Another great Mario RPG.

User Rating: 9 | Mario & Luigi RPG 3!!! DS
The third game in the Mario & Luigi series, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, brings back all of the humor and charm of the first two games with its own twist to the game having Bowser being a playable character. Spending much of their time in Bowser's body, helping him out during fights, and messing around with Bowser's body not only bring many unique features to the game, as well as many fun mini-games, but brings a bit of challenge as well. Though it felt a bit short to me and there doesn't seem to be much to do after the final battle, this is still a great game that any DS own should pick up.

As we start the game, we learn that a new disease is effecting the Toads of Mushroom Kingdom. The Blorbs cause the Toads to blow up much larger then normal, into what looks like a huge ball, and the kingdom calls for an meeting on how to deal with this. The Mario Bros. And Starlow, a Star Sprite, are part of this meeting. Part way through, Bowser raids the place only to be beaten by Mario. Bowser finds himself in a forest after being booted out of the castle by Peach and Starlow with someone trying to offer him something known as a Vacuum Shroom. Bowser, like the smart guy he is, eats it and starts to suck up everything in sight. He returns to Peach's Castle and sucks up everyone at the meeting, including Mario, Luigi, Starlow, and Peach. We soon find out that Fawful gave Bowser the shroom to get rid of Mario and Luigi so he can take over the kingdom.

As you play through the game, the interesting story develops as Bowser tries to take back his own castle that Fawful took over and trying to find his lost minions. Unknown to him, Mario and Luigi are in his body, helping him every step of the way. He only knows that Starlow, who is known as Chippy to Bowser so he doesn't figure out who's really helping him. Along the way, the characters fill the game with the Mario & Luigi style humor as they get one step closer to saving the kingdom from Fawful. For some reason, though, it felt a bit on the short side as I got near the end and wasn't even at 20 hours yet.

The three playable characters in this are obvious: Mario, Luigi, and Bowser. You are either controlling Mario and Luigi inside of Bowser or outside of him or you can be controlling Bowser himself. If you have ever played a Mario & Luigi game, you know how to control them basically. Mario in controlled by A, Luigi by B and Bowser is controlled by X and Y. Mario and Luigi have many fun abilities while in the world, many from past games. Bowser has his own set of abilities he can perform. Some include a slide punch, rolling into a ball, jumping into the air and smashing back down, and his good ol' flame breath. There are many puzzles in the game for you to solve to move on and many enemies to beat.

While in Bowser's body, the Bros. can soup up Bowser in some fun mini-games when they come along in the game. There is also many places to explore in his body, which you will explore while you try and find those that you lost while Bowser went crazy with his new vacuum ability. Probably the one that you'll come back to is the Challenge Node. This is basically mini-game challenges for Mario and Luigi to partake in. There are a few different challenges to master, and this is one of the few things to do after you've beat the game. Bowser has his own version of this, but we'll get to that later on. One of the mini-games outside of Bowser's body for the Bros. is solving puzzles for a Koopa named Kuzzle. This gives you beans that you can later use to power up the stats of your characters.

While the Bros. have the Challenge Node, Bowser has a part of it. Called the Enemy Attack Challenge House, Bowser uses his Enemy Attacks (which I'll go over in more detail later on in this review) to massage a block creature's back. This is saddening that Bowser misses out on some of the other features of the Challenge Node, mainly the Gauntlet which lets you fight bosses that you've fought before as the Bros., but it's better then nothing, I guess. One other thing that you might put off till you beat the game, but you don't want to is finding Blitties for Broque Monsieur, another block creature that runs a shop for Bowser. There is a nice prize if you get all of them and give them to him, but I won't spoil it for those who haven't done it yet.
On the subject of shops, they have a neat new little system when you buy stuff from one, doesn't matter if you're the Bros. or you're Bowser. Depending on how high Stache/Horn stat, your luck stat for those who haven't played the games before, you can earn some of the money back that you spent at a shop. Totally based off of luck, but it's always nice to get some of the money you spent to be sent back your way.

