majormitch's Mario & Luigi RPG 3!!! (Nintendo DS) review

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The Mario and Luigi franchise is one of Nintendo's unsung heroes. It may not find itself in the spotlight as much as the company's other juggernauts, but after playing through the third iteration of the franchise in Bowser's Inside Story, I've come to one irrefutable conclusion- the Mario and Luigi franchise is one of Nintendo's most consistently entertaining ones. And Bowser's Inside Story just may be the best installment yet.

Most of what Bowser's Inside Story does well are things that have been consistently stellar in every title of the series. The controls are super tight, and make controlling two characters at once (Mario via A and Luigi via B) a process that is never cumbersome. Combat is fast paced and exciting, making great use of both solid RPG mechanics and well implemented action components. In fact, not many games combine the RPG and action genres quite so well, making this one of the truest examples of their fusion. The game's pacing is also fantastic, and continues to up the ante all the way through to the perfectly timed ending. Last, but certainly not least, is the game's narrative. Bowser's Inside Story is a genuinely funny game, which is not something I say too often. The eccentric cast gets caught up in all the wildest scenarios, and the hilarious dialogue carries the story all too well. Fawful in particular is hysterical, and remains one of my favorite video game antagonists.

Those are all things that every Mario and Luigi game has done well, and Bowser's Inside Story carries the mantle high. In fact, it surpasses its predecessors in practically every way. The audio and visuals have gotten a noticeable upgrade, and the dialogue and plot are perhaps even more awesomely ridiculous than before. Most of all, however, is how Bowser's Inside Story paces itself, and introduces so much variety throughout such a sizable game (did I mention that the game's length is about perfect?). Just when you think you've seen it all the game throws something crazy at you, such as the giant Bowser segments. There's also an appropriate amount of side quests that run the gamut from skill-based mingames to optional boss fights (which can get pretty tough). All of these features make Bowser's Inside Story a game that manages to remain equally exciting from start to finish. It just never loses steam, with quality matching quantity at every bend.

There are only two possible gripes I can imagine anyone leveling against Bowser's Inside Story. First, the game initially drags the slightest bit as you sludge through some tutorials. Second, even with all its improvements, Bowser's Inside Story is still very much a Mario and Luigi game, making it an experience that's not entirely new. But in the end, those things just don't matter. Everything fits together so perfectly to create a package that is simply fun in all the right ways, and I have a hard time imagining someone not having an absolute blast while playing Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story.

For additional information on my review style and scoring system, click here.

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      Bowser is heartless indeed. Seriously, I’ve been exploring his insides and he doesn’t seem to have a heart. There are an assortment of nodes, cavities and assorted “regions” but during my entire time spelunking King Koopa, I’ve been unable to find a heart. Or much of a brain either, though Nintendo may have intended that to be the joke. There aren’t any kidneys or bladder, though, so I wonder how Boswer disposes of his biological waste. I mean, the guys eats, probably large quantities, too, so...

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