The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Quarter Muncher: Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story is what role-playing games should strive to be.

Gameplay and dialogue dance to welcome players of all skill levels, ages, and so on.
Promotional art for the game. Photo from Nintendo.

Editor’s Note: Quarter Muncher is a new gaming column at The Spectator, named after particularly difficult arcade games.

Bowser, that long time bad guy, really does suck. 

Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, a game with three characters who need no introduction in the title, is a 2009 role-playing game (RPG) for the Nintendo DS. It is the third entry in the Mario & Luigi series.

The game starts with Bowser eating a mushroom that causes him to indiscriminately inhale everything around him, including the Mario Bros. and Princess Peach. He has no memory of these events and wakes up in a cave afterwards.

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The gameplay consists of two main parts: Bowser explores the Mushroom Kingdom while the brothers travel inside of his body. New areas open up as things happen to Bowser, such as his gut filling with water when he drinks or his arm needing assistance when he pulls on something.

The Koopa King doesn’t seem like someone who would willingly team up with his mortal enemy. He’s unaware that the Mario Bros. are stowing away in his organs. A star sprite named Starlow essentially gaslights Bowser to make sure he doesn’t know.

Plotwise, given that the player is controlling Bowser, a simple plot of him kidnapping Princess Peach wouldn’t hold its ground here. 

The antagonist role is instead filled by fan-favorite Fawful, a minion from 2003’s Superstar Saga who has stepped up into the main villain spotlight. He’s intent on world domination with his own crew of baddies. 

On a surface level, it seems odd that Bowser would oppose Fawful. Both command legions of evil minions and seem to have similar goals. However, these two villains have little like for each other.

Fawful is the one who gave Bowser the mushroom, after all. He then immediately took over Bowser’s Castle and brainwashed all of his minions. To top it off, Fawful is looking for Princess Peach. It would be a surprise if Bowser didn’t take all of this personally.

That’s enough on the plot, though, as it takes a backseat to just about everything else in the game. 

Gameplay is simple. As is tradition in the Mario & Luigi series, Mario’s actions are assigned to the A button while Luigi uses B. Those with a DS at home may be wondering “but what about the X and Y buttons?”

Fear not! They are put to excellent use as Bowser’s abilities. These button rules apply to both the overworld exploration and the turn-based combat. For example, Mario presses A to jump while Bowser presses X to punch. 

The tried and true combat of the Mario & Luigi series really shines in Bowser’s Inside Story. The previously described buttons also apply to when enemies are attacking. The brothers can jump over or hammer away enemy attacks, while Bowser can punch away or duck under his assailants.

This means that a particularly skilled player could likely beat the game without taking a single point of damage. Not me, but someone definitely could.

Necessarily, the combat is not difficult. It’s engaging, but not challenging.

Last week, I wrote an article about how Princess Peach: Showtime was a weird mixed bag. One of my gripes with it was that the game was too easy. I also mentioned that being easy doesn’t necessarily exclude a game from being fun.

Bowser’s Inside Story is an example of a game that can be both easy and fun. Maybe I can beat an allegedly hard boss in two turns, but I can have a great time doing it. From start to finish, this game is an absolute blast.

This includes the parts where characters are just talking. The moment-to-moment dialogue is gut-busting at times. Fawful is a hilarious character whom fans still want to see returns. His catchphrases of “I have chortles” and “I have fury” are a blast to experience.

The humor is all clean, as well. Given the simple controls, the unchallenging difficulty, and the low reading level required to understand what’s being said, this is one of the most accessible games Nintendo has ever put out.

Gamers of any age or skill level can pick this one up and have an excellent time. Given this, one could argue that its lower difficulty is actually a boon in the game’s favor (though that’s not a debate I’m here to have).

As always, I have barely scratched the surface of everything I have to say about this one. Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story is an excellent starting RPG, a hilarious adventure and just a quality video game. My only gripes are with the low difficulty and how short the game is.

Those little things aren’t enough to prevent me from giving this game 5/5 quarters. Any fan of Mario or RPGs owes it to themselves to give this one a shot, should the opportunity ever arise.

Tolbert can be contacted at [email protected]. Tell him what Bowser’s next game should be.

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