Review by Megawolf
"Mario and Luigi went WHERE?!"
Mario and Luigi have been stomping on Goombas and kicking Koopas for over 20 years, and they show no signs of stopping those habits any time soon. In their latest adventure, Mario and Luigi journey somewhere they have never been before: inside their arch-nemesis, Bowser.
The story in an RPG is very important, and the one in this game is very well written. There are a few minor plot holes in there, but nothing too serious as to leave you wondering what's going on at any point. The writing is very humorous and is sure to provide several chortles over the course of the game.
The Mushroom Kingdom is plagued by a mysterious new illness: The Blorbs. Anyone afflicted by it will swell up into a balloon shape and roll away. Princess Peach calls an emergency meeting at her castle to decide what to do to save the kingdom from this malady. Bowser, outraged that he wasn't invited, crashes the meeting and is quickly dispatched by Mario.
Not long after his defeat, Bowser is tricked by Fawful (the hilarious villain from the original Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga) into eating a Vacuum Mushroom. This causes Bowser to go out of control and inhale everything around him! While under the effect of the mushroom, he storms back to Peach's castle, inhales Mario, Luigi, Peach, and everyone else at the meeting, and passes out! Now, Mario must rescue the others and find a way out.
Meanwhile, Fawful is plotting to take over the entire Mushroom Kingdom in the Mario Bros. absence. He even wants Bowser's castle for himself! Of course, Bowser isn't going to just let any of that happen. With no recollection of what transpired at Peach's castle, Bowser sets off to take Fawful down.
Basically, this is an RPG complete with overworld and turn-based battles. However, unlike other RPGs out there, the battles aren't as simple as selecting an attack and watching your character move. You can add power to your attacks and avoid enemy attacks by pressing buttons at certain times. There are no random battles in this game, so you don't have to worry about running into an enemy every time you take a few steps. Instead, you engage battles by running into or attacking enemies on the overworld maps.
If you have played any other game in the Mario and Luigi series, you kind of know what to expect from this game. What sets this game apart, though, is that you get to play not only as the Mario Bros., but also the King of Awesome himself, Bowser! This adds a completely new play style that is sure to please new players and fans of the series alike. For instance, while Mario and Luigi focus on jumping and hammering, Bowser mainly attacks by punching and fire-breath. In addition, Bowser can use his newly-acquired vacuum ability to inhale some enemies and let the Bros. deal with things. You spend a good portion of the game playing as Bowser and, at times, it feels more like Mario and Luigi are more supporting characters than they are stars of the show.
Mario and Luigi don't just get to kick back and relax while Bowser is rampaging across the countryside, though. Since they are inside Bowser, they get to help him out in a variety of ways. At certain points in the story, Bowser will need to pull off an extraordinary feat that he would not normally be able to do. In times like these, it's up to Mario and Luigi to power him up by playing a variety of mini-games! For example, Bowser has to move an entire island early in the game. To power up his arm muscles, you have to play a rhythm-based game as Mario and Luigi where you hit balls of electricity with into the muscle tissue with your hammers.
The graphics in this game are all beautifully drawn. Everything is full of vibrant color and has a definite "Mario" feel to it. You can really tell the level of design that went into this the moment you start playing. The only parts of the game that look less than excellent are the giant Bowser fights. Because of the increased size of things, the picture starts to look a little pixelated.
The music and sounds in this game are all very fitting to the environment and are enjoyable to listen to. Most of the overworld tracks are upbeat and cheerful, but they can be dark and oppressive when they need to be. The battle themes are enjoyable to listen to, and you are in for a real treat when you are battling the final boss.
The sound effects are perfect for this game and nothing ever sounds out of place. Mario makes his typical "goomba-stomping" sound, Bowser roars a lot, and Fawful laughs like an insane guy. You won't hear much speech in here, but you normally don't in Mario games.
I was taking my time playing through this since I enjoyed it so much, but I clocked in at about 28 hours on my first run. This isn't including all the extra stuff there is to do after the end credits, so I think the length of this game is perfect. It doesn't feel like it ends too soon, and it doesn't drag on needlessly with a bunch of fetch-quests that make you revisit every place you've been to already.
Replay Value: 8/10
This is an RPG. RPGs are usually so long that you don't immediately want to play through them again after you beat them. While that may hold true with this game, there are several side-quests to complete after the credits roll if you haven't done them already. If that's not enough, the main story of the game includes enough fun, unique mini-games to warrant a replay.
This game is very close to perfection. I would give it a 9.5 out of 10, but GameFAQs doesn't allow partial points. It has a few small flaws, but none of them should stop someone from playing this. This is probably the highest-quality RPG I have played in a long time, and I recommend it for anyone with a DS that enjoys the genre.
Rent or Buy?
Definitely buy! If you play through this during a standard (not Gamefly) rental, you will be rushing through it at a point where it is not enjoyable. It is easily one of the best titles available for the DS and should be a part of any RPG player's DS library.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 09/21/09
Game Release: Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story (US, 09/14/09)
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