Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr’s Journey Review – The familiar with a fresh look

Platform:
3DS
Released:
January 26, 2019
Publisher:
Nintendo
Developer:
Nintendo

Review

You never know how time flies until you learn that Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story came out 10 years ago. Though I don’t believe I ever finished it, I adored the funny and kinda gross premise. The villain, Fawful, I remember to this day as the most entertaining of the series. And, like the other Mario and Luigi adventures, it’s filled with charming, light-hearted dialogue that’s humorous to all ages. Personally, I was unconvinced that this game needed a remake at all,  as I didn’t feel the graphics or gameplay was oudated enough to warrant one. Plus, you can still play the original game on current 3DS and 2DS systems.

I was interested to see whether or not playing Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey would change my mind. Like the 3DS remake of Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga, the game an all-around upgrade and also includes an all-new sidestory: this time with Bowser Jr. as the star.

“I was surprised to see just how much better the new version looks.”

The main story of the game sees Bowser inhaling the Mario Bros into his body. It was weird in 2009, and it’s weird now. As Bowser, you must travel to your castle to defend it from the strange alien lord, Fawful. As the Bros, you must traverse Bowser’s insides, activating nodes and defeating the enemies that Bowser has inhaled, to help him regain his strength.

Using a simple-to-learn turn-based cambat RPG system, you explore the colourful Mushroom Kingdom as Mario, Luigi, and Bowser as they team up to kick Fawful outta town. After 10 years, it’s still awesome fun

I was suprised to see just how good the new version looks. It’s undeniably better, with beautifully updated graphics that often uses 3D models in place of the original 2D sprites. Some environments look completely different, with more detail added here and there. Special effects are much more lively, as well.  On the other hand, more detail means it’s harder to ignore all the disgusting things we’re finding in Bowser’s body. As a kid, it was easy, but as an adult it takes a bit more getting used to.

Beyond the facelift and some very minor tweaks (like, you-can-skip-cutscenes minor), there’s very little to differentiate the new version from the original. Not to say that the graphical changes aren’t great, but I don’t think it’s enough to justify a full-price remake, by itself.

In terms of gameplay, it’s almost exactly the same game. For those of you who never played the original, this is great! It means that you’re not missing anything by grabbing the new instead of the old. For the rest of us, whether or not the new version will be worth it will be down to the added side-story: Bowser Jr.’s Journey.

Bowser Jr.’s Journey

I love Bowser Jr, and I love the Koopa Kids. Nintendo have said in recent years that the ‘Koopalings’ are no longer considered to be Bowser’s children, but that makes my heart hurt, so I’m going to be politely ignoring that. So, in Bowser Jr’s Journey, the Koopa Kids have to assist their bratty baby brother as he rushes off to gather the supplies that will save their father’s minions from the Blorbs.

I was excited about this content, but I was worried that it might be underwhelming, since I wasn’t impressed by Bowser’s Minions, the added conent from the remade Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga.

I was hoping they’d add a bit more complexity this time around, but unfortunately that doesn’t look like its the case. As Jr, you ‘command’ a squad of minions through various fights, but your involvement in these scraps are limited. It’s fun to arrange your squad in various formations, but it just boils down to a Fire-Emblem type weapon triangle. If the enemy is flying, use ranged minions. It’s pretty barebones, but i think if it was expanded apon it could be pretty entertaining.

My love for Jr. and the Koopa Kids was the main reason I played this mode through to the end. The writing is charming as ever, and each Koopaling has their own desinct personality. Nintendo, just give me a proper Mario & Luigi game about these kids. Please? I would buy six copies of it.

The Bottom Line

After all, I remain of the opinion that this remake wasn’t really necessary. The updates don’t add very much  value to what was already a good game. I’m hard pressed to recommend the new one to anyone that owns the original, since it’ll still run flawlessly on a 3DS. I would have preferred a brand new Mario & Luigi adventure, or better yet a whole adventure game starring Bowser Jr and the Koopalings!

On the other hand, if you missed out on Bowser’s Inside Story the first time around, definitely pick this one up.