[Review] Paper Mario: Color Splash - Nintendo Everything

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[Review] Paper Mario: Color Splash

Posted on October 5, 2016 by (@NE_Brian) in Reviews, Wii U

System: Wii U
Release date: October 7, 2016
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Publisher Nintendo

To a certain degree, Paper Mario might just be the most popular spin-off series that the overall Mario franchise has spawned. What Paper Mario lacks in number of titles, it more than compensates with its fleshed out and devastatingly charismatic worlds – for the most part. Home to some of Nintendo fans’ favorite titles, it’s no understatement to say this collection of games might just be one of the best the big N continues to put out, which is why it so confusing they haven’t been treating it that way. With a more than all over the place prequel on 3DS, Color Splash brings this series back to the home console, and hopes to right the wrongs Sticker Star caused. Now, despite looking, feeling, and sounding just like Sticker Star 2, rest easy, because Paper Mario: Color Splash is anything but.

The game opens up with a beautifully animated cut-scene that lays down the groundwork for the story to come. Mario and pals receive a mysterious letter on a dark and stormy night, and upon opening it find it’s a Toad tragically drained of all color. Following the return address, they find themselves at Prism Island, a once colorful vacation hot spot that isn’t nearly the rainbow of a town it was once known for. A mysterious being kidnaps the princess, and Mario and his newfound partner, Huey, set off on an adventure to end all the monochrome devastation. While not quite being as lore-rich as the best entries the series has to offer, Color Splash still provides an intriguing plot that left me curious enough to feel more and more motivated to travel the world the deeper I progressed. That’s due in part to the incredibly hilarious writing, but I can’t deny the mystery of why and how everything was happening the way it was had me hooked.

The story itself tells a fun tale that when stripped to the basics would’ve been just alright, but what really brings out the narrative is the downright fantastic writing. Never in my life have I straight-up laughed out loud from a game as much as I have with Color Splash. Saying the Treehouse localization team has put out their best work would be putting it mildly, as I can’t stress enough how consistently funny and charming each piece of dialogue was. You’ll find yourself talking to all NPCs and seeing what they have to say, and even caring for all the generic-looking Toads as their vibrant personalities almost make you forget that they look like everyone else. Even Huey has something quirky to say just about everything. For a world so ironically 2D, the game’s characters sure aren’t.


Speaking of 2D, as the name implies, Paper Mario himself and the world around him are all made up of basic materials you could find in an arts and crafts store. Characters and the land that surround them are all creatively crafted by cleverly folding paper and cardboard and all things in between, and never has this style looked more beautiful than its Wii U iteration. Everything pops and the developers, once again, find more ways to take this concept that one extra step. You don’t think you’d be blown away by how realistic they could make paper look, but you will be sadly mistaken.

However, aside from having beautiful landscape, unlike that of most Paper Mario titles, you’ll only mostly find Toads as characters. On a small scale, that doesn’t seem so bad, but in the grand scheme of things you start to grow tired of the constant array of different colored Toads. The writing does help add variety to these characters and give them more spunk, but, rarely, it begins to just not feel like enough.

If I did have to choose which Paper Mario title the gameplay mostly resembles, I would have to say Sticker Star. That may scare you off, but hear me out, because it’s not as bad as it seems. Encountering and partaking in the 2D RPG-style battles have finally been returned to their former glory as they’re actually worth taking part in. You receive better cards, more money, and items that help increase the total amount of paint you can carry for winning, and even could nab a battle card that summons a defeated enemy to help attack your foes. You’ll want to actually go out of your way to take on foes, and won’t find yourself constantly taking every path just to avoid them. Plus, I can’t deny that using the GamePad to fill and slide the cards to the TV actually did add just the right amount of interaction to make battles just feel more fun.


While not in battle, you’ll follow Paper Mario and Huey around the levels filling in all empty spots using your new Paint Hammer and helping Toads solve their everyday problems. Traversing the stages was always fun, rare to the few outcasts, and never followed the trend most Mario games do. Not at any point will you find yourself walking through the standard plains, desert, and underwater levels you’ve seen a thousand times over. Instead, you’ll visit a haunted hotel, a huge coliseum, trapped filled dungeons, and so many more. The constant change in tasks I had to tackle was always so refreshing. Some of the problems I found myself having to fix included finding a professor’s lost pet, setting up a tea party for ghosts so they could move on, and discovering the conspiracy behind a poisoned park (I won’t spoil why the park was poisoned, but don’t be surprised if you see Birdo perform a concert at one point.)

Following suit of the previous entry, Color Splash uses the world map travel system and has you tackle the main quest one chunk at a time. Honestly, it would’ve been nice if we could move between the areas seamlessly as they’re all clearly designed to be that way, with it sometimes feeling like a whole level was split into two for the sake of just giving off the impression of more content. Something else I’m not a fan of is that the map opens itself to what seems to be different paths that would allow for non-linear progression, only to have every area blocked off except the one the game wants you to go. Basically, the map creates the illusion of self-directed progression but provides none of that. To me it just felt like the development team didn’t know which way to go.


Finally, something I didn’t expect to love as much as I did is this game’s soundtrack. Its mainly jazz-inspired music does bring back memories of Super Mario 3D World, but this is still very much a beast of its own. Each level feels perfectly accompanied by a tune that fits the theme and circumstance perfectly, and doesn’t shy away from trying anything new. There’s a level where you travel an archaeological digging site that has some low rock music sounds that I still think about when I’m away from this game. The sounds always managed to captivate me, as even songs like the battle theme would constantly get me excited to fight once again.

Paper Mario: Color Splash has managed to invoke a feeling in me that I haven’t felt in very long. I spent most of my free time playing the game and loving mostly every second of it, and my time away from spent thinking about the hilarious dialogue and beautiful landscapes. Despite a few flaws, I became so invested. Maybe it’s bias, maybe it’s just cause I was feeling it – I can’t say for sure – but what I can say for sure is that Paper Mario: Color Splash finally gave me that feeling I felt while exploring The Thousand-Year Door or the N64 original. It’s not the game we expected, but it is so much more in its own special way.

The Verdict
thumbs up review

Paper Mario may only be able to satisfy all fans of the series by bringing back the old battle system, reintroducing partners, and basically just remaking the first two entries. As awesome as that would be, that’s not what Color Splash is going for. Instead, we’re provided with a gorgeous game, both in visuals and in writing, that has a fixed battle system and enough content to last you a good 40 hours.

Leave a Reply

  • supermario69

    color trash

  • theFooFighter

    This review has somewhat restored my faith in this game but I’m neck deep in shin megami tensei and dragon quest so I don’t need another jrpg right now

    • Vigilante_blade

      They lied though. The battle system is almost exactly like Sticker Star, only more annoying. Turns take longer and like in Sticker Star, there is no EXP for progression and battles are nothing more than mild but grating wastes of time. This game is terrible.

      • Coonfoot

        You’re terrible.

        • Vigilante_blade

          What does this contribute?

      • Blake Good

        I knew this was going to be awful, since they gave of that crap, known as Federation Force. Nintendo just loves to f*ck up their own franchises, don’t they!? I wish someone would give this series the Yooka-Laylee/Undertale/Axiom Verge treatment!

        • Vigilante_blade

          It’s pretty sad, but I think Nintendo isn’t ready yet to improve. Sadly, they blame their consumers when they don,t like their products…

          • Blake Good

            I hope CS sells worse than SS. Hopefully, that’ll teach ’em a lesson!

          • Vigilante_blade

            I agree. If more people stood up to Nintendo’s decisions, we probably could get better quality out of our games and consoles.

  • AquaBat

    Uh oh, a good review, that doesn’t fit muh narrative
    Better stick to the classic: extreme denial
    “This game is doody-pants terrible Color Trash buzzword buzzword buzzword”

    • “A good review! We’re justified in telling others they’re wrong now!”

      I mean people can go enjoy the game and dismiss the game as much as they want, but it feels like people will just latch on reviews just to stomp out the other side. Me no like.

      • AquaBat

        For one thing, this was just a joke
        For another, if people have played it and have legitimate complaints, that’s fine, but calling it terrible without merit is not constructive and easily snuffed out with reviews like these, that’s why people bring them up
        And yes, the opposite does happen, with games like Federation Force and Mighty No. 9

        • No I don’t disagree with you on that. However, in your original post you may be joking but I’ve seen plenty of people being 100% serious with it which is really annoying.

        • David2278

          “For one thing, this was just a joke”

          You were 100% serious with that post and then you got called out. The only joke here is you.

          • AquaBat

            lol okay whatever you say buddy

          • Xstream

            Nope, pretty sure everyone but you recognized it as a joke.

    • Velen (Not WoW)


    • Blake Good

      How the f*ck did Yo-Kai Watch 2, only get 5s and 6s from critics but Color Trash got 7s and 8s from gaming journalists? Stupid @ss gaming journalists!

  • Kenshin0011

    I’ll pick it up when I see a good sale for it. The music, graphics, writing, and improved incentives to battle make it worth playing imo.

    Though as you point out, there are still many flaws, or rather absences, such as mostly generic looking Toad NPCs, linear and split up world, and the like. It’s funny how they could get these things right with the Gamecube Paper Mario game over a decade ago, but not now.

  • Well glad that it actually turned out to be a good game, but I still won’t be buying it. I’ve already made my stand and I won’t be budging.

    • Kenshin0011

      I have good hopes for the future of PM for a couple reasons. First, this game will receive poor sales most definitely, not just because people are put off by it, but because the Wii U is a failure. Second, it seems that Intelligent Systems is slowly inching back towards what they had with TTYD.

      So the next console PM game will hopefully be a true successor to TTYD.

      • I honestly just wish the game was called Sticker Mario and had its own series. I don’t think I would have had such a huge beef with the changing of battle systems. Sure it might be a great game and all, just like God of War 4 might be a great game on its own merits. However, they just don’t really understand what makes the originals so great.

      • Reggie

        What makes you think Intelligent Systems are doing that?

        • Kenshin0011

          Better writing than SS, more incentive to battle than SS, and while the NPC’s are still mostly Toads, they’re a bit more diverse among themselves. Still not close to TTYD, but better than SS.

      • Pinkie-Dawn

        That is one of the most cynical solutions I’ve ever read. >_>

        It reeks of fringed logic because poor sales means no more Paper Mario games for the next couple of years so until they find new for it.

        • Kenshin0011

          Maybe you’re interpreting wrong?

          The game will have poor sales partly, if not mostly, due to the Wii U itself being a colossal.
          So not making another PM game again because of the sale’s of this specific game would be rash.

          • Pinkie-Dawn

            The Wii U is still profitable despite not making Wii sales. Most of its software exclusives are selling better than software exclusives from the competition, which is what matters more.

          • Kenshin0011

            It’s profitability is very slim for what Nintendo and its shareholders expect and need. It is their worst selling home console of all time.

          • Pinkie-Dawn

            But its software sales and amiibo sales makes up for it.

        • Vigilante_blade

          Good sales means no more Paper Mario RPGs as well. At least, if it sells poorly and people state why this is so, it could help bring back the series.

          • Pinkie-Dawn

            What kind of twisted logic is that? Paper Mario has always been an RPG (four of them being puzzle RPGs and one being a platformer RPG). And that’s not how sales work. Otherwise, we would’ve gotten a new F-Zero game you guys keep blabbering for (only to later bash for trivial reasons like what happened with Star Fox Zero).

          • Vigilante_blade

            The original and the second are both proper RPGs. Super Paper Mario is a poor platfomer. Sticker Star has no actualy progression. It has a turn-based system, but lacks the RPG aspect. The same is true for Colour Spash. We have only had two great RPGS. The rest were inadequate, simplistic children’s toys.

          • UltimaLuminaire

            Sup, buddy. =D

            I disagree with Super Paper Mario’s assessment.

            I was absolutely absorbed by that game for several reasons, mainly how it played with my assumptions of how a 2d environment can hide elements of a 3d Mario world, and how hilarious playing as Bowser is at any given opportunity.

            Super Paper Mario is by no means a poor game, and its strengths lie not in the platform genre that you seem to be solely judging it by. Instead, it offers a comedic take on multiple genres and delivers an oft theme-park-like tour of all sorts of amusing options across the playable characters. YMMV because they’re optional. A lot of boss encounters stood out to me because of customizeable elements like character selection (with their respective strengths and weaknesses), not in spite of them, and I greatly enjoyed Bowser’s take on those encounters.

            If you mean to say that the game fails to force players to explore those options and doesn’t offer incentives to grind combat for stats, then, yes, this game objectively falls short in those aspects haha. However, I don’t agree that those are, or should be, the only variables.

            TL;DR Maaaaaan, I love Super Paper Mario. Not as much as the other Paper Mario games, but I nearly died laughing. Incoming essay.

          • Vigilante_blade

            To be honest, I will concede that Super Paper Mario had good writing. However, I just didn’t find the gameplay enjoyable, and the controls a little underwhelming. I didn’t like pointing at the screen or jumping on enemies with physics inferior to the original Mario games. I… also wanted an RPG. I loved the original two, and I want the games to go back to that formula.

          • Pinkie-Dawn

            Aren’t all video games toys in a sense? Also, do you also consider western RPGs not true RPGs because of the lack of a turn-based system?

          • Vigilante_blade

            No, I’m saying that this is not an RPG even though it has a turn-based system. You take turns to fight, but you don’t level up or get any stronger unless you just buy more cards… and that strength is not permanent. It does not qualify as an RPG. It seems closer to a sort of turn-based action game.

            As for video games being toys, nah. To me, a toy is something people only use for amusement. Video games are an art form that is “entertaining”. Entertainment goes beyond the basic ideas of fun. A game can be intriguing, bring out a wide range of emotions, be complex. This is the same reason I consider tactical miniatures games to not be toys.

          • Pinkie-Dawn

            It’s still an RPG because, by that logic, Smash is not a fighting game because its gameplay goes against every traditional 2D fighting game. You’re just finding excuses to tear out this game despite getting positive reviews from even those who were concerned about it at first. My friends and I have a term for fans like you, and we call them “Pretendos.”

            “To me, a toy is something people only use for amusement.”

            That’s exactly what a video game does; therefore, video games are toys. Even Nintendo has stated they aren’t making games for art but for sheer fun, which gamers today have completely forgotten about.

          • Vigilante_blade

            Smash (at least up to Melee) is a competitive fighting game with much depth. People face off, input commands, try to defeat the other by hitting them. Whoever deals enough damage wins.

            Also, pretendos? LOL! I owned every single bit of important Nintendo hardware. My top games are all Nintendo games. I played Nintendo games potentially before you were even born. People who use such terms have a term themselves: “Fanboys”. I find fault in the idea that people say “it’s not that bad”. It’s not a glowing endorsement, yet people try to find good in a heap of trash. I like quality games. When people settle for less, we get less.

            I just explained that video games do more than just silly fun. They entertain, they make you think, they create reactions in people. Things toys do not do.

          • Kong Shim

            What are you on about now? Toys can certainly allow for people to think and create reactions. Any education class will teach you that.

          • Vigilante_blade

            Those are called tools. We are talking about “games”. A game is a much deeper thing than a mere toy. You simply cannot compare the complexity of Final Fantasy 6 to a plush frog that yells ribbit when you press its tummy.

          • Velen (Not WoW)

            Don’t bother with Vigilante, Pinkie. He’s a guy who has twisted logic and lives in a world where he is always right and his logic is undeniable.

            Think like that big computer AI from iRobot except in human form and equally as fallible and the only reason he thinks he can’t be wrong is his ego.

  • Stuart

    I would love the old style of Paper Mario back,but in the end I just wanna play good games.

    Even tho it changed the formula,Color Splash seens fun,funny,and a great game after all. So I can’t wait to get this game,in my opinion is dumb to miss a great game only because of a weird sense of honor.

  • Brian

    Just to throw my own thoughts into the ring: I only played an hour of Paper Mario: Color Splash, but have to say I was impressed. It genuinely left me with a good feeling. I honestly found Sticker Star to be very disappointing, so I was pleasantly surprised. I’ll be looking forward to playing through the whole thing when I have free time… some day!

