Product Type: Nintendo Nintendo DS games
Newest Review: ... involved (important bits are highlighted in blue though for your convenience). ==---Gameplay---== First thing to note is that, unlike t... more
Bowser's Inside Story should make headlines!
Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story (DS)
Member Name: Anti
Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story (DS)
Advantages: Solid gameplay of previous instalments with many new features, mini games and co-op battle system
Disadvantages: Controls for Mario/Luigi a bit awkward
Mario's home, Toad Town, has been hit with an epidemic known as the Blorbs, causing Toads (the normal citizens with mushrooms on their heads) to blow up to gigantic proportions and be incapable of moving. While Princess Peach, Mario, Luigi and others hold a meeting in the castle they are interrupted by the Bros' archenemy, Bowser, who has come for an umpteenth capture of Princess Peach. Mario and Luigi easily defeat him and Bowser ends up in the forest, where he is met by a mysterious figure who offers him an unusual shroom that will help him beat his foes. Bowser immediately eats it- but then inhales and shrinks several people and things into his body, including Peach and our heroes!
Turns out the shroom was a trick by Fawful, the malaprop (his catchphrase is "I have chortles! [sic]") antagonist of the series, into allowing him to invade Bowser's castle and unleash a new evil over the Mushroom Kingdom. Stuck in Bowser's body, the only way Mario and Luigi can defeat Fawful is to enlist the help of their biggest enemy. The story isn't the best I've ever sat through because it's quite straightforward, but it definitely has many humorous moments, especially in the case of Bowser, who remains completely unaware that the Bros are inside his body helping him out! His character being the most interesting might be because he's the anti-hero of this game (and this specific series in general if I'm correct) and it's great to see him boss about his minions from his own perspective. Fawful is a typical cartoon villain but also very funny because of his malapropism and own blunders. Therefore I'd say the plot would appeal more to younger players than adults, although a lot of reading is involved (important bits are highlighted in blue though for your convenience).
First thing to note is that, unlike the Super Mario main games, 'Bowser's Inside Story' is not just a simple platformer but a role-playing game (or RPG). Unlike the other games so far though you not only take control of both Mario and Luigi as they traverse Bowser's insides, or Bowser himself in the real world. Their control schemes are quite different and so I'm going to explain them separately.
Mario and Luigi are controlled by the A and B buttons, respectively. They will be going to Bowser's body to either help him with an internal problem or improve his physical moves to get past obstacles in the real world. On the map they have several abilities unlocked through the course of the game that are shown in the top right hand corner that you switch between with the R button. These include jump, hammer, tornado (the Bros spin across to far-off platforms or into other tornados to reach higher places), and drill (to go underground and get past low/narrow barriers). There are different variations of the jump and hammer moves as well (e.g. using Luigi's hammer on Mario makes him shorter so he can make his way through narrow passages). Sometimes they will need help from Bowser, for example making him drink water so the Bros can float to higher platforms. Controlling Mario and Luigi is on the map is fun and challenging as you must work out which moves must be used to get to the next platform. My only niggle with controls is that when getting both Bros to jump across to narrow platforms is difficult because Luigi sometimes doesn't make it all the way if Mario is in the space for him to land. Since neither brother can move any further without the other this results in a bit of backtracking especially if Luigi falls all the way back down to the bottom of the screen!
When they touch an enemy (or vice versa if they're unlucky) it's time to head into battle where you take turns between Mario and Luigi to defeat their enemy. They can attack with their hammer or jump moves, but it's more than just sitting back and watching the Bros do damage as there are timed actions too. If you press A in a jump just before Mario or Luigi touches an enemy, they will bounce again for an extra attack and damage, whereas delaying a lift of the hammer until it's as far back as possible gives it maximum power. When enemies attack, some of their moves can be avoided/countered with more timed presses of A or B depending on whom they're attacking. You might think this makes battles ridiculously easy but it doesn't. Knowing when to press the action commands is a task in itself especially when encountering new enemies whom require a lot of trial and error, but the system is easy to master when you get the hang of it. Winning battles earns you XP and coins to spend on items, which are also found in blocks around the place that you jump under.
