Universal acclaim - based on 58 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 58 out of 58
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 58
  3. Negative: 0 out of 58
Buy On
  1. The adventure is lengthy, the characters are entertaining, and this is truly a game that you’ll want to keep in your pocket for any free minute you find yourself with. DS owners should not miss out on what could certainly be the best handheld RPG of 2009.
  2. The more I played of it, the less I could deny how expertly made it is in every aspect. It's an all-around fantastic portable game that's completely worth playing, whether you enjoy it in bite-size chunks or plow straight through it from start to finish.
  3. 100
    Whoever made this game, did so with tremendous amounts of love. That's what ultimately makes Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story so incredible. It's one of those rare games that received enough time and attention to make it sensational, a real treat for DS/DSi owners.
  4. While it would be easy to rave on and on about the game, the best way to sum everything up would be to say this: Bowser's Inside Story is the kind of game that will remind you why you love playing video games in the first place and is easily one of the best DS releases to date. If you only buy one game the rest of this year, make sure it's this one.
  5. It's easily my favorite in the handheld series at least, and it gives the console Paper Mario titles a run for their money.
  6. 98
    Mario and Luigi is hands down one of the best RPG in the Nintendo DS, and a fresh experience.
  7. The bottom line on Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story is that it's one of those games that every DS owner should buy, period. Regardless of your feelings about RPGs, the title is just so entertaining and well-executed that you're nearly guaranteed to love it.
  8. Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story is a truly remarkable experience, and should not be passed up by anyone who's interested in Mario, RPGs, or the Nintendo DS in general.
  9. Nintendo Power
    Anyone who loves the Mario characters, RPGs, or even action games should absolutely give Bowser's Inside Story a look. [Oct 2009, p.86]
  10. 95
    The Mario & Luigi series has already established itself as a fantastic RPG franchise, and the third game does not disappoint. I have no problem classifying it as the best of the bunch, thanks to an excellent and appropriately surreal script, epic oversized battles, and the fact that Bowser is a playable character and gets most of the gameplay time.
  11. With Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, AlphaDream and Nintendo have given us the best handheld Mario RPG to date.
  12. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story is one of the very best games to grace the Nintendo DS - it outdoes even its excellent predecessors. This game exudes quality at every turn, and it's easy to see it was developed with a remarkable amount of care and love.
  13. Bowser's Inside Story is an awesome addition to a lovely franchise which never disappointed. It is fresh and full of neat ideas and situations and Bowser is finally the main character again after 13 years, last time being Legend of Seven Stars on SNES. The perfect gameplay balance further improves a jewel of game design to the point that the average length of the adventure, about 20 hours without playing through additional contents, is the only letdown in this excellent installment of the Mario & Luigi series. Must buy, period.
  14. The freshest, most vital RPG on the DS for ages. You'd be daft to pass it up. [Nov 2009, p.76]
  15. 92
    Once again, Mario and Luigi star in one of the most ingenious and well-polished titles on the DS. Their Fawfulized adventure through the bowels of the Mushroom Kingdom and its number one bad guy is one no one is likely to forget, especially Bowser.
  16. Bowser's Inside Story takes a lot of the great things about the series, ratchets them up to 11, and leaves them there the whole time.
  17. Pelit (Finland)
    Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story features simply the best villain of video game history in Bowser, which is not half bad by itself, but what is best about the newest Mario & Luigi is the fact that it is a fantastic game. Be it the funny storyline of the game, its colorful characters or the diverse minigames, everything about this title is top notch. Bowser’s Inside Story is a great sequel to Partners in Time and one of the best games for Nintendo DS. [Nov 2010]
  18. 91
    All the elements gel perfectly here: The characters, the combat, the game flow, the dialogue. More than that, this is a game that revels in simply being a game. It celebrates the best parts of both role-playing and Mario games while mercilessly lampooning their worst habits. It's absolutely brimming with exuberance.
