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Platform

DS

 

Genre

Role-Playing / Action

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Alpha Dream

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

September 14, 2009

 

 

- Great real-time, turn-based combat

- The writing is great

- Many hours of exploration

- The 2D Mario & Luigi sections

 

 

- You really need to pay attention to the equipment collected and upgrade abilities if you want to succeed against the higher level foes

- Inability to skip cutscenes you've already seen

 

 

Review: Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (DS)

Review: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA)

Review: Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (DS)

 

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Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

bowser's inside story          bowser's inside story

 

With every Mario game there's the very real danger of simply calling it "great!" because of the huge back catalogue of stunning Mario games. For Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story it would have been very easy to do this because it features similar combat to previous Mario & Luigi games (as well as the Paper Mario series), and the exploration and puzzles are so well constructed that it's a joy to play.  Or in other words, "It's great!"
 

Thanks to an "expanding" plague running rampant in the Mushroom Kingdom, the place is ripe for a takedown and that's exactly what happens. While the Mushroom

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Kingdom advisors attempt to sort out a solution, a drugged Bowser inhales most of the castle staff, Mario and Luigi included, and Fawful takes over Bowser's castle in the hopes of locating a source of dark energy to hatch whatever plots Fawful lays.  It falls to Bowser to set things right (or at least, his version of right), with Mario & Luigi acting as support for Bowser on

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the inside -- stimulating muscles, clearing blockages, battling enemies he inhales, and otherwise interacting with Bowser on a biological level. Well, at least for a lot of the game.

 

Switching between Bowser (top screen) and Mario & Luigi (bottom screen), is a button press away but there's never really the need to do it on the fly unless you're grinding against foes to earn more experience points. The story is structured in such a way that Bowser will hit some kind of roadblock that requires the Bros. spring into action with a mini-game or some kind of boss fight so that Bowser can continue. It's pretty linear in that sense.

 

bowser's inside story          bowser's inside story

 

Playing as either, the combat is just as exacting as previous games. Though it's turn-based, there's enough real-time input required during each turn to force players to really pay attention to the enemies.  The combination of the two styles really has been perfected here and has the same pull as a slot machine to a inveterate gambler.  Knowing when to use a power-up or a special move or reacting to the "tell" of an enemy or timing your jumps or punches just right is just so well put together that it's hard to pull myself away from it.

 

The thing that really got on my nerves though was long cutscenes or dialogue pieces that can't be skipped even if you've seen them multiple times. There was a segment in Bowser's castle with Bowser facing off against Fawful's underboss that almost made me turn off the game for good.  Lacking a "restart clock" that would, well, restart the fight from the beginning, I was forced to click through a long dialogue exchange to get back to the fight. It took me a few times to understand the pattern of the enemy but having to spend almost five minutes clicking through dialouge I'd already seen almost made me not care about the fight -- just turn off the DS and be done with it. If I hadn't gotten lucky on that boss, I might not have continued; it was that frustrating.

 

As formulaic as Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story is -- there aren't that many surprises, but some of the DS features are put to amusing use -- it's still a great game with some really good localization that isn't afraid of making fun of itself or Nintendo.  With lots of hours to spend exploring and a great combat system this purchase is money well spent.

 

- Aaron Simmer

(October 22, 2009)

 

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