Open main menu

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story[a] is a role-playing video game developed by AlphaDream, and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS handheld game console in 2009. It is the third game in the Mario & Luigi RPG series, and made use of the interactive screens of the DS in some of its gameplay mechanics, while also introducing several elements that would be used in the gameplay of future titles in the series.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
Mario & Luigi 3 NA Cover.PNG
North American box art
Arzest (3DS Giant Battles)
Director(s)Hiroyuki Kubota
Producer(s)Toshiharu Izuno
Akira Otani
Yoshihiko Maekawa
Artist(s)Kouichi Fukazawa
Writer(s)Hiroyuki Kubota
Composer(s)Yoko Shimomura
SeriesMario & Luigi
Platform(s)Nintendo DS
Nintendo 3DS
  • JP: February 11, 2009
  • NA: September 14, 2009
  • EU: October 9, 2009
  • AU: October 22, 2009
Nintendo 3DS
  • JP: December 27, 2018
  • NA: January 11, 2019
  • EU: January 25, 2019
  • AU: January 26, 2019

The game's plot involves Mario and Luigi being inhaled into the body of their long-time nemesis, Bowser. The Mario brothers learn to help Bowser, who is unaware of their presence, to combat their mutual enemy Fawful, who has taken control of the Mushroom Kingdom. The gameplay focuses on the co-operation of the trio, who use their specific abilities to solve puzzles, fight enemies and thus progress through the game. Similar to its predecessors, its role-playing style emphasizes a turn-based battle system focused on timing accuracy, and is almost entirely comedic in nature.

The game was both critically and commercially successful, with most fans considering it to be the best game in the series. With the game selling over four million copies worldwide by April 2011, it is the best selling Mario RPG.[1] A remake for the Nintendo 3DS, titled Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey, was released in Japan on December 27, 2018, in North America on January 11, 2019, in Europe on January 25, 2019, and in Australia on January 26, 2019.


Gameplay alternates between three characters, Mario and Luigi, who are controlled together on the bottom screen using A and B, and Bowser, who is controlled on the top screen with X and Y. There are two main worlds, the main overworld, which is played in an overhead view, and the world inside Bowser's body, which is a 2D side-scrolling world. Although most of the game is played with Mario & Luigi in the world inside Bowser and Bowser himself in the overworld, Mario and Luigi also have opportunities to visit the overworld via pipes as the game progresses. Gameplay typically alternates between controlling the brothers and controlling Bowser. Some sections involve direct interaction between the brothers and Bowser in order to progress.

The battle system from the previous two games returns, this time with Bowser as a playable character. Bowser's battles are similar to Mario & Luigi's, albeit he specializes in punching and breathing fire. During Bowser's battles, he can inhale to suck up defenses and enemies from the top screen similarly to the character Kirby from another Nintendo series. Any enemies inhaled would enter his body, where Mario & Luigi would fight them instead. Along with Mario & Luigi's Bros. attacks, Bowser has his own set of special attacks that use the touchscreen. Mario and Luigi can unlock new abilities by finding attack pieces, while Bowser can earn new abilities by rescuing his caged minions, or by finding living, kitten-like blocks called Blitties.

A new ranking system is introduced in which, after a character has reached a specific level, his rank would increase. Upon reaching these milestones, that character would receive a special bonus, such as an additional equipment slot, being able to visit specific shops or receiving a certain piece of equipment. Mario and Luigi each have six ranks, while Bowser has four. The badge system from previous games has also changed, now possessing effects that Mario and Luigi can use by charging a meter with attacks. When the meter is filled, players can touch the meter to activate its effect, which varies depending on the combination of badges equipped, such as health recovery or stat raising.

