Bowser’s Fury game review (2021)

The latest Mario expansion, which is bundled up with the Super Mario 3D World re-release on the Nintendo Switch, Bowser’s Fury, is actually insanely fun while it lasts. It does become a bit repetitive after awhile, it’s short, and Bowser becomes less and less interesting.

Back during the Wii U days, I absolutely loved playing through Super Mario 3D World. I mean, it wasn’t the 3D adventure game I was expecting to release during its life cycle, but it was still loads of fun, including a variety of different levels to play through and some amazing to jam to throughout. I’m glad I’ll be able to revisit it on the Switch whenever I decide to do so. However, I mostly decided to purchase the game to play through the new expansion, Bowser’s Fury. Was it worth it? In some ways, yes, definitely. But, I don’t think it’s worth the full price most games are since it isn’t a full game. I mean, for both games maybe, but buying the expansion separately isn’t an option, at least not right now.

After being sucked into a black sludge, similar to the one we see in Super Mario Sunshine, Mario travels to an archipelago of sorts, which is full of various different cat islands. There, he runs into Bowser Jr., who’s seeking his help to try and knock some sense back into his Dad, Bowser, who seems corrupted by the sludge.

The game feels a lot like Super Mario Odyssey in terms of the camera angles and how you move around. The graphics look pretty familiar as well. The gameplay is more like 3D World, however. At least in the movements. Basically, consider it a huge DLC level for Odyssey with 3D World mechanics incorporated.

This could very well be a taste of what’s to come in a future Mario game that’s in the works and that’s that. If that’s the case, then I assume it’ll be Odyssey 2. Speaking more on Bowser’s Fury, the gameplay is fun, somewhat user-friendly at the start, and you immediately know what the task at hand is. Most of the islands you travel to in that world are vastly different and you have to use different methods in order to reach certain Cat Shines (the equivalent of stars). The more Cat Shines you obtain, the more you’re able to do.

Every now and then, Fury Bowser comes out of the sludge and basically wreaks havoc on the island. At first, it’s very intimidating, especially since he’s breathing heavy fire, just like Godzilla, and different platforms and sculptures are appearing seemingly out of nowhere. After it happens a few times though, it becomes less and less appealing since it’s pretty easy to not get hurt. Eventually, after enough Cat Shines, you can activate the Giga Bell, which basically makes you the same size as Fury Bowser in order to beat him temporarily. He does come back at full strength though, time and time again. So, as mentioned, it becomes a bit monotonous. Over time, he even becomes less and less interesting. He simply has way more personality in other games.

What I did enjoy more than the boss fights is the things to do on the different islands. For example, there are a series of puzzles to solve in order to obtain Cat Shines, which become increasingly more challenging as you go. There are also a handful of mini bosses to go up against, which is pretty nostalgic. Plus, riding around with Plessie is always fun and very convenient when trying to get around. All of this is where the game shines the most and delivers the best possible experience. I believe the soundtrack is also worth talking about. That sweet, jazzy funk makes a return. However, there are some very calming and soothing tunes to enjoy as well, while also throwing in some classical sounds to add some diversity. It never gets old and it’s become somewhat of a staple for Mario games I always look forward to listening to.

The ending is pretty entertaining, especially the final battle against him. But, I wish there was more to do. I know it’s probably something to hold us over until the next big installment releases. It’s not bad by any means, it’s actually pretty fun. But, if you’ve already played Super Mario 3D World and aren’t looking to revisit it on the Switch, then I don’t think it’s worth paying the full price of $60 to experience Bowser’s Fury. Again, to reiterate, the game is phenomenal for as long as it lasts. But, I was just expecting a bit more in terms of length and that’s probably my biggest complaint.

In some ways, Bowser’s Fury stacks up with the best of them in terms of Mario games. The world is vibrant and stunning to look at, and a joy to explore. However, it’s a bit short, sometimes repetitive, and I feel could’ve been something more. To reiterate, the length is the biggest issue for me. I wish Bowser was more compelling as a characters as well. The other small annoyances or dislikes are easily overlooked when you look at how great the game is as a whole. I say it’s worth a shot if you really want to try it since it’s still enjoyable, but not at its full price. The game all together, however, bundled up with 3D World, is definitely worth it, considering I’ve played it on the Wii U and it’s fantastic.

All in all, it still may be one of the best gaming experiences of the year when you consider the quality of game it is. Hopefully, it becomes a standalone release soon enough. I know there are a number of people who aren’t ready to drop $60 on a game that’s about four hours long.

Score: B

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