  19. Fans who loved the first two games shouldn't hesitate in picking up Bowser's Inside Story. It features everything that makes the series enjoyable and adds onto it everything but the kitchen sink. Despite a few minor flaws, it's a game that features an ingenious game design synonymous with Nintendo games and is easily one of the best DS games of the year.
  20. 90
    In the end, the game was great, and though there isn't much replayability, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story makes you want to play it over from the beginning again, just for the laughs alone.
  21. 90
    Fresh and vibrant graphics, and brilliant sound effects and music round out a near perfect score for Mario and Luigi.
  22. The best Mario role-player yet is sharply funny, surprisingly deep and endlessly inventive.
  23. With a swing of his fist Bowser barges his way into the pantheon of classic Ninty heroes. Expect a wide grin from start to finish.
  24. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story is definitely one of the best RPGs on Nintendo DS ever made. An admirable plot guides the player throughout the whole game, introducing a complex system of characters interaction and a series of very enjoyable fighting sessions against incredibly huge enemies. This is a game destined to stay in your DS for quite a while.
  25. Nintendo offers its original view about adventure and RPG games in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. Humour, talent and originality merges in one of the best DS games.
  26. Despite being the third title in a spinoff series, and the 7th Mario RPG, Bowser’s Inside Story is perhaps the most imaginative and well-crafted of them all.
  27. With lots of hours to spend exploring and a great combat system this purchase is money well spent.
  28. 90
    Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story is a wonderful new adventure that takes new directions while also maintaining the foundations set by its predecessors. There are a few minor hiccups here and there, but otherwise it should not be missed by any Mario or RPG fan.
  29. There is so much to tell about Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, but words can’t come close to what is so special about this pearl of a RPG. The only thing not so great about this game are the long fights, but that is compensated by the funny dialogs and the action packed fighting system. It’s a good choice to give Bowser a place in the spotlights, because steeling the show seem to fit him very well. It is the comeback of 2009!
  30. Edge Magazine
    A game that's more than the sum of its parts. [Dec 2009, p.98]
  31. games(TM)
    A fine treat that succeeds on nearly every level. A genuine classic. [Dec 2009, p.110]
  32. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story is a fantastic role playing game with a charming setting and a great gameplay!
  33. It’s not only the best of the Mario and Luigi series (in fact, we’d be perfectly happy if the series ended on such a high note), but it also ranks as one of our games of the year.
  34. It’s hard to find glaring flaws in the game and it’s even harder not to love it, Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story deserves the title of the best Mario RPG and it’s a must have game.
  35. Mario takes on the roleplaying genre again and comes up trumps once more. Mario & Luigi is a carefully crafted adventure that's worth exploring even if you're not a huge fan of the classic platformers.
  36. LEVEL (Czech Republic)
    This title should be more like Bowser & Mario & Luigi because Bowser is the “must have” element of this yet–another–fantastic–action–RPG–for–DS. [Dec 2009]
  37. Games Master UK
    Bowser proves a brilliant distraction from traditional Mario play in 2009's silliest RPG. [Winter 2009, p.81]
  38. It’s a game made of moments. Above all it is an intelligent adaptation to Mario’s World, making the possibility of controlling Bowser not a prop but something unique and extraordinary.
  39. Alphadream surpassed themselves with the best game in the Mario & Luigi Saga. Bowser's Inside Story is excellent in all its aspects, but if we had to choose something it would be its hilarious script.
  40. 90
    There's very little in Bowser's Inside Story to not like. It's great to look at, the interaction between the "inside" and "outside" worlds is well thought-out, the mini-games and interactive battles are always a treat to play, and it's probably the funniest Mario & Luigi game yet.
  41. Takes the winning formula of the previous games and adds many new and addictive concepts to it. A refreshing sequel bursting with charm, wit and personality.
  42. 90
    A game that will have you laughing one moment and cursing the next but you'll enjoy doing both. The cutscenes and challenges are equally entertaining, if in very different ways. Bowser's Inside Story works hard to make sure it's never boring or mindlessly repetitive and quite nearly succeeds.
