Bowser Jr.'s Journey, known in Japanese as Koopa Jr. RPG,note is a strategy based side story for the Video Game Remake of Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, starring (who else?) Bowser Jr. It is also a followup to Minion Quest: The Search for Bowser, which was likewise a side story for the Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga remake. In this side story of Bowser's Inside Story, Bowser rushes off to Peach's Castle to join a meeting about the recent Blorb epidemic that has overtaken the entire Mushroom Kingdom, with Junior acting as command until he returns. That is, until a group known as the "Best Fitness Friends" come knocking with a supposed cure for the Blorbs and offer the recipe for it. Expecting to be praised by his father for singlehandedly fixing everything before he gets back, Bowser Jr. rushes off to collect the ingredients he needs.
What starts as a simple Fetch Quest quickly goes sour when Bowser Jr.'s bratty personality chews away at the last straws of all the Koopalings but Morton, while panic rages on back home.
The gameplay is mostly identical to Minion Quest. The fights are a nine-on-nine frenzy with a simple Tactical RockPaperScissors dynamic with the three types of units, Melee, Ranged, and Flying. The major changes this time around are Group Special Attacks, where multiple units of the same type band together to really bring the pain, and First Officers, a special position for minions like the Koopalings that provide stat bonuses and additional commands.
As with Minion Quest, it is not a standalone game; it is instead part of the Bowser's Inside Story remake.
Tropes appearing to this mode:
- A Day in the Limelight:
- Like last time, the Koopalings get a lot of focus, though the real spotlight is put on Bowser Jr. himself.
- Kamek also gets a lot of focus, being Junior's main follower as the game goes on and being one of the triggers for his Character Development.
- Ascended Extra: The Dark versions of the Koopalings are given a contextual appearance when the fused BFFs create them during the final battle.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Being a kid, Junior doesn't have much of an attention span when it comes to learning strategy.
- Bragging Rights Reward: The reward for clearing all quests in the game is a simple battle scene where Jr. and his current team celebrate for a few seconds they have cleared all quests. Collecting all medals does absolutely nothing.
- Big Bad: The Best Fitness Friends, a trio of beauty supply salespeople and personal health fanatics known as Dieter, Kaley and Beef. In actuality, however, they work for Fawful and their true name is the Brute Force Federation.
- Blah, Blah, Blah: This is all Ludwig can say, according to Bowser Jr.
- Brainwashed and Crazy:
- Morton gets this after being forced to eat a corrupted version of Skeletone Formula:D called Malatone Formula:X.
- In addition to Fawful's brainwashing in the main game, a number of Minions are also fed Malatone.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Bowser Jr. He's so obnoxious that even the Koopalings, Bowser's most loyal minions, can't stand him.
- Brick Joke: At the start of the story, Skeletone Formula:D has a subtitle saying, "Results may vary. Not responsible for skeleton damage. Side effects include dizziness, fainting, and soggy bones." Come the epilogue, Bowser ends up eating much more than what's prescribed and turns into Dry Bowser.
- Call-Back: Captain Goomba and his squad from Minion Quest reappear in this game as supporting characters. In the level "The Trio Clash!", you get to play with all four captains. The music also changes to the regular battle theme from Minion Quest.
- Can't Drop the Hero: Unlike Minion Quest, Bowser Jr. is the only available captain. He can be changed into whichever unit type you need for the mission at hand.
- Chekhov's Gun: An in-story equivalent happens with the Ever Ice. Bowser sent Kamek to get some for Junior to enjoy as a treat a long time ago only for Junior to never touch it. Cue the events of the game and now Bowser Jr needs it to make the Blorbs cure. Kamek even points out the irony of the situation.
- Combination Attack:
- Multiple minions of the same type can team up for Group Special Attacks. Depending on the attack, they might hit a single enemy several times or the entire enemy team.
- Larry and Lemmy also have First Officer abilities that allow them to perform special attacks with Bowser Jr.: a variant of the Green Shell Bros. Attack from the main game and Junior kicking Lemmy's ball into enemies respectively.
- Composite Character: Morton in this game is smarter than he looks, as in Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, while still speaking in a simple manner in Minion Quest, as well as Paper Counterpart in Color Splash.
- Continuity Nod:
- The four captains from the previous game return as enemies in Bowser's Castle West as the tutorial enemies. Both their bios and the Koopalings in-story mention their actions in saving Bowser. They also pull off a Big Damn Heroes moment when Junior returns to the castle, and they join Junior as normal minions afterward.
- Bowser Jr. still has the paintbrush he used in Super Mario Sunshine and various games afterward. It allows him to become a Ranged unit.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: Iggy is the first one to bring up the possibility of some of the minions being brainwashed. Despite the Koopalings being victims of that exact tactic in Minion Quest, Wendy doesn't believe him.
- Crutch Character: You start with most of the Koopalings in your party. However, by the end of the second map they've either abandoned Junior or gone back to defend the castle, aside from Morton (who gets brainwashed by force) and Iggy (who gets pushed off a cliff and suffers Easy Amnesia).
- Double Take: Bowser Jr. when he and Kamek meet the Mario Bros.Bowser Jr.: Huh, it's Mario and Luigi.
[Mario greets him and the two duos walk past each other, before Jr. suddenly turns around and points at them.]
Bowser Jr.: Wait... MARIO AND LUIGI?!
