Super Paper Mario review
Dada da dada-da HEY!


Let me be honest with you guys - I don't particularly care for The Thousand Year Door. I liked the first Paper Mario game, but the sequel was watered right the fudge down. Sure the story was good, if inferior to the first game... Actually, all of the second game felt inferior to the first game, except for the villain, paper planes and graphics. To me, it was a mixed bag when compared to the original and Super Marip RPG, but good on its own still. So what we have for the third game, is one more like Super Mario Brothers than Super Mario RPG. Some say it's a bad thing - I reckon it's a good thing. I was getting kind of sick of this style, but then again, I play heaps of RPGs, so it kind of made sense I guess... anyway, it was nice to be like the Mario of old while keeping the paper visuals and paper elements. In all honestly, I got hooked to this game. It was awesome.

Super Paper Mario is about a prophecy of sorts known as the Dark Prognosticus, where if Peach and Bowser were to wed, it would unleash a power known as the Chaos Heart. The Chaos Heart opens up a dimensional rip known as The Void, and this is meant to destroy all dimensions. This is done by an evil thing known as Count Bleck, and together with his henchmen O'Chunks (dummy with superhuman strength), Mimi (sadistic shapeshifter) and Dementio (dimension-manipulating jester), he hopes to stop the fulfilling of the Light Prognosticus, which is basically the four heroes banding together with the power of the Pure Hearts and stopping The Void from destroying the fabric of existence. And if you've any idea of the Mario series, you should be able to figure out who the four are.

So anyway, I think the premise of the story is a little cliched, but at least it's not like that of the other two games where all the bad guys want is world domination. Nah, let's just destroy everything. Much more interesting. The prophecies come across as a bit pretentious (especially for a Mario game), and the "destroying all of existence" seems a bit cliche, but the one thing that saves them from being crap is the way its handled - not seriously. See, the thing I liked about both Paper Mario games is that they don't take things seriously unlike most RPGs. The writers try to get some chuckles out of people, but retain some seriousness, so that it still has a damn good story to keep you coming, even if you don't really find the dialogue that funny. That, and it doesn't end up making you feel like you're experiencing a parody. I admire the dialogue writers over at Intelligent Studios for that. Along with a likable cast of characters, the story is far from a chore to go through.

Keeping true to its roots, Super Paper Mario is a sidescroller... most of the time. Throughout about 80% of the game, you'll be sidescrolling your way from door to door, solving some puzzles or jumping on enemies. Best of both worlds, really. But only that - purists of one or the other won't find themselves getting into this, as it's too story driven for a platformer, or combat is too simple for an action/RPG. My solution is to try and like it for what it is, though I don't think that'll happen anytime soon..

Sidescrolling is as simple as pressing left on the command cross to move left. It's nothing too complex, which is what I like with most platformers. It takes a simplistic approach. You either jump or use the power of Mario's secondary allies known as Pxls (such as shrinking and the classic ground pound), or use Tipi's power via waggling the Wiimote towards the sensor and highlighting an object, which either helps you defeat an enemy, or just tell you about stuff. Defeating enemies nets you points, and enough points nets you a higher level, which can increase statistics like HP and the power of your attacks.

The main hub - Flipside - hosts many of the game's RPG elements, such as shops and fortune telling. Judging by all of that, though, the RPG elements seem a little shallow, but it at least keeps the spirit, which is still a good thing, plus there's still a fair amount in the level up system, so don't think Flipside is the only thing that resembles an RPG - just saying.

Where all the action happens, however, is in the worlds. Separated by chapters and sub-chapters, the worlds contain all the puzzles and action. If you think that it'll be exactly like Super Mario Brothers, think again. The levels are much longer and contain a fair amount of puzzles to keep you entertained. It's not just a case of rushing through from A to B without getting your head split by a hammer, but also involves finding a switch, taking advantage of Pxls and even taking advantage of your allies' special abilities that separate them from each other and Mario.

With combat no longer being turn based and being more like that of Super Mario Brothers, it'll feel a bit overwhelming just reading this - what, with having to choose the right Pxl, dealing with multiple enemies, not one hit killing either Mario nor the enemy, oh man I'm getting flustered! But not really. It feels simplified, making it easy to dispatch of enemies lickity split. Hardly, if at all, do you feel the need to have the right Pxl (very few situations call for a throwing or ground point Pxl), and same with the right ally. Simple, really.

So... why are a decent amount of bosses that easy? Some bosses can be pricks, but goddamn, a fair amount of bosses feel stupidly easy, and the only reason they take a fair amount of time is because of time consuming attacks, or just tedium. Just makes some bosses feel anti-climactic when you finally get to them, especially if you just got through a chapter you found quite tough.

However, I owe that to a generous level up system. The points required to level up are a bit low, the enemies give a bit too much and it's easy to just go on a killing spree. Granted you don't - or shouldn't - need to kill every enemy, there's always the odd few who are basically asking for it, either by being in the way of a platform, or because they're threw a hammer at your head and you want to exact revenge. Either way, your thirst for paper blood has to be quenched, and it can't be quenched with bosses... enemies must die too!

Now, what really drew people into buying this game? The fact that you can flip dimensions! Awesome! So when I flip from 2D to 3D... it's not very impressive. Felt very half-assed, actually. It felt like the other two Paper Mario titles, but I don't know... something about it just doesn't feel good. The major purpose seems to be to find a way through puzzles you couldn't get through while sidescrolling or to check for some hidden items and stuff, but just feels a bit bland. Although if you stay in 3D for too long, you lose health, so I guess it makes sense to not put too much into 3D outside of what I just said. Compensation seemed to be the key - but for what? Just to find some hidden items and solutions then get out, or laziness? Hmm...

Enough of gameplay.. The graphics in the game are well done. The (so far) trilogy has been known for colorful visuals, especially The Thousand Year Door, and it's safe to say that Super Paper Mario contains some really colorful levels, brimming with a vibrant atmosphere. It's a nice change from the dark depressing color schemes you're all probably used to (Resistance, Killzone, Gears of War, Metroid Prime). By the end of the day, your eyes might become more saturated. Oh, and as for the laziness of the 3D levels, let's add a "how to" to drag down graphical quality, as when flipped to 3D, areas are much more desolate and bland... and that leaves me sad, which is what Paper Mario shouldn't be doing unless it's a dramatic cutscene.

Audio-wise, Super Paper Mario excels. The soundtrack adds a happy-go lucky atmosphere, even during a dramatic scene. Even during those, the tunes still feel a bit too happy, but it's nothing too bad, as the scenes can still feel dramatic, just not to the extent it could've been if darker music was used. That said though, the soundtrack is what the rest of the game needed - it made the game more enjoyable to play through. Definitely worth getting the OST off the internet. As for the rest of the audio, the sound effects aren't anything special, though comical, so it doesn't really make things worse. Actually, the way they're done, it kind of makes it better, as the somewhat comical sound effects add to the fact that this game doesn't take itself too seriously. And while there's no voice acting whatsoever (weeaboos will love this), the characters make noises in different situations, adding more personality to them.

With 16-20 hours to its name, Super Paper Mario will definitely be a part of your life for at least a week. There is the ever so awesome Pit of 100 Trials making its return, and some challenges which will keep you entertained after stopping The Void (if you do, that is... I won't tell). You also get an arcade machine that hosts a lot of mini game, and that's fine and all if you want to squeeze some life out of the game. But Jesus Christ, 200+ enemy cards? Secret Pxls? Recipes? Some of this stuff is made exclusively for completionists... Just wow...

In summary:

Gameplay: 4
A hybrid of 2D and 3D platforming. The 3D feels half-baked, but damn the 2D is pretty well done. Boss battles were surprisingly well done too, if easy due to a generous leveling system.

Controls: 4
Controls respond well, and the motion controls work very well - although with that said, it's pretty damn simple, and not in a good way either... its in the shallow kind.

Story: 5
Sounds a little pretentious and cliche, but the writing direction says otherwise. Add a good cast of characters, and you're set.

Graphics: 4
Very vibrant and colorful without stinging your eyes. Also contains some neat looking levels. Too bad 3D view isn't all that grand.

Sound: 4.5
Some cute little noises here and there and some decent enough sound effects... Oh, and kickass soundtrack. Very catchy; even better than the first Paper Mario's, and that was cool too.

Lastability: 3.5
Ehh seems a bit too completionist-like. Granted that it takes about 16-20 hours, a few sidequests (like card collecting) aren't really all that important. Oh well, at least some others will test your skill.

Funfactor: 4
You like platformers? You'll have a lot of fun then. Actually, a lot of things, like puzzles and platforming, is quite fun. What isn't so fun is how easy it can be.

Bottom Line:
Super Paper Mario is a pretty good sequel to a good game, if barely like the good game. It has its problems here and there, but if you're looking for a solid Wii title to blow a week or so on, here it is. A definite 4.3/5.0.

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