Super Paper Mario (Wii) Review

By Adam Riley 25.09.2007 14

Super Paper Mario was to be one of a trio of games that would see the GameCube off in style, the others being with DK: Bongo Blast and Kirby's Adventure. But, as with the other two, it has now been brought to Wii. Was the transition justified and has anything been lost in translation? Considering the illustrious past Intelligent Systems has with Advance Wars, Fire Emblem, Panel de Pon and even some of the handheld Metroid games already under its belt, to name just a few, sure this has to be a contender for Game of the Year...right? Well, let us find out...

Mario games are never really about the story, with flimsy plots based around Princess Toadstool / Peach being kidnapped and Mario being lumbered with the task of once again having to rescue her from the grasp of the evil, nefarious Bowser, King of the Koopas. This time round, though, there is a bit of a twist as Count Bleck is the main villain, with his scheme to take over the world...Honestly, even though this game is part RPG, the storyline has just as much fluff as other Mario adventures. The problem here is that because of that role-playing aspect, conversations and dialogue are stretch out much more than they normally would, testing your patience at many times.

Thankfully the game is extremely pretty to look at, with high quality 2D renditions of the entire cast that move smoothly around the screen, flipping nicely when changing directions and even turning into slits when the world morphs into its 3D version. Locations are full of energy, with so much going on, plus the method of turning everything into 3D is not only clever, but looks extremely impressive as the entire aspect ratio alters and new features appear that were otherwise obscured. Sadly, however, the soundtrack is severely lacking, not only in comparison to true Super Mario platform games, but also when compared to the very pleasing music found in the previous two Paper Mario RPGs. Sure, it pays homage to classic Mario tunes here and there, but they are normally mixed into bland pieces that are quite unmemorable on the whole. There is nothing particularly bad, yet in the same breath nothing really sticks out as being of the calibre we have grown used to.

Screenshot for Super Paper Mario on Wii

And, sadly, it seems the main game itself lacks some of the spark that many had been hoping it would have. New Super Mario Bros. was a marvel to play, if somewhat stunted by its low difficulty level, so many help high hopes for Intelligent Systems' project since the team has such a strong back catalogue (Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, Metroid: Zero Mission, previous Paper Mario titles, just to name a few). However, and quite surprisingly, the game may well have worked far better if the RPG side had either been ditched or at least toned down.

The game starts off as a traditional Mario platformer, with the player controlling the moustachioed plumber in a side-scrolling action setting, running and jumping on enemies as you aim to reach the final part of the level. The first twist comes in the form of having to repeatedly hit enemies to wear down their hit points and your character can even level-up after despatching a sufficient amount of monsters. Then there is the fact that as the game goes on you can control not only Mario, but Princess Peach (who can float through the air temporarily), Bowser (who breathes fire that can kill almost anything) and Luigi (who jumps higher than the rest), switching between the four heroes freely during levels, using each ones unique abilities when necessary to progress through each stage.

Screenshot for Super Paper Mario on Wii

One specific trait that Mario has is the ability to, as touched upon earlier, change the world from 2D to 3D, which adds a whole new element to how you play. Say you find yourself stuck at what appears to be a dead end, simply switch to 3D and you could find a hidden access pipe, switch, platforms or much more. Basically, though, because there is so much hidden in the 3D world, you end up using the feature all the time rather than sparingly, which dampens some of the wow effect the more you play. You need to be careful with your 3D usage, though, as you can only stay in the third dimension for a limited time before your health starts to go down. This is not too much of a problem, as simply slipping back to 2D means the special meter begins to refill quickly.

The other aspect of the game that is especially clever is the use of assisting characters, called Pixls. You find these creatures at varying points in the adventure and must switch between them to aid you on a frequent basis. The default one you have joins right at the start and allows you to point the Wii remote at the screen (rather than holding it side-on like a NES pad, which you do for the entire adventure) and highlight features and gain information on them. There are also many others, such as one that can grab enemies or distant objects, another which is basically a re-charging bomb, and one that gifts the ability to butt-stomp...and so on. Just like the idea of switching between 2D and 3D, as well as changing main characters to get through the game, figuring out the right Pixl to use is imperative for your progress and is an idea that is cleverly implemented.

