Developer: Intelligent Systems
Review Context: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars helped get me into the RPG genre. Ever since, I get excited when a new Mario RPG is announced. I’ve played most of the Paper Mario games except for a few (Sticker Star, Paper Jam, and Paper Mario on the N64). Not to mention the Mario and Luigi series on the GBA and DS, and I did miss out on the later ones for the 3DS.
Date of Playthrough: July 24, 2020
Every installment of Paper Mario gets more creative with the world, where everything is made of paper with a mixture of items made from cardboard. The water dungeon has some of the best realistic water I’ve ever seen in a video game. Even though it lasts a few seconds, I was surprised by the detail. This is further proved with the stunning visuals when people transform into the origami version of themselves and become devoid of their personality. It almost feels like how the paper characters are a stand in for how 2D animation was overtaken by the origami (CGI) animation. What I find more amazing is how some of the giant enemy designs have a wire frame which is exposed when you damage them.
The gameplay is simple and easily guides you into what you can do. You have jump, attack, and when you’re stuck you can ask for help. Later in the game, you’ll have to ability to use confetti which I’ll explain later. Mario is later granted with the “Thousand-Fold Arms” ability in which you use to deal big damage in battle, while also using it during gameplay to find hidden items. Motion controls are used for this, but there is an option to turn it off.
During battle the controls get more complex, but the tutorial helps you ease on from basic to advanced attacks. The game holds your hand just enough to help you get used to the battle system without leaving you confused as you continue.
I’ve stated this in my Review in Progress of the game, but I feel I should repeat this again. Ever since The Thousand-Year Door, fans have been hoping for that style of gameplay to return. After Super Paper Mario and Color Splash it is clear to me that the RPG gameplay will not come back.
I felt that the Mario and Luigi franchise would be the ones to continue, but Alpha Dreams (developer) is no more. So, until we know if the Mario and Luigi series will return, I feel the fans should accept that the RPG gameplay of The Thousand-Year Door is not returning anytime soon if ever.
Because of this, the battle system has been simplified in the past two games to where level grinding isn’t a thing. Origami King is no different. Considering that you don’t level up with each battle, it will have you dodging enemies every chance you get. They try to redeem this by having the enemies drop coins and confetti. You won’t have to worry about running out of coins for items and weapons, as this game is very friendly with coins. Confetti is used to cover holes and rebuild items. This can run out quickly, but if you bash trees with your hammer, you’ll refill in no time.
The battle system consists of puzzle solving. Your enemies are on a circle pad. After they are randomly placed you have to line up the enemies. If you do, you get to deal extra damage with your attacks. If you fail, then you’ll attack with normal damage. During the game when you find Toads hidden throughout the game, they will fill the stands in battle. This feature from The Thousand-Year Door makes a return as your battle is watched by Toads like a theater. With the amount of puzzle solving you’ll forget you’re being timed. You can use the coins you’ve earned to increase the timer or to have the Toads in the audience help you. The more coins you spend the more help they give you, from moving the enemies on the pad, to inflicting damage, and healing you.
Just when you start to understand the battle system the game is flipped when you have to do a boss battle. Just like my review of Color Splash, I find the boss battles way more fun than the standard battle.
What happens is that you have to guide Mario to the boss’s weak spot to deal damage. You get more time to think out your strategy. Like I said earlier, you are guided with how the system works. I will give Origami King credit for giving just the right amount of help for you to understand how the system works without overwhelming you.
Overall, I feel if I had to choose between this and Color Splash for the battle system, I would still prefer Color Splash, only because there is so much puzzle solving I can handle before I get burnt out and have the Toads do most of the damage for me.
What hasn’t changed is the engaging story and hilarious writing. Basically, The Origami King has turned the Mushroom Kingdom into origami and has kidnapped Peach while having her castle covered in streamers. Bowser is also in trouble. You are assisted by her native sister, Olivia, to stop him and remove the streamers barring the castle. I will say that when you meet Bo-omb (Bobby), he will become your favorite character. There is a tease when you think you’ll have an ally in battle like The Thousand-Year Door, but its random.
Unlike Color Splash, Origami King has a better soundtrack that fits the tune with the world. When you first start off entering an empty Mushroom Kingdom, the music has a Resident Evil 4 vibe. The sound effects are what you expect with classic Mario effects and some remixes of classic tunes die-hard Mario fans will pick out.
Similar Games Liked:
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (GCN)
Super Paper Mario (Wii)
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES)