Review | Paper Mario: The Origami King
"What does mustaches, Mario and the term "RPG" have in common? A series of Paper Mario titles of course! Finally the new one is on the Switch and brings out our 2D Mario made out of paper and an adventure full of paper cuts! "
What don't we already have as a „Mario“ game? Can't think of anything…Oh, we don't have a Mario Resident Evil (a horror game). At least this combination as Mario in an RPG is something that makes me interested enough. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars was the first real Mario RPG that was and still is; the best one in this weird universe. What about “The Origami King”? Not even close, but so close!
Developer is "Intelligent Systems Co., Ltd.", Nintendos developer that made Paper Mario (N64), Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (Gamecube), Super Paper Mario (Wii), Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS) and Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U). Decent start up I'd say!
It's gonna be like you dissapering and me doing all the hard work Luigi!
Mario decided to visit the origami festival. Who wouldn’t? Well, me. On his way, he noticed something odd and fishy was going on. Luigi is here, but you know how helpful can he be. Soon you meet the princess and notice that she is not the loving and caring princess she usually is. And why is she made of paper? Well, they all are, but she is different, plus there is a small twerp behind her. It’s the evil origami king (prince!?)!
Story is so simple, there is not much to talk about. It is presented in a cute way, but that is all there is unfortunately. You will hang out with the origami kings sister, which will be your companion throughout the game. She is…well, yellow, for start. But overall, she is ok. You need her to solve many puzzles, open many paths and use her help in battles. She is also here to give you some tips and help you when you get stuck – which is something that will be a thing. Expect to meet many villains from the Mario games. They will accompany you across the different regions and make you laugh for sure. Even though the story is simple, the humour that happens occasionally is what makes it solid and fun.
Mario still talks with the woods. Funny, I never eat a mushrom before this scene.
What I always loved about these kind of games is the exploration. There is no absence of hidden paths, items and collectibles. Everything that can make your journey worthwhile is here and on some parts I couldn’t even solve some puzzles. Every screen you come across is full of something to break, jump on, explore and…Patch!
You know what rhymes with origami? Paper! At least you need one to make some right? Mario comes with a confetti bag. Every object you kick with your hammer can produce confetti. They are needed to patch the holes that were made by the enemies (gombas and the others). When patching a hole, you can find the hidden toads, money or some other good thingy you might need. If you're stuck, patch the wall and you might reveal a hidden door! I love what they’ve done with this. Also, there is no lack of confetti in the game, which is a plus as you will patch many holes. Only here and there you will need to kick things to collect enough of it.
Fill 'em up. You don't want to fall through when you are chased or in a pickle.
During the story you will visit many towns (mostly abandoned) and many landscapes that will for sure be lovely and fun to explore. Expect semi-open world when it comes to towns. You will need to search for keys and patch certain parts to progress. I don’t mind this approach when it’s fun, like in here. I’m not a fan of big open areas, they tend to water down the story, but here, you will just explore all the houses, search for secrets, kick every inch of space and enjoy when you discover something.
Every part of every map is full of surprises and secrets. That is what makes the game playable even though the story is not the thing to carry you. You can jump and you can kick with your hammer. Some enemies can be killed without entering the battle, so just by avoiding them and using the hammer to kick them in spot where they hide a patch, which after removed leaves the vulnerable. There is no run in this game and that made me mad a little. Areas can be long and moving feels like a drag sometimes. Jumping is also not the best when you need to aim carefully.
Depending how much toads you find/save, you will see them as audience in battles. They can be payed to to help you with hints and replenishing your HP. Finding them can also grant an HP Upgrade. You need those to be powerful.
Semi-open world towns and locations can surely water down your progress. Still, locations are full of life and things to do.
Big miss for me is the whole RPG system and battles in general. When you don’t explore, you will fight. As you maybe remember, all paper mario’s are basically a turn-based RPG. You have your weapons, your damage numbers, health, maybe magic points etc. Don’t expect much here. The biggest minus of this game is lack of a proper RPG system. They’ve removed the EXP and levels! Blasphemy…
Let me break it down. You can see your enemies on the map. Jumping on them or kicking them with the hammer can be your advantage. Just be careful not to jump on enemies with the spikes on their heads – that will turn into their favour. Your default weapons are jumping shoes and the hammer.
This is how you line them up. Hammer for the rats and Shoes for the flying bats. Biggest buffs comes when you perfecly manage to line all the enemies.
