This title is exclusive to Nintendo 3DS and was reviewed as such.
Welcome to this review of Kingdom H…wait, no that’s not right. Let’s try this again. Welcome to this review of Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey – a title so long that I have conscientiously not given it a spiffy extra title to save you time and reading energy. Which has just been ruined by this explanation. Ah well, can’t win ‘em all.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey is a remake for the Nintendo 3DS of the original Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story for the Nintendo DS. It’s got some visual updates as well as the spiffy addition of Bowser Jr.’s Journey. This, my dear readers, is one of those excellent Mario RPGs, and it plays suspiciously like a Final Fantasy crossed with Mario (now you may go and laugh at my Kingdom Hearts joke at the very start. I’ll wait). It’s not just Final Fantasy though, you’ll feel right at home with this game if you’ve played any variety of RPG’s. From the turn based combat, to two teams in different places working to solve puzzles. This is a game that is familiar.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey is a hilarious story about a plague of ‘blorbs’ which is taking over the Mushroom Kingdom. The blorbs are turning our beloved mushroom friends into giant rolling versions of themselves. Princess Peach organises a conference of all the influential leaders in the Kingdom (leaving a certain shelled antagonist out) calling for help. When doctors fail to find a cure, it’s up to Mario and Luigi to save the day. But Bowser is pretty upset at being left out, so he heads off to Peach’s castle to kidnap her in retribution. So far, so Mario. What happens next though, is brilliant.
It turns out that the strings behind the blorbs are part of an evil plot by the spectacular Fawful, who has his own agendas for the Mushroom Kingdom. Bowser eats a mushroom, inhales everyone and everything around the castle, and passes out. And so begins Mario and Luigi’s adventure inside of Bowser’s stomach.
This starts the core gameplay of Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story. While certainly an RPG, this game is all about the puzzles. Bowser is on the outside, Mario and Luigi are on the inside, and they (unknowingly) must work together to get everything back to normal.
With the 3DS this puts you into the split screen. Bowser is in your top screen, Mario and Luigi are in the bottom screen, and you’ll need to switch between the two sides to get through the game. This is where the game is at its finest. Mario and Luigi can’t reach something? Bowser has to drink some water to fill his stomach, lifting the two plumbers up. Bowser isn’t strong enough to hit something? The brothers need to hit one of his nerves to give him an extra push. The best moments were when Bowser would inhale an enemy, leaving it to Mario and Luigi to finish them off. Spectacular.
Even more brilliant than the story is the dialogue it spawns. Fawful, our own littlest villain, talks like a cartoon incarnation of the doggo meme. Much laugh. So joy. And I mean this in the best possible way. All of the dialogue is full of japes and gags. Everything and everyone is played for laughs. It was endlessly entertaining.
Sound wise I found myself turning it down. The music is absolutely fine, but the way they did the voices got on my nerves a bit. Everyone except Mario and Luigi are little chirps and beeps, while the brothers are all ‘that’s a no good!’ and ‘mamma mia!’ Eh. I can do without.
Combat is your traditional turn based RPG style with some extra ‘push the button at the right time and make it an even more powerful attack!’. You’ll gain XP, level stuff up and find new gear. The gear doesn’t make too much difference though, it’s all in pushing buttons at the right time. Different types of enemies will require you to use different types of attacks (it makes sense that jumping on top of an enemy with a spiked shell is not the greatest of ideas), and you’ll get a chance to avoid enemy attacks as well. It’s just plain old fun.
The graphics are your average 3DS graphics. The 3D effect on full actually looked pretty nice in this game, particularly on the Bowser screen. But I don’t use these for very long as they make me feel queasy. This is what I do for you all. I make myself actually sick. With 3D turned down it also looked nice, though there was a marked difference between the Bowser screen and the Mario Bros. screen. Bowser’s just looked better. Maybe it was because he got more of a top down view of a world, rather than an inside look at a stomach, but the Bowser screen was more colourful and pleasing to look at.
Bowser Jr.’s Journey is the big addition to this version of Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story and story wise, it’s an excellent addition. Bowser Jr.’s story runs in parallel to the main Bowser blorb story in the main game, and it’s just as fun and entertaining. It’s worth your time for that alone.
It is however completely different in gameplay. Bowser Jr.’s Journey has more in common with rock/paper/scissors played out in army form, than any style of RPG. Bowser Jr. is just learning to fight and to command armies and there are three types of units he can command. Melee, flying, and throwing. Melee beats throwing, flying beats melee and throwing beats flying. You gather lots of different types of these units and it’s up to you to put the right amount and the right type in the right formation to beat the opposing army and take down their commander. My biggest problem with it is that once the armies are attacking, that’s pretty much your job done. There are some power up moves that you can press buttons at the right time for, but it’s all about setting your army up first.
It’s fine, but there’s a lot of just watching things play out on your screen. Again though, totally worth it for the extra story and still excellent dialogue.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey is a wonderful addition to the 3DS and it’s great to see Nintendo is still willing to support their older console even with the advancement of the Switch. The story is great, the dialogue is fantastic and the puzzles are entertaining and interesting.
Much good. So joke.