36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
A great Paper Mario game out there on its own,
This review is from: Super Paper Mario (Nintendo Selects) (Video Game)I have always been a fan of the "Paper Mario" franchise. They all feature a very unique direction for a beloved character, consistently delivering the same miraculous top-tier quality as the rest of Mario's mainstay adventures. In some ways, Super Paper Mario continues in the unique vein of the first two Paper Mario titles (and even , Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars on the SNES, which was a clear inspiration for the whole Paper Mario series in general) while injecting some radical new directions of its own, branching off quite a bit in the process.
First of all, this is the least RPG game in the whole Paper Mario series. The one thing you must know going into Super Paper Mario is that this is a platformer, first and foremost. Gone are the dynamic, theater turn-based battles of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, and in are the jump-on-an-enemy-and-watch-him-go-poof of the classic Super Mario Bros. games. Heck, gone are most RPG elements period! The only RPG anything in this game are items, and the fact that after a certain amount of "XP" points, your characters level up and gain more health, more damage in attacks, etc. That's it. No, this is more like a classic Mario side-scrolling platformer with the Paper motif and a light dash of RPG concepts. It is mainly 2-D except for one genius addition to the game's formula, and a definite game changer, in that Mario can manipulate the reality around him and go from 2-D perspective into 3-D. What is an impenetrable wall in 2-D becomes a mere pole in 3-D that you can easily side-step. The puzzlelike quality of getting from point A to point B using the 3-D mechanic is brilliant, and the puzzles were quite excellent throughout the entire game. I was impressed. If you don't find joy in it, you have no soul. Really, the only downside to this 3-D "mode" that I can think of is that the graphics become downright sparse and ugly in 3-D. In 2-D, however, the graphics are exceptionally stylish and eye catching. The artistic direction in this game is phenomenal. World 3 is done entirely using 8-bit sprites as a throwback to the classic NES system. Places like this are so fun to adventure through.
This time around, you get to play as Mario, obviously, but Bowser, Peach, and Luigi also become members of your party that you can switch to on the fly. Each of these characters also comes with their own unique ability you will need to progress through the game. Unfortunately, only Mario can switch to 3-D, and because that is such an essential ability to make it through most areas, you end up using Mario exclusively for most of the time, lest you want to keep switching and therefore chop up the pacing. It's too bad, because the other characters are a blast to play as, but it becomes impractical to constantly keep switching to Mario to get past one part and then switch back. For one who always wanted to play as Bowser as a main character, that is my only complaint in terms of character set-up (Then again, there's always the excellent Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story ). You also get little fairy creatures that follow you called Pixls who basically give you additional powers that Mario & Co. will need to advance through some puzzles. These range from a bomb to blow away certain blocks, to a cowboy Pixl called "Slim" who makes Mario paper thin to squeeze through super skinny pathways in the walls (Seriously, how genius is that?). The Pixls are a nice added wrinkle to the already engaging puzzles. Despite being a good ol' side-scrolling platformer at heart, this game has a very surprising amount of depth in its gameplay.
Like the other entries in the Paper series, and unlike any other Mario game outside of that, Super Paper Mario actually attempts to spin a yarn in its narrative. Is it a groundbreaking, incredible story worth buying the game alone for? No, but it is pretty cute, quite heartwarming in places even, and it achieves the goal it is supposed to. I enjoyed it a lot, personally. One aspect that you will either love or hate with the story is that it makes the game extremely wordy. I cannot stress that enough. You will read a novel's worth, and then some, in dialogue from this game. That didn't bother me (as you can see by my review, I too am wordy), and I rather enjoyed the dialogue myself. In fact, the characters and their words can be incredibly hilarious in a tongue-in-cheek way. Heck, one of the main bad guys is modeled after the boss Lumbergh from Office Space. Another boss is the hilarious embodiment of all things forum-dwelling, nature photographing, sci-fi watching, video gaming, comic collecting, jaded complaining nerd. Awesome. Even my wife, who initially felt that this was a bit too much of a "kiddy" game from the graphics and music, thought the characters were very cute and eventually changed her mind about SPM because of its undeniable charm. Nintendo's localization teams are known as some of the best, and Super Paper Mario is a great testament to that.
