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Platform

Wii

 

Genre

Platform / RPG

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Nintendo

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q2 2007

 

 

- Fun, good ol' fashioned platforming

- Looks spiffy

- Neat-o abilities

 

 

- Story pacing is off

- Would have benefited greatly from voice acting

- Tries too hard to make use of Wiimote's motion sensitivity at times

 

 

Review: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (GC)

 

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Super Paper Mario

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

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Old school platforming with a touch of RPG elements aren’t features one normally expects to find in the same game, but the Paper Mario series has managed to make it work.  Now with the series first entry onto the Wii, it has started experimenting with the Wiimote as a means of adding one further dimension to how one plays these games, pointing and shacking the controller to perform certain tasks.  Combining this mish-mash of gameplay and control elements in Super Paper Mario has produced a surprisingly enjoyable game despite it pulling from so many directions at once.

 

For this adventure, Mario and the gang find themselves traveling through various dimensions and universes trying to stop the evil Count Bleck from bringing darkness to every corner of existence.  Along the way players will learn more about these various worlds and why the count is so keen on destroying them.  The story is actually quite interesting, not so much for the archetypal tale of good versus evil, but more so for all of the little side stories that emerge along the way, and Super Paper Mario’s ability to poke a little bit of fun at itself, as well as most of geek culture.  The one shortcoming of the game’s story, though, is that the pacing is off.  Players will find themselves going through the game, having a blast, then WHAM! they’ll slam head first into a large chunk of narrative that passes a little slower than feels right.

 

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Despite this, Super Paper Mario strikes an enjoyable balance between platform and RPG gameplay elements.  As one makes their way through the game, they gain access to more controllable characters, and free a number of “pixls” (beings with unique talents who help Mario and the gang on their journey).  As players gain access to these, the depth of 

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Super Paper Mario becomes apparent.  Access to many areas slowly presents itself, as well as new ways of defeating enemies.  As a result, there is plenty of reason to replay old levels, as there is a very good chance that one will be able to access new areas, find new goodies, or better defeat certain enemies indigenous to these levels.  The platforming, navigating the levels, and often times solving puzzles is quite satisfying.  There is a good mix of moments where one’s dexterity is tested, followed by times where one’s wits are put to the test.

 

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Many of these skills are performed from a more traditional standpoint, where players hold the Wii’s controller horizontally, and only on occasion using it in a way that involves more effort.  As a result, some of the more involved control schemes with the wiimote feel tacked on.  There is little reason that they couldn’t have just been done in a more traditional manner, and in some cases it would have made more sense to go that route in the first place.  Nonetheless, the controls are very responsive, and the more straight-ahead platform elements are quite enjoyable.

 

As for the RPG facets of Super Paper Mario, these largely come in the characters’ ability to level up.  There’s also a handy inventory, and spiffy items one can collect, as well as a cooking portion to the game.  While these features aren’t essential to the game, it is nice to see them present, as it adds a little more flavor to the experience, rather than making a full-on platformer.

 

Just like its predecessors, Super Paper Mario’s visuals have a very two dimensional, paper-like quality to them.  Compared the Gamecube games, the graphics here aren’t vastly better, but the style is nice.  Levels are nice and thematic, and there are little touches sprinkled about that help give each setting a little pop.  The use of color is as cheerful as ever, and the animation brings out the personality in all of the characters, especially when they are particularly miffed or pleased about something.  At the same time, the music helps enhance this overall jolly state of things (why everything is so cheery in the face of eminent doom is beyond me, but I guess they’re just looking on the bright side of life).

 

Super Paper Mario does a nice job of bringing the Paper Mario series to the Wii.  The action is as fun as ever, and the story is entertaining despite the pacing being off.  If in future installments on the Wii Nintendo can make the more involved Wii controls feel a bit more logical, the series could become better still.

 

Jeff Nash

July 3, 2007

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