Paper Mario

The original N64 box art for Paper Mario!

Paper Mario is an RPG that was developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the N64 in 2001. The game follows the characters of the Mario series placed in a world where everything is paper, and where Bowser has stolen the Star Rod (which can grant any wish to its user) and imprisoned the seven Star Spirits guarding it. He has used this power to become unbeatable and to try to take over the world, having already defeated Mario and left him for dead, as well as captured Peach in her castle. Mario, however, eventually recovers thanks to the Spirits and with the help of friends along the way, sets out on a mission to rescue the Spirits and save the Mushroom Kingdom (again).

The reason I was so intent on getting this game was because the Wiiviewer (who you must know is my inspiration by now) continues to do a let's play of it (at least as I write this), and I liked the easy looks and feel of the game. I still haven't finished it, but am looking to do so, and I decided to do a review of it.

I just think this game is fantastically clever. I mean, what was the impetus to decide to make a Mario RPG where everything and everyone was paper? Was someone at Nintendo assigned the task of thinking of a Mario game, and thought of this out of being bored and making paper airplanes? I don't know. However, despite the crazy idea of this game, it is really cute and enjoyable.

As far as gameplay is concerned, there is one thing I really, really like about this game. Despite its being turn-based (which I admit I always seem to hate), the combat was easy to do. This was because you had a certain number of moves and attacks, as well as a sidekick at any one time who you could use to your advantage. I cannot even tell you how relieving the simplicity of fighting was. You had your hammer, and jumping, as well as additional things from badges, items, or star power you collect. It's all really bread and butter, but again, I enjoy that, because all I needed to do to make up a good plan was work with these base options, as opposed to having to choose from 30 attacks that could do any number of things. You can also block attacks, which is fantastic for me, as I get frustrated with having to sit there and get poned when the realistic thing to do would be to defend myself.

Anyway, returning to an earlier mention, I love the ability to have sidekicks accompany me. Again, the things you can do with sidekicks are quite simple and worth it, because there's just as much tactical skill involved and you get an extra turn, which is invaluable when facing off against multiple enemies, which will always happen in RPGs.

One interesting thing that I kind of enjoy about this game is the fact that you can actually have friendly interactions with Goombas and Koopas, since this game is meant for relatively young children, and a friendly environment is preferable. The reason is because both species are equal with all the rest at first, but some just choose to work for Bowser. This really shakes the general perception of these characters as enemies, and I find it really fun, and a cute change from past titles that added greatly to the universe as a whole.

If I had to choose one big thing that I disliked about the game, it's the fact that you are really limited sometimes with the amount of resources you have. That is, you don't get to level up very frequently, and you have a set number of Health, Flower, and Badge points, only one of which you can upgrade every time. Plus, all attacks take the same amount for every enemy throughout the game, so it's you against the ever-changing environment despite the fact that you change relatively little in comparison. The point is that I wish you had more opportunities to make Mario and friends more formidable, because the game gets radically harder as you go along, and the rate at which you can improve your chances is pretty disheartening.

In the end, though, this game is nothing short of amazing. The environments, people, gameplay, items, badges, story, everything are nicely simple and challenging enough to be enjoyable for people of all ages. I absolutely recommend getting this game for the VC, as it's worth every penny.