Mario & Luigi

It’s been over seven years since the Nintendo 3DS was released and it is still pumping out high quality gaming experiences in 2019. The latest such release is Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey. This is an updated version of the 2009 Nintendo DS game for your Nintendo 3DS/2DS.

Containing updated graphics, refined gameplay, a new story mode—Bowser Jr.’s Journey, and a story that will have you grinning from ear to ear—Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey is full of non-stop action and fun.

Mario & LuigiMario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey Details

Platforms: Nintendo 3DS/2DS
Developer: AlphaDream
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Role-playing, real-time strategy
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

Mario & Luigi

A strange disease is spreading throughout the Mushroom Kingdom

Although Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story is the third game in the series, you don’t have to have played them to know understand the story. Each game in itself is a self-contained story, which means you can jump right in and play. As the game’s name implies, Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story takes place inside Mario’s arch nemesis, Bowser. The story starts out with The Blorbs epidemic spreading across the Mushroom Kingdom.

Only after a Toad has eaten a Blorb Mushroom are they infected with this strange disease. In turn, this causes them to inflate like giant balloons and roll around the Mushroom Kingdom uncontrollably. In an attempt to find a cure, Princess Peach calls an emergency meeting at her castle. Bowser hears of this meeting and barges in to see what is going on.

Mario & Luigi

After Bowser is defeated by Mario, he is sent flying and lands in the woods. On his way back to the castle, Bowser encounters a strange salesman, known as Fawful, who tricks him into eating a Vacuum shroom that causes Bowser to suck in everything in sight. Upon his return to Peach’s castle, Bowser inhales everyone and then passes out. With Peach gone, Fawful takes over her castle and Fawful’s right-hand man Midbus takes over Bowser’s castle. With the help of Mario & Luigi, Bowser sets out to take back his castle.

Without a doubt, Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story features some of the best writing in the series. It is filled with humour and often the dialogue made me chuckle and smile at the same time.

Mario & Luigi

Refined gameplay

Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story‘s gameplay hasn’t changed much. There are two main staples of gameplay, turn-based role-playing combat outside of Bowser’s body and 2D side-scrolling platforming inside of Bowser’s body. Gameplay switches between the two and compliments one another perfectly. Inside Bowser’s body you control both Mario & Luigi using the A and B buttons to jump. They Y button can now be used to make both brothers jump at the same time.

Bowser’s interactions with the outside world have a direct impact on what is going on inside him. Need to beef up Bowser’s punch to help him defeat an enemy? Mario & Luigi can make their way to Bowser’s arm muscles and stimulate them to make him stronger. Does Bowser have a sore stomach? Have him drink water so that you can swim to his stomach to see what is going on.

Mario & Luigi

Battles can take place both outside and inside Bowser. For instance, Bowser can be battling an enemy and then suck them in and Mario & Luigi can continue the battle inside Bowser using a variety of different attacks. One of my favourite attacks that Mario & Luigi team up on is called Bros. attack. Using a green shell, you kick the shell at an enemy using either Mario or Luigi and then the other brother kicks it back and you keep on kicking the shell until you get a super kick, which inflicts damage to your opponent.

Mario & Luigi

Updated visuals with a modern retro appeal

The biggest change to Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story is the updated visuals. Compared to the 2009 Nintendo DS release, the graphics are more colourful, the character’s animation are more fluid and the backgrounds have more detail. It is interesting to note than even when playing on a 3DS, the game lacks any 3D stereoscopic visuals.

The soundtrack is filled with catchy classic tunes and AlphaDreams make good use of both the 3DS/2DS screens. There are a handful of battles that require you to turn your handheld on its side to battle gigantic enemies. Overall, I was impressed with the visual upgrades that were implemented.

Mario & Luigi

Bowser Jr.’s Journey

In addition to Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story, you get Bowser Jr.’s Journey—a separate story from the main game. Bowser Jr.’s Journey is a real-time strategy game that runs parallel to the events of Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story. The game acts as a great companion to the main game and even fills in the backstory around certain elements of the main game.

The real-time strategy element involves leading eight other recruits into battles that consist of three separate encounters of enemies. Recruits are controlled by the computer but require button presses for special moves such as the Hammer Bros. throwing their hammers in unison. Your recruits level up by earning experience points from winning battles and Bowser Jr. is given CP that allows you to use buffs to help your team out.

Mario & Luigi

Each of your recruits fall under three categories: melee character, ranged units, and flying units. Before going into battle, you are able to see your opponent’s recruits and how they are arranged so that you can better plan out your attack. I was impressed at just how deep gameplay can get and it will certainly keep you busy for a while.

Mario & Luigi

Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey is a worthwhile adventure for 3DS owners

Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey is a great way to experience one of, if not these best game in the series. For those that have never played the game, you can jump right in and start having fun. For those that have played the game on the Nintendo DS when it came out in 2009, Bowser Jr.’s Journey is a great addition and worthy of your time.

It is great to see that in 2019, the Nintendo 3DS/2DS is still getting some fantastic quality games. If you are a fan of role-playing and real-time strategy games filled with humour and zany characters, Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey is a great addition to your Nintendo 3DS/2DS library of games.

+ Great writing filled with amusing dialogue
+ Update visuals are both bright and colourful
+ Bowser Jr.’s Journey is a nice added bonus
+ Gameplay is both deep and easy to pickup
+ Amount of content is great value for the price

– Controlling both Mario & Luigi can be frustrating at times
– Not much reason to replay both stories once you have beaten them


Gameplay: 4.5/5
Graphics: 4/5
Sound: 4/5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5

Overall Rating 4/5 (80%)

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Jon Scarr
Jon is the Gaming Editor and is based in Toronto. He is a proud Canadian who has a serious passion for gaming. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry with over 20 years experience. You can often find Jon streaming the latest games on his YouTube channel. Jon loves to talk about gaming and tech, come say hi and join the conversation with Jon on Threads @4ScarrsGaming and @4Scarrsgaming on Instagram.


  1. I’ve never really tried to get into the Mario & Luigi series. If I were to try this game out I think I would prefer to try it on Switch, but Nintendo really wants to keep things going on the 3DS so I can’t blame them for that. I think I’ll keep an eye on this for my nephew when he gets a little older. He really enjoys his New Nintendo 2DS XL.

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