Paper Mario (Nintendo 64) Review

By Adam Riley 26.09.2004

Review for Paper Mario on Nintendo 64

It might seem like a strange idea to put the platform hero plumber in the lead of a role-playing game, but after the major success of Super Mario RPG on the Super Nintendo, it became glaringly obvious the potential out there in terms of both Industry praise and consumer sales. Therefore, renowned development team Intelligent Systems set about creating an N64 sequel of sorts to the highly acclaimed Nintendo-Squaresoft collaborative effort. However, did the tam behind the Fire Emblem and Advance Wars series achieve the desired perfection? Read on to find out...

Once again the Princess of the Mushroom Kingdom finds herself placed in some form of turmoil. However, this time round Bowser only kidnaps her as an after-thought. The seven wishing stars of the world are the source of everyone's desires, yet their job is only to fulfil those pure of nature and discard any evil or decidedly greedy requests. Therefore Bowser, the King of the Koopas and evil 'mastermind', finds himself becoming more and more frustrated as the stars thwart him at every turn. Ultimately he steals the powerful Star Rod, which powers the stars, gains an enormous amount of power, entraps all of the stars...and then claims Peach's castle as his own, complete with her inside!

There is a striking difference in the graphical department between Paper Mario and its 16bit predecessor, however not in the way that many would assume. You see, whereas Super Mario RPG went down the 3D isometric route and looked even better than Rare's ACM-powered Donkey Kong Country, Paper Mario chooses an unusual technique of having 2D, paper-thin characters roaming around in fully 3D environments...and the effect is astounding. Simply turning Mario from facing left to right results in him flipping over; going to sleep has him float up and gently glide under the covers; and going down pipes see our hero twirl around the inner of the pipes before being sucked in completely. The idea is a clever one, and conducted beautifully by the folk at Intelligent Systems. There are 3D aspects included as well, though, like a large train that transports Mario to another area and a perfect representation of Peach's castle as it floats in the air atop Bowser's flying contraption.

Screenshot for Paper Mario on Nintendo 64

For those that have played the original Super Mario RPG on the Super Nintendo, the one that was so deftly constructed by the dream team of Nintendo and Squaresoft, you will definitely feel right at home with Paper Mario. Intelligent Systems has taken the well structured foundation from the 16bit era and basically left it the same, but tacked on some minor additions that somehow manage to make what was already a wonderful game mechanic even better than ever! The team has worked hard to ensure that gamers old and new can dive right into Paper Mario and have an amazingly enjoyable time whilst they are at it.

The basic aim of the game is to wander around the world around you, fighting enemies, gathering information from various people you encounter, making new friends that can help with your arduous journey, finding and rescuing the seven stars that hold the whole population's wishes and then finally defeating the unscrupulous Bowser who is holding Princess Toadstool captive in her own castle way up in the sky. Sounds complicated and long-winded? Not particularly, mainly thanks to the ease and speed at which you can pick up the controls and basis of the gameplay.

Screenshot for Paper Mario on Nintendo 64

Here is a brief overview of the controls your will be faced with. Using the analogue stick, Mario can tip-toe or run across areas, which can proves useful at times if you want to sneak past sleeping enemies. But if you want an extra spurt, simply press the 'Z' trigger and Mario spins forward at a faster pace, again helping to dodge foes you would rather not encounter at the present time. If you do finally decide to battle, though, either jump to land on an enemy's head, or whack it with your hammer if they have a spiky, sharp top. Why? Because you will get 'First Strike' and inflict some extra pain on them. Then it is on with the fight, using your weapons (hammer or jumping boots in Mario's case), items (to heal or throw at enemies), special abilities (like the hammer throw, all of which use up 'Flower Points') and Star powers (from any that you have rescued) to lead the way to victory.

Screenshot for Paper Mario on Nintendo 64

After each battle you gain more Star Points, which is the equivalent of experience points, and once you reach 100 you gain a level and get the choice of increasing your health, flower points or badge points. The last one is especially useful as you can find, buy or exchange small star shards (dotted around the world) for badges that when worn can give benefits like extra health, defence increments or strange effects like changing sound effects! The various characters that team-up with you as well add a nice twist, with them being able to not only help in battles, but solve puzzles in the overworld, for example Parakarry can fly you across gaps and Goomba can give you information on the important matters at hand. The whole experience is one that fits together wonderfully and grips you firmly right through to the end.

There is no way you will be able to polish off Paper Mario in a couple of nights, not at all. Most likely you will get to about the thirty-five hour mark and find that there are still about two or three stars left to save and a plethora of side-quests to be getting on with and new ones that still have yet to be uncovered! Intelligent Systems has not only provided a wealth of extras for pure gamers, but made sure that the main game itself has many different styles of location to traverse and conquer, along with enemies and boss encounters within that are no push over in the slightest. Super Mario RPG might have been seen as an entry-level role player, but Paper Mario has come on in leaps and bounds to cater for the other end of the scale and prove that the fat Italian plumber can easily turn his hand to this genre as well as platforming!

Screenshot for Paper Mario on Nintendo 64

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

It really is a difficult task for a team of game makers to follow on from what was already a brilliant game, but Intelligent Systems did just that. Taking their vast amount of previous experience, it built upon the Nintendo-Squaresoft foundation and made tweaks to the gameplay and length that move the series from entry-level role-playing to out-and-out RPG heaven, but still without the heavy statistics. Want a fun, but not too brief RPG adventure? Get this, get it now!


Intelligent Systems




Turn Based RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (14 Votes)

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


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