Chairshot Video Game aficionado DPP is back with his next video game review, Nintendo’s 2020 release of Paper Mario! Is this a puzzle you’ll get tired of solving?
A Puzzle You’ll Get Tired of Solving
REVIEWED BY: Dan Phelan
- SYSTEMS: Nintendo Switch
- RELEASE: July 17th, 2020
- STYLE: Adventure, turn based, Role-playing game; Single player; Offline
- RATING: E
- DEVELOPER: Intelligent Systems
- PUBLISHER: Nintendo
CONCEPT / STORY
The Mushroom Kingdom is in disarray. Bowser’s paper minions have become folded like origami and slaves to the evil King Olly. Bowser has been folded into a square and hung from a clothes pin. Worst of all, Princess Peach has been turned into origami herself, and is being held by the king. Olly has wrapped the castle up in five streamers making it impossible to ent
er. Mario’s job…find the ends of those streamers, unwrap the castle, and take down King Olly to return the world back to the flat paper we know and love. There is nothing too special to this story, its classic Mario save the princess stuff. You are accompanied on your journey by Olivia, who is revealed immediately to be Olly’s sister. She is not happy with Olly for what he is doing to the world, and helps you along your path with hints and additional powers you acquire throughout the game.
ENTERTAINMENT / PLAYABILITY
Get ready for a lot of reading. There is a lot of dialogue boxes during this game. Some further the story. Many are just incredibly unnecessary, filled with tacky jokes and boring discussion of what to do next that I found myself just clicking to get through rather than enjoying the conversation. While I understand this is designed more as a kid’s game, they really go over the top with many themes. Each level of the game has some type of dancing that you have to sit through, some of which goes on for far too long. There is a game show portion of the game that requires memory skills to complete. However, with the time between loading screens and the dialogue boxes you read, you can completely forget what you had to remember. These issues caused the mini-games to be more tedious than fun.
The battle mechanics for this game are unlike any you may have seen in a turn based fighting game. Standard battles find you in the middle of a grid ring, with enemies in different sections of the ring. Your job is to rotate and shift the rings in order to line up the enemies so that you can take them out in the least amount of moves. You are only allowed a certain amount of ring moves each turn, so you have to observe the field to find the right moves. Oh, and you only have a certain amount of time to solve the puzzle before your turn to attack is forced upon you. Throughout the game, you can obtain items that allow for extra time during your turns, and as you rescue Toads during the game, you can use coins to have them give you extra time, and as you progress further in the game, line up enemies, attack a few enemies, and toss you a few hearts or weapons. Olivia is also with you, and you can ask her for hints. Unfortunately her hints are very limited, and you’ll receive the same hints at the beginning of the game as you will at the end. For example, in one of the very last battles, Olivia’s hint was to avoid jumping on the spiked enemies unless you have the iron boots, which you learn very early on in the game. The boss fights reverse the playing field, and you have to use arrows and attack circles to walk a path to the enemy in the middle to attack. Again, the hints only get you so far, and you’ll find yourself having to guess on what will work on the bosses until you find the right attack, which will cost you HP and time. These Rubik’s Cube like puzzle battles become very old very quick. What’s worse is that they have no bearing on leveling up Mario. Increasing your HP and power occur at different points of the story when you receive a heart giving you and upgrade. This basically renders all battles a useless waste of time, and I found myself trying to avoid them where I could as I progressed, or using the Toads so I didn’t have to solve the puzzle. The rest of the overworld will find you using confetti to fill holes, giving you coins to use for more weapons, pulling Toads lodged in various objects, and treasure hunting for collectables.
GRAPHICS / SOUND
The graphics are very pleasuring for a switch game. Everything is very colorful from the confetti thrown to the many different landscapes you encounter. It keeps to its roots with cartoonish style starburst in battles showing HP lost during attacks. The emphasis around the flat characters with white outlines and the attempt to show folds in the origami characters give you the ability to tell the good guys from the bad. And boss characters are oversized versions of everyday objects, like a roll of tape, rubber bands, hole punch, and scissors. There is no voice overs, as you would expect from a Mario game. The sound is well done, but nothing to get excited about. Fun music will play when you are exploring the world, and battles bring you a more intense, upbeat theme.
This is far from your ordinary Paper Mario game. The 3D world, Mario characters, look, and design are all very familiar. However, they took a radical approach with the battle section by going with puzzle based battles over the standard turn based RPG style. I will give the game credit for creativity in this sense. However, since these battles don’t give you any XP to increase your level, they become more of a nuisance and time waster as you try to figure out how to line up the enemies so you can eliminate them faster and move on your way. There was also a lot of dialogue in the game with excess and unnecessary cut scenes. I enjoyed the beginning of the game and the variety of level types. But the game became repetitive very fast, and once I realized the battles meant nothing, it took a lot of fun out of the game. If you enjoy the Paper Mario franchise, you’ll find very familiar themes and some entertainment…if you’re willing to battle through it.