Bowser's Inside Hoary
Bowser's Inside Story might follow the same formula as previous installments in the series, but a combination of several problems with the game combine to make it one of the slowest and least addictive RPGs I have played on the DS.
Firstly, the RPG is incredibly linear. Exploration isn't required to progress, and gone are most of the clever field based puzzles from previous intallments. Not helped by the fact that the map is hidden for the majority of the time you are playing - instead you get one screen dedicated to the character you are not controlling.
And there's no real reason to be able to see them as the interaction between Bowser, and the two brothers, is incredibly limited. Unlike Partners in Time, where the minis provided lots of rhythm based possibilities during battle, these two sides are connected by Bowser occasionally sucking in an enemy for Mario and Luigi to fight. Occasionally, Mario and Luigi have to complete a mini game to activate something for Bowser, but again these are done in isolation. The only real interplay comes on the very odd occasion that pointing Bowser at something can affect the Bros' environment.
Speaking of mini games, this title sees the addition of several stylus based mini games. Almost without exception, these are poor efforts that you can't help feeling have been added for the sake of it. Occasionally Bowser will grow in size and you have to fight a battle based purely on touch driven controls. This amounts to little more than selecting buttons, aiming fireballs and swiping the screen to punch. All could have been accomplished with regular controls.
And it doesn't help that said battles seem to drag on forever. Pacing is a real issue with this title. The beginning of the game drags on with an interminable number of tutorials. Random battles are a drag as both enemy attacks, and your own specials, go on for laborious amounts of time.
Occasionally you do get a little plot progression, but it's wafer thin and a massive step down from previous games. It was fun meeting the Hammer Bros in earlier games because of their 'l33t speak', but that's no excuse to write half the next game as gibberish. Fawful's 'engrish' joke has been stretched well and truly beyong breaking point. There's little real humour, and you can't help getting the feeling that the script writers are just trying too hard.
Bowser's Inside Story on the surface is a game that expands on Partners in Time's feature list; but it's 'by the numbers' and drained of all the fun and magic of this previously excellent series.