I’m glad that I played through Partners in Time before Boswer’s Inside Story and judged the game solely on its own merits. Because when compared to is sequel Partners is, as Fawful would say, like a mouth full of puke that is puking and is also evil.
At the Brainy Gamer blog Michael talked about the concept of refinement and how Alpha Dream has been refining the Mario and Luigi series with each iteration. He makes the case that with Bowser’s Inside Story the series has become what they have been aiming for. I have to agree. Every aspect about Bowser’s is a huge step above its predecessors. The graphics and animations are more refined and detailed, the battle system tweaked to perfection, and the writing (which has always been excellent) is now so sharp you could lose an eye.
And the setting might be the most unique and engaging in all of Mario’s history. As fun as the forest and deserts and donut plains have been to explore none of them come close to Bowser’s guts. That fun cartoon biology from Yoob is back and out in full force. Nothing is remotely anatomically correct. Bowser’s inside is all random pulsating bits and gooey phlebotinum. But there’s enough exaggeration on real biology to give the place resonance. It’s easily the best “inside-a-creature” level in video games that I’ve ever experienced.
For example, the first baddie Mario comes across in Bowser’s stomach is the Goombule, a vaguely Goomba-ish protein strain. No wonder Bowser is the king of all koopas. It’s not by any devine right but that it’s literally in his blood.
Of course, there’s no resemblance to real globules. But the cell-ish design and evocative name stimulates our imaginations. Well, mine at least. I have to admit, I eat this stuff up.
Another example are the Emoglobins. These are a race (?) of floaty cells that will give hints, save the game, or secrete healing goo. They speak with a particular accent and have a tendency to replace words with “globin.” But never with the frequency or redundancy that created the annoying “smurf the smurf” cadence that plagued that show. There’s very tight and careful writing going on here. Each line has been crafted into perfection and each conversation like a collection of precious diamonds. I wish my own hemoglobin were as witty and fun as Bowser’s. But no, mine just transport oxygen in my blood. Thanks for nothing, jerks. I wish you would die.