System: Nintendo Wii
Release Date: April 9, 2007
Since the debut of Paper Mario for the N64, fans have been easily impressed with the unique spin-offs of Mario’s typical world. Super Paper Mario does follow in the same footsteps as its Paper Mario predecessors; however, this new iteration of the Paper Mario series is dramatically different to which fans have become accustomed. Instead of featuring role-playing elements as the core gameplay ingredient of the game, Super Paper Mario returns to Mario’s true roots – platforming, to provide a clever and entertaining mechanic to reach pure hearts and progress through the story. However, while platforming is vital to the game, Intelligent Systems has sprinkled a blend of both minor RPG and adventure components. Luckily, this formula works extremely well.
The story commences with Mario and Luigi living in relative tranquility. Since Mario and Luigi have not visited Peach in quite some time, they decide to visit the castle in high hopes of encountering something exciting at the castle. Unfortunately, the plot thickens all too soon, when Toad immediately calls for the help of Mario and Luigi to rescue Peach from Bowser’s clutch – The Princess has been kidnapped! When the pair arrives at Bowser’s castle, a man named Count Bleck appears, and the group notices that he is holding Peach captive, not Bowser. In spite of Mario’s attempts to rescue both Peach and Bowser, Bleck transports Bowser, Peach, Luigi, and all of Bowser’s minions away from the scene.
Shortly after, Count Bleck, who is a man obsessed with destroying all worlds, forces a marriage upon Peach and Bowser (well, on Peach at least) in hopes of creating a Chaos Heart. With this malevolent deed accomplished, the chaos heart appears in order to help Bleck achieve his goal of destruction.
Meanwhile, Mario encounters Tippi back at Bowser’s castle, a Pixl, who transports him to a town called Flipside. When the two land at Flipside, a wizard named Merlon informs Mario that it is essential to seek pure hearts to counteract Count Bleck and the chaos heart.
Throughout your adventure, the story plays a noteworthy role in the gameplay experience. The game is split into eight chapters, similar to a book. There are tons of NPCs to interact with, and much dialogue, often entirely witty, appears in text throughout the numerous chapters. Although it might seem that all this conversation would detract from Super Paper Mario, it actually helps the player to become more engaged with the characters, and encourages the player to become more emotionally connected to every individual.
Super Paper Mario humor at its finest.
By the end of your adventure, you will be able to use any of four heroes, each possessing distinctive attributes. Controlling the heroes in Super Paper Mario is a fairly simple task. The Wii controller is held on its side, similar to the way you would hold a NES controller. Using this control setup is very easy to manage. Since this game initially was planned for a GameCube release, there is little functionality with the Wiimote itself. The only instances where the controller is really taken advantage of is when extra points are awarded for defeating an enemy by shaking the Wiimote; when pointing the controller at the screen in order to search for hidden doors, while using a particular weapon, and when examining other enemies and objects. For instance, to get the most out of an item called the “Long-last shake,” you must quickly place the Wiimote in the correct position as shown onscreen. Having the Wiimote in the correct position will give you the optimum health points. Thankfully, the developers understood that including other Wii-specific functions would be pointless, for the most part.
The most important means of obtaining pure hearts is by platforming – or jumping from one place to another, defeating adversaries as you go. As enemies are slain, you will gain points. Once the points have accrued to a particular number, you will be able to gain HP, which is crucial to stay alive, or increase how much damage you can inflict on an enemy. Super Paper Mario is relatively straightforward, though you will have the ability to flip into 3D and the ability to utilize creatures called Pixls along the way. Furthermore, Mario can utilize power-ups such as a star, which allows Mario to grow to gigantic – and classic proportions.
Soon after roaming through a few worlds, you come to realize how important it is to flip into 3D. A plethora of puzzles is focused upon this very capability. Are there blocks in the path preventing you from continuing on? Flip into 3D, and easily pass on by the obstacles. Are there a number of undefeatable enemies coming your way? Once again, all it takes is a simple press of the “A” button to flip into 3D to continue. Of course, there are many more puzzles besides the two just cited. However, a time restriction is placed on the use of 3D for most of the game. As time goes on, as you play in 3D, segments of a bar located on the screen drop off. If the bar loses all of its segments, the player loses one HP. After losing one HP, however, the bar reappears and the process repeats. Therefore, it is advisable to use the 3D option with caution.
The dasterdly bar is located in the top left corner. Make sure you get out of 3D quickly!
Besides the ability to flip into 3D, Pixls are extremely important to advance in the game. After a player gains a Pixl, most often, a puzzle must be solved using that particular Pixl. As you journey on, a large assortment of Pixls becomes available for your use. For instance, one of my personal favorites, Carrie, allows you to jump on her to navigate over spikes and increase your speed. With the exception of Tippi, who always is available to the heroes, only one other Pixl will be allowed to roam freely with you. In order to switch Pixls, you can use the menu for easy access to the others. Sadly, on occasion, it seems that not all of the Pixls are fully taken advantage of. To be more specific, it seems as though they are ignored during later chapters.
Although Super Paper Mario doesn’t feature any mind-blowing 3D graphics, it is still artistically beautiful – that is, in 3D. Before starting a chapter, the world literally comes to life as all of its the lines and objects are drawn into the level, and are finished off by flushing it with color. 3D, on the other hand, seems rather dull and contains lackluster detail as compared to Mario’s 2D world. On the whole, however, each chapter definitely has its exclusive aesthetic feel.
The music in Super Paper Mario is rather generic, though appropriate and fitting. A wide range of tunes has been carefully placed in each of the levels to convey a particular sentiment – whether it is a happy upbeat tune, or a frightening song. There are a few tunes from previous Mario games that will definitely give Mario veterans a rush of nostalgia, while also providing a few new melodies for all to take pleasure in. On the other hand, all the typical jumping, running, and other sounds players expect all are present. Though, as predicted, voiceovers are nonexistent in Super Paper Mario.
Overall, Super Paper Mario is a must-buy. Even though the main story is marked by a considerably long quest, providing around 15-20 hours of gameplay, players will be able return to collect items such as cards, and create new recipes. Although it was initially a GameCube game, much like Twilight Princess, Super Paper Mario is a highlight game on the Wii. The release of this Super Paper Mario confirms that Nintendo hasn’t forsaken its hardcore audience at all, and, in fact, will continue to produce games that will make gamers squeal and laugh with delight.