Various minigames are present, in which the Mario Bros. would have to help out Bowser's body from the inside in order to help him progress. Examples include the "Arm Center", where the brothers hit sparklike items into a muscle to strengthen Bowser's arms; the "Leg Outpost", where they stomp on leg muscles to strengthen Bowser's legs; and the "Gut Check", where they help digest food that Bowser eats. One location, the "Rump Command", has the player accumulate adrenaline in order to supersize Bowser if he is crushed, leading to a new battle system in which the DS is held vertically like a book and all attacks require the stylus and microphone.[2] The 3DS version, however drops support for the microphone and instead uses timely button presses, but still incorporates the stylus for certain moves.


The game opens with a disease called "The Blorbs" spreading across the Mushroom Kingdom. Toads that become infected with the disease inflate like a balloon and roll around uncontrollably. A council meeting is immediately called at Princess Peach's Castle to discuss what can be done about the epidemic. Starlow, a representative of the Star Sprites that watch over the Mushroom Kingdom, also attends. At the meeting, it is discovered that all those affected had previously eaten a "Blorb Mushroom" given to them by a salesman, who is secretly the mad scientist Fawful. Bowser invades the castle attempting to kidnap Princess Peach but is defeated by Mario and expelled from the castle, sending him flying outward.

Bowser finds himself in Dimble Wood, where he is tricked by Fawful into eating a "Vacuum Shroom." The mushroom causes Bowser to mindlessly inhale everything in sight. He inhales Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Starlow, and their friends before finally passing out. With Peach gone and the majority of the population incapacitated from the disease, Fawful proceeds to take over Peach's castle, while his assistant, the boar-like Midbus, takes over Bowser's castle. Mario and Luigi, who have shrunken to microscopic size, navigate Bowser's body and manage to revive him. Bowser has no memory of the event and consequently does not know the Mario brothers are inside his body. Bowser only communicates with Starlow, who nicknames herself "Chippy" to avoid suspicion. Bowser begins tracking down Fawful in an attempt to reclaim his castle with the assistance of the Mario Bros. and Starlow.

After leading Bowser into a trap, Fawful extracts Peach from inside of Bowser's body and takes possession of the Dark Star, an evil and powerful entity with a seal that can only be broken by Peach. When the trio finds a barricade preventing any of them from entering Peach's castle, Mario and Luigi are able to sneak out of Bowser's body together via warp pipe into Toad Town, where physician Dr. Toadley tells them they must gather the three Star Cures in order to create the Miracle Cure, a magical medicinal object that will cure the Blorbs disease and destroy the barricade. Bowser overhears this and races for the cures himself, only to be trapped in a safe by some of his minions who have been brainwashed to serve Fawful. Ultimately, the brothers collect all three star cures, and the Miracle Cure destroys the barricade, healing the Blorbs disease in the process.

Bowser is freed from the safe and tracks down Fawful in Peach's transformed castle. After Bowser defeats Midbus, the Dark Star's seal finally breaks, and Fawful begins absorbing its power, but Bowser punches him away. The Dark Star then enters Bowser's body, where it begins to leech on his cells and absorb his DNA. Mario and Luigi go back inside Bowser's body to stop it, but the Dark Star escapes. Using Bowser's DNA, it starts to become a shadowy, powerful doppelgänger of Bowser named Dark Bowser. It searches for Fawful to reclaim the power he stole from it to complete the transformation, only for Bowser to find and defeat Fawful first. The Dark Star absorbs Fawful, completing its transformation into Dark Bowser. Bowser battles Dark Bowser and, with the help of Mario and Luigi, destroys the Dark Star's core, thus defeating Dark Bowser and destroying the Dark Star. Fawful, having been inhaled by Bowser during the battle, initially feigns remorse but suddenly self-destructs in a final effort to destroy the Mario Bros. The explosion causes Bowser to regurgitate them and everyone else he had inhaled. Enraged by the discovery, Bowser proceeds to fight the Mario Bros. but is defeated and retreats back to his castle. The two castles are rebuilt, Bowser's minions return their loyalty to him, and Peach sends Bowser a cake as gratitude for his unintentionally heroic efforts.


