(Available for Nintendo Switch only)
After asking for ages Paper Mario finally gets a switch game and from the look of the trailers set off to relive some of the glory of the franchise that got lost with Colour Splash on the Wii U and especially with Sticker Star on the 3DS. The big gimmick this time is the Origami aesthetic mixing with traditional Paper Mario, the storyline being that Ollie the Origami King has taken over Peaches Castle and the Mushroom Kingdom turning into Origami and Mario must travel with new companions including Olly’s sister Olivia to save the kingdom by defeating the bosses at the end of each unfurled ribbon surrounding the castle. If you’re used to Paper Mario you know there’s going to be a bit more to it to discover some of which was detailed in the closer look video on YouTube which was obviously meant for the now abandoned E3. The other big changes were a ring battle system which looked like it would be more similar to games like Paper Mario Thousand Year Door whilst it also creates a puzzle of lining up enemies for maximum effect in attacks and an new experience system which didn’t seem to match what you’d expect from a traditional RPG which had people worried prior to release. Paper Mario’s battle system is now has a slide puzzle element to the tradition battle system and coins play a bigger role overall with them being used to pay for extra time or getting the toads in the audience to aid you in battle and give you hints. It’s also not the longest game in the series it comes in at a total run time for just the main story at around 26 hours and 37 hours for the competionist. Now granted in neither category it’s not the shortest game in the series but does come in on the lower end, especially when Compared with Thousand Year Door on the Gamecube having a competionist time of around 65 hours (source: Howlongtobeat.com). to it’s credit despite the changes it’s not entirely unrecognisable from traditional Paper Mario and veterans will be able to jump in fine and it works well for newcomers also though the battle system is way more accommodating to the latter given how different it is.
- Graphics: a lot of people have said that it doesn’t look very good but I think Origami king keeps up a lot the Paper Mario charm. It’s more distinct style helps with that and the arts and crafts aesthetic works well with the traditional flat images of Paper Mario. I wouldn’t state that I thought it was one of the best looking Switch games but it’s certainly one of the really good looking ones and some environments really pop out at you.
- The story: the comedic adventure story is back with some awesomely bizarre scenarios like a shogun themed theme park or a gameshow that you have take part in that make exploration fun. What makes the story great though is the characters who are lovably charming to be around whether it be the infectiously upbeat and curious personality of Olivia (who’s my favourite character in this game btw) ,the cool collected nature of Bobby a Bob-om with amnesia or the inquisitive professor Toad searching the desert for ancient tombs and many more. If you’ve played Paper Mario games in the past you know what to expect though it won’t be so alien for you if this is your first Paper Mario and it really feels great that companions similar to Thousand Year Door are really a big thing again. I also really appreciated a lot of the wackier moments that really added to the games personality which I won’t spoil for you
- Boss battles: I go into more detail about the Battle system in the mixed section but the weaknesses of the battle system are mostly made up for with the boss battles. The difference is to use the same methods of lining up enemies to line up a path and an attack to the boss and they really will test your skill. Honestly they were a big highlight of the game in terms of design and execution especially given majority of them were stationary which added well to the theme. There are a few cheap moments in these fights but it is possible to recover afterwards
- Good for collectors: if you enjoy collecting things in games you’ll love searching for all the missing Toads and trophies which will make you go through every area making sure you 100% everywhere
- The battle system: while it technically is still traditional turn based combat it comes with a puzzle element to it. the idea is before combat you have to attempt to use several sliders on a circled grid as soon as that’s done if you’ve successfully lined up the enemies you gain a boost in your attack (trust me I made it sound way more complicated than it is). Now I don’t have as much of a problem with the battle system as much as other reviewers because it didn’t feel like too much of a chore to get through and I got some satisfaction from solving a difficult puzzle but they also take a bit longer especially if you spend coins to increase the time limit to solve the puzzle and they don’t offer a particularly high level of strategy. The game also gives you a cheer system where depending on how many coins you’re willing to throw at the audience of Toads who will help you with a puzzle at the cost of how many coins you’ll earn at the end of battle. by the end of the game I was doing this more often than not for most of the hard puzzles since I was nether short on coins during the entire game and the games gives you a bit too many. the puzzles themselves range from insultingly easy to really difficult with little middle ground though it feel weird that the game can almost play itself in parts.
- Not great for traditional RPG fans: it’s hard to get around the fact RPG fans will struggle to adjust to no experience pints and equipment having limited effects. As previously mentioned as well the lack of an experience system really lowers the perception of progress with your characters
- You can’t control companion characters: the companion characters are all auto attackers and they miss as often as they succeed and also don’t appear in boss fights. This is a really bizarre call and I really wish I would have some control over them. Plus you only have 1 in your party at any one time and they’re very situationally important in terms of their abilities. I’m glad their here and there should be companion characters in Paper Mario going forward but it still feels off with them not being controllable.
I preferred this Paper Mario to Sticker Star and Colour Splash and in many ways I preferred it to Super Paper Mario. It obviously not as good as Thousand Year Door but no one was really going into this game thinking that. it really in many ways has the Paper Mario charm with the story, characters and dialogue, some amazing environments to explore and have fun with as well some awesome collectables and set pieces. This was genuinely enjoyable experience in spite of my rather mixed opinion on the battle system and the rather bare RPG mechanics. If they fixed many of the issues with those we could have another paper Mario close to Thousand Year Door. Still I actually really liked this game though and am glad I played it. still would love a port of Thousand Year Door but given how Nintendo has handled legacy content lately I would doubt that’ll happen
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