Platform: Nintendo DS
Get further inside the Mushroom Kingdom than ever before
At this point, new Mario games are excuses for Nintendo to poke mild fun at itself, in that secretly flattering way only unimpeachable powerhouses can pull off. The company’s 28-year-old mascot has hopped through every genre under the sun, including, in the Mario and Luigi series, action role-playing. The third entry, Bowser’s Inside Story, feels like a long-running sitcom, where every character entrance enjoys great fanfare, and all the gags wink knowingly at prior gags. Nintendo could coast on nostalgia alone, but to their credit, it’s attached to a very good game. Perennial villain Bowser has inhaled the entire Mushroom Kingdom into his body. You guide him through the world on the top screen, while guiding Mario and Luigi through his body on the bottom. The heroes and villains work in tandem, solving creative puzzles, discovering new skills, and fighting familiar monsters with timed button presses, all amid vibrant cartoon scenery. In this case, Nintendo’s titanic self-regard feels well-deserved.