- Dwindling Party: The Koopalings start leaving the party as the adventure goes on, both because of Junior's terrible behaviour and the BFF's machinations, eventually leaving Kamek as Bowser Jr.'s only remaining First Officer. The second half of the game is all about getting them back.
- Easy Amnesia: Iggy forgets who he is after being pushed off a cliff into the ocean, and doesn't quite get it back after Defeat Means Friendship.
- Evil Knockoff: The Dark versions of the Koopalings from Minion Quest which stood in for the ones you recruited return here. This time, however, they also make a surprise appearance during the final battle. Additionally, during the bonus stages, Bowser gets one separate from Dark Bowser.
- Fake Defector: Ludwig disguises himself as Beef to get intel on the BFFs' true motives.
- Find the Cure!: In a twist to this trope, Bowser Jr. knows what the cure to the Blorbs is. They just have to find the ingredients, and then find someone who can make the cure.
- Five-Man Band: With the addition of Dieter, Kaley and Beef into his ranks (alongside Midbus), Fawful becomes part of one, although he and Midbus act separately from the BFF trio as Greater Scope Villains.
- Fusion Dance: Dieter, Kaley, and Beef all fuse into a monster that basically gets all boosts and Malatone X effects.
- Gentle Giant: Morton takes every insult Junior throws at him in stride, constantly sticks by his friends through all the trouble without ever getting angry, and never considers leaving or even firing back at Jr's constant insults. When Dieter hits him with the Malatone, he says he's sorry and tells Jr. to run.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Fawful. Just like Cackletta before him, his conquest of Bowser and Peach's realms are ongoing during the events of this game, but he doesn't confront Jr.'s forces directly, instead delegating responsibilties to the BFF trio who serve as the true antagonists.
- Guide Dang It!: Getting Nabbit as a minion requires Ludwig to be your First Officer. Thankfully it's a postgame battle so you aren't forced to miss this.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Kaley has a bad case of this, which is noted as her weakness by Ludwig.
- Hero of Another Story:
- Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings themselves are this to the main story.
- Mario and Luigi also act more like this in their one scene compared to Minion Quest; Bowser Jr. and Kamek encounter the bros and Starlow in Blubble Lake while they're searching for the Star Cure.
- Bowser Sr. is briefly seen at Cavi Cape where Bowser Jr.'s party narrowly misses him as he tries out the Chakroad. They eventually see him fighting the Tower of Yikk.
- Interface Spoiler: The list of obscured recruitable minions contain several obvious surprise additions that aren't hard to tell apart.
- Ignoring by Singing: At one point, when Ludwig tries giving Bowser Jr. advice:Bowser Jr.: LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!
- Jerkass Has a Point: Roy leaving the team comes from Junior not treating his troops with any respect.
- Jerkass Realization: Junior doesn't realize how self-centered he's been until he suffers a huge defeat with Kamek giving him a much-needed wakeup call about the Minions' importance afterwards.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Private Goomp, Corporal Paraplonk, and Sergeant Guy may have been Easily Forgiven by Bowser, but their fellow Minions, not so much. Not only do the lowliest of Goombas disrespect the trio for their betrayal in the postgame, they're forced to be Bowser Jr.'s sparring partners as his last one looks on.Captain Goomba: Chin up, Private Goomp! It's an HONOR to be Lord Junior's punching ba—er, best friend...
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Kamek would rather not narrate what happened between Bowser Jr. and the Paratroopa Trio after the latter tried to battle the former.
- MacGuffin Delivery Service: The BFFs have Bowser Jr. go out to make more Skeletone Formula:D so they can steal it from him to make their brainwashing drug, Malatone Formula:X.
- Mentors: Ludwig initially handles this role at the beginning of the game before passing it off to Wendy. Kamek eventually ends up in this role and stays this way for the rest of the game.
- Never Say "Die": Averted. When Bowser Jr. risks his life to save Larry and Lemmy from being squished by a giant robot, Kamek tells him that he'll "be the death of [him]".
- Once per Episode: Just like the previous installment, this game has a scene where Bowser gets off his throne to chase the protagonist out of rage. However, unlike Minion Quest, this doesn't occur after the true final battle.
- Plot Hole: One occurs during Blubble Lake, where Jr. and Kamek stumble upon Mario, Luigi, and Starlow, who are busy trying to find the Star Cures. The discrepancy in this situation is the fact Jr. later encounters Bowser fighting the Tower of Yikk. At this point in time and before then, the bros. can't access Blubble Lake by themselves, as the path there is barricaded from Toad Town. Only Bowser is able to enter the lake.
- Poison and Cure Gambit: The Goombas are infected with the Blorbs. The BFF comes in with the cure, Skeletone Formula:D. The catch? They have only one dose of the cure, but are content to sell the recipe. This leads to Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings leaving the castle unattended to gather the ingredients, allowing the castle to be taken over and for the BFFs to steal the completed cure to make their brainwashing drug.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Jr.'s behavior slowly convinces almost every Koopaling to ditch him.
- The Starscream: The BFFs' true goal is to overthrow Fawful and take over the Mushroom Kingdom themselves.
- Undying Loyalty: For all the crap Jr. throws at him, Morton stubbornly refuses to leave his side. This is even his main ability as a First Officer, having him shield Bowser Jr. from harm despite his protests.