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Gaming Review

Paper Mario: The Origami King – The Unfolding of a Brilliantly Handcrafted Adventure

Release date: 17 July 2020

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

The good:

  • Wonderfully weird characters
  • Wacky story plot
  • Inventive (yet silly) puzzles/battles

The bad:

  • Difficulty varies wildly

 

As it is with many Mario games, Paper Mario begins with Mario and Luigi being invited to Princess Peach’s castle. Yet what’s different this time is that Princess Peach seems and sounds robotic as she has been turned to origami — all thanks to Prince Olly, an origami royal claiming the world for supremacy by turning its citizens into origami soldiers. He then steals Peach’s castle into the sky, wraps it in colourful streamers, and leaves Mario in a daze on the ground. Then, Olly’s sister, Olivia appears to help Mario stop her brother, and save the kingdom.

It’s your usual Mario RPG adventure, where he travels the world collecting and destroying objects before saving the kingdom. Predictable? Yes. But it doesn’t fail to be comical.

A cut above the rest

And while the story plot doesn’t seem fresh or inventive, Paper Mario isn’t unoriginal. Because this time, Mario is joined by Olly’s sister, Olivia — a ball of fun and joy that drives the game and story forward. She’s lovable. She’s comical. And she’ll be your companion throughout the game, instead of Luigi this time.

But that’s not where the fun ends as you’ll get more joy by gaining another companion, Bob-omb, that adds a notable and comical charm to the game in its initial stage. And the only way to find out how is to try the game for yourself.

Likewise, there are also many other characters that won’t fail to crack you up with their witty one-liners. Better still, you’ll find yourself working with foes from previous Mario games like Shy Guys, Goomba, Koopa Troopers, and even Bowser, in your fight against King Only and his origami soldiers. Sure it sounds chaotic, but it also promises to be comedic.

A humour that cuts through

A celebration of Mario, Paper Mario certainly hasn’t failed in delivering that classic Nintendo Magic, especially in a year dominated by Animal Crossing: New Horizons. A mix of history and humour, the Paper Mario journey is one that is self-deprecating just as it is entertaining.

Filled with locations that are just as many as its characters, you’ll find yourself journeying across places like the Japanese-themed Shogun Studios, Autumn Mountains, Indiana Jones-laced Scorching Sandpaper Desert, as well as the Princess Peach cruise ship — each with its own secrets, collectibles, and origami bad guys to beat. And while the combats are generally the same, what makes it different is the interactive elements from these locations, which you can engage with your 1,000-fold arms and powers.

Strategy is key

While the combat in Paper Mario: The Origami King is a departure from your Super Mario RPG offerings, it has still retained certain elements, like the upgrading of your weapons. Otherwise, it’s a whole different ball game. Each battle is based around a ring system like a dartboard with rings that rotate and allow you slide the wedges back and forth to position your enemies.

You’ll begin with shuffling the board in order to cluster your enemies in straight lines or blocks of 2-by-2. And as the game progresses, so does its level of complexity and the need to strategise. As it is with previous instalments of Paper Mario, the amount of damage you inflict is dependent on how well-timed you press the ‘A’ button. And you’ll be placed at a disadvantage if you have failed the puzzle element. Likewise, your gear will also get better as the game progresses, from your base boots and hammer, to iron versions great for stomping spiked foes, and gold versions to earn more coins, and even to flashy/shiny versions. So don’t forget your iron boots when you’re up against Spinies, and always strategise to be ready for different scenarios!

If we haven’t completely lost you yet, the boss battles are even more complicated. With dartboards becoming Chutes and Ladders, you’ll have to find a path to attack the boss. But it’s fun just as it is tricky when it comes to taking down bosses. And if you ever need a helping hand, you can always call in Toads you have rescued to cheer you on from the sidelines. While they cost coins, the more you spend, the more help you’ll receive, whether it’s moving enemies into better positions, or even filling up your health bar.  And here’s where it can get slightly frustrating, as the level of difficulty is all over the place in Paper Mario. At times you can call for help, but there’ll be times when help will be rendered without any prompting.

Frustrating but fun

With all that said and done, while its battle system may be complicated, The Origami King doesn’t fail to bring joy and fun to the table with its wacky story, and its weirdly wild characters.

3.5/5 stars

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