Super Paper Mario Review by: SnuSaving the World... One Love at a Time~
Love is a powerful force. It causes us to hike across mountains, sing songs thousands of times, and create horrible poetry all for the sake of that significant other. However, there's a darker side to it as well. It can make you destroy worlds, rob others of their happiness, and make you do many other unspeakable things.
Pardon? What does this have to do with Super Paper Mario? Well! Love is a very prominent theme in this game! Right from the opening sequence where Peach and Bowser are forcefully married for a very grim purpose (not that Bowser minds, of course). Yes, it is definitely present in many places and forms throughout the game, even if it isn't fully apparent in the beginning. From brotherly love, to family love, to your typical couple love and everything in between.
But enough rambling. Let's look a little deeper at what this story has to offer us.Graphics 9/10
When a game has unique graphics like this, it's hard to try and compare them to another game. The closest you can get is with the prequel, The Thousand Year Door. Even then, the developers went for a slightly different approach. The big thing is that the paper feel is almost completely gone. Super Paper Mario still borrows from the 2D character designs of the previous two games, but the background is more reminiscent of a flat cartoony background than a full on 3D background. Unless of course, you flip into 3D. For whatever reason, the backgrounds look more fleshed out when you flip. All that aside, it still looks wonderful, though it's nothing too special.
The characters themselves look so much better too, with brighter colours and smoother animations.
The items are a bit subpar. They're easy to tell apart, but they're pixel-y.
Speaking of, the pixl partners actually look awesome. All that's ever visible are the coloured outlines and eyes(bar Tippi), yet somehow they rarely ever blend into the background. This creates a cool mini visual style for them, and them alone.Sound 8/10
Okay, I realize I gush over nearly every game soundtrack ever, but I REALLY love the soundtrack for Super Paper Mario. It's a fun, bouncy classical style with a huge amount of synthesized instruments and a few complex harmonies here and there. It gets you pumped up and has you humming along later. Other than a few key tracks, most of the stage songs sound similar, sadly, because they all use such a similar style. However, the character and event themes are better at differentiating themselves and are fairly catchy and fitting at the same time.
As for boss battles, BOY HOWDY these are amazing. They're fast paced (except for I'm not Nice) energetic songs that hold a darker tone to them that almost tells you that they aren't to be trifled with.
However, every song in the game has only one volume: loud. Nearly every one of them is very loud and in your face. They don't provide much for atmosphere and most of them are more focused on being heard.
Don't worry, though. Two of my favourite songs would have to be Castle Bleck and The Underwhere because they're some of the few songs that focus on atmosphere. Both Castle Bleck and the Underwhere take a darker route very befitting of their settings with a slower pacing and a lower pitch. Despite this, they do still sound different. The Underwhere is surprisingly catchy and easy going considering, again, the setting where it plays. Castle Bleck, however, adds more tension and plays up the serious atmosphere. Both sort of tell you, "Hey! You're not in Chapter 1 anymore."
As for the sound effects, they're okay. They're a bit out there, but they work. A lot of them trail off in this weird way where they'll start off high and then go to a low pitch, particularly when flipping. The jumping sound effects are very bland and forgettable, as is the hammer sound effect. In fact other than the aforementioned flipping sound they all sound very bland.Addictiveness 5/10
For an RPG, there really isn't a whole lot to do outside of the story. There's card collecting (tricky, but plenty of cards can be found around the worlds), the TWO Pits of 100 Trials (One gets you a pixl and if you complete the second one TWICE you can flip to 3D for an infinite amount of time.), and then there's treasure hunting (you can buy maps and everything).
Other than that, there's only a grand total of one sidequest and it's for a pixl that serves very little use and is in no way ever necessary.
Not very much when you compare it to other RPGs, even if it is technically a 2D Platformer.
However, with all that said and done, the game takes a while to get addicting. It doesn't pick up until an hour or so in, where there's a bit more challenge and new abilities. Even then, the game really tries it's hardest to suck you in when the story picks up, which is roughly half way through the game. All in all, there's not a whole bunch to come back to when the game's done, even though what is there is time consuming.Depth 4/10
Super Paper Mario is a simple game to control. You hold the wiimote sideways for most of the game and press 2 to jump and perform simple actions like talking, 1 to use your current pixl, - to bring up the controls, + to bring up the menu, and 1 and 2 together to quickly change your character, pixl, or use an item. You can also press A while you're Mario to flip from 2D to 3D and vice versa. Moving is fairly self explanatory, however you can press down to do special things like use a shield or breathe fire depending on which character you are, which is neat. On top of that, you can use your guide, Tippi, by pointing at the tv screen to either tattle on different things or find hidden objects like stairs or doors.
