hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

E3 09: Hands-on with Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

3:45 PM on 06.04.2009 // Chad Concelmo

I know it may be too early to say this (I still have a ton of games left to play today), but I think I have found my favorite game on the E3 show floor. What is this game, you ask? Well, I will give you a hint: it rhymes with Bario Band Buigi: Kowsers's Kinside Kory ... oh, and it is also written right above the header image and after the "E3 09: Hands-on with" part.

Got it? That's right, it's Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story for the Nintendo DS. I knew I would love this third installment of the Mario & Luigi RPG series since I adore the other games so much, but I had no idea I would be this impressed with the stuff I got to play.

Hit the jump for an optimism explosion!

For those not familiar with the series, the Mario & Luigi RPGs are a spin-off of sorts of Super Mario RPG: The Legend of the Seven Stars and the Paper Mario series. Well, I guess, in a way, they are more of a hybrid of the two. The first game in the series was the stellar Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, followed by its not-as-good-but-still-amazing sequel Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time for the Nintendo DS. Both games follow Mario and Luigi, working together in classic RPG and platforming situations.

With this third game, not much has changed in terms of the overall controls, but there are a ridiculous amount of new and creative sequences that Mario, Luigi, and this time Bowser participate in.

The E3 demo had three sections I was able to play, so I will break each of them down to give you an idea of what to expect from Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story.

Section #1 - Mario & Luigi

Obviously the entire story of Bowser's Inside Story is unknown (spoiler: Mario is Fontaine!), but the basics were pretty apparent in the demo. You play as Mario and Luigi (surprise!), who are summoned to the Mushroom Kingdom to help find a cure for a strange disease that is making the Toads grow into huge, balloon-size versions of themselves.

When Bowser is inflicted with a different disease, he unknowingly inhales the entire denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom (including Mario and Luigi). A majority of the game finds Mario and Luigi, literally, inside of Bowser, trying to find a way out and put an end to what (or who!) is the cause of the mysterious illness.

The first section of the demo starred Mario and Luigi. Just like in Partners in Time, Mario and Luigi are controlled at the same time, but each one can jump by pushing A (Mario) and B (Luigi). In battles (which are turn-based), Mario and Luigi are again controlled with A and B, respectively, and, just like the other games in the series, the brilliance of these battles lies in the special moves.

Mario and Luigi each have special moves that are utilized with specific button timing and, sometimes, with the stylus. For example, if an enemy is attacking Mario, he will always be able to either dodge the attack by jumping at the right time, or deflect the attack by swinging his hammer -- same with Luigi. But it's not as easy as it looks. Each enemy in the game has multiple attack patterns that are sometimes very hard to figure out and time. This adds a lot to the strategy and makes each battle so much more interactive than most other RPGs on the market.

While Partners in Time had the baby versions of Mario and Luigi as its gimmick, Bowser's Inside Story uses the interior of Bowser as its central theme. Not to put down Partners in Time, but, boy, the Bowser feature in Inside Story works so much better.

Basically, all the action with Mario and Luigi takes place on the bottom of the screen, with Bowser, in the game world, doing things on the top screen. What is so cool is how you manipulate Bowser to do things on the top screen using Mario and Luigi on the bottom.

In the demo, Bowser is tasked with trying to pull an island to shore using a rope. When he grabs the rope he doesn't have enough strength, so Mario and Luigi have to find the muscle in his arm to help stimulate it.

After journeying through the "dungeon" of Bowser's body --- fighting enemies and jumping on platforms along the way -- Mario and Luigi eventually make it to the muscle. This is when the game got even more awesome than it already was!

At the muscle, Mario and Luigi figure out how to stimulate the muscle by shooting these colored sparks at it. To do this, players hit A when the spark is in front of Mario and B when it is in front of Luigi. This seemingly simple sequence all of a sudden turns into a challenging mini-game, with Mario and Luigi deflecting the sparks back and forth until the muscle is big enough to allow Bowser to pull the island. It is a super creative sequence and a perfect example of how genius the interaction between top and bottom screen is.

Section #2 - Bowser

The second section let me take control of Bowser. Like with Mario and Luigi, Bowser can fight enemies as well, but he uses the X button instead of A or B. Besides his powerful punches and flame attack, Bowser uses some special moves that were absolutely incredible.

In addition to being able to hide in his shell to avoid attacks from above, Bowser has one special move -- of many, none that were shown in the demo -- that is so freakin' cool. Basically, as the game progresses, Bowser will find Goombas throughout the world that are imprisoned in little cages. By breaking them out, they join Bowser's "army" and are used whenever Bowser uses a specific special move.

