Super Paper Mario
Author: Kieren Martin
Friday, 12 October 2007
This game may as well come packaged with a pair of plastic underpants, because it’s the closest that Nintendo have ever come to providing wet-dream-inducing materials to its dyed-in-the-wool fans.
From the ostensibly 2-D appearance of the game, the running and jumping, the blocks and the Goombas, the reprised musical themes and the references in the dialogue, one could easily be convinced that it was 1986 all over again. (Incidentally, this would also mean no Peter André, no Britney Spears, and no Bat Out Of Hell, Part III: The Monster Is Loose, so be careful what you wish for.) Of course, the game is rendered flawlessly, making this look more like an animated feature film than an 8-bit jaunt through a console of yesteryear.
The game dynamic has been described in countless previews and reviews in the gaming press [Including in this section. - Ed.], so I beg your indulgence while I repeat it here. Like the two other games in the Paper Mario series, this game is an adventure/role-playing game set in the Mario universe; unlike the other two games, this game features real-time battles with enemies, as opposed to the turn-based style of fighting so entrenched in role-playing games. For me, who finds the idea of having to sit there and take it while an enemy uses a ‘Super Mega Power Potion, Attack Strength Plus Three’ spell on me, I find this a wholly positive change. For those enamoured of the previous combat style - geeks, let’s call them - the game still retains enough of the series’ RPG elements to be enjoyed by all.
The game also allows you to ‘flip’ perspectives, so that the 2-D panorama you’re presented with at the beginning of the game is revealed to show uncharted depths - previously impenetrable paths are shown to have easy-accessible shortcuts, and items that were hidden in one view are revealed in another. This dynamic is well implemented, and is certainly a nice touