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September 19, 2016

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story (Part 2)

Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5

Part 1 felt like one long tutorial, with some bits of story thrown in; most bosses had one purpose, teach Bowser or the Mario brothers some tricks in-battle. And then, so many elements of the Mushroom Kingdom, and even elements inside Bowser’s body, that were there to only provide more tutorials… I swear, we had more freedom in Superstar Saga. At least, the teachings were spaced out, the new powers were unlocked as the adventure went. Here, there are so many things that the player must be taught that it feels like an endless stream of teachers.

"Si, si! I dink ze dog houzz I order was two smoll for
Broggy. Pardonnez-moi, I must ask you for your coins."
Well, past the screen of the beach where we fought the Sea Pipe Statue, Bowser encounters Broque Monsieur again; he lost his dog Broggy, which is also a block-like creature, except with ears, an angry face, and a spike collar (Broggy-tested, Bowser-approved). Broggy then attacks Bowser and we get – God damn it! – another tutorial, this time on how the turtle-dragon can use Y to hide in his own shell to deflect attacks coming from upwards. We also learn how to use the fire breath, in order to fight off enemies who might be impervious to punches. This is a short boss battle, and when Broggy is defeated, we can move on to the next part of the Mushroom Kingdom: Dimble Wood. After solving a quick puzzle, we find, guess who? Broque Monsieur again! He has set up shop in the forest and will happily sell you chicken (Bowser uses those instead of Mushrooms to restore his health – I approve! Chicken’s good!), while Broggy has an armor shop. Yup, the block dog has a shop too. This is the Mario & Luigi series, don’t question it. Before we can leave, Broque Monsieur gives Bowser another quest: Catch 15 blocky kittens in the Mushroom Kingdom. These things, called Blitties, are trapped inside the large enemies that Bowser battles during his adventure, and the way to catch one is to inhale it when it’s freed from its living prison. If given all these Blitties, Broque Monsieur will let Bowser use Broggy as a special move!

Using Goombas to kill
a Goomba. How cruel.
After this, Bowser ventures deeper into Dimble Wood. Talking about special moves, we now discover what Bowser’s special moves are; he frees a bunch of Goombas who have been imprisoned by Fawful, and when he gets attacked by evil trees, he uses the Goombas to attack. Bowser’s special moves are touch screen mini-games; they all require the stylus and great precision. With Bowser’s first special move, Goomba Storm, a wave of 20 Goombas run up on the screen; you tap them so that Bowser can set them on fire. The missed Goombas will run head-first into the enemy, while the flaming Goombas are tossed upwards and fall down on the opponent like fiery rain. That’s pretty badass.

Stimulate those muscles!
Gee, just how many roots
are keeping that carrot so
firmly into the ground?
Further away, Bowser meets three of his Generals who escaped Fawful’s takeover of Bowser Castle. They brought a giant cannon with them, and they decide to aim it at the Castle – as if that won’t do even more damage! – but there is one problem… They forgot to bring a Banzai Bill. Bowser is a relatively decent leader despite his generally irritable attitude, but he only chooses to go look for a giant bullet after Starlow convinces him to. On this quest, Bowser soon discovers a garden held by a family of Wigglers. Venturing into the garden, we find a giant carrot. Thinking it would make a good projectile, Bowser uproots it – and once again the Mario brothers need to stimulate his muscles to give him the necessary strength to pull this off and pull it out. However, Bowser’s troubles aren’t over as he meets the Wiggler-in-chief of the place, who’s angry his great-great-multiple-great-wiggling-Grandpa’s carrot was pulled out. Wow, if this carrot has been growing for generations, does that mean you’ve never ever had a drought or a winter around these parts?

Guess playing Tetris with Tetrads made of carrots
will be another day.
The Wiggler states it has a Banzai Bill around, but first it orders Bowser to eat the whole carrot. Why? Because if it’s uprooted, it has to be eaten. Old Wiggler family rule. Um… Can I clean all the ground off first? Do you at least have some ranch dip to go with that thing? No? Well, screw you. Yes, that’s what I would say, but the game chooses otherwise. As Bowser grabs a small bite, his stomach (called Gut Check) activates, and the brothers go there. We enter a mini-game where we must destroy Bowser’s bites of the carrots to help him digest it faster, and use enzymes to make the many bites quickly disappear – as long as you can remember which bite had an enzyme. Christ, another mini-game with multiple rules. With a tutorial longer than the actual playtime!

