Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story Review

The brothers become snacks

Mary Billington

Reviewed by playing a 3DS on

ESRB Everyone rating

Following the remake of Superstar Saga, here's an updated Bowser's Inside Story for 3DS with a cool bonus game starring Bowser Jr.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey screenshot 1
Mario & Luigi reach for the stars

Bowser's Inside Story's gameplay is similar to Superstar Saga in that you control Mario and Luigi to make your way through platforming segments only this time, half of the fun is had by playing as Bowser himself. At the beginning of the story, Bowser inhales Mario and Luigi where they'll stay throughout the campaign, helping him find his way back to his castle after it was attacked by a mad scientist known as Fawful.

On the bottom screen, you'll see a map of Bowser's body with chambers that represent areas that Mario and Luigi can explore. The typical level will look like a platformer along the lines of what we've come to expect in a classic Mario title albeit with an abnormal background that resembles a giant turtle's anatomy. Anyway, you can press X at any moment to switch to Bowser then accomplish tasks that effect on Mario and Luigi's environment. For example, drinking a ton of water allows Mario and Luigi to swim and causes items inside Bowser to move. It also goes the other way around. While you control Mario and Luigi, you can hit Bowser's muscles in a rhythm game which causes him to surge in strength and pick up heavy objects. Being able to swap between the brothers and Bowser is a fun dynamic and a unique gameplay concept that constantly switches up the pace.

Along with your typical platforming, there is also a wide range of mini-games that are seamlessly integrated into the story. As Bowser, you'll slide on a raft while hitting blocks as you go in order to control the direction that you'll take. As Mario and Luigi, you might break up pieces of carrot that Bowser consumed, triggering special enzymes in order to clear this stomach. There are constant introductions of new gameplay elements so you never have to be worried about getting bored.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey screenshot 2
What's cuter than a regular Toad? A big roly-poly one!

When you're not platforming or playing mini-games, you'll fight enemies either as the brothers or Bowser. When playing as Mario and Luigi, the battles are very similar to those in Superstar Saga as you choose to jump or hit enemies or even use a special move with both brothers when it's your turn. When an enemy approaches, if you can manage to time it just right and observe the visual clues, you might be able to get off scot-free and cause some pain to your enemy at the same time.

When playing as Bowser, the battles are similar except you have a different arsenal at your disposal such as the ability to breathe fire, suck up enemies and objects, and land a heavy punch. Due to the fact that defending yourself requires just as much attention as when you're on the offensive, you'll be constantly engaged; even in lengthy boss battles.

The original release of Bowser's Inside Story came out on DS so the upgrade in graphics and audio isn't as great as it was with Superstar Saga's update from its Game Boy Advance origins. It still looks and sounds fantastic and matches the quality of the Superstar Saga remake. Unfortunately, 3D support is not present which is a major missed opportunity because it would have integrated seamlessly. Thankfully, humour still plays a large role to the point where you won't be able to help but laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of some scenes such as when Bowser gets extremely mad at the thought of him missing a continental breakfast.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey screenshot 3
Bowser unleashes his Goombas on a couple of evil-looking tree stumps

Bowser Jr.'s Journey

This delightful package also includes a new game called Bowser Jr.'s Journey where you play as the cute but feisty Bowser Jr. on his quest to gather the necessary ingredients to save the Goombas that have been coming down with a bad case of the blorbs.

If you played Bowser's Minions (the companion game to the 3DS Superstar Saga remake), you'll immediately see similarities here as you essentially defeat enemies in order to have them join your team then use them to fight large-scale battles. Just like in Bowser's Minions, units come in three types and you'll want to match up the weaknesses of enemies with the strengths of your squad. For example, placing flying Boos in the front is a good idea if you're facing a bunch of melee Goombas while Hammer Bros can easily take out Koopa Paratroopas. If you don't match up the strengths and weaknesses, you'll have a much harder time winning battles.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey screenshot 4
My Koopa Troopas are better than your Koopa Troopas!

On top of the familiar gameplay, there's also now the ability to have Bowser Jr. support his troops by blocking special attacks from enemies or yelling a chant to increase the morale of his troops. Seeing as gameplay is kept to a minimum while you're in mid-battle (save for the odd press of the A button to cause extra damage to some enemies whenever a special attack is used), this extra gameplay element is definitely welcome. Nevertheless, I still found myself becoming bored too often considering that most of the time, you're just watching your squad duke it out with their foes while hoping that you set yourself up for success at the beginning of battle.

In the first handful of levels, you're joined by Bowser's followers who are constantly trying to give Bowser Jr. advice only to have him talk over them and consistently yell at them for making noise. Of course, these hints are for the player so Bowser Jr. shouldn't really have to sit through all the details anyway, right? Watching Bowser Jr. get the spotlight is a treat. His unrelenting disgust for all things that get in his way is adorable and seeing rude words come from a little creature who just wants to be like his dad is super-cute.

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Setting your squad up correctly is the key to success in Bowser Jr.'s Journey

Another classic Mario RPG has made its way to 3DS in this remake of Bowser's Inside Story. The updated graphics and enjoyable Bowser Jr.'s Journey wonderfully complement a title that was already packed full of fun gameplay variety and hilarious absurdity.

  • + Varied gameplay that never gets old
  • + Interactive offensive and defensive battle system is still very engaging
  • + Bowser Jr.'s Journey is adorable and fun
  • - No 3D support at all
  • - Bowser Jr.'s Journey lacks substantial mid-battle interactive elements
8.4 out of 10
Launch trailer for Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey 5:35
Super Mario Bros. 3 Trivia

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