Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story

Mario and Luigi go deep down inside their arch-enemy for a funny, but slightly crude adventure
SeriousGamer - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

Mild Violence: Mild, cartoon-style violence against non-human characters.

Crude Humor: Slightly crude humor involving stimulating body parts, aiding in bodily functions, and one case of passed gas.

Fantasy Magic: One character could be described as a fortune teller, plot involves an evil item.

Mario’s had quite a few RPG adventures over the years. Through all of them, he’s always had some company along. And for our favorite plumber/hero who’s better to have along than your brother? It wasn’t long before younger bro. Luigi was tagging along. For first titles, the two plumbing siblings went on a couple of heroic, albeit wacky adventures; first in a kingdom made of beans, then on a quest through time. Now, the adventure and the goofy antics that made the Mario and Luigi series famous continues in its third title, Bowser’s Inside Story.

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For fans of the previous two games, Superstar Saga and Partners in Time, this game offers very much the same content as you’d expect from the last installments of this ultra-fun and ultra-funny series, and all through the comforts, or rather confines, of a certain grouchy turtle-like figure.

Plot

As always, something goes wrong in the Mushroom Kingdom. If it didn’t, there would really be no need for Mario and Luigi. If you’ve played the last two games you can expect a slightly humorous disaster, and this game is no exception. Mushroom Kingdom has fallen prey to a strange plague known as the Blorbs. Toads infected by the Blorbs swell to many times their normal size and roll around uncontrollably, turning  the residents of Toad Town into Toad-like balloons. Hoping to find a way to counter the infection (and to probably avoid having to change the name to Balloon Kingdom) Princess Peach calls a meeting, which the Mario Brothers of course attend. It doesn’t take long for things to go from bad to slightly worse though.

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A certain immature, childish someone decides to crash the meeting: Bowser. Rather than his usual routine of kidnapping Princess Peach, he shows up to attend the meeting, but his unwelcomed presence only causes another brawl between him and arch-rival Mario, who gives him a good kick in the shell. Given the boot, Bowser ends up in a strange forest, where an equally strange figure offers him a Lucky Mushroom, telling him he can defeat his arch-rival Mario with it. Bowser, lacking anything even remotely related to intelligence, readily accepts. After swallowing the mushroom, Bowser finds himself inhaling and swallowing everything in sight (trees, pipes, anything not nailed down) and he happens to swallow a couple of plumbers along with everyone else, including Princess Peach. With Mario and Luigi out of the way, the strange figure Fawful, the bizarre little goon who showed his face way back in Superstar Saga, starts taking control of Mushroom Kingdom, starting with Bowser’s Castle. Now it’s up to the Koopa King to take back his castle and Mario and Luigi to find a way out of Bower’s body, find Peach, and defeat Fawful. All in a day’s work for the Mario Brothers.

Gameplay

For the most part of the game, you control Bowser. For those who’ve played the last two games, you’ll be in fairly familiar territory. You walk around an overworld of sorts. Combat, in true RPG fashion, is initiated when Bowser touches an enemy. You can also strike an enemy before battle to do some damage early on.

Since this is a Mario game, our red-capped plumber isn’t going to be left out and neither is Luigi. At certain points you’ll take control of the brothers inside Bower’s body. These two explore a 2-D world similar to their old platforming days. Combat remains the same with them as it does with Bowser. You also play mini-games as the brothers which are required to advance.

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Since this is a DS game, sometimes you’re require to use the stylus or even blow into the mic, the little hole next to the power light. None of this is too hard.

Offensive Content

 

Note: Some spoilers may be present

Mild Cartoon Violence

Nothing that hasn’t already been done before. Mario and Luigi still attack by jumping on enemies and pounding them with hammers. Bowser attacks with punches and by breathing fire on his enemies. None of these are in the slightest way graphic. Enemies disappear in a burst of stars after defeat. Sometimes, Bowser’s fire or the Fire Flower special attack burns enemies, and you’ll see a small flame appear on them, but that’s as bad as it gets.

A few special attacks involve flattening enemies, kicking shells at them, or in one of Bower’s attacks, setting Goombas, the little mushroom-like enemies, on fire. In the last case, the Goombas are unharmed afterwards.

