Should I Buy? – Super Paper Mario

Alright, it seems nobody was interested in hearing about how much I love Shu Takumi’s games so here I am, writing another entry on something more mainstream, as it were. And really, how can you get more mainstream than Mario? If gaming as a whole had an icon, it’d be the diminutive plumber. Being a Mario game this is a Wii exclusive, by the way.

The Paper Mario games, strangely enough, take place in an alternative Mushroom Kingdom where everybody’s paper thin. As if that wasn’t enough weirdness, the gameplay itself is a 2.5D platformer/RPG/adventure. Let me break down how it works. The game has you run across the screen, fighting enemies primarily by jumping on them like a platformer. As you defeat more enemies, you gain experience. When you get enough for a level up, your health and attack power increases. The adventure elements come from the puzzles in the game.

Yes, again with the puzzles, I know.These aren’t just based around pushing blocks, instead, you must learn how to use your abilities to traverse the environment. For example, as Mario you can flip your perspective within the area to bypass otherwise unsurmountable objects and find secret areas. To do this, each of the four playable characters has a unique ability and you recruit a variety of ‘Pixls’, strange creatures who each have, you guessed it, a unique ability.

The different worlds you travel to are each based around a different theme. The first is a retro setting reminiscent of the early Mario games, filled with Koopas and the like. The game then moves into outer space, a caveman world, a creepy mansion and even into the fortress of a giant lizard anime nerd and more as you jump and smash your way through the game. And, for a Mario game, there’s a surprising amount of it. Basically, Count Bleck is leading his evil minions in enacting the prophecies in a book that will bring about the end of all worlds. Though the constant text can easily get annoying, the characters are a great source of humour. The witless Bowser, bold and brave Peach and delightfully insane Count Bleck all  help to sell the game’s sometimes hamfisted narrative.

With all the different techniques you acquire to manipulate the game world, and the way that you can adapt some of these in combat, ensures that the gameplay is always varied enough that none of the worlds feel same-y. Also, if you remember playing Mario as a kid, there’s a few elements designed to evoke that old school nostalgia.

There are other systems in the game, like collectible cards and rudimentary item crafting. These are really nothing more than distractions though and pretty much the only ones from the game’s storyline. Not that the storyline isn’t entertaining with a minimum of frustrating sections, it’s just there’s next to no reprieve from it.

That said this isn’t a game to pass up. It looks great, the gameplay is smooth and fun and it’s difficulty is balanced so that both kids and adults can get a kick out of the challenge.

Price: £15 (CEX)


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