Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

Game review by
Alex Porter, Common Sense Media
Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story Game Poster Image
Popular with kids
Funny, wildly imaginative romp with cartoony combat.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 21 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The game has a positive message about working as a team and helping others in need - even when you don't personally like them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some of the characters, notably Bowser, are rude, sneaky, and impatient; but the game does a good job of showing that this behavior is a liability. Many of the characters are invested in supporting each other, albeit through fighting enemies.

Ease of Play

Even for those unaccustomed to RPG games, the play is simple, with lots of tutorial advice. Some of the action-based play uses timing, but it should be easy for players familiar with Mario-style platforming games.

Violence & Scariness

In battles, characters punch, stomp, and hit one another with hammers to cartoony results.


Not an issue.


Not an issue.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this newest Mario role-playing game features a complex, fantastical narrative that may frighten (or simply baffle) very young players. And with battles at the heart of the gamplay, characters do inflict pain on each other. But for kids old enough to read, this is a charming story with brilliantly designed and executed gameplay, set in the colorful and familiar Mushroom Kingdom.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTimTheTVGuy October 9, 2012

Just perfect!

So I was at Kmart one day,and was looking at the video games for my Nintendo DS.This game really caught my eye.So since I had extra money,I spent it on this gam... Continue reading
Parent of a 10-year-old Written bylayman9 October 25, 2011

Bowser's turn to rumble!!!

This game requires skill, but, as with many other games, practice makes perfect. I am especially fond of the Giga-Bowser battles, since you have to use your phy... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old July 13, 2014

Really Good !! Little bit bad language and mild violence .

This is a really good game .

I like this game, but since it is an RPG it may be scary for younger kids because characters hit each other with hammers , stomp... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old February 2, 2019

What's it about?

The quirky, often hilarious narrative begins when Mario's nemesis, Bowser, eats a mushroom that makes him inhale everyone in the kingdom. Mario and Luigi must escape from the innards of Bowser and rescue the others trapped inside, including Princess Peach. Simultaneously, Bowser needs to find his way back to the kingdom before his castle is hijacked by Fawful, the nefarious mad scientist. Players switch between the Luigi/Mario team and Bowser to battle enemies and solve puzzles. At times, all three must work in tandem. For instance, by hitting nerve clusters, Marios & Luigi increase Bowser's strength; conversely, Bowser's behavior will have an impact on the characters inside. For example, Bowser can flood an environment by drinking water, giving Mario & Luigi access to an important switch.

Is it any good?

This is a delightful and ingenious game. It beautifully and simply incorporates role-playing battles, platforming, and puzzle-solving into an engaging journey that's easy to follow. Sound, graphics, and story are all artfully done and integrated seamlessly into a single package.  But perhaps most fun here are the characters and dialogue. From Fawful's nonsensical speeches, to the Mario Bros. mock Italian gibberish and Bowser's arrogant rants, each is given distinct personality and humor.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the concept of teamwork. Different characters have skills that are unique and necessary to completing the game. How do they work together and complement one another?

  • With an enormous number of environments and characters, families can talk about their favorites. Characters also have special items and skills. What were some that were most fun?

  • Did you want to play this game because you already love all things Mario? Or did advertisements influence your desire? How effective is advertising?

Game details

  • Platforms: Nintendo DS
  • Price: $34.99
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release date: September 14, 2009
  • Genre: Role-Playing
  • ESRB rating: E
  • Last updated: December 2, 2019

Our editors recommend

For kids who love role-playing games

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