So, in the next minute, we complete the mini-game (which is unskippable, because of story bullcrap, and you’re pretty much stuck until you complete it), and the Bowser asks for the Banzai Bill. At first, the Wiggler claims he doesn’t know what Bowser is talking about. Then, it gets angry at the turtle-dragon for “contaminating” the garden, then pulling out the carrot and eating it. Granted, pulling it out wasn’t smart… But YOU were the one to make me eat it, you little asshole! Now, with all due respect, jackass Wiggler, I cordially invite you to fuck off. But of course, because this is a Wiggler and we can’t have a Mario & Luigi game without a boss battle against a Wiggler, we end up fighting that stupid caterpillar gone red with anger.

God damn it, why is there always something like this in the Mario games to piss me off?

Wigglers are, without a doubt, some of the most badass
insects of the Mushroom Kingdom. So many of them are

Wigglers may be badass, but there are other bugs in the
Kingdom who are even MORE badass.
This Wiggler, like many bosses in the series, combines puzzle elements to its fight, as Bowser needs to turn back to yellow all of its segments, except the head, if he wants to be able to deal any damage to it. Once defeated, the Wiggler leaves, but hands Bowser the Banzai Bill first… which, for some reason was in the same hole Bowser pulled the carrot from. I… I… *sigh* I won’t even bother asking any questions. While he leaves the garden, Bowser suddenly feels a lot of pain in his stomach, so we head into the Nerve Cluster to see what’s wrong. Mario and Luigi enter this bony place and soon encounter a large worm-like creature… with a Birdo face, because why not. That thing reveals itself stronger than Bowser’s anti-bodies, and keeps jumping to cause more pain to the Koopa! Gotta kill that thing, it seems. It’s a pretty tough battle, because this thing, known as Durmite, can suck the ground to regain energy, use a stream of white web to trap and chew on either brother, and summon Bowser’s anti-bodies to help it in battle.

When Durmite is beaten, it becomes a teensy-weensy worm and flees. Chasing after it, the brothers wind up attacked by Bowser’s anti-bodies (known as Biffidus) and end up lower inside the Nerve Cluster. Yeah, those are not the only nerves that are being played with around here… Mario and Luigi also find in there Doctor Toadbert, and Luigi activates something that opens a way out of the Nerve Cluster for them and gives Bowser a boost in power – now when he punches while moving, he can give a powered punch that can destroy even stronger stones! Thank God this wasn’t a three-minute tutorial!

With this newfound ability, we make our way back to the clearing, where we stuff the Banzai Bill into the cannon and fire it up towards Bowser’s Castle. I can’t help but have this nagging impression that something’s gonna go wrong… I mean, it’s not like the Castle can avoid that bullet, right?

…Holy shit inside the castle Midbus ordered Goombas around and they activated stuff and the Castle rose up like a rocket and the Banzai Bill completely missed it dammit I knew we should have used a Missile Bill those never miss but at the time of that game I think Missile Banzai Bills didn’t exist yet and now the Castle is flying towards the forest and now it’s over Bowser and his three Generals and SPLAT

No, of course it’s not really the end. Come on, this is Bowser we’re talking about, the guy who routinely comes back from crushing defeats at the hands of Mario and possibly Luigi, the guy who came back from more lava pits than one can count, the guy who got crushed by his own castle multiple times already. The guy who would not even stay dead after being thrown into the SUN. Only comic book supervillains have that luck. And, ostensibly, Ganondorf, but whatever.

Gotta give it to Fawful though, he’s an incredibly good villain. Ranks right up there on the Pantheon of the smartest Nintendo villains. The origins of his takeover don’t entirely make sense, but afterwards, he is always many steps ahead of Bowser. Upgrading the castle, using it to fight, brainwashing most of Bowser’s army, taking Mario and Luigi (mostly) out of the picture… and of course, he got himself a lackey with physical power that rivals that of the turtle-dragon himself. Cackletta was nothing compared to this. We still got to learn whether he’s after something greater, because it's a common trait of Mario RPG villains to be seeking an ultimate source of magical power, but till then, wow, I’m impressed. The only reason Fawful can’t go “Checkmate” is that Mario and Luigi are manipulating Bowser’s insides in ways that the spiral glasses savant couldn’t ever predict and tossing a spiked shell spanner into his plans. Definitely a better villain than Dimentio if you ask me.

By the way, how do we get out of this situation? Mario and Luigi head into the zone that opened, the Rump Command. You heard that right: The plumbers will save their enemy’s ass… by doing stuff in Bowser’s ass. Christ, the double entendres will become inevitable. In Canadian French, it’s even worse, the zone is called “Cul-de-sac”. It normally means “Dead end”, but it also literally contains the word for “ass”. Not butt, not bottom, not rump, not bum or booty, not any of the family-friendly terms… No, no, the word “ass”. They got away with using a dirtier word on an all-ages product. Still, you gotta wonder how much it must hurt to pull out such a huge deus ex machina out of Bowser’s, well.... bum. Alright, let’s get to the bottom of this and have some butt action! ….Goddammit! I’m not doing this on purpose, I swear!