It's not all perfect though. I really enjoyed Super Paper Mario on its own merit, but in the context of the other Paper Mario games, I have to say I much prefer Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, as well as the original Paper Mario, over this title. I miss the dynamic turn-based battles and the audience that got involved in them. I miss the decidedly much more epic storyline and dynamic characters in 1,000 year door. I miss the unique characters like Admiral Bobbery the Bob-omb, Yoshi, and Koops that join you on your quest. I miss the unique RPG system. Heck, I miss the MARIO elements in SPM. For some odd reason, the character design and even some of the "dimensions" you visit made me feel like this didn't really belong in Mario "canon" as most characters are not in any way related to Mario games. 1,000 door was full of classic Mario elements like koopas, bob-ombs, goombas, heck, even the piantas from Super Mario Sunshine are there. In contrast, Super Paper Mario has almost no recognizable Mario elements, and as a result, felt weirdly foreign to me. Sadly, any recognizable characters like Bowser's Koopa army, Goombas, etc, make only the briefest of appearances! I know Mario & the gang are supposed to be in other dimensions, but still... it felt strange. Almost through the whole game, the only characters I was completely comfortable with were Mario, Peach, Luigi, and Bowser. That's it. Mostly gone are the classic characters and baddies, replaced instead by bizarre, abstract enemies that look like weird squiggly lines and oversimplified polygonal shapes. Weird. Part of the Paper Mario series' strength was how well it channeled nostalgia and charmingly rendered familiar things from Mario's universe in that awesome Children's pop-up book motif. When so many of those things are gone, it's sort of off-putting at times. To put it simply, Super Paper Mario suffers a bit from "Doki Doki Mario" syndrome (aka the US version of "Super Mario Bros. 2." The *real* No. 2 game, known here now as "Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels," was deemed too difficult for the US, so Nintendo of America took a totally unrelated Japanese game called "Doki Doki Panic" (also made by Mario mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto, so it's not totally unrelated to Mario, sort of) and substituted Mario and the gang for playable characters and voila! "Doki Doki Mario" was born. Bizarre, I know).
I would summarize Super Paper Mario like this: An excellent game, but very strange compared to all other Mario games. It feels like an awesome black sheep, a totally different take that feels excitedly adventurous and a wee too liberal at the same time. Don't get me wrong, I love SPM. I may have preferred Thousand-Year Door or the original as Paper Mario games, BUT Super Paper Mario makes so many radical steps conceptually that it's hardly fair to consider it in context of the others, as I have pointed out. In its own genre-busting world, it is amazing. Where else does a star-man turn Mario into a hulking 8-bit NES version of himself to stomp and destroy everything in his path? Where else do you get an item that calls a miniature army of NES versions of the character you're playing as to mimic your every move and go kamikaze? Moments like this are too cool. This game oozes its own quirky charm, and it is all the better for it. Would I recommend it? Absolutely! However, I would give you the advice of playing this with the attitude of it being a stand-alone adventure, because taking it in with the other Paper Mario games in mind might skew your expectations of what is to come. Remember that. Really, its only downside is that its "Paper Mario" title is misleading. Still, Super Paper Mario is one of thee definitive Wii games and a must-have for your library, just appreciate it for what it truly is! Now that it is at such a reasonable price, this is an even sweeter deal. Buy it, cuddle it, and enjoy its undeniable, enchanting charm.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 8, 2012 12:26:19 AM PDT
Simon Box says:
Great review! Your "wordy" summary has definitely convinced me to pick up this game. It's been a while since I've dusted off my Wii. I realize that sounds creepy. Sorry. But really, I enjoyed the review.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 8, 2012 10:05:19 AM PDT
T. Hill says:
Thanks a lot for the kind words Simon. I'm really glad my review helped you. :)
lol, it's hard to say anything about the Wii as a console without it sounding weird in one way or another, so don't worry about it.
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