This is how it works: during a battle, by choosing this special move, all the Goombas Bowser has collected in his journey start to run into the screen from the left. And they move fast! If you can tap the Goomba with the stylus, it will shoot into the air and store up an attack (by Bowser setting them on fire and having their flaming bodies fly in the sky -- so amazing). Once all the Goombas have run out, the ones that were tapped will fall down and land on the enemy, doing massive damage.

Outside of the battles, Bowser is controlled just Mario and Luigi, but instead of jumping he can punch to break things and breathe fire to burn things down. The variety in playing Bowser really breaks up the action and is a ton of fun. It is also impressive how powerful he is compared to Mario and Luigi, with his attacks doing 35-65 points of damage, with the plumber brothers doing about 4-8.

Section #3 - Special Attack Challenge

Okay, this preview is so long. Sorry about that. I will get through this section pretty quick.

The last part of the demo I got to play was the Special Attack Challenge. In this feature -- selectable from the main menu -- the player can perform all of Mario, Luigi, and Bowser's special attacks and try to set high scores for the most moves performed. For example, if you select to play the Bowser's Goomba army special attack, you would tap as many Goombas as you can before missing one.

This is a completely optional mode, but it was a fun extra that helps break up the main game.

As you can tell, I adored Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. If the final game utilizes the top and bottom screen interaction with even half as much creativity as it did in the demo, we are all in for a real treat. Seriously, playing this game was a perfect experience. Bowser's Inside Story shows off everything that I love in a videogame: it looked great, it is extremely polished, and, best of all, it is endlessly entertaining.

Obviously I can't recommend it enough.

Based on my hands-on time with the game, I am giving my impressions of Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story a 10.0.*

*This is a ridiculous scoring system and has nothing to do with the final game. I just thought it would be fun to score all the games I play this week based on my hands-on time with them all.

Photo Gallery: (14 images)
Click to zoom - browse by swipe, or use arrow keys

Chad Concelmo,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
One thing I've noticed about the Halo series; the more epic the teaser, the more disappointing the game. And the "opening cinematic" for Halo V: Guardians looks epic.
SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
I hear through the grapevine that a game called Metal Gear just came out that is sort of a big deal.
Flegma avatarFlegma
Thinking of starting to document my attempts in Super Mario Maker with screenshots etc. in a series of blogs - think USgamer's Daily Mario. But I think most who would spare a glance at it would be way better level designers and players than me by default.
Script avatarScript
Tearaway was cute, but it was kinda short and underwhelming to me. I would recommend paying around $20 for it if you value your money.
Lena Gredasova avatarLena Gredasova
Pixonic has published its game Walking War Robots globally on Google Play. Walking War Robots is a 3D MMO shooter where players pilot giant robots and battle in 6 vs 6 teams. Get it for free now!
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
I wanna buy PS+ Plus but I know once I play my PS4 this weekend I wont touch it again for half a year.
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
MGS V starts with a flaming unicorn. Yup, I already fucking love it! :D
Steven Hansen avatarSteven Hansen
Writing about Tearaway PS4 & referencing Metal Gear Solid several times because, guess what, Tearaway is really dang good
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
I took some shots of my DIzznee Infineetee Quorra figure. Been waiting for this since the brand first stumblefucked its way onto the scene. (pics in comments of post to save feed space)
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Now Listening to Old Music 7 - Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Shinta avatarShinta
[youtube][/youtube] There is a ton of awesome music in this game.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
Laracraft: World of Tomb Raiders
Joe Parlock avatarJoe Parlock
So there's a game called School of Ragnorok coming out, and in it there's my new boyfriend. He's an 8 foot tall demon thing with awesome hair:
Nerdcotic Network avatarNerdcotic Network
check out this awesome video made by the Nerdcotic Network.
Nerdcotic Network avatarNerdcotic Network
Hay check out this awesome video made by the Nerdcotic Network on youtube.
The Travisionist avatarThe Travisionist
[img][/img] Dayum. Billy Mays is back and lookin' good.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
Pivot smash my way to victory
Osc44 avatarOsc44
You ever dream of flying through the clouds, but couldn't so you just watch TV? Me neither.
Zack Furniss avatarZack Furniss
Oh GOOD, The Flock is awful. I was hoping to break my high review score streak. (this is a joke)
Zack Furniss avatarZack Furniss
So many PAX things to write. So many.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -