Fun, funny, and just all-around great. An action-RPG gem.
Nobody Saves the World Review - A Surprise Gem
Kratos and Boy! make the circle-button leap to PC... in a port worthy of the Gods.
God of War PC Review
As an external solution for backwards compatible titles the WD_BLACK D30 makes a lot of sense.
WD_BLACK D30 Game Drive SSD Review
Join us as we go through the best games of the year, one day at a time from January 1...
We Countdown Our Top 10 Games of 2021!
Paper Mario: The Origami King
Paper Mario: The Origami King

Nintendo Switch
Genre: Role Playing
Developer: Intelligent Systems Official Site: https://www.nintendo.com.au/...
Publisher: Nintendo Classification: PG
Release Date:
17th July 2020
Paper Mario: The Origami King Review
Review By @ 08:24pm 21/07/20
SWITCH
Ahead of jotting down my review for Paper Mario: The Origami King, I scored myself a copy of Devolver Digital’s forthcoming anti-horror, Carrion. Instead of getting to the whys and howcomes of the streamered and papier-mâchéd new Mario RPG, and its crepe paper Mushroom Kingdom, I found myself getting carried away in Carrion, just for shits and giggles, laughing internally at the stark contrast between the two games. But don’t take any of that to reflect the bright colours of Paper Mario versus the dark caverns of Carrion, one is a brute force of a game, which I’ll leave there, the other is a bit of a smiling assassin when it comes to narrative, content and production.

Paper Mario: The Origami King is really kind of dark, hey.



The series, which partially formed from a Square Enix Super Mario RPG back in the SNES days, has since blended 2.5D worlds with a titular ‘paper’ Mario focusing on turn-based combat, team-building, puzzle-solving and poking considerably highbrow fun at the Mario franchise on the whole. And on most of those fronts, Paper Mario: The Origami King delivers. Each iteration has always had a hook, with this one being a massive play on the world of origami paper-folding, but it’s menacing and dark and disturbing at times. Talking trees concerned that your reward for bashing them with a hammer is paper confetti, Bowser being forced to watch as his minions are tortured with a stapler, subjugated toads who act like happy second-class citizens and cower, trembling at the constant threat of invasion, or pieces of wood begging to be burned as is their lot in life...

"Despite a plot that’s as old as the Mario princess-rescuing escapades of decades past, it’s the world around that perpetual plight that gives life to the mundane reasoning behind Mario ever pulling on the blue overalls and stepping out of whatever sewer pipe he calls home..."



And those are just early examples to avoid spoilerage. Make no mistake, this is a side of Nintendo you’ve been wanting to see more of, even if hidden between bright pink and bright yellow colours. It’s not unknown that developer Intelligent Systems has always broken the fourth wall in rewarding ways, but here there’s a maturity to conversation and overall pacing. Despite a plot that’s as old as the Mario princess-rescuing escapades of decades past, it’s the world around that perpetual plight that gives life to the mundane reasoning behind Mario ever pulling on the blue overalls and stepping out of whatever sewer pipe he calls home.



Speaking of, and before we get to the game’s RPG-lite component and its new battle system, perhaps a standout for mine this time around is the inclusion and eventual expansion of Toad Town -- a middle-world hub that features numerous interiors to explore, from pop-up coffee stands to a classic Paper Mario staple -- the museum. The latter this time around called affectionately Musee Champignon. This is a collection space for all of the game’s hidden items, for those new to the series, from artwork and music, to statues and beyond. Having dabbled at considering how Nintendo might one day build out their own Achievements/Trophies system, this felt immediately familiar and would work as an interactive display space for personal Switch accounts replete with public access and VIP friend invites for perusing (and bragging rights)… but I digress.

"You can pay them to root for you harder than they already do, which is one way to burn through the ridiculous amounts of cardboard coinage you earn..."



The Origami King’s battle system this time around maintains Boots and Hammer attacks against enemies alongside Action Commands -- the real-time expansion to your turn-based attack and defense (a timed tap of the A button either amplifies your attack, or helps in defense by minimising damage). Items return to help, while your trusty boots and hammer can be upgraded to truly rip shreds off your folded competition. This is accompanied by building out a crowd of Toads based on those you’ve found and rescued out in the wild, and your own popularity as the “Mustachioed One”. You can pay them to root for you harder than they already do, which is one way to burn through the ridiculous amounts of cardboard coinage you earn throughout your journey.



How it all differs now is that you’re on a rotating circular arena with moveable rows. Each row is also gridded, and an enemy occupies a grid, while items and arrows (for character movement) occupy other spaces. You’re tasked with lining all of this up in a certain timeframe, in the hopes you got it all right and you can inflict decent damage, or hit the right spot, accordingly. Variables come into play, such as new enemies, or random grids requiring activation in order to successfully attack a boss, but on the whole, it’s entirely manageable.

"And that isn’t helped with music within most grunt battles that sounds like it’s from a failed 90s sitcom, on repeat. And if that all sounds kind of cheesy, it’s because it is..."



It’s not a game-changing system by any measure, but it is unique. Unfortunately it comes across more as a pulled Mario Party mini game than a fully fleshed-out concept, and that isn’t helped with music within most grunt battles that sounds like it’s from a failed 90s sitcom, on repeat. And if that all sounds kind of cheesy, it’s because it is. The novelty of ‘new’ tears away as quickly as any of the interactive parts of the environment you can play with, thanks to the waggle stuff we’ll get to in a second, and really is as unmemorable as the superfluous confetti economy and its place in the game-world.



To be fair, waggle (or ‘motion control’) can be turned off but it feels like an unwarranted addition. It’s not bad, and the game isn’t twitch by any stretch so it’s not a time-based thing, either. It just feels tried, tired and done by now. Nintendo though, is notorious for its guns, sticking to them, and never saying no. But while *waggle optional helps, you just feel like more effort could have been spent elsewhere in the game.

"And that isn’t helped with music within most grunt battles that sounds like it’s from a failed 90s sitcom, on repeat. And if that all sounds kind of cheesy, it’s because it is..."



That being said, Nintendo’s ability to know its visual lanes is becoming a bit of a fine art within each new release. This, Yoshi’s Crafted World and the gorgeous Luigi’s Mansion 3 now stand as examples of how 4K, HDR, ray-tracing and all that jazz isn’t always needed when you know how to cel-shade, diorama, collage and physics your game to within its technical limits. (But God we want to see a 4K 60fps ray-traced Metroid Prime. So, so much.) And the above is all helped with the game’s overall charm which doesn’t hold back on self-referential writing and personality. Even if this time around it does mean beginning to question the whole political system of the Mushroom Kingdom in general. That, however, is a story for another time.

Paper Mario: The Origami King is as advertised above, a brooding yet charming affair that brings the collector in us along for a colourful ride through a kingdom gone foldingly mad. It has wonderful boss battles, visual charm and an annoying soundtrack. Working through the game’s binary puzzle system is still Nintendo-heavy in the aforementioned charm, but deploys little-to-no replayability, while the battle system is, at least, something new. But we wouldn’t write home Mamma Mario about it anytime soon. You’ll get hours of fun if you’re a Nintendophile, or at least a kick out of it for its writing, black humour and break from the mainstream norm, if you’re not.
What we liked
  • Beautifully presented both visually and in narrative form
  • A darker turn for the series and Nintendo in general, and we like it (duh)
  • Tonnes of goodies to find in a sprawling world
  • Just make the Museum concept your Achievements/Trophies lean, Ninty
  • Bowser is a folded head, and it's really funny
What we didn't like
  • New combat system gets old, fast
  • Not a lot of replayability or steps-retracing opportunity
  • Which in a more 'open' approach to world-design isn't super-helpful
  • It's there, but could have been expanded upon in more meaningful ways, is what we're saying
More
We gave it:
7.6
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
tim
Posted 02:10pm 22/7/20
It’s obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway - Nintendo should really just rerelease the Thousand Year Door. It perfected the Paper Mario formula.
KostaAndreadis
Posted 02:45pm 22/7/20
Agreed! it's a masterpiece
Steve Farrelly
Posted 04:48pm 22/7/20
Yep. Essentially untouchable, and hey, re-releasing is all the rage anyway
Commenting has been locked for this item.