The game was first revealed at Nintendo's Tokyo Press Event, held in Japan in October 2008, under the Japanese title of Mario & Luigi RPG 3!!!.[3] The conference revealed details of the then-upcoming game, relating to the plot and gameplay mechanics, as well as the fact that it would involve extensive use of the touchscreen.[4] AlphaDream, developers of Superstar Saga and Partners in Time, developed this game along with experienced contributors to the Mario series such as Yoko Shimomura and Charles Martinet working on music and voice acting respectively. At E3 2009, it was revealed that the official English name of the game would be Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story and that it would be released in fall 2009 for North America and Europe.[5]


Aggregate scores
Review scores
Game Informer8.75/10[10]
Game RevolutionB+[11]
GamesRadar+     [18]
Giant Bomb     [16]
Nintendo Life10/10[17]
Nintendo Power9.5/10[14]
Nintendo World Report9/10[15]

Bowser's Inside Story received critical acclaim and is the highest rated game of the RPG Mario games, with many of the praises going to the improved gameplay, storyline, humor, and Bowser's role as the focal character. The first North American critic to review it was the magazine Nintendo Power, who scored the game a 9.5/10 saying it is "the best RPG-style Mario adventure ever made," and that "Anyone who loves the Mario characters, role-playing games, or even action games should absolutely give Bowser's Inside Story a look."[14] IGN awarded it a 9.5 as well as an Editors Choice Award. GameInformer awarded the game an 8.75 out of 10 and gave it an award for "Handheld Game of the Month". GameDaily gave the game 10/10. Official Nintendo Magazine gave the game 92%, saying "Bowser's Inside Story is the freshest, most vital RPG on the DS for ages". GameSpot gave the game a 9.0, and awarded it with an Editors' Choice award, praising the overall plot and story.[19] X-Play's Blair Herter gave the game a 5 out of 5, highly praising the plot.[20] Giant Bomb's Brad Shoemaker gave the game a 5 out of 5, and the website later named it the Best DS Game of 2009.[21][22]

Bowser's Inside Story was the top-selling game in its first week of release in Japan at 193,000 copies.[23] It sold 650,000 copies during the first half of 2009 and finished out the year as the 11th best-selling game at 717,940 copies sold in the country.[24][25] According to NPD Group, Bowser's Inside Story was the fourth best-selling game for its release month at 258,100 copies sold in the United States.[26] It continued to sell well in the following months and had sold 656,700 copies in the region by the end of December 2009.[27][28][29]


Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey
North American box art
Arzest (Giant Battles)
Director(s)Shunsuke Kobayashi
Producer(s)Toshiharu Izuno
Akira Otani
Yoshihiko Maekawa
Artist(s)Kouichi Fukazawa
Writer(s)Hiroyuki Kubota
Composer(s)Yoko Shimomura
SeriesMario & Luigi
Platform(s)Nintendo 3DS
  • JP: December 27, 2018
  • NA: January 11, 2019
  • EU: January 25, 2019
  • AU: January 26, 2019

In March 2018, Nintendo revealed a Nintendo 3DS remake of the game, entitled Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey.[b] The remake, following on from the success of the 3DS remake of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, featured updated graphics, remastered music, and significant changes in gameplay, such as the reworking of the mechanics of special moves in combat. While the majority of the game was handled in-house at AlphaDream, the "Giant Bowser" boss fights were assisted by developer Arzest and are now presented as full 3D models. In addition, the game also involved a new side story entitled Bowser Jr.'s Journey, which focuses on the story of Bowser Jr. during the events of Bowser's Inside Story, playing similar to the Minion Quest side story found in the Superstar Saga remake. This remake was the final Mario title released for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems and was released in Japan in December 2018, with a worldwide release following in January 2019.