And of course, every opponent Bowser faces in this mode
will be a building or a vehicle. Never another giant
living creature. Missed opportunity there, Nintendo.
In Bowser’s rump, Mario and Luigi have to ride an adrenaline river on boats and shoot at the red, green and blue adrenaline bubbles to stimulate Bowser and give him the power to survive being crushed by his own castle. We get informed of this by, what else? Another tutorial. Oh, this mini-game gives power to Bowser alright. If your definition of gaining power is to grow giant, then Bowser’s definitely got power now. He’s as big as his own castle! This is one of the main draws of this game: The Giant Bowser battles. Part-action, part-RPG, with the DS held at 90 degrees. All the action is done by tapping/rubbing the screen or blowing in the microphone. It’s very innovative. I’ve been raging at tutorials, but for this one, you actually need it. Anyway, Bowser gets to beat up his own castle, and fends off its troops. At the end of the fight, the Castle flees, and goes back to its original position. Poor Bowser, he almost demolished it, and his guarantee just ran out! Once the castle is gone, Bowser returns to his normal form.

The battle opened up a path, which Bowser can now use to go towards his castle. He hurries through a field, then reaches his domain. Of course, to make sure Bowser can’t come into the castle, Midbus orders the mooks around to make the castle take flight again; thus, Bowser has to explore the area to find a way to shoot the castle down. In this area, there are dozens of Chain Chomps possessed by Fawful-looking worms. Fawful really did hypnotize all of Bowser’s army! Worse even, there are Fawful patrollers flying over them, and in a battle they’ll call more Chain Chomps, so you HAVE to inhale those patrollers and have Mario and Luigi beat them, if you want the battle to end.

Basically, we're turning Bowser into the Hulk,
and future fights against him be damned!
...If he gets too powerful, we're so screwed.
Despite Bowser’s exploration, he can’t find anything to shoot down the castle. That’s when Midbus decides to gloat and pull out a giant cannon from Bowser’s Castle, to shoot at the turtle-dragon and kill him. However, thanks to Mario and Luigi meddling with Bowser’s arm strength inside him (that mini-game, again? It’s starting to be annoying), Bowser grabs the giant bullet and tosses it back to the Castle, taking it down. Talk about a villain's tactical suicide. On our first steps into the castle, the turtle-dragon is welcomed by four Goombas who present to him… the Fawful Theater! Because Fawful’s quirk is to have a theater or something while he’s doing evil stuff. Eh, I’m not against villains with theatrics. After all, what separates a good villain from a bad one? PRESENTATION! Although, that’s not the kind of theatrics I was thinking of… I guess everybody needs a pastime. After chatting with some of the minions – who have all been brainwashed – Bowser sees the doors to the Theater open. He goes in but sees there is no empty seat. No worry! The Goombas will make a throne appear in the room! See, Bowser is a VIP here. You can tell something fishy is about to happen…

The show starts, and Fawful presents his guest for tonight’s show: Bowser himself! The King gets thrown onto the stage, then Midbus shows up, then a cage falls on the two of them – preventing an escape. This is it, Bowser versus Midbus.  The boss battle we had been waiting for! It’s a hard one, as Midbus has some very strong attacks, all of which can be pretty hard to avoid if you don’t know the tricks. Thankfully, once you’ve learned the patterns, he’s fairly simple.

Never trust a Boo. Even if they're on your side.
When Bowser has won, Fawful shows up to command a standing ovation from the minions watching the show, but Bowser tries to get into a fight with him. Fawful, having planned that, claims that the prize for the turtle-dragon's victory is none other than a buffet! So Bowser is redirected to the dining room, where numerous gigantic plates full of food await him. Thus, Bowser starts eating, and eating, and eating… When he’s full, he tries to stop, but the Boos guarding the entrance start force-feeding him. More food, more food, more food. It would almost be funny if it wasn’t so fucked up! They completely fatten up the Koopa King, with an endless stream of food… The Boos only stop after Bowser has become such a gigantic slob that he can barely walk.

Phew! It’s just that. For a moment, I was afraid we’d get a rerun of the Yoshi’s Island TV ad.

Seriously, who the fuck thought it was a good idea to show this in an ad for kids?

Bowser has become too heavy for the floor he’s on, so he falls through and winds up stuck in it. He contacts Starlow to help him…

I think that’s where I’m gonna stop for today. How about we continue this next Friday? Sounds good?