  43. Inside Story is absolutely a return to form.
  44. Inside Story is also incredibly beautiful, possibly among the best looking DS games ever made.
  45. Overall, Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story is an enjoyable game and an incredibly deep one at that.
  46. The core gameplay is the same of Partners in time, but a bright plot, new features (as touch-screen based minigames) and the correlation between the three main characters add variety to the Rhythm/RPG mechanics.
  47. The brilliant timing it exhibits in more ways than one will never cease to delight. This is the Mario RPG formula at its best.
  48. It is, however, a title with lots of variety, plenty of great dialogue, and rock-solid mechanics that any gamer can understand and ­enjoy.
  49. Bowser's Inside Story has everything you could want from a Mario game: creative levels, likable characters, and most importantly, gameplay that makes it impossible to put down.
  50. It looks great, it plays great, and depending on how interested you are in playing all the mini-games and collecting all the stuff, you're looking at 40+ hours of fun-packed gameplay.
  51. 85
    While it doesn't quite hit the combat-related heights of the original Superstar Saga, Bowser's Inside Story is a massive improvement over Partners In Time and easily outdoes the two previous titles with stellar animation, quirky dialog, and plenty of side-quests and optional material to explore.
  52. 84
    For the veterans, however, it’s a touch too familiar, and - once again - just far too easy. There’s an awful lot of hand holding in this game, and enemies will rarely – if ever – present much of a threat.
  53. More experienced players will wish there were fewer diversions and a harder difficulty setting in addition to the challenge mode, but Nintendo’s hallmark for ingenuity, imagination, and polish shines through.
  54. The concept of Marios action rpg Paper Mario/Mario & Luigi are known to be good. The latest title takes place inside Bowser's body and, of course, makes it a bit different from the earlier games. But it's a fun twist of both story and gameplay, and with all the qualities in the game it makes Bowser's Inside Story one of the best games for the DS 2009.
  55. 80
    For all its undeniable polish and fun gameplay, Mario & Luigi is starting to feel less like a clever bridging of the gap and more like an indecisive straddle. It’s time to rethink the Mario RPG.
  56. After Partners in Time seemed like a repetition, Bowser’s Inside Story feels fresh again thanks to the addition of a playable Bowser and the interaction with him and the Mario brothers!
  57. A successful mixture of Mario magic and Bowser escapades and the end result is a smart, charming and entertaining game.
  58. Its greatest achievement is its pacing: it never loses focus over the course of its 20 hours.

Awards & Rankings

#2 Most Discussed DS Game of 2009
#1 Most Shared DS Game of 2009
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 369 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 20 out of 369
  1. Jun 1, 2011
    Bowser's Inside Story, to put it quite simply, is an AMAZING game. The plot is great, the concept is great, and the battles are great. AndBowser's Inside Story, to put it quite simply, is an AMAZING game. The plot is great, the concept is great, and the battles are great. And don't forget about Fawful. Fawful and his "I HAVE FURY!" quote are just hilarious. But what I feel is best about Bowser's Inside Story is the ability to play as Bowser! Half of the game is dedicated to his side of the story, and Mario and Luigi can help Bowser accomplish his goals from inside his own body! Then...he grows HUGE. That is EPIC. Controls are better than ever too. I love this game, and recommend it to anyone and everyone. Full Review »
  2. SnoozerBear
    Dec 13, 2009
    Review: Mario & Luigi: Bowser
  3. Jan 11, 2013
    This is one of the few instances that an RPG can be practically perfect, the other times being Golden Sun and Pokemon. The only things that IThis is one of the few instances that an RPG can be practically perfect, the other times being Golden Sun and Pokemon. The only things that I dislike about this game is the re-used sprites from the previous entries into the series for Mario and Luigi. Things to like- humour, music, final boss, story (seems more unique than most others), pickups, power ups, and mini games. Overall, 9.7/10 Full Review »