By Dean Moses
Game: Paper Mario the Origami King
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Rating: E for everyone
Mario could very well be the most famous video game character ever. It has even been speculated that he could even be more recognizable than Disney’s Mickey Mouse. With such notoriety under the plumber’s tool belt, it is no wonder that the plump Italian superstar has had a variety of spin-offs in addition to his more mainstream titles, one of the most popular being the Paper Mario series, which now itself has another page added to its book of sequels.
The Origami King
In the world of Paper Mario the Origami King, everything is, well, made of paper, which of course is a problem when a villain is bending, creasing, and folding our hero’s friends, transforming them into origami soldiers that are brainwashed by King Olly, their floating paper overlord. As usual, princess Peach has gotten mixed up in the mayhem, leaving Mario to not only save his beloved girlfriend, but also the entire paper world. Thankfully, he is not alone this time, though. King Olly’s sister is appalled by her brother’s actions and sets out alongside Mario to help make things right.
A Battle System as Thin as Paper
Reminiscent of classic role-playing games, Paper Mario lets you explore a rather linear but well-detailed Mushroom Kingdom. Mario can interact with the environment by using his hammer to whack trees and other objects, revealing secrets like Toads. These are not amphibians, but instead are mushroom headed people who inhabit the weird and fantastical world. Toads can be found stuck inside cracks in the floor, they can be folded up and are masquerading as dogs, monkeys, or even bugs. They can be hiding in closets, stuck in photo frames, or may be concealed behind signposts. Saving these guys will grant you bonuses and will sometimes award you access to new abilities and power-ups. You can also find coins by repairing the environment. After the havoc left behind by King Olly, holes and cracks can be seen in walls and floors. Filling these holes up with confetti will give you money to spend on weapons and items, but, moreover, they can sometimes provide access to new areas, too.
This brings us to the game’s most disappointing aspect: the combat system. In previous iterations the battles were celebrated yet here they leave a lot to be desired for. Once engaged with an enemy, we are transported to a round play area where you must rotate an array of fields in order to line up the bad guys. This is all turn-based with an additional option to press a button at the opportune time to either block or add a little more zest to your attacks. These fights are time consuming and overall, the fun here is rather minimal, making us want to skip them and return to the main section of the game.
A Fine Tune on Paper
Graphically Paper Mario is a treat. The fantastic setting provides some delightful and charming moments, including laugh out loud instances. The colors burst from the screen whether that be in handheld or on a television, and the environments include such explorable locations as deserts, living forests, ancient caves, royal boats, and much more. Keeping with tradition, there is no voice acting here, everything is written out in dialogue boxes. However, perhaps to compensate, there is a stirring musical score that plays appropriate melodies depending on the area we find ourselves in.
Despite a lackluster and rather repetitive combat system that does not fit well in today’s style of play, Paper Mario the Origami King offers a bright, compelling world that draws you in and will keep you playing until the end despite its issues.