The fighting area is a ring with columns and rows. Enemies will be places in different combinations and you start with moves where you can re-arrange them. You need to arrange them into columns and squares. By doing that they can be attacked with certain weapons that covers certain area. Also, by placing them as they should be placed, you get some buffs and you can finish the fight without losing any health.
These mechanics are actually cool. It’s just…There is no point of those battles. You get only money and items. Money is needed to buy new weapons, items and accessories. Sounds good. You buy a new hammer, after 5 uses it breaks! Hell no! This mechanic is one of the worst in my opinion. I hate it when the weapons break, it makes all the uniqueness be washed away with buying the same shit all and over again.
I bought so many strong weapons just to shorten the time I spend in battles. You can also equip while in the battle, no penalties.
You can do get some variations of your arsenal and then equip it in different weapon slots, so aim to buy some metal shoes so you can jump on spiked enemies. Throwable hammers are also a good pick. Items such as fire power (from the red flower) are special use weapons that can help on some tougher enemies/bosses.
The fun thing is that you interact with every weapon type when you attack. Jumping in a line on heads can be enhances by pressing the button as you are about to land on it. This stands for every type of weapon in the game and that is also present in previous titles. Glad that that is here.
The battles shine the most on the bosses. That is the best aspect of them all. The rest will eventually turn out into avoiding the enemies since half of the game can be avoided not to lose time and die of boredom.
You don't want to use your super power when it starts to spin the pencils. The boss fights are full of surprises and inovative ideas.
Although the boss fights are fun, cool and creative, I didn’t like the simplicity of them. You fight the rubber, the stapler, box of colored pencils…You name it! Look onto your desk and most of the things you see you will fight with Mario. They look cheap, but they hide some good mechanics underneath.
Every boss is different. You will need to use the origami powers on them. For example, the box of pencils is weak if you get behind it and use the origami hand power to close the lid. Then you can kick the shit out of it for massive damage. Things like this makes the boss fights dynamic.
The other thing is that ring you use to shuffle the cells. The boss fights are very different, there are pointers where you will run and you need to set certain powers to act. Some boss fights can get tough, sometimes it’s not easy to set everything in just 3 moves. I had to use my brain like my PC the CPU when it renders my videos. Don’t forget, you can always pay some money for an easy HP replenish from the audience.
Joycons are used to navigate the hands power. You need to find the zip or crack where you can unravel the paper.
This entry is different and less oriented on its RPG basics. For me, that is a turn-off point. Even though I loved the quirkiness and the puzzles, I hated that they’ve stripped the EXP, levels and different weapons that can maybe come with some special skills or something interesting. There is just too little to enjoy the battles. Fuck fucks sake, this is a Mario RPG title, not the casual adventure of the moustache man with a hammer!
I know this game has a different direction and this is based on some other stuff, but hell no, I can’t just get over this. With every new paper Mario title they strip something. It really seems that they want some new audience and they want to make it accessible for everyone. That is all cool, it’s just, they forgot about all the dullness and simplicity they create. I’m very sure that the new generations can handle the complex systems that makes our fights worthwhile.
The sea world is actually a world map where you need to discover islands and solve misteries of each. Nice touch!
One thing can make it bearable is for sure the soundtrack. Oh my bloody god, who wrote the songs? They are brilliant! There is so much metal in this game. Every boss fight leaks testosterones dripped in metal. Listen to this:
Driving the cart through the enormous desert when something like this plays…This is more Doom than the last Doom!
With that being said, I just want to mention that some puzzles and game hints are terrible. Your companion gives hints if you are stuck, but they can be confusing and made me stuck for several hours. For example, the waters where you need to find islands and dig treasures…It took me 3h to finally comprehend that I need to dig for the last island to appear.
Mario - a true wild wild west hero. This game doesn't lack when it comes to surprises.
If you need some casual Mario experience, quirky and weird dialogues, simple turn-based RPG system with good, dynamic boss fights – new paper Mario is a good pick. If you want it to be more like some of the older predecessors, this will not satisfy your hunger. Great music, bad (boring) RPG system, mediocre story, fun puzzles and paper landscapes is what you can expect here.
One more thing! The game is extra long! I have no idea how long, there is no counter, but i know it's really long (40-ish hours for sure). Kudos for that. If only there is more to its core system, it would even be lovelier. Till next time...I just hope the next game will not be an action RPG.