At some points in the story, Bowser suffers a, quite literal, crushing blow, and it’s said that his life-force is in need of restoration. Once again, this is all quite mild and cartoon-like. Nobody dies in this story, so you can be at ease about that.

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Spiritual Content

The most spirituality the Mario series is known for are ghosts and stars. The stars still play a role in this. One character is a small orb that acts on representation of the Star Sprites. And you do meet a character who is a ghost, not like the classic Boos of old. Also, at the beginning Princess Peach uses her “wish power” along with another character’s Star Power to fling Bowser out of her castle. It is never said how they got their powers and if they are magical in nature or not.

At one point, you meet Toad Town’s local doctor, who appears to mix medicine with magic. He’s dressed like a fortune-teller and has a crystal ball in his office.

Spoiler

When you meet the doctor, he sends you after three sages with apparently magical items called Star Cures, which he uses to cure the swelled toads. He also refers to it as a miracle cure.

Spoilers End

One character you meet speaks of the knowledge of the stars flowing into his mind and later the knowledge of the earth. He sounded like he’d be more at home in a New Age yoga class than a Mario game.

One area inside Bowser’s body, the Rump Command, features two cell-like creatures called Evogloblins, who say they have evolved arms and legs through some spiritual power.

As I said, a star plays a role in this, but the star in question is not quite what you’d expect.

Spoiler

The plot revolves around an evil star called the Dark Star. It’s said that the star will cover the Mushroom Kingdom in darkness, and it was sealed away beneath Toad Town. The origins of the Dark Star remain unknown, but it doesn’t appear to be of demonic origins, unlike the Shadow Queen from Paper Mario 2. All of it seems well within the realm of fantasy.

Spoilers End

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Crude Humor

For starters, you play inside Bower’s body and in a few places some strange slime that almost looks like pudding can be seen and you can also fall into it. The idea may get a few cringes from players. After Luigi falls into one such pool of slime, Mario is met by a being calling herself the Mucus Princess.

A few of the mini-games you play involve jumping on his muscles or globs of fat or helping him digest food. The toads Bowser swallowed also set up a small “town” inside him, and one sells a HP-restoring concoction that comes from a small, cell-like creature. You’re also required to take a journey inside Bower’s nose to get him to sneeze. One item you find is covered in goo after being swallowed and at one point, Luigi fights to save his brother from being digested, and we see Mario’s lower half coated in slime.

The worst bit comes as the story requires Mario and Luigi to track down a strange, little bug. When the find the bug, it bits down on Luigi’s rear end and then coughs after being dislodged. Said bug also passes gas in Luigi’s face. One special attack and one moment in the story have characters stuffing themselves and ending up very fat.

Other Negative Elements

You spent a lot of time controlling Bowser, so you might say at first you’re helping him to get revenge on Fawful for taking his castle. You’re also required to help Bowser steal something to advance the story…

Commendable Material

It comes back to get him shortly afterward. After this, Bowser is forced to take responsibility for his actions. While inside Bower’s body, one of your companions insists on teaching the Koopa King a few manners, which he apparently picks up.

Mario and Luigi also help Bowser out when he starts ailing. True, it’s only to help save Princess Peach, but I’d say it qualifies as kindness to their arch-enemy.

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Conclusion

I enjoyed the games in the Mario and Luigi series. When Superstar Saga came out, I was blown away by how much humor was packed into the game. Never did I expect a video game to leave me rolling with laughter. I went in with the same expectations to Partners in Time, but was somewhat disappointed in it. It didn’t seem as humorous, but it did seem a lot harder. Bower’s Inside Story seemed funnier than the last title, so that was a plus for me.

The jokes however did come with some un-needed humor though. Bouncing around on Bower’s blubber or aiding in the digestion process wasn’t so bad, but seeing a bug sucking on someone’s rump put one foot over the line into flat-out potty humor. Some less-than-humorous un-necessaries include a few spiritual elements that were less than pleasing. The inclusion of a dark star was a step towards the level of Paper Mario 2’s demonic villain, but thankfully it didn’t go all the way there. So, while it includes an old-time platforming element, maybe it should’ve also included the simpler plot of the old-time games as well.




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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