    • JasonBall

      Well, fancy seeing you here! Have fun finding time for it running a site and all…

    • ForeVision

      Possibly by the time we know the full line-up and every tidbit of information from the NX. That or by the time the next iteration of Paper Mario hits 😛

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  • EarthenWarrior

    feh i spit on this game
    i will not be swayed by bright colors and a beautiful setting, this game lacks what made Paper Mario the cherished game that thousands of gamers played

    Paper Mario was the birth of a better Mario RPG series with such fleshed out worlds, characters, and perfect fighting mechanics and most importantly a story of such magnitude

    Color Splash blinds people from noticing how much of a rehash it is from Sticker Star which bombed. I will admit the game looks nice, has lighthearted dialogue, and a plethora of fights but they just aren’t the best, i still feel personally insulted from the interview stating if people wanted to play a Mario RPG they should play the Mario & Luigi Series a statement worthy of scorn,

    As of now Paper Mario as a series is forever tainted and now the only chance we’ll ever see a 3D RPG with Partners and a dynamite story is for Nintendo to create a totally new IP which is basically Paper Mario from its prime

    • César Tribst

      I only played Paper Mario and PM TTYD recently (like one and two years ago and still didn’t finished TTYD) and it’s both fun games that I enjoy it, but I really can’t see as this masterpiece that people seems to believe so badely that they critic the new one because it’s not like these two…

    • UltimaLuminaire

      Forever tainted? Bruh.

    • Kay, bye mate.

    • Camera Obscura

      Wow, another elitist idiot.

  • JasonBall

    Yeah, the clips GameXplain has uploaded are side-splittingly funny. Especially the Airship caught on the anchor, abruptly stopping a beast remix of the Airship theme from Super Mario Bros. 3. And that Bros. 3 stage? Amazing!

    I’ve never played a game published by Nintendo I haven’t liked. That’s because as I read more and more interviews with Miyamoto and company, I realize just what they are. Each game they make is meant to be its own thing. Yet people don’t seem to accept it whenever they do something different than the last. What if people hated FFVII for taking place in a more modern setting than I-VI? Or criticizing MGSV for being open world? Or people hating Sega for… ahem, sorry, that one’s moot. Uh… but anyways, I play every Nintendo game I can afford and like it on its own. I never compare them to previous games. Thats why I love Skyward Sword — its a great game, just not a game that embraces the ideology of previous Zeldas. Thats why I love Federation Force — a great game, just not one that adheres to the previous tone of Prime. I understand their core ideas of innovation. Yeah yeah, “Color Trash is not innovative, its thoughtless.” No. No Nintendo game is truly “thoughtless.” The only thing they “aren’t thinking of” is the haters. As I watch gameplay of Color Splash, I see some legitimately interesting game design. Its not perfect, no, but that’s why only one game can be Game of the Year: because there’s so many that aren’t perfect. Let’s look past that and find enjoyment in funny dialogue, or beautiful visuals. Because, believe it or not, you CAN buy a game for a good laugh and not for the gameplay. (cough EarthBound cough)

    And its so stupid too, that whenever they remake something or make a sequel just like an older game, people criticize those too. “Make new things” they say. Its just that each camp, New and Old speak up whenever Nintendo does something contrary to their view. Right now we’re getting the “Old Things” crowd. I guarantee it, if the next Paper Mario is just like TTYD, yes, many will show happiness, but some from the “New” camp will speak up and be mad they’re “ripping people off” or “capitalizing on nostalgia” if its too close to TTYD.

    I feel so sorry for everyone who works for Nintendo and its subsidiaries. Always hated by half, loved by half… even HAL Laboratory: While nearly everything is perfect, Brawl has its fair share of haters. Intelligent has people worshipping it for Awakening/Fates and hating it for Color Splash. People love Platinum’s Bayonetta but not Star Fox Zero. Sigh…

    Activate intense backlash from salty people… now!

