Burning flesh? Nonsense! I've got MAGIC on my side!
All right, mandatory battle tutorial! I remember how to do this from the previous games, so even though I have to hear it, I mostly ignore Toadsworth’s advice. For some reason, even though he’s telling the old man to shut up, Bowser’s willing to stand still while I jump on him a few times, and then attack when it’s time to learn how to dodge. I easily perform the jumping manoeuvre on my first try, dealing a total of four damage. When it comes time to dodge Bowser’s fire breath, I…miss. I take 2 damage, out of Mario’s starting 24. Wait; how come getting hit with FIRE is equivalent to getting your head stomped on? Defense shemense, third-degree burns should be more painful then that!
…Oh. You know what? Pay no attention to the last sentence of that previous paragraph. As I learn after the battle is over, Bowser’s power was weakened by Peach’s force powers…I mean, her wishes, and Starlow’s magic. Peach then proceeds to use said magic to throw Bowser through a wall…instead of, say, the wide-open front door. The Mario Brothers…I mean, just Mario. Somehow, Luigi remained asleep throughout that entire battle. Where was I? Oh, yeah; Mario finds out that, according to a popular rumor, ‘the Blorbs’ are caused by Blorb Shrooms given out by a shady merchant. This is similar to that one scene in Snow White, except that the witch never got paid for doing it, and Snow White didn’t catch Apple-itis. Also, it’s official: the majority of the Mushroom Kingdom is either horribly naďve, or completely stupid, if so many have fallen for this scheme.
Suddenly, the perspective shifts! We cut to Bowser, in the middle of a forest, as a Magikoopa I assume to be Kamek tries to awaken him. Bowser wakes up, whines a bit about how he always loses, and then tries to fry Kamek after said magician mentions Mario’s name. And now, we get to play as Bowser! While Mario & Luigi could only jump (apparently, the six or seven hammers Mario has acquired over the years were all out being cleaned today), Bowser can punch AND breathe fire! These techniques will probably be needed to clear a path through the forest “his grouchiness” is stuck in. Personally, even if I want to become an evil tyrant, I’d advise my subjects NOT to call me negative adjectives as a form of respect, but I guess everyone has their own preferences.
As I clear the boulders away, I notice two things. Firstly, I see a side-path that is currently blocked off thanks to two unbreakable pillars. And secondly, I discover one of those X-Spots that showed where a bean was in previous games! Shame I don’t know how to dig with Bowser; at least by writing about it here, I’ll remember to come back later. After the rocks comes a bunch of trees; I burn away everything, but uncover nothing but the path forward. Oh, well; I guess knowing that I’m destroying the environment and poking holes in the ozone layer will have to be its own reward. After the trees comes…a hooded figure! He runs away, indicating that this is going to be a chase sequence! I take a few steps forwards, wondering how I’ll catch up with the character when Bowser is so-
“A WINNER IS YOU!”
…Shortest chase sequence ever. Anyways, the hooded man is a merchant, whom appears to have taken an interest in Bowser. I should probably mention that this guy talks like Fawful, has glasses like Fawful, and is selling some type of Mushroom. So, the likelihood of this guy being the weirdo Mario was told about is as probable as Kirby being the star of the next Kirby game. Getting back to the plot, without even buying anything (which Bowser and Kamek actually remark on instead of blissfully ignoring), Bowser is given a “Lucky (?) Shroom”, ‘guaranteed’ to make all of his hits a lucky/critical one. Yes, the (?) is actually in the item’s name when Bowser gets his hands on it. So, OBVIOUSLY, the only smart thing to do with this unusual item given to Bowser by a stranger is to swallow it whole.
If you’ve seen the commercials for the game (which I have, making my earlier statement of ‘having only read the manual’ slightly false), you know that this is the part where the s**t hits the fan. I’ve already mentioned Kirby a couple of times, so I’ll do it again: Bowser has turned into Kirby on perma-inhale mode. Also, the merchant is revealed to be Fawful, surprising nobody. Y’know, I wonder how he got his hands on all of those Blorb Shrooms and that Vacu-Shroom…I’d hate to spoil people who haven’t played the previous M&L, but I wonder if there’s any connection to the shop he ran in that game. Was it my beans that provided him with the means to do such a horrid act? …Well, I got some pretty sweet badges out of it, so I guess it was a worthy sacrifice. Better him than a bunch of purple aliens, right? …Right?
Cutting back to Peach’s castle, everything’s basically the same: Peach is all “Help me, Mario!”, Mario is all “Let’s-a go!”, and Luigi is all “Zzz…Zzz…”. Suddenly, Bowser comes back into the picture, still with the Kirby breath from earlier. He swallows everyone in the room, even though Luigi (who wakes up after everyone else is inhaled) actually tries to fight against it. Bowser then collapses, and Fawful flies in on…no, NOT his Headgear; some kind of flying platform this time. He mentions that this is a part of a grander scheme, and calls a creature named ‘Midbus’ into the room. I’m going to take another wild guess, and say that it’s a Mid-Boss that doubles as a vehicle of some sort. Also, I find it odd that Bowser didn’t accidentally inhale Kamek or Fawful on his rampage…but, I digress.
The focus switches back to Mario, who has winded up in what looks to be Bowser’s stomach. I’m assuming he’s shrunk, so that his size doesn’t rip Bowser’s belly in two. By the way, I think that if he was inhaled, Mario should be in the lungs. But this is the Mushroom Kingdom; as we’ve already seen, they don’t give a darn about logic! Anyways, it turns out that Bowser’s stomach is a two-dimensional universe, allowing Mario to head only left and right. Since left is a wall of…something body-related, we’ll head right. After jumping on some platforms over what I assume to be stomach acid (which, thankfully, I avoid falling into), I’m three mushrooms and a few coins richer, and I’m standing beneath a box of some sort. Hitting it reveals that it’s an Emoglobin, which I’m assuming is a Haemoglobin with emotions. I should really stop pointing out things that defy logic, but I think that Haemoglobins are found in the blood, and are even smaller than Mario’s currently-reduced size. The thing offers little advice, but allows me to save the game, which is an offer I cannot refuse.
And, since that seems like the best place to stop for now, let’s do so. Next time: something related to digestive tracks, I assume, and we hopefully reunite with Luigi.