Bowser’s Inside Story

        Today I’ll be looking at Bowser’s Inside Story, but unlike the usual routine, I won’t be looking so much at a boss as our playable characters. The game is the third in the Mario and Luigi series, of which the previously talked of Superstar Saga is the first. While half the game works similarly to Superstar Saga with you playing as Mario and Luigi, you actually spend half of it playing as Bowser, which is a very different and interesting experience.
        Firstly, there isn’t much story to unpack this time- just the very beginning. A terrible disease called the Blorbs is spreading through the Mushroom Kingdom, causing the Toads to swell up enormously, unable to move. Princess Peach calls a conference to talk about this threat and what can be done, but they have no solution, and even Starlow the Star Sprite has no clue how to fix this issue either, partly because they aren’t sure what is causing it.
        However, who wasn’t called the meeting is Bowser, who loudly and destructively barges in to join the meeting, angered at not being invited to the meeting concerning the fate of ‘his’ kingdom. Mario stops him as part of the tutorial, and after he is beaten Peach actually uses her own magic to send him flying out of the castle. We then cut to where he landed, where one of his Magikoopa minions is trying to wake him up.
        We’re given brief control of the Koopa King, again as a tutorial to get used to controlling him- which can only mean that this is not some short-lived taste of what playing as Bowser may be like, but a sign that playing as him will be an important and large part of the game. Half of it, to be exact. In any case, he is very different from the bros. as he cannot jump, but instead walks about and uses his mighty fists and flame breath to destroy any obstacles.
        He swiftly runs into a mysterious merchant marketing a malevolent mushroom. While the one offering it has a strange way of speaking and you obviously shouldn’t trust gifts from people you don’t know, but Bowser snatches up the “Lucky Mushroom” instantly when the peddler says it will help him defeat Mario. As you may expect this instantly backfires as the mushroom makes him start inhaling everything around him like Kirby. He eventually makes his way back to the conference and inhales everyone there, Peach and the Mario Bros. included.
        We then go to Mario, now in Bowser’s body, as he reunites with Luigi and Starlow, who guides the two. They soon find an odd nerve, and after they smash it with a hammer, it wakes up the unconscious Bowser, getting him moving. The king seems to have been moved something, and he soon finds out what- the mysterious person who gave him the mushroom. This person is Fawful, the former minion of Cackletta, now planning to conquer everything with his own plan, starting with conquering Bowser’s own castle.
        Fawful’s own minion, Midbus, battles Bowser, trying to knock him out so he doesn’t interfere. However, this only serves as the tutorial fight for Bowser, so there’s no chancde of failure. Bowser has much more health and power than the bros do separately, which makes sense- aside from being much bigger than they are, he’s also a boss character, so of course he’s stronger than they are.
        In any case, he doesn’t start out with his full capabilities, something Midbus notes, and he refuses to continue fighting until Bowser comes to him at his full strength. However, I’ll just tell you what he’s capable of- Firstly, instead of a jump attack, he has a punch. As with everything, timing is key- you have ot let him wind back his punch to just the right moment to do the most damage. Bowser can also breathe fire, which hits all enemies but generally does less damage to each. However, some foes are weak to fire, and there is also the possibility of burning them, causing them to take damage every turn.
        Much the Bros. Attacks Mario and Luigi use, Bowser later rescues groups of his minions from Fawful, earning a new powerful equivalent move. Unlike most of the gameplay, these special attacks require you to use the DS stylus in some way. For instance, the first move, Goomba Storm, has you tap on charging Goomba’s to light them in fire to do more damage.
        Lastly there is the Vacuum ability. Presumably derived from that mushroom Fawful gave him, Bowser can inhale objects and foes in battle, though what exactly he can inhale is fairly specific. For instance, the Choomba enemies carry candy with them, which Bowser can inhale to regain health. Some enemies can also be eaten, resulting in them falling into Bowser’s body and ending up battling Mario and Luigi, until they either flee out of Bowser, win, or are destroyed. A number of bosses require this.
        When under attack, like the bros. Bowser has a few different tricks up his nonexistent sleeves, despite being much slower. Rather than jumping on or over enemies, Bowser instead counters them with his fists, often knocking them back or their projectiles, or he can crouch down, dodging some attacks so they go over him, and his shell protects him from things that may fall on top of him. However, he cannot maintain the crouch for more than a few seconds.
        And so, we’re done with Bowser’s combat mechanics, but there is one last thing to talk about, and we’ll end it with that- giant battles. At certain points in the story, Bowser will get grievously injured. The first case is where Fawful gave Bowser’s Castle the power to lift off like a rocket, and this is used to crash down on top of the poor Koopa. This knocks him unconscious, and the brothers ends up visiting a part of his body called the Rump Command. Where, they gather adrenaline via a shooting minigame to wake up Bowser- and not just wake him up, but to make him grow to an enormous size, a bit larger than his own castle.
        Midbus, currently in charge of said castle, sends out some troops to see what this new giant threat is, disbelieving that it could actually be Bowser, which gives you ample time to work out the controls. First, you use the stylus for these, and turn the DS on it’s side. Bowser is on the bottom(now left) screen, where you can tap on things, and the enemy is on the right. Bowser can punch by sliding the stylus to the right, breathe fire by you breathing into the mic, and heal using giant mushrooms that show up in some of the battles.
        While he has no special moves like he does normally, he hardly needs them thanks to his massive size and power. As for how he reacts to attacks, it varies- sometimes he will have to step on something, usually charging enemies, in which case you tap at a certain spot when the enemy runs over it to crush them. He may also have to punch something, such as the case of the flying castle charging at him, which works the same as his regular punch attack. Lastly he can shoot aimed fireballs where you use the stylus to point where you want him to fire. This is useful in the fight when the castle sends out airships to fire on you, so you can shoot them out of the sky.
        The battle with the castle, like the Bowser and Midbus bosses beforehand, is more a introduction to giant battles than an actual threat. It can do little against Bowser’s might, and while it can defend himself against his punches by sending out Spinies to guard it, stopping him from approaching, he can get rid of them with a flame attack, doing damage and leaving it open once more. Of course, this certainly doesn’t mean that the future bosses are going to be easy, but it serves its role as an introduction and as a imposing foe for Bowser’s newfound strength to pummel.
        In any case, that covers Bowser for the most part in this game, and I will certainly be revisiting it in the future. But for now, my dear readers, I will stop here. See you next time, and happy holidays.

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