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Super Paper Mario Preview

Author: Darryn King
Friday, 17 August 2007
This is the game I know I’ve been waiting for. Unveiled at last year’s E3, Super Paper Mario was originally destined for the Cube last October, but was later relegated to the Wii for 2007… and we should finally see it on our shores on 20 September. (Incidentally, what is with Nintendo’s game release delays lately- I thought I’d die before Twilight Princess came out.)
The story goes that the director of Paper Mario was on a long train trip and hit upon the idea of a game that switched between two and three dimensions.
And that’s it. Nintendo has a knack for turning crazy ideas like this into highly conceptual and engrossing game experiences (witness the parallel dimensions and time travelling of the Zelda franchise) and, if the early reports from the US and Japan are to be believed, Super Paper Mario is no exception.
Anyway, the land of ‘Flipside’ was born out of that one idea, a landscape that can switch between 2D and 3D according to Mario’s whims - which works perfectly for this series, which is based on the idea that the characters are all paper-thin like pictures in a pop-up book. Basically, imagine plodding along in a typical NES-era 2D Mario stage and arriving at a solid wall. Flip over the stage to 3D, and the wall becomes a pillar which you can easily walk around, and a secret path is visible behind what was originally the background… Ingenious, right-
There are a couple more departures from the Paper Mario formula however, most noticeably that the emphasis has been taken off the RPG elements and that turn-based fighting has been gotten rid of completely. Instead, Super Paper Mario finally pairs its old school aesthetic with genuinely old school platforming gameplay. None of this hanging-around-waiting-for-an-enemy to-stomp-on-you business.
Naturally for a Wii game, there’ll be a little bit of remote-waggling (to inflict extra damage on enemies and the like), but nothing tiresome or tacked-on.
Like in the previous Paper Mario games, you will slowly acquire abilities (brought to you by little characters called Pixls) that you will need to explore new or previously blocked off areas of Flipside. Also like in the previous games, the dialogue and text sparkles with nerdy gags and humour. Not unreasonably, people have complained that there’s way too much reading involved - anyone who remembers Luigi’s story in the last Paper Mario game will know what this is about. Personally, I enjoy chilling out and letting the story unfold around me every once in a while.
In any case, it’s usually enough to tell you that it’s a Mario game, and leave it at that. After the drought of Wii games for hardcore gamers, it’s a delight and a relief to see an in-depth non-party game with everyone’s favourite plumber.