Screenshot for Super Paper Mario on Wii

Everything finishes slightly too quickly as well, with the game only spanning eight chapters, each split into four separate levels with boss encounters draped across the game at timely intervals. Sure, there are some side quests (such as a special dungeon where you have to work through 100 monotonous rooms without stopping...), but it is still over quicker than expected. However, this is probably for the best since although it controls well, has some clever additions and is very easy on the eye, there is a certain magic missing and the game feels liked a missed opportunity. Perhaps the strong worldwide sales will spur on a vastly improved sequel. Or better yet, Intelligent Systems will do a proper Paper Mario RPG on DS or Wii...

Screenshot for Super Paper Mario on Wii

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Could it be that the hype was built up too much? Possibly. But whatever the case, Super Paper Mario, whilst a very impressive game overall, has a distinct lack of polish and charm that has been found in the past two Paper Mario RPGs. Mixing the two genres of platform action and role-playing may have sounded like a good idea on paper, but in execution the two clash and cause what could have been a potential Game of the Year to be nothing more than an also-ran. By all means try this out for a quick blast of fun, but think twice about the long-term commitment of paying full price for it with Super Mario Galaxy just around the corner...

Developer

Intelligent Systems

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

3D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (62 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Great review, I totally agree.

A few examples:
-The music is standard, forgettable stuff but adaqueate while you are playing.
-It definitely lacks the 'magic' of Paper Mario

I've noticed that the game is awfully sparse, there's very little in each level.

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Completed this on Saturday, loved it to bits. Still playing to get all the catch cards. :P
Definately agree that it was too short. Loved the dialogue to bits though, absoloutely hilarious, with loads of geeky references. Especially in the Sammer Guy chapter. :Smilie

Great review - I might invest in the past games before this one.

Started the SNES Mario RPG yonks ago, but got stuck and gave up on it.

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Nice review Adam. I'm enjoying it so far, but it's not as good as I was expecting. That said, the cutscene before the first proper boss fight is hilarious, so I'm hoping it'll have more funny moments like that.

Oh yeah, there are indeed clever moments, as expected, but there were many more in the first two Paper Mario games that were even funnier. Seems a little strained this time round. Don't know why I'm on such a downer about it...could be because I expected so much more and because IS is one of my favourite developers (they did Tetris Attack and Puzzle League, after all! :-D)

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

(they did Tetris Attack and Puzzle League, after all! )

Don't forget Advance Wars! (And Super Metroid, though they didn't design it...Smilie :-D

I dunno, I've gotta a fair few hours of gameplay out of it, and am only up to world 3-3.
I'm enjoying every minute of it, and am happy that I'm not getting ticked off at "FIGHT!" events every 5 seconds like I did the other 2 games.

Maybe there's not as much humour this time round, but it's still got plenty of references to Mario past and present.
I worry how many Non-Gamers would appreciate them, though.
My guess.. Not many Smilie

Socoder.net - Where making games is fun!

Maybe that's why the number of in-jokes and references were toned down...to cater for the more casual audience.

There were certain bits in the game that narked me so much...Such as the hamster wheel bit. I couldn't believe I had to do something so mundane just to earn enough to get a code :sarcy:

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Great review, it was refreshing to read a review which had some form of criticism while others seem to just overhyped the game even more. Must buy this soon.

I would give it an 8.

It is genuinely clever in some areas, some puzzles are great fun to do and the little extra touches (like the loading eye bit in the eye of the boss) give it a little extra sparkle.

I would get, but Dorian wallet is empty, plus i spend to much time at Sacred Heart.


Mike Gee of iZINE said, "...The Verve, as he [Richard Ashcroft] promised, had become the greatest band in the world. Most of the critics agreed with him. Most paid due homage. The Verve were no longer the question mark or the clich. They were the statement and the definition."

Well already it's doing far better in the UK than the previous two Paper Mario games did...Poor Paper Mario on the GC flopped quite badly!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

I'd have to give it an 8 too, I just finished it & I enjoyed it immensely. Also having played through the original Paper Mario on N64 for the first time very recently, I can honestly say that I didn't "lol" as much as I did while playing this. The references were great.

Also, the music wasn't that bad. Though most Mario games have music that you can remember after hearing it only once or twice, I often find myself humming to the tunes in this one, they aren't as memorable, but I did think they were very good.

& the story started off very slowly, & didn't interest me much at first, but I after Chapter 5, I found it was a roller coaster ride all the way to the end, with some great twists & turns here & there.

I'd keep playing it to see what else there is to do, but my stupid TV is acting up :-( I might need a new one :cry:

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

For me it goes PM > PM: TTYD > SPM...but they're still all close together. The N64 game was fantastic at the time, although my favourite is still Super Mario RPG, closely followed by Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga on GBA!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

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