I'm not revealing any secrets when I say I love the Mario & Luigi games. Even more than Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, I think the humour and the immediate feedback provided by these action platformers is massively under-rated.
No surprise then that I thought Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story was one of the most enjoyable and playable games on the E3 showfloor.
Developed by longtime Mario & Luigi creators AlphaDream, Bowser's Inside Story continues the gameplay of previous games, which sees you controlling Mario and Luigi through typical 2D platforming environments as well as separate battle arenas, which are more like those experienced in role-playing games such as Final Fantasy.
These are triggered when you come into contact with enemies in the 2D level, and see you pit Mario and Luigi against groups of enemies in a turn-based environment. By selecting different attacks - including repetitive combo attacks - and items, you target the enemies by reducing their health points to zero, also increasing the power of your attacks by pressing various buttons at exactly the right time.
And as with all good role-playing games, as the further you get, so Mario and Luigi get to collect more items and experience points, levelling up and unlocking more powerful attacks in the process.
One of our favourites is the shell kicking mode which requires you to press the A and B buttons in step as the shell approaches Mario's and then Luigi's feet. Keeping the momentum of the shell bouncing off their feet - via a collision with the enemy - ensures a massive lost of health points, as well as mucho satisfaction.
Of course, for players of previous Mario & Luigi games, this is old news. The difference in Bowser's Inside Story is that while Mario and Luigi have been swallowed by the villainous Bowser and are trying to make their way out, you also get to play as Bowser, who is trying to protect his castle from attack.
Instead of the sidescrolling platforming that going on within his body, Bowser's game is a topdown affair, which sees you bashing and burning all obstacles in your path.
And when it comes to his battle screens, despite there only being one Bowser, he's aided by his Goomba minions. An example of this was the Storm move, in which the Goombas charge the enemy. You have to tap them with your stylus to set them alight thanks to Bowser's fire-breathing power. They are then launched into the air to fall down on the enemy like a fiery waterfall of pain.
Other Bowser attacks - all of which are stylus-based - include the Koopa Corps and the Bob-omb Blitz, and very amusing they are too.
So it's nothing terribly sophisticated but we really can't wait for Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story to be released. It's due sometime in the autumn.