Getting to know Bowser from the inside out was never so much fun.
Even if Square-Enix hasn't made a Mario RPG since Legend of the Seven Stars on the Super Nintendo, the legacy has successfully lived on thanks to some very quirky and innovative takes on the iconic Nintendo franchise. Alpha Dream's Mario and Luigi RPG series is one that has been going strong since its 2003 debut on the Game Boy Advance, all due to a combination of simple to learn, hard to master gameplay and lots of colorful humor. Bowser's Inside Story is the third game in the series, second on the DS, and this time around the adventure goes very deep into the very innards of one of gaming's most lovable villains.
Bowser's Inside Story starts somewhat like a typical Mario game. While Bowser does jump in to try to kidnap Peach, the story begins with a very weird pandemic hitting the Mushroom Kingdom. A mysterious disease called "The Blorbs" is turning the denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom into huge, round balls. The plot slightly deepens when, after experiencing defeat at the hands of Mario, Bowser consumes a vacuum mushroom that makes him suck everything in sight, Peach and Mario brothers included. It's all a dastardly plan devised by Fawful, a villain introduced in the first Mario and Luigi game, Superstar Saga. This starts yet another lighthearted adventure where the Mario brothers survive Bowser's innards while working together to rescue the Mushroom Kingdom from Fawful's rage.
While the stories in the Mario and Luigi series have never been deep or intricately written, they always provide an amusing element of fun and quirkiness that makes the iconic characters even more enduring, especially Bowser, who now gets to show his stuff as the main character. This is complemented by a superb localization and dialogue that is aware of its cheekiness. There's even reference to classic Nintendo games if you pay enough attention.
* Inventive battle design * Great use of its characters * Great story and dialogue * Lengthy and challenging * Lots of things to discover
* Some elements feel gimmicky at times * Battles can get repetitive * Switching between characters can be tedious