An RPG but funner!
This game came bundled with my new DSi. I'd heard good things about it, and had read that it was like Paper Mario. I'd played a bit of Paper Mario, so I figured I knew what to expect: Too much dialog, super slow pace, mediocre battle system, and boring story. How wrong I was! The story is the standard, save the world fare, but the writing keeps it fresh, fun and endearing and gives the characters their own unique personalities. The pacing is a perfect balance of story, battle and exploration. And, the battle system is the most fun that I can ever remember.
I'll say it, straight up: The battle system is perfect. At it's most basic level combat is a series of mini rhythm games. You must time your button presses well to extend the length of your attacks and do more damage. Each enemy attacks differently and responds differently to your attacks. Unlockable special attacks keep the battles fresh and encourage the player to perfect their timing and maximize their attack potential.
The various armor and accessories, each with its own special powers and stat bonuses, add variety and choice to the battle system. Unlike some JRPGs (AHEM! Final Fantasy XIII) in Bowser's Inside Story your choices and performance really do matter, especially in battle. If the player is careless, their attacks won't do as much damage. Bad timing turns an attack that does 300 damage into one that only does 8 damage. Bad timing can also mean the difference between completely blocking an enemy attack for no damage, or sustaining the full force of an enemy attack and the risk of getting knocked down and losing a turn. However, proper timing and the proper accessories can turn an attack that does 300 damage into one that does 500 damage, and can greatly lessen the amount of damage sustained in battle. So, by thinking through the battle strategy, and practicing timing, the player can turn a battle that takes 15 turns and wipes out the player, into a battle that is a one turn victory. RPG players rejoice!
The whole experience is perfectly balanced between exploration, exposition, battle, and preparation. There are few RPGs that get it so right on so many different levels. In Bowser's Inside Story there is always something to do and it is always fun. There is always a new tactic to learn, attack patern to block, town to explore, dungeon to crawl, treasure to find or accessory to equip. And I haven't even mentioned the mini-games! And, did I mention that it's Mario and your nostalgia meter will be pegged at maximum?!
Bowser's Inside Story is a fully satisfying RPG and I would encourage any RPG fan, no matter what age, to give it a try. I anxiously await the sequel.