Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story Review
Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story box art
System: DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: AlphaDream 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Nintendo 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Sep. 14, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

In addition to these regular abilities, Mario & Luigi and Bowser can perform special attacks by teaming up or calling upon minions, respectively. Special Attacks will sap SP reserves, but they are crucial for taking large amounts of damage off foes. Special Attacks also require precise button presses, or in the case of Bowser, precise swipes of the stylus. But, instead of adding to the power of the attack, they are what allow the attack to work and continue on. These button presses/stylus inputs are also far more complex to enact than those of standard attacks. Keeping things interesting, new special attacks are acquired throughout the game by collecting Attack Pieces (Mario & Luigi) or Blitties (Bowser), so there are always a lot of new combat moves to master.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story screenshot

Finally, Mario & Luigi are also able to make use of badges that confer special powers onto standard attacks. Simply battling well will fill the Badge Meter, allowing you to unleash the badges' particular effects. Likewise, Bowser also has the ability to sporadically vacuum up enemies off the battlefield. Later on in the adventure, Bowser occasionally becomes gigantic. He gets so big, in fact, that you'll have to flip the DS vertically (on its side) for the Giant Battles. Rather than using button presses, Giant Battles require you to use both the stylus and the microphone in order to advance. By tapping command icons and blowing into the microphone, you'll be able to use items, punch, and roast your enemies. I found these Bowser segments to be interesting, yet I've never really taken to blowing into the DS. I think I would have rather stuck to just the stylus controls. Also, turning the DS vertically has never been high on my list either. However, I suppose these are very subjective complaints that likely won't bother most gamers out there.

Other RPG conventions include the ability to level up characters through the acquisition of XP and the purchasing and scavenging of items, loot, and equipment that further improve the characters. But, what really completes this package is the outstanding presentation. The game is absolutely adorable and thoroughly charming. Anyone who picks up this title will be filled with joy at the sight of the vibrant colors, amazing pixel art, smooth animations, delightful character designs, and lush environments. Sounds are also off the charts. The enchanting background tunes really keep pace with the adventure, the sound effects are perfect, and, even though the voice work is rather sparse, what's there is excellent - the Italian-sounding gibberish is particularly hilarious. Even the varied text effects give loads of personality to the title's dialogue segments.

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Speaking of dialogue, the Mario & Luigi series consistently has the best regional localization. The conversations and banter found throughout Bowser's Inside Story are a hoot. While we rarely had a belly laugh, chuckles and huge smiles were ever-present. This game really is a joy to read through unlike many other text-intensive portable RPGs out there. That being said, there may be some who find the glut of text bubbles to be somewhat disconcerting in spite of the great writing.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story is one of the very best games to grace the Nintendo DS - it outdoes even its excellent predecessors. This game exudes quality at every turn, and it's easy to see it was developed with a remarkable amount of care and love. If you own a DS, go out and buy this game.

By Jonathan Marx
CCC Editor / News Director

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
5.0
Graphics
The developers at AlphaDream are masters at 2D pixel art. The wonderful character designs, perfect animation, and vibrant environments are an absolute treat!
4.8
Control
I'm not thrilled by using the microphone and holding the DS vertically at times, but the platforming, menu selection, and turn-based, timing-sensitive RPG battles are controlled just right.
5.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The upbeat background jingles are wonderful, the sound effects are brilliant, and the voice work/text effects are hilarious.
4.5

Play Value
Though gameplay is essentially identical to what was on offer in the previous two entries, it's still great fun. Also, the long single-player adventure will keep you playing 15 to 20 hours.

4.7
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Players are in control of two separate storylines. One features Bowser and his efforts to stop an arch-villain from taking over his castle. Meanwhile, inside Bowser, the microbe-sized Mario & Luigi must muscle their way through challenges and keep their nerve if they want to find a way out. They take action to control Bowser from the inside - but without his knowledge.
  • Players can switch between storylines at will. What happens inside Bowser affects what he's doing on the outside. Sometimes Mario & Luigi must solve puzzles and challenges behind the scenes to help Bowser overcome various obstacles and advance the plot.
  • Players must make well-timed button presses to enhance their performance during battles and challenges. In some battles, Bowser grows so large that players must turn their Nintendo DS or Nintendo DSi system sideways, blow into the microphone, or tap on the touch screen with the stylus to keep up with the action .
  • The game features the same hilarious dialogue that has been the hallmark of the Mario & Luigi series.


  • Screenshots / Images
    Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story screenshot - click to enlarge Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story screenshot - click to enlarge Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story screenshot - click to enlarge Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story screenshot - click to enlarge Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story screenshot - click to enlarge Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story screenshot - click to enlarge Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story screenshot - click to enlarge Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story screenshot - click to enlarge Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story screenshot - click to enlarge Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story screenshot - click to enlarge Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story screenshot - click to enlarge Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story screenshot - click to enlarge

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