeys. These guys have a new attack where they can drop off from the ceiling and I have to use my hammer to protect myself. A few of my hammer attacks hit for max power and I win the battle.
42 - I come across two more teams of spikeys, and then an interracial battle with a spikey and a goomba. The goomba gets a lucky shot in since I mess up my counterattack.
44 - I’m finally out of Bowser’s stomach, or as the game calls it, the trash pit. There are several new areas I can go to, but I check out Toad Town. A Toad greets me and says many of the inhaled Toads are here. Some of the Toads have opened up shop, but I imagine business must be terrible.
45 - One shop is closed, so I decide to stick to the classic item and gear shops. I buy some refreshing herbs that heal status effects, you never know when you might need those.
46 - Next up is the gear dealer. There are no weapon upgrades, just armor. I buy some new overalls for Mario and Luigi that boost my defense. I guess they are better stitched or made out of Kevlar or something. At the bottom of the map is a juice dealer who can sell me juice that totally heals me for ten coins. Why do these Toads even need the money now?
47 - The next part of Bowser I check out is an area called the Challenge Node. Various globins are here and tell me about special challenges: a battle gauntlet and something called cholesteroad. I am too weak to enter either though.
48 - I hop around the area and find one globin that says something called a 99 block is coming soon. But I want it now! Time to leave.
49 - Starlow, who must be the successor of Navi from Ocarina of Time, sees something in the distance and instructs us to check it out. The next area is the funny bone with a protruding nerve. The logical step to take is to hit it mercilessly with a hammer, and doing so wakes Bowser up.
50 - Starlow talks to Bowser from inside his body, creepy. Bowser has gone RPG hero on us and has no memory of what happened. It starts to pull together as he recants eating a strange mushroom. Now Bowser is in a dank cave. Maybe it’s level 1-2 from Super Mario Bros.
51 - I get to control Bowser again. I start punching random things, which is more fun than you would think. I can also switch back to Mario and Luigi by pressing either A or B, and then go back to Bowser with the X and Y buttons.
52 - Starlow continues to talk to me. Shut up for a minute, I’m trying to break things. I come across a door, but it’s locked. I see a switch in the distance, but there’s no way I can reach it. Bowser has no time for puzzles!
53 - Some gigantic metal balls are falling from the ceiling near the switch. I choose not to question Mushroom Kingdom architectural decisions and punch one, knocking it into the switch. I move on to find myself being blocked by a raised bridge. You’d think I can just burn it down, but nope. Starlow continues to yap as Bowser argues with the star spirit.
54 - The next room has moving platforms, which is harder than it sounds since Bowser can’t jump. I fall off of one, but the only penalty I suffer is wasted time. I finally get outside of the cave and meet my nemesis, Fawful.
55 - Fawful lays out his master plan and says he wants to conquer the Mushroom Kingdom. The game shows footage of Fawful destroying Bowser’s castle, oh no he didn’t! Bowser chases after Fawful, but an enemy that looks like a mix between Bowser, Birdo, and an armadillo jumps in my way.
56 - The enemy’s name is revealed to be Midbus (didn’t Disgaea already do this joke?). After a charming conversation, he attacks me. Fawful accidentally gives me battle hints here, and I use them against his minion. Midbus dishes out a lot of damage though, so I can’t goof around.
57 - Like the Mario brothers battles, attacks are largely based on timing them right. I can only punch for right now, which serves as both my attack and counterattack. Midbus hits me with a huge attack as Bowser falls ill. Fawful and Midbus flee as Bowser tries to figure out what’s going on in his body.
58 - Bowser decides to head for his conquered castle and take it back. The first enemy I run across is a giant fat goomba with a lollipop. But I thought goombas were my friends! I fight a few of them on my trek.
60 - I seem to be on a mountain. I explore the area and collect some items and money. I come across some more goombas, and the hour ends.
Minutes to Action: 5
As a wrap-up, here are four thoughts about the game, ranked via power-ups:
Star: The battle system is a lot of fun, even though it is a bit simplistic at this point. The focus on timing keeps battles from being monotonous and boring, as you always have to keep your eyes on the screen to make sure your attack hits for the most damage or to prevent an enemy from getting a cheap shot in.
Fire Flower: The game looks and sounds amazing. The animation of the sprites is very detailed and the colors are vivid. It’s difficult to look at the sprite work in other DS games after checking out this game.
Mushroom: Playing as both the Mario bros. and Bowser is a nice mix, and I can see it playing a bigger part later in the game. Playing as Bowser is more fun, and it’s nice to be able to control him for an extended amount of time.
Poison Mushroom: While the dialogue in the game is well-written and hilarious, Starlow’s over explanation of everything is getting incredibly tedious. Granted, it is the first hour, but he is obviously channeling Navi here. Also, the globins need to calm down and be quiet.
Would I keep playing? Yes, the game is off to an interesting start, and the story is already more interesting than a lot of more serious RPGs at this point. Individual areas are a bit brief, so you won’t get tired of staying in the same place forever. The game constantly throws you new things to see and do, so playing past the first hour will be a no-brainer for anyone who picks up this game.