If you've ever played one of the other two Mario & Luigi games, you know how the fighting works in this game. There are a few differences, this one likes to use the touch screen more then Partners in Time did, but that's mainly for the Bro. and Enemy Attacks, the special attacks the characters can pull off to do major damage during a fight at the cost of SP (Special Points). There are a few carried over from the other games, but there are a lot of new Special Attacks for the Bros. in this game. How you earn these are different between the Bros. and Bowser, though. For Mario and Luigi, you must get ten Attack Pieces in an area, before you get the move. This might seem like extra work, but really you find these as you move along through the levels. With Bowser, for the most part, you have to break the cage that is holding his minions.

The main differences between fighting as Bowser and fighting as the Bros. is that Bowser is much more powerful, he using Punch and his Flame Breath, not Jump and a hammer attack, he he has the ability to suck small foes, or parts of foes into his body thanks to his new vacuum ability. If you suck in an enemy, Mario and Luigi can take care of the baddie inside of Bowser or him while he deals with whatever is left outside. This ability also because helpful because you can also heal or boost your attack or defense if the enemy has a part of them that can be sucked off.

Another welcomed feature that doesn't add a whole lot to the game is a rank feature. When you hit a certain level as a character you get to move up a rank. These ranks let you wear more clothes, and, well for Mario and Luigi, to buy better clothes at high end stores. They don't add too much to the game, but like I said, it's welcomed. Badges come back to the series, but with a different purpose. Each one has a different job and you have to fuse Mario's with Luigi's to get an effect. Mario's are based off of your timing when you pull off an attack. Luigi's says the effect you'll pull off. So if you have the Mushroom badge for Luigi, you'll be healing the Bros., but how much? That depends on what Mario's is. If it's the Excellent one you could heal 50% of their HP. But to pull it off you need to get so many Excellents before you can heal the Bros.'s HP. This adds a new way of taking on battles and is very helpful in tight spots.

Boss fights are fun in this game giving you a challenge along the way. They can be somewhat hard when you first fight them, but you get use to fighting them and figure out their weakness soon enough. Don't worry about dieing in battle because through out the game you'll pick up items known as Retry Clocks which sets back the clock on your battle to the beginning if you end up kicking the can. Another great feature is the giant boss fights. There are times in the game when Bowser will grow huge and you get to take on a boss that's equal to his size. Bowser has his own fighting system in this form, it uses a lot of touch screen and mic work, which is nice to see. There are only a handful of these types of boss fights and you can' fight these bosses again, or any of Bowser's boss fights for that matter., which is saddening. The only boss fights you can fight again are the Mario and Luigi ones because of the Challenge Node.

Visually, the game looks good. Not much to complain about here as it's very colorful and the inside of Bowser looks very fitting. The different areas in his body fit, in a cartoonish way, with a real body. There are many different places to explore outside of Bowser as well. These have that Mario charm that look for in any Mario game. The characters are well designed and fit that Mario charm. Enemies inside of Bowser take on the rule of things you would find in a body, but match things you would find in the Mario universe.

As with most Mario games, there isn't any real voice acting, but there are "Oh!"s and mumbles that come out of the characters as they speak. You might get a name or two out of one of them, but that's about it. Most of the talking is done through text, which I fine fitting for a Mario game. It is very funny at times as some of the characters have strange ways of talking in which you have everything from broken French to Yoda like talk. While there isn't much voice acting going on, there is plenty of music to listen to. There are remixes of old favorites throw in throughout the game and many new themes. They are well done and fun to listen to, even if some are reused in different areas.

A great game that is fitting for a great series of games. Anyone who likes a good RPG should buy this game if they haven't already. Though there isn't much to do after you've beat the final boss, there's still a great time to be had as you battle for Mushroom Kingdom from inside of Mushroom Kingdom's biggest villains, Bowser.

Pros and Cons:
+Great sense of humor
+Fun battle gameplay
+Nice Story
-Feels somewhat short
-Not much to do after you beat the game

Scores:
Gameplay: 9.0
Graphics: 9.0
Story: 9.0
Sounds: 9.0
Replay Value: 7.0
Fun Level: 9.0
Overall: 9.0