As for gameplay, it's simply a platformer in nearly every sense of the word, though the enemies often take more than one hit to die and you do have Hit Points. You run, jump, and flip your way to the end of every segment, where you then hit a Star Block and continue on to the next one. Every chapter has four segments and your goal in each chapter is to get a Pure Heart in order to stop the worlds from dying.Story 8/10
Super Paper Mario has a wonderful story, even for a Mario RPG.
First off, if you stick around for the pre-title screen opening, you'll be treated to a strange scene. This strange shadowy person dressed in a snazzy white cape, top hat, and monocle is currently acting as minister to Bowser and Peach's wedding. Yes, you heard right! Bowser and Peach are getting married! However, Peach is not liking this, and refuses to say her vows until the shadow person (Count Bleck) gets one of his minions, Nastasia to brainwash her into saying yes. This ominously causes a large grey heart to rise up. Meanwhile, Luigi wakes up from among a crowd of Bowser's minions and sees the heart. Getting a bad feeling, he jumps in and hops on the heart. This causes it to rumble and the screen fades away. And that's just an optional little cutscene!
So, once you actually start up the game, the story starts off before the opening scene with Peach getting kidnapped. The Mario Bros., assuming Bowser's the culprit again, march up to his castle to take her back. As it turns out, he was just about to kidnap her, but hadn't headed out yet!
Instead, the nefarious Count Bleck kidnapped her so that his plan could succeed. He then knocks Mario out and kidnaps everyone else in the castle.
Later, Mario wakes up to a little rainbow fairy calling for him to wake up. The fairy, a Pixl named Tippi, takes you to a space in between dimensions called Flipside and introduces you to yet another Merlon.
As it turns out, wedding an evil king and a benevolent princess creates something called a Chaos Heart, which will destroy all worlds. In order to save the worlds, Mario must gather three more heroes and collect the seven pure hearts scattered throughout dimensions.
What I like about the story is that there's some really interesting plot twists here. The foreshadowing is a bit of a mixed bag, though. On one hand, the events that they foreshadow become extremely obvious over time. However, the writers appear to know that, so they never outright state the truth until the very end. They don't sidetrack on a big monologue about these things either. Therefore, you know what's going on without them having to say much about it, and that's pretty cool.Difficulty 6/10
Super Paper Mario is sort of weird with it's difficulty, like most Mario games. It starts off brain-numbingly easy with all the enemies offering little to no resistance and the way is super linear in order to get you used to the new play style. Then it starts climbing up steadily and at a nice pace right up until Chapter 7, where they way to go is incredibly confusing and a lot of backtracking will be needed on your first play through unless you have a guide. Then... THEN we get to Chapter 8... and man, oh man, does the difficulty go way up. The only real difficulty up to now was finding out where to go. HERE, the enemies are all of a sudden way tougher, and there's some tricky platforming as well. Don't forget to flip to 3D as Mario, because you'll need to do so a lot. The Final Boss as well is no push over. Attacks will fly everywhere, and the boss will not stand still and soak up hits. It's a serious difficulty spike from before, even more so than you would expect from a final confrontation.
Another thing to note is that there are some abilities that make this game way too easy, and they aren't even optional! Bowser has a whopping two times more attack than any other character, which is reasonable enough, right? However, he also has fire breath that can easily hurt enemies that walk into him (which most do). Again, not so bad. BUT if you combine him with a certain Pixl named Carrie, you can jump, move AND breathe fire at the same time, which breaks any difficulty most of the enemies would probably have. Even some bosses can be easily taken care of with this trick! Things not covered above
+ There's a fair bit of exploration you can do outside of the story, but it typically only gives you more coins, and there's plenty without those, even with some items costing a fair amount
+ This game puts up some great atmosphere. Chapter 6 in particular is mind blowing if you bother to think about it.
+ They give good personality to bad guys. Rather than just have them as regular old baddies, we get to see glimpses of what makes them tick, and why they're so bent on destroying the world.
-This game has too much unnecessary backtracking. Basically, you'll pass a point where you'll have to do something specific and you won't know it. You'll then have to backtrack and find out what to do to keep moving forward. It gets incredibly irritating very quickly.
In conclusion, Super Paper Mario may have been a big change from the rest of the Paper Mario games, but the change wasn't all that bad, and I actually wouldn't mind another one like this, especially if it has a great story like this one. I give it a nice little 7.5/10
Thanks for reading~!