Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story is a game that, on paper, I should love. I really enjoyed the first M&L game (though I missed out on the second one) and this one brings back the best part, Fawful, and has some of the best looking sprites I’ve seen in a long time. It also has Nintendo’s trademark quality localization, being mostly witty and funny. So I am having difficulty pinpointing exactly why I found playing it to be such a chore.
Part of it I think is the premise. Mario and Luigi manipulating Bowser from the inside while he fights against Fawful’s minions sounds great, but it doesn’t quite work out as it should. All of Bowser’s insides basically look the same, meaning that nearly the entire time game Mario and Luigi are stuck in one area. Also, the globins, the anti-body inhabitants of Bowser’s body are a big miss on the writer’s part. Talking to them is simply tedious. The Mario Brothers portions of the game are simply not as good as they could be. The Bowser portions are much more entertaining. They are certainly better written. Bowser’s charmingly self-centered nature is tons of fun. He sees everything only as reflections of his importance. His goals haven’t changed, he plans to conquer the Mushroom Kingdom and force Peach to be his bride. However, with Fawful currently in power, his goals are temporarily aligned with Mario’s. Still, Bowser finds it hard to focus on the larger goal rather than instant gratification. The problem with Bowser’s portion is the other problem I’ve had with the game.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story tries its best to utilize as much of the DS’s functionality as possible. In this case this is a bad thing. There are many features on the DS that when uses appropriately can greatly enhance a game. The great games on the system use only the ones necessary. M&L3 uses as just about everything on the system, no matter how awkward the implementation is. The game has the player turn the system sideways to fight big battles with Bowser, you blow in the mic to blow fire, tap the screen for various attacks. It makes battles, whose timing mechanics already make them more involved than most, a chore. I found most of the tapping, sliding and other touch mechanics to be tiresome. The worst part is that the increased complexity in battle mechanics is offset by a simplification of the platforming parts, which were the best parts of the first game.
These problems aren’t really that big. They are kind of nitpicky. Still, they added up to enough to keep me from truly enjoying the game. Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story is a well-made game with small flaws that simply rubbed me the wrong way. I wanted to like it, I really did, but I didn’t really enjoy the game all that much. I know some people were disappointed when Nintendo announced Paper Mario for the 3DS rather than a new Mario and Luigi game, but I’m perfectly happy with that series continuing over this one.