Monday, November 02, 2009

Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story for Nintendo DS, Full Review

Title: Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
Release Date: September 16, 2009
Genre: Role Playing Game
Rating: E for Everyone
Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: AlphaDream

The Mario & Luigi series started in 2003 with Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga, a fun little RPG for the GameBoy Advance (GBA). A couple years later the series made the transition from GBA to the Nintendo DS in Mario & Luigi Partners in Time, where you controlled this dynamic duo in the present as well as a childhood version. This year the third part of this portable RPG series has come to the Nintendo DS with Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story.

Upon starting the game up, you are injected into a town meeting about a problem that has hit the Mushroom Kingdom. It seems a lot of the residents are bloating up into huge balls and there is no way to cure it. Bowser hears about the meeting and is furious no one thought to invite him. In a rage filled stupor he eats a mysterious mushroom from a shady vendor outside of town. Once ingested he temporarily loses control of his body and returns to the meeting only to inhale everyone attending, including Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach.

From this point, the game comes in two parts. There are the Bowser segments which consist of him rampaging around an isometric landscape trying to reclaim his castle which was taken over by Fawful, the series’ main antagonist. The second part is Mario and Luigi, in 2-dimentional side-scrolling action, inside Bowser’s body. They’re main missions is to find all the members of the Mushroom Kingdom that have also been inhaled by Bowser and side-quests where they have to affect some part of Bowser’s body my massaging his muscles to make him stronger or remove some kind of foreign being that is causing him pain.

The combat system could use a little work to make it better. Whether controlling Mario and Luigi or Bowser, every battle has the ability for you to take no damage. Enemy attacks can be dodged, countered or blocked by pressing the correct button at the correct time. The problem surfaces when you are facing a boss and practically have to prevent all damage in order to win. One battle that comes to mind is between Bowser and Fawful’s pet, Midbus. Midbus’ attacks have the possibility to cut Bowser’s health in half, meaning if you are unable to dodge only one of his attacks, you have to choose between dealing damage to him and hoping you can dodge all his attacks next time or heal yourself. And it’s not like it’s easy to prevent yourself from taking damage. Each enemy you encounter attacks in a different way so you end up guessing which button to press to prevent your character from getting hit. It really turns into trial-and-error until you face the same foe a couple times and learn their routine.

The game is rated E for Everyone but I have a hard time believing a 7 year old would be able to play it. First off, the game is full to reading, as are most RPGs. And a child under the age of 10 might have a difficult time reading everything and being able to play the game well. Not to mention the battle difficulty, I’d say this game is ideal for young teenagers and up, maybe 12+.

One positive is the game is full of humor. Even in the first five minutes of the game, a classic one liner is delivered that I was expecting to be the funniest one of the game. One of the Toadstools says “I have no idea what to do, I suggest we panic.” Then the longer I played the more I realized that the game is full of funny dialog. Especially from Fawful because he speaks in some kind of broken English. At first I was suspicious that maybe there was just trouble when translating the game from Japanese to English but then all his lines were like this so I realized it was intentional. He often delivers lines such as: “I have fury,” which becomes his catchphrase through all the games in this series. Another classic line is “Now a Midbus battle will unfold like an angry dip of many layers on the chips of wildest hopes!" I don’t know how they come up with these things.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story is only available for Nintendo DS. This game is a toss up. I really enjoyed playing past games in this series but just couldn’t get into the one enough to finish it. The dialog offers up some funny lines but the difficulty and a majority of gameplay coming from Bowser instead of Mario and Luigi make drop in quality. Maybe pick it up when the price falls, until then you can play through the early editions if you haven’t done so already.

Overall Rating: ***1/2

The Gaming Savant, Ryan Smith

November 2, 2009

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