While critical reception was generally positive, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey has had a poor launch sales record, being not only the worst-selling Mario & Luigi title in the series, but also one of the worst-selling Mario games of all time since the Virtual Boy, a stark contrast to the original release which remains the best-selling entry in the series. In Japan, it sold under 9,500 units in the first week and dropped off the top 20 charts by the second week. In comparison of the time period released and another rerelease of an older game, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe has sold 381,469 units in a shorter period of time. Comparing to other Nintendo 3DS ports of the Mario series released at a similar time frame on their first week, Luigi's Mansion and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker sold 27,000 and 20,547 units respectively. Though never outright stated as a direct cause, the poor worldwide sales of the remake are seen as a key factor behind AlphaDream's decision to file for bankruptcy in October of 2019.


  1. ^ Known in Japan as Mario & Luigi RPG 3!!! (マリオ&ルイージRPG3!!!, Mario ando Ruīji Āru Pī Jī Surī!!!)
  2. ^ Known in Japan as Mario & Luigi RPG 3!!! DX (マリオ&ルイージRPG3!!! DX (デラックス), Mario ando Ruīji Āru Pī Jī Surī!!! Derakkusu)


  1. ^ "Supplementary Information about Earnings Release" (PDF). Nintendo. 2011-04-26. p. 10. Retrieved 2011-04-26.
  2. ^ "マリオ&ルイージRPG3!!!". Nintendo.
  3. ^ "Nintendo Reveals Punch-Out!! Wii, Sin and Punishment 2, and More". Archived from the original on 2016-03-08.
  4. ^ "Mario & Luigi RPG 3!!! site opens with new video". Joystiq.
  5. ^ "Nintendo Introduces New Social Entertainment Experiences at E3 Expo". Nintendo of America. 2009-06-02. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
  6. ^ "Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story for DS". GameRankings. 2009-09-14. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
  7. ^ "Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story for DS Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
  8. ^ Parish, Jeremy (2009-09-15). "Mario & Luigi 3 Review for DS from". Retrieved 2012-11-15.
  9. ^ "Mario and Luigi 3 Famitsu review - more details". GoNintendo.
  10. ^ Helgeson, Matt (2009-09-28). "Mario & Luigi Keep It Simple To Great Success - Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story - Nintendo DS". Retrieved 2012-11-15.
  11. ^ "Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story Review". 2012-11-10. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
  12. ^ October 7, 2009 7:07PM PDT (2009-09-14). "Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story". Retrieved 2012-11-15.
  13. ^ "Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story Review - IGN". Retrieved 2012-11-15.
  14. ^ a b "Reviews: Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story". Nintendo Power. No. 246. Future plc. October 2009. p. 86.
  15. ^ "Mario & Luigi 3 review". Retrieved 2009-09-27.
  16. ^ "Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story". Giant Bomb. Retrieved 2009-10-13.
  17. ^ "Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story". NintendoLife. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
  18. ^ "Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story". Gamesradar. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
  19. ^ "Mario & Luigi Bowser's Inside Story Review for DS -GameSpot". GameSpot.
  20. ^ "Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story - Reviews -". G4tv.
  21. ^ "Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story Review". Giant Bomb. 2009-11-02. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
  22. ^ "Giant Bomb's Nintendo DS Game Of The Year, 2009". Giant Bomb. 2010-01-01. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
  23. ^ Jenkins, David (2009-02-19). "Japanese Charts: Mario & Luigi Dragon Punch Street Fighter IV". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
  24. ^ "Game Market falls 25% in First Half of 2009". Andriasang.
  25. ^ 2009年テレビゲームソフト売り上げランキング(ファミ通版) (in Japanese). Retrieved 2010-08-02.
  26. ^ Matthews, Matt (October 20, 2009). "NPD Top 20 Shows Strong Scribblenauts, Xbox 360 Performance". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
  27. ^ Matthews, Matt (November 13, 2009). "NPD: October Top 20 Sees Impressive Demon's Souls Showing". Gamasutra.
  28. ^ Matthews, Matt (December 11, 2009). "NPD Top 20 Reveals Nintendo Titles, God Of War Remakes". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
  29. ^ Remo, Chris (January 14, 2010). "NPD: December U.S. Revenue Up 4% In Best Month". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2010-08-02.

External linksEdit