The two famous mustachioed Italian brothers have traveled all over Mushroom Kingdom and beyond, but it's likely that they never thought that they'd end up in the tummy of their archnemesis, Bowser. In their latest role-playing adventure, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, they must navigate through the bowels of Bowser, who is congested with goombas--at least from what we could tell of our demo. The game was announced during the Nintendo press conference, and we were able to play through a short demo to get a feel for this action RPG.
The game will bounce back and forth between the plumbers and the King of Koopas, but in this demo, we primarily played around in Bowser's arm. Bowser actually wanted to help someone get across the water by pulling on a rope tied to a small, floating island. As he started to put his back into it, our view switched to the pair of plumbers. Running through Bowser's innards is like playing a 2D platformer, so you can run and jump with the A and B buttons that control Mario and Luigi respectively. Colliding with goombas launches a turn-based battle in which you can select what type of attack you want to use again the enemy, whether it be a hammer or a green turtle shell. If you time your hits properly, you'll do extra damage and you can also avoid getting hit by jumping out of the way.
As Mario and Luigi navigated the internal plumbing of Bowser, collecting coins and other fun stuff, they eventually reached his arm muscle, a large wall of tissue throbbing from the exertion. A cannon is conveniently placed next to the muscle, which launches bright balls of light. The cannon fires into the tissue but rebounds back into Mario and Luigi. So by using the A button to control Mario and B to control Luigi, you can time your hammer hits as if you were playing a game of ping-pong against a wall. Once you've rallied enough times, Bowser suddenly gets a burst of energy and is able to pull the entire island over to the shore.
Our demo ended there, but it looks promising so far, with its mix of action and turn-based gameplay, and its sense of humor. The characters have not lost their charm over the years, so we look forward to seeing what the brothers have in store for Bowser's entrails. Look for Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story this fall in North America and Europe.