Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr’s Journey review for Nintendo 3DS

Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Medium: Digital/3DS Card
Players: 1
Online: No

The Mario and Luigi games hold a special place for me. My favorite game on the Super Nintendo was Super Mario RPG. When Nintendo came out with Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga, I ate it up. They then came out with Partners in Time, Bowser?s Inside Story, Dream Team and Paper Jam. As much as I wish I could say that I have played them all, I?ve only played three of them. Nintendo has decided to remaster Bowser?s inside story on the 3DS with a new side story of Bowser Jr?s Journey. I never played Bowser?s Inside Story so this review will be coming from reviewing it as a new release rather than as an update to a game.

This Mario and Luigi tale starts out like most in the Mushroom Kingdom near the castle. There is a disease going around affecting everyone called the blorbs. First you balloon to blimp size, and then you start to roll and don?t stop until you disappear. In order to fight this Princess Peach holds a summit in her castle inviting Mario, Luigi and several others. When Bowser finds out that a summit has been called and he was not invited, he does what Bowser does?.. crashes the party. After being beaten by only Mario (because Luigi had fallen asleep) and kicked out of the castle, Bowser runs into Fawful, the main protagonist, who gives him a lucky mushroom. Turns out the mushroom isn?t so lucky. Instead of bringing him luck, it starts forcing him to inhale everything in sight. Fawful, then brings Bowser back to Peach?s castle and he inhales everyone in the summit. Mario and Luigi then must wander around the inside of Bowser to find and rescue everyone who was at the Summit. All the while Bowser is trying to get back to his castle. To top the whole thing off, the brothers still need to find the cure for the blorbs.

The Mario and Luigi games have always been a turn based RPG with some timed events. During fights button presses are needed at the right times to increase damage for a chosen attack. This is always fun as it makes players pay attention to what is happening on screen. A missed button press might be the difference between ending a fight with either half or quarter health. Bros. attacks are especially so. One of the first Bros. attacks that is learned has the two taking turns kicking a turtle shell back and forth between the brothers and a target. The more successfully the timed button presses, the more hits and more damage is done. The fighting in this game isn?t by any means new, but it is fun.

The story is light hearted and fun. Watching characters manipulate Bowser into doing what they want is rather humorous. When playing inside Bowser, the map is a 2D Metroidvania style map. Not what I was used to in a Mario and Luigi game as most games have some sort of 3D element to them. The music while inside Bowser is a darker version of the music for the outside world, wherever Bowser is at at the time. The music outside of Bowser is, for the most part, upbeat and happy. Inside, not as much. I usually turned the sound off during this time as the music gradually became kind of annoying.

The game is still mostly done in 2D with a little bit of 3D particle effects sprinkled throughout. Areas, especially inside Bowser, look like they fit with the ability the Bros. are tying to unlock. For example, Bowser?s flame pipe area is full of fire and lava and is the area where Mario and Luigi need to help Bowser get his fire breath back. Fire effects that are in the background are well done and the area looks like it?s made of rock and lava. The areas outside of Bowser are bright and colorful and exactly what would be expected of a Mario game. However, the absence of the use of 3D on the 3DS, as the 3D slider does nothing for the game, is a disappointment.

Bowser Jr?s Journey is a side game that comes with Bower?s Inside Story and can be played anytime. Players don?t need to finish the original game to have access to it. When starting the game, choose between either game and continue from the last save or start the game anew. In Bowser Jr?s Journey, Bowser?s son is left behind while his dad goes to the summit at Princess Peach?s castle. He and the Koopa Kids are visited by Fawful?s minions who claim to have a cure for the blorbs and convinces them to buy the recipe for it. Bowser Jr then decides to go out and get the ingredients himself to impress his dad.

As they head out of the castle, the game is broken into fights along a linear path. Players don?t have much control over which direction to go (as the map is just a bunch of dots along a line with a couple branches here and there). Fights are rather boring as a group of minions are put into your army and the fight just plays itself out with the occasional realtime event to give the Koopalings the edge in the fight. For example, sometime during the fight, in what seems like random times, the game says press A. Then a group of minions in the battle start a special battle animation, requiring button presses at specific times to increase damage from the fight. No selections are made during the fight, which makes it a very dull experience, feeling like the battle is just randomly won or lost. The only edge players get is that before the fight, they can see the makeup of the opposing armies and can plan on which troops to use. Unless you are a die hard fan of Mario and Luigi Bowser?s Inside Story, this part of the story should be skipped and not even started.

Overall Mario and Luigi Bowser?s Inside Story is a charming game. If you?ve never played this game before pick it up for this adventure alone. It is a fun enjoyable experience. However, Bowser Jr?s Journey should be skipped entirely, unless you are a completionist. The 3DS may be on the end of its life cycle, but that isn?t stopping Nintendo from putting out great games for the system. If you still have your 3DS and are a fan of RPGs, you will have fun with Bowser?s Inside Story.

Note: Nintendo provided us with a Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr’s Journey 3DS code/copy for review purposes.

Bowser?s Inside Story:

Grade: A-

Bowser Jr?s Journey:

Grade: D+