Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story Updated Hands-On

The latest Mario and Luigi role-playing game takes us where no plumber has gone before.

The king of koopas has been causing trouble for everyone in the Mushroom Kingdom for as long as we can remember, but in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story for the Nintendo DS, the real nemesis is Fawful, a delusional and deranged bean that floats around on a hovercraft. It looks like developer AlphaDream has once again crafted a high-quality and memorable role-playing game, using a set of characters that we've all gotten to know very well over the years. We had a chance to play a quick demo at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo and had a great time with it, so we were looking forward to playing with a new preview build. After spending a few hours with the game, we were quite pleased with it as well as fascinated by how the piping works inside Bowser's belly.

You're probably wondering how our favorite plumbers ended up in the big guy's stomach in the first place. As the story begins, we learn that the citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom have been afflicted with the "blorbs," an odd disease contracted by eating a mysterious mushroom. Toads from all over the kingdom have ballooned to the point where they've become giant roly-polies. Princess Peach calls a meeting to figure out what to do, and of course Bowser shows up to ruin the party. Mario quickly disposes of the giant koopa, and Peach sends Bowser packing by transporting him into a forest, where he meets Fawful in disguise. He is easily suckered into eating a "lucky mushroom," when in fact it's a vacuum mushroom. The not-so-smart koopa returns to the castle and proceeds to suck up everything and everyone until he falls unconscious. When he wakes up, he has no recollection of inhaling the entire meeting room, but he knows that Fawful is up to no good and therefore must be kicked out of the kingdom.

You'll rotate between playing as the hulking reptile and as the mustachioed brothers, who are stuck inside Bowser's tummy. As Bowser, you'll be punching and breathing fire as you rampage angrily around the kingdom, trying to track down Fawful. As the brothers, you'll need to find the princess (and the other members of the council that were ingested), while platforming your way through Bowser's innards. The top screen is where you'll control Bowser, and the touch screen is where the plumbers' actions will unfold. There's a lot of collaboration going on that requires you to switch back and forth between the two screens. For example, when Bowser drinks, his belly will fill up with water, allowing Mario and Luigi to swim to otherwise inaccessible areas. To give Bowser a boost, Mario and Luigi can head over to his arm and swing balls of light into his muscle tissue to increase his strength. This is probably going to be one of those rare moments that we'll see this much teamwork between the big koopa and the plumbers.

Like in previous games, Mario and Luigi are controlled with the A and B buttons respectively. Battles are a mix of turn-based and real-time movements, so you'll always need to be on your toes if you want to avoid taking damage or get an extra attack in. It's all about timing, whether you're attacking or defending, and each enemy has a particular attack pattern to watch for. The two brothers can jump or wield hammers to deflect blows, whereas Bowser can punch or duck oncoming attacks. You can easily counterattack, and when done right, it makes battles go by more swiftly. With Bowser's vacuum ability, you can inhale smaller creatures, and once he does, the brothers can lend a hand by dealing damage from within--it's like playing two different games at once. As you progress through the game, you'll also learn special abilities. Mario and Luigi can combine their efforts and attack with a green shell, whereas Bowser can send a swarm of flaming goombas into battle, as long as you light them with your stylus beforehand. These special attacks take up skill points, but they make battles so much more interesting.

This is what happens when you get the blorbs.

All the elements of a traditional RPG are here, except they've been toned down so that you're not always leveling, managing equipment, or dealing with statistics. The stylus will be used in certain special attacks or minigames, but from what we've played, you're primarily using the D pad and face buttons. It's a simple setup, but the gameplay is fun, and the quirky humor and charming characters are just two of the reasons fans continue to follow the series. You'll come across familiar faces from the many adventures that the brothers have been on, only now you're fighting from a slightly different perspective.

You don't need to have played the previous games to dive into Bowser's gut. But if you're ready to tickle the cranky koopa's funny bone, be sure to stay tuned for our full review when Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story is released on September 14.