Now Bowser is controlled with X and Y. His special moves are his punch, fire breath, body slam (for pressing buttons and springing platforms) and curling into a spike ball. Punch and Fire Breath also carry through to his battle screens and he counters moves with his punch (X) or his spiky shell (Y). Unique to Bowser though is his Vacuum ability, allowing him to suck things which boost his stats or actual enemies. When the latter is sucked in, they are fought by Mario and Luigi inside Bowser's body. This tag-team concept is a nifty feature which very much defines the game and works really well, especially when taking on bosses! Their Special Moves in battle (which use up SP, or Special Points) are acquired and used different from the Bros as well. Bowser's are based on his types of allied minions that are scattered trapped around the world and activated using the touch screen feature in different ways, whereas Mario and Luigi have to collect 10 'Attack Pieces' in the area to unlock them and whilst only one Bro has to use it on their town, requires the co-operation of both. Both sets of specials are fun to try out and like regular moves, need well-timed commands from the player for them to deal maximum damage.
In addition to the platforming and battle elements, 'Bowser's Inside Story' relies a lot on mini-games to progress story-wise as Mario and Luigi help Bowser's predicament in the outside world by improving him physically, whether it be stimulating his arm muscles by hitting spark-things at them, stimulating leg muscles by bouncing on them or shooting red and green balls to get his body out of critical condition- and then cause Bowser to grow into a giant! The latter results in giant sized boss battles against whatever crushed Bowser in the first place and you need to turn the DS to a horizontal position and use the touch screen and microphone to attack your enemy. There are only four of these types of battles in-game but they are incredibly fun, engaging and also require strategy. For example, one such battle is you fighting against a train, but you have to defeat it into a certain number of turns as you chase it to a rickety bridge, which Bowser will fall into and die immediately if he goes past there! I did find the mini-games annoying at first as they weren't part of the core gameplay and the later levels of them can be quite frustrating, but looking back I think it makes the game even more unique and connects the gameplay better with the story- something which you don't see in a lot of RPGs.
'Bowser's Inside Story' has great graphics for a DS game. Granted they won't beat out PS3 games like Uncharted or Call of Duty but a game like this doesn't need 3D. It has bright, vibrant colours that will appeal to anything that plays the game. Bowser's insides are very well-designed and whilst there probably is a bit of artistic license to his anatomy it does feel like you're actually traversing inside a monster's body. The animation is good too, especially during the Special Attacks and the giant stages.
The soundtrack for the game fits well, ranging from lighthearted themes in the hub places and battles to somewhat darker tunes when Fawful and co. appear. My favourite song is probably Bowser's battle theme which ominous like his character. Sound effects are decent, with voices from Mario, Luigi and Bowser among other characters. Furthermore there are recognisable sounds from the Mario franchise such as when you collect coins and bounce, showing the game is not at all far off its roots. Generally, there's nothing that will make you turn the DS to mute in frustration.
It took me around 25 hours to complete the game, but it might take those more experienced with a series a bit less. Still there's plenty of side missions, involving either finishing jigsaw puzzles or practising your special moves ad infinitum, if you want a break from main gameplay or just to test your battle skills. Completionists can aim to get the highest battle rank (each unlocked at different character levels) for more items and gear. However with that stuff aside I still think this is a fairly long game for a handheld. Annoyingly you cannot save after defeating the final boss, but this does give you the opportunity to complete the game 100% before fighting them again.
'Bowser's Inside Story' is a fantastic game. The solid gameplay from the previous instalments is back but with several new touches to make it a game that stands out a lot. It can be bought for as little as Ł19.99 preowned from GAME or Gamestation and I wholeheartedly recommend it to any DS owner!
(Also on Ciao under the username Anti_W)
Summary: A brilliant role-playing game that is suitable for all. Buy it!
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