Jack and David weigh in on Super Paper Mario, released earlier this week.
Visuals? I missed out on Paper Mario for GameCube, so I have nothing to compare this version to. Regardless, the graphics were crisp for the most part. There were a few GameCube-like moments, like when you enter a house and the screen shifts that were noticeable to me, but otherwise the character animations and worlds you explore are top notch. Little easter eggs, like the eyes of the dragon boss when it goes haywire, are sure to bring a smile to nostalgic fans and completely new fans alike. Musical cues include subtle references to past Mario games, but include a quirky new Paper Mario flavor.
How far? I’m currently battling my way through world 2-1, so I only have a toe in the pool. From what I can see from World 1, as well as the commentary from other blogs and news sites, things will only get better. My advice is to take your time and make generous use of the A button with this title. Items and cards are literally right out in the open, but only appear in 3D. Dead ends become hidden ladders and paths. Rocks hide mushrooms behind paper thin facades. Think outside the box with this one, and you’ll be all the better for it.
Overall? I’ve heard from some people that the RPG element scares them off, but I assure you the RPG elements are minimal. Sure, you “level up” every once in a while, but this is a platformer through and through. Ok, a platformer+ The items you collect make this more like Monkey Island than Final Fantasy, and I seriously think the term RPG has been diluted a bit if people are applying it to titles like this. There is a lot of text to read through in Super Paper Mario, especially in the beginning. It wears thin after a while, but then you jump into the action and things speed up considerably. Luckily, the 1 and 2 buttons make the text go faster.
Visuals? For the most part, they are pretty much on par with the GameCube title, if somewhat improved. The new characters in the town of Flipside are cute and bouncy. Fracktail was absolutely awesome; I wish I could go back and fight him over and over again. Some of the power-up animations are absolutely amazing, especially when you get a classic invincibility star. Sound effects are a great homage to the entire Mario series while still adding plenty of new twinkles and chirps. Crank this up in surround sound if you have it.
How far? As of this writing, I’m halfway through Chapter 2-2. So far, it’s a nice blend of freedom to explore while still keeping a narrative path. The 2D/3D flipping is addictive and really adds a unique element to this game.
Overall? I was a huge fan of Thousand Year Door and that has made it hard for me to give this new title a fair shake. It’s played differently, but retains the same humor, style, and overall feel. The prospect of leveling up makes you search out and attack enemies rather than avoid them. If I have one complaint, it’s that the general premise is extremely familiar: go out, find things, bring them back to town, and show them to a dusty old bookworm. And the term “legendary hero” in an RPG has become as cliche as crates in an FPS. Of course, the game tends to make fun of itself, so these could just be more self-referential jabs. Is it better than Thousand Year Door? Too early to tell, but if you like adventure games or platformers, this one is a must-buy.
Have you played Super Paper Mario yet? Weigh in with your comments!