    • ForeVision

      Welcome to the world, people have preferences and some are vocal about it, it’s just the way it is. And what’s wrong with criticism? I’d rather have people open-minded about things citing what’s good and what’s bad, than have them be mindless fanboys, hyping it up and bashing everyone that doesn’t agree with them.

      As for the new and old camp, those will always be there, and they will always voice their concerns/displeasure, for it is their right to do so. Whether or not you listen to them is another matter entirely.

      • JasonBall


    • MagcargoMan

      “And its so stupid too, that whenever they remake something or make a sequel just like an older game, people criticize those too.”

      You have a very strawmanned and black & white sense of logic.

      Just because some games need massive changes, doesn’t mean all of them do. Likewise, just like some games don’t need any big changes at the moment, doesn’t others need to stay the same.

      It’s not hard to understand.

      • JasonBall

        True, but I’m complaining about how half the internet flares up at either a revamp or a similar sequel

  • Jay Bern

    Sounds good to me. I’ve already accepted that this game won’t be anywhere near as good as The Thousand-Year Door so I think that might quell any overwhelming disappointment I might have, though I do hope they return to that style someday.

  • Vigilante_blade

    This game is all aesthetics, no substance.

  • TalesOfBS

    What an waste of money and time.

  • Addy

    The critics like it, but the players don’t. Why is that?

    • Jay Bern

      It’s mostly down to it being a critic’s job to discard any bias they might have and just look at the game on its own merits. The players don’t need to do that.

    • Stuart

      Let’s be honest,most people who are now complaining fall in one of these two categories:

      1-Guys who didn’t played the game,that doesn’t want to play the game yet complain anyway because they already decided on their minds that the game are bad.
      2-Guys who are mad because the game isn’t 100% the way they wanted so they hated,because changes are eeeeeeevil.

    • MagcargoMan

      Critics also liked Sticker Star…

      • Camera Obscura

        “own merits”

        • MagcargoMan

          Judging it on it’s own merits it still lacks depth, experience and strategy.

          • Camera Obscura

            Do you really expect a Paper Mario to be something like Skyrim?

          • MagcargoMan

            No, I expect it to be an RPG.

          • Camera Obscura

            That’s cool, but it’s kinda toxic to have really high expectations for everything.

          • MagcargoMan

            Expecting an RPG to have RPG mechanics isn’t high expectations.

          • Camera Obscura

            Okay, true. But TTYD had flaws that a lot of fanboys understate.

          • MagcargoMan

            Why do people act like TTYD is the only traditional Paper Mario? Does everyone forget about the first one?

          • Camera Obscura

            That’s exactly the point I’m trying to make.

  • Addy

    Graphics do not make a game good, that’s what I say.

  • DeltaPeng

    My sister will likely get this game. Then I’ll get a chance to play it. Sweeet. ;p

    Whether serious RPG or not, I do like the creativity and outlandishness this game seems to show. Looking forward to checking it out at least, though I’ve games on the queue so unsure if I’ll complete it

  • UltimaLuminaire

    I got my own idea of how I’m going to play this game, and I’m eager to try it out. Gonna see how far I can push the game. Thanks for the review, as it’s a drop of positive emotion in a puddle of over-dramatic defeatism.

  • Locky Mavo

    Cool review, can’t wait to get my copy and play

  • Blake Good

    I really wish Shigeru Miyamoto would listen to his fans and let Intelligent Systems make another game that plays just like PM64 and TTYD. This SS/CS gameplay is so bare bones (or should I say, Dry Bones) it isn’t even funny!

  • Blake Good

    I really wish Shigeru Miyamoto would just listen to his fans and let Intelligent Systems make another game that plays just like PM64 and TTYD. This SS/CS gameplay is so bare bones (or should I say, Dry Bones) it isn’t even funny!

    They need to give us the true PM3 and instead of badges, you have rings, instead of star pieces, you have blue coins, and instead of super blocks/shine sprites, you have red coins. Also, would wouldn’t want a partner that could catapult you to places, like a grappling hook? That would be cool! But nope, Shiggy has to be a jerkass!

Related Game Info

Platform: WII U
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Release date: October 7, 2016
OWN IT: 7 [I own this game]
BEAT IT: 3 [I beat this game]
Buy now