Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

Common Sense Media says

Funny, wildly imaginative romp with cartoony combat.





What parents need to know

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

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.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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.

Families can talk 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
Available online?Not available online
Release date:September 14, 2009
Genre:Role Playing
ESRB rating:E for (Nintendo DS)

This review of Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byEarthgirl13 May 2, 2010

the game rocks

Fun game to play but the levels are pretty hard
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written bymikoa October 13, 2009

Fun and Intuitive

I really enjoyed, there was a lot of reading, which may not appeal to most gamers but I liked it. You can get it for free Pretty simple and shouldn't take much time.
Kid, 10 years old July 22, 2010

Mario & Luigi: Bowsers Inside Story

What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models


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