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68 comments
wushumaster45
wushumaster45

can wait to get. great addition to mario collection

matrix250_7
matrix250_7

i bought it yesterday and its really a great game up to the first one. its as hilarious as the first one and just as great. it also has this little "omg cant stop playing" element the first had. only bad note id say is that the combat control requires much more accurate timing to get the best, and its kinda annoying at times. but nothing a little bit of practice cant overcome. if you liked superstar saga, i greatly recommend it

sam1771771
sam1771771

no dsi plays the same games has ds

kenny3671
kenny3671

I cant wait to get this game for my DSI

Dangorath
Dangorath

is this only for DSi because at the end its has the DSi thing

Mysterywriter
Mysterywriter

Oh yeah, I can't wait. I love the mario rpg's. there really aren't enough. But then again I'm a sucker for a great rpg game!

eldin4444
eldin4444

OK this game looks great I mean the coop strategy seems to be good so I'm so getting thsi one

KingSlow
KingSlow

Battling inside bowser could be fun but would we battle enemies twice once as bowser than again as mario Bros?

gamerboy1996
gamerboy1996

ive been waiting for the next mario comes out and it finally did im so happy!!!

BasicLogic
BasicLogic

The first DSi exclusive is really going to make a good impression!

slycooper21
slycooper21

This could be my first DS game in way too long. Time to dust off that DS of mine!

spooky_kitty
spooky_kitty

looks great. Can't wait to get my hands on it =D

TMF128
TMF128

I can't wait to play this game. I have always loved the Mario RPG games, this one looks good.

RECONPLANE
RECONPLANE

I don't know the way to get out of bowsers stomach but I hope mario and luigi get out out of his mouth instead of his butt. That would be wrong if they got out that way. Otherwise, I can't wait to get this!

huntervaneg
huntervaneg

Yes more Mario on the RPG genre, and as always high quality in all aspect of the games can be appreciated... Just one petition to Nintendo HQ: "I want a pure Paper Mario for the Wii (Super Paper Mario was good but I absolutely prefer the style of the N64 and GC versions)"

Sonikilate
Sonikilate

Battles inside and outside of Bowser. COOL!!!

RECONPLANE
RECONPLANE

This looks much better than the other 2. I think I'm gonna get it!

nintendave86
nintendave86

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story looks great! I can't wait for it to be released except for the fact that I have no money so will have to wait until Christmas....

freekstyle99
freekstyle99

I really do want this game(bowser rules!!!)

Abercrombie929
Abercrombie929

Since my birthday's in September, I'm thinking about getting this. I haven't played SS, but I've played PiT (haven't finished it, too hard I guess). I didn't really enjoy the idea of time travel, too much. This interests me more. I want a few other games, so I'm not really sure if I should get this (definitely getting Scribblenauts, Professor Layton, and maybe KH: 358/2 Days). The reviews may convince me to buy this game.

Cruse34
Cruse34

the only bad thing is this game comes out sept 14 and scriblenauts is the 15

calvinsora
calvinsora

Wow. Looks very promising. Can't wait to get it.

gdude5678
gdude5678

I almost lost hope that they were going to make a third one. 4 years is a long gap between sequels.

gdude5678
gdude5678

I hope the trilogy ends well. SS and PiT were amazing, and I hope the sidescrolling doesn't ruin the game.

lex_in_the_moon
lex_in_the_moon

I love how each Mario & Luigi game has been a bit different than the others yet still remain great fun. I'm really looking forward to this.

bugside
bugside

can anyone name a mario game that isn't excelent? this paper mario ds looks damn good

rachkovsky
rachkovsky

This game looks interesting I like the way you have to keep track of them both.

Wetty01
Wetty01

If my Ds would work I would get that game for sure.

Wetty01
Wetty01

@ SilvrSlayr96 If you never played superstar saga you8 definitely should, I personnaly think it has more lenght than partners in time while having more features (luigi as a surfboard) and being a little bit harder.

Hun_ger
Hun_ger

Looks great and different, cant wait to get my hands on this!

SilvrSlayr96
SilvrSlayr96

ive neva played superstar saga but ive played partners in time. its awesome! now im getting this one. nintendo is finally starting to crank up their awesomeness again!

Distinctive_Fin
Distinctive_Fin

@Hobbitslayer18: I suggest you try the original: Superstar Saga for the GBA. PiT was just awful! If you still don't like the series then I hope you find a hand held game you enjoy.

Distinctive_Fin
Distinctive_Fin

Here is hoping that this doesn't belly up like "Partners in Time".

soldjango
soldjango

@soulless4now: Nintendo doesn't develop this series. I'm fairly sure they don't develop Paper Mario either. But yeah, these games are awesome.

Hobbitslayer18
Hobbitslayer18

Never really liked the gameplay of "Partners in Time" so I won't like this game either.