Monday, April 23, 2012

Super Paper Mario Review

When the original Paper Mario was released on the Nintendo 64, gamers instantly fell in love with the unique aesthetic and quirky humor. Once fans delved into the game, they were greeted by a turn based RPG with all the charm of a Mario game. Paper Mario's sequel, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, expanded upon everything the original game did, making it an instant favorite among fans of the series. When the third game in the series, Super Paper Mario, was released in 2007 for the Nintendo Wii, it was a dramatic change in direction for the series. The paper thin Mario and his friends were no longer gallivanting around 3D worlds and fighting in turn based battles. Instead, they were now in a mainly 2D sidescrolling platformer with RPG elements. Was this a change for the better, or did it dampen the experience?

In this third Paper Mario, the story starts off like any other Mario game. You guessed it, Princess Peach is kidnapped. But this time, there's a twist. Bowser and Luigi are also kidnapped along with the princess by a man named Count Bleck. He forces Peach and Bowser to wed, causing the birth of the Chaos Heart, which Count Bleck then uses to open a void which would destroy all worlds if given enough time. Instead of being kidnapped by the count, Mario is taken to a town called Flipside by a Pixl, fairy like creatures who act as sidekicks throughout the game, named Tippi. There, we're introduced to a character named Merlon. Merlon explains explains the current situation to Mario, and he tells him that to stop the count, Mario must travel to multiple dimensions and collect the eight Pure Hearts. Thus begins Mario's journey again.

The story is surprisingly complex for a Mario game, full of twists and turns that you'll discover throughout the game. It's nothing ground breaking in the RPG genre, but it is exceptional for Mario standards. The game is littered with memorable characters you won't soon forget, and the writing is just as humorous and quirky as you would expect from a Paper Mario game. The only issue is that there is a lot of text to read, and it does get a little tiring reading text box after text box everytime there's a cutscene, but it is made enjoyable by the good writing.

Visually, Super Paper Mario is gorgeous to look at. Every character in the game is a flat paper cut out, similar to the previous Paper Mario games. The colors are nice and vibrant, and each world you go to has a unique look. While it's nothing the Gamecube couldn't have done, it is a timeless style that looked good then, looks good now, and will look good five years from now.

Super Paper Mario's art style is the same one we've all
come to love.

Much like the other games in the series, Super Paper Mario is divided up into chapters and has a hub world that you return to after each chapter. This time, the hub world Flipside. It is a rather large hub world with tons of nooks and crannies to explore, but it does get a little tedious later on in the game. You'll find yourself backtracking over and over again each time you return to Flipside, and it starts to wear on you after the fourth or fifth time. However, it is a nice large area for you to explore and kill time with between chapters.

When you enter the first chapter, you'll soon discover that Super Paper Mario's gameplay has more in common with classic Mario platformers than the previous Paper Mario games. The game is mainly a 2D sidescroller, and your main form of attack is jumping on enemies. Because it's mainly a 2D platformer, you hold the Wii remote on its side like a classic NES controller. The game still retains classic RPG elements though, like level ups, stats, and items.

The biggest change in the game, though, is the ability to flip between 2D and 3D planes. There are tons of secrets and puzzles that use the new mechanic, and you'll find yourself flipping back and forth just to make sure you didn't miss any pipes or secret passages. However, you can't stay in the 3D realm forever. When you flip into 3D, a meter appears and starts counting down. If you don't flip back to 2D before the meter runs out, the game will take away a hit point before filling back up again. Flipping back to 2D causes the meter to slowly recharge, allowing you to have some more time exploring in 3D.

The mechanic is interesting and certainly unique, but it does have its flaws. When you're exploring a world in 2D, it seems full of life and style, but the instant you flip to 3D, you're greeted by mostly barren wastelands with only a few enemies running around to entertain you. Also, due to the fact that enemies are flat, 2D shapes, it's hard to accurately judge where they are in relation to you while in 3D. You'll find yourself taking some damage because you landed right next to an enemy instead of on top of them.

Mario can flip between 2D and 3D in this Wii RPG.

The ability to flip between 2D and 3D isn't the only ability you have in the game though. As you go through the game, you gain other abilities through the form of Pixls. Each Pixl offers one ability, and each is useful in their own way. For example, Tippi gives you ability to find hidden objects, while Thoreau allows you to pick up items and throw them.

Along with gaining pixls, you also find familiar characters who join your party, namely Princess Peach and Bowser. Each character has their own pros and cons, along with some ability that no one else can do. While Peach can use her umbrella to float over long distances and defend against some attacks, Bowser can use his fire breath to damage enemies Mario and Peach can't.

As you level up and gain abilities, the game gets progressively more difficult. You probably won't ever die though, as most enemies never really do that much damage to you. If you ever do get low on health, there are healing items scattered throughout each chapter, and when you level up, your HP is automatically refilled. You are limited to only holding ten items at a time, though, which at least prevents you from stocking up on countless healing items.

The soundtrack in Super Paper Mario is excellent, with a mixture of remixed classic tunes and catchy new songs. Each song seems to fit the moment perfectly while still retaining the classic Paper Mario style we've all grown to love. Only a few tracks are truly memorable though, with most of the other songs fading from memory as soon as you turn the Wii off. One can't fault them though, as they are excellent and truly fitting as you're playing through the game.

When you finish the main quest, which takes between fifteen and twenty hours, there are numerous side-quests to keep you playing. There are character cards scattered throughout each chapter, along with recipes for you to discover. There's also the Pit of 100 trials for you to test your skills with, along with a few other challenges waiting for you hidden throughout the game. If you want to complete everything, the game could easily last you around forty hours.

There are many things for you to do after you beat the game.

Concluding Thoughts
Overall, Super Paper Mario took a lot of risks by changing up the old formula we had all grown to love. While most of those risks paid off in the end, there were a few flaws mixed in. When looking back on the game though, you don't tend to remember those flaws as much as you remember the quirky writing and fun battles you experienced in various chapters. Although not perfect, Super Paper Mario is an excellent addition to any Wii owner's library.

Final Score

No comments:

Post a Comment