The Paper Mario series is quite an interesting one. The original Paper Mario stood as a faux sequel for Super Mario RPG. At this point Mario was still new to the world of Role Playing, and Paper Mario for the N64 was just the ticket he needed to worm his way into another genre, especially with Mario RPG’s release being limited worldwide. With Super Paper Mario being the 3rd game in the Paper Mario series, Mario’s found his feet and planted them firmly, right on top of a Goomba.
In light of a recent kidnapping of Princess Peach, again, Mario and Luigi head to Bowser‘s castle to rescue her, only to find that Bowser was not responsible for it. It is then revealed that the true kidnapper is Count Bleck, a sorcerer who wields an ancient, prophetical tome called the Dark Prognosticus. Bleck then forces Bowser and Peach to marry each other, in order to, as the Dark Prognosticus foretells, unleash a destructive power known as the Chaos Heart. The Chaos Heart will slowly engulf all worlds in the universe, essentially ending life as we know it. Time to save the world? Yup.
Super Paper Mario stays faithful to its predecessors, while changing a core gameplay factor, turn based battles. Super Paper Mario abolishes these, in favour of classic style Mario battles, also known as jumping on stuff. You could compare the game to the old Super Mario Bro’s games, it’s a side scrolling platformer with a lot of RPG elements more than anything else, not a true RPG. However it’s a breath of fresh air to the series and I’m glad they’re trying something new. However the game still relies on hit points, experience points and levelling up your character. While the game feels like a platformer, it’s still text-heavy like an RPG. But don’t worry, it still uses the same writing style and humour that we love in the Paper Mario games, Luigi is as funny as ever.
The player moves through a series of levels, where he explores various landscapes, fights enemies, and solves puzzles. The game is divided into 32 levels within eight chapters, each chapter takes place in it’s own unique dimension. Each of the dimensions have their own charm and style to them, they all look fantastic. Paper Mario takes 2D and redefines it, with the stylised paper versions of the characters looking better than ever, Super Paper Mario looks amazing, the characters and dimensions are all exceedingly colourful, almost painfully so. Too many colours for one brain to handle. With thick black outlines for everything, it looks like some kind of trippy comic book.
Along as playing as Mario, you have little assistants that you acquire throughout the game, they’re called pixls. The first one you start off with is Tippi. Tippi is a butterfly-like pixl who serves as your guide in the game much like Navi in the Zelda games or Goombella in Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. She’s quite handy, and you get a fair few throughout your adventure, each with a unique ability. Mario has also acquired a brand new ability, he can flip. Flipping rotates the camera sideways, turning what was once a 2D world into a 3D one. This opens up a lot more paths and places to explore so you have to remember to flip when roaming the dimensions. Unfortunately the 3D scenery doesn’t look as great as the 2D one.
Unlike the graphics, the music in the game is sup-par. Which is odd for a Mario game. The audio is probably the weakest part of Super Paper Mario. With fantastic graphics and tight controls and gameplay, the audio just doesn’t cut it. While the soundtrack is solid it all sounds a little bit too old school. The tracks are easily forgotten, voice acting is barely used, and the sound effects are good, but re used from old games.
While the controls are definitely retro, you’ll get occasional Wii-more prompts during battles and events. You’ll also come across a few Mini-games on your quest that require waggle. The platforming takes from old 2D Mario’s, with running and jumping being the main objectives, there’s also a button dedicated to flipping dimensions. The main quest in the game should take you a fair while, with lots of dimensions to explore you’ll be roaming them for hours. There are also a good number of side-quests to undertake, some of which you’ll have to trek back to previous dimensions to do, once you obtained new abilities. Throughout the game you’ll also be able to play as Luigi, Peach and Bowser, quadrupling the fun and adding another reason to go back through dimensions as they have different abilities. The game also sports some spectacular, screen filling bosses.
While Super Paper Mario is a great game, there are several things that let it down a bit, although they don’t ruin the gaming experience they can be quite an annoyance. Sometimes when you flip into 3D the camera can be awkward, it can be hard to see and even harder to jump on enemies as its difficult to line it up right. The difficulty curve is way off, you’ll breeze through early levels and later levels can be both easy as hell and ass kicking, instead of a steady incline of difficulty its been spewed all over the levels randomly. Some levels rely a bit too much on navigating through labyrinth like stages, these can be fairly tedious. While all of these are problematic, you will get over them.
Overall Super Paper Mario is a great addition to the series, but not the best one in it. I’d place it tied with the Thousand Year Door, but below the original Paper Mario. Even though the minor issues prevent the game from being all it can be, it’s still an enjoyable experience. The game’s intriguing story, witty dialog and solid control and gameplay scheme’s make it a must play for Wii owners. Check it out if you like RPG’s or platformers, it’s a bit of both.
Charming graphics and dialogue make this game beautiful.
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Solid controls, but the 3D perspective is a tad iffy.
Weak audio takes away from the chram of the game.
A long game, with plenty to keep you going after you've finished, such as the Pit of 100 trials.
A great Platformer/RPG with undeniable charm that you're sure to enjoy.