Review: Get the real inside Story with
Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story

Mario and Luigi DS1

As always, the Mario Bros. beat Bowser down, and kick him out of the castle. During that time after his humiliating defeat he meets someone selling these weird mushrooms, and something happens. While I won’t spoil how Mario and Luigi end up inside Bowser. I will let you know that you spend a lot of time Inside Bowser, and while this isn’t exactly a bad thing, it can get a little tedious during some of the puzzle elements later in the game. This is where you have to switch to Bowser to interact with different objects to change the things happening in his body so that the Mario Bros. can progress.

Inside Bowser

Mario and Luigi DS1

Bowser’s insides are rather vibrant and colorful for a Koopa, I always pictured them as a slightly more obscene place. It really is a fantasy anatomy that provides the player with plenty of 2D platforms. Yet I find it fascinating that the that some of the cells inside a Koopa’s body are shaped like classic enemies. You’ll come across Goomba’s, Bloopers, Banzai Bills, and other unique enemies while exploring the crevasses of his body.

Mario and Luigi DS1

While the brothers don’t have control over Bowser’s actions while inside of him they will be able to help him perform various actions in a mini-game like fashion. Like hitting energy at his arm muscles to increase the power to his arms to push or throw something. You would think that these little events would easily become repetitive and tedious, but the game treats them like a little piece of Rhythm Heaven. Some of the other games are like a simple shmup, solving jigsaw puzzles, and flicking or moving an object with the stylus.

Battles and Overworld

Mario and Luigi DS1

Just like the previous two titles, you will find all the enemies wandering around the overworld. If you want to pick a fight you will have to run into them or have them run into you to initiate a battle. This is great if you want to avoid battles and just run through an area. Yet another thing that is great about it is you can use your battle skills outside a battle. That means you can jump, punch, hammer, or flamethrower your enemies to initiate the battle. Starting the battle with the attack you used.

Mario and Luigi DS1

During battles you have your two main skills open for you to use, Jump or Hammer if you are Mario, Punch or Flamethrower if you are Bowser. You can also use your special moves Bro attacsk or Bowser Minions, which is basically a little mini game where you time your button presses or use your stylus to attack and increase the damage you can deal. However, Bowser has a unique ability to inhale enemies. This is used to inhale unique items attached to enemies or bosses or can be used to inhale enemies. When Bowser inhales an enemy it will fall down into his stomach where Mario and Luigi will be waiting to fight it.

Mario and Luigi DS10

If the Mario Bros. don’t defeat the enemy quick enough. The enemy might get rejected from Bowser’s body and fly out back onto his battle area, or the enemy might attack his insides causing various amounts damage to Bowser himself. Usually the enemy will try to escape the insides of Bowser back to Bowser’s field.

However, the great thing about inhaling an enemy is that you don’t have to worry about fighting as the Koopa King. You can focus on playing as the Mario Bros.. Yet this isn’t the only unique battle system included into the game.

Mario and Luigi DS1

The second inclusion is the Badge System for Mario and Luigi. Unlike the previous games where the badges were just equipment that gave a stat bonus or added a special effect to one of the brothers. This time the badges add powers to the brothers or heal them depending on how you perform in battle.

How it works is that Mario and Luigi both equip a badge, and depending on what badge they have equipped it will provide a specific feature that will enhance or heal the brothers. However, it can only be used when the badge meter is full, and you fill up the meter by performing Excellent or Great attacks. When the meter fills up you can activate it before the either of the brothers turns or save it for a different battle. This gives you the upper hand during a battle since you can heal both Mario and Luigi without wasting a turn, or Increase their damage or defense output.

Everything Else

Mario and Luigi DS1

Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story takes the best elements from the previous installments, and added new unique game play elements. Successfully combining them into a neat little package that results in an excellent RPG that will surely satisfy almost any player. However, the story in the game is pretty straight forward and linear. You are hardly presented with any optional deviations or side quests until you get near the end of the game. The game is pretty short for an RPG as well clocking in at a mere 20 hours [without the optional questing].

Mario and Luigi DS1

However the real charm to the game is the short and sweet story interaction between the characters. Which is both very expressive, and very well animated 2D sprites. You will also have some very unique moments in the game which I don’t want to spoil. Which includes a few boss fights that require you to turn your screen sideways and use very light stylus controls. Which I found to not work against the player, but where quick and simple strokes on the touch screen. I usually hate it when a games force you to just use stylus controls, but Nintendo found the right mix for this game.

If you haven’t picked this title up I suggest you give it a shot. With the light-hearted RPG elements, it’s not too difficult to get into. Yet an advanced player can have fun with all the special and optional moves, and have fun perfecting their timed hits. Overall, Three and a half stars.

Review based on retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.



An artist from New York. Will has been writing, designing, and loving video games since he was young. He has traveled across the United States, and parts of Canada in order to learn more about the world of gaming. After visiting E3 for the first time in 2009, he has vowed to return there and show off a game of his own. In his spare time he tinkers with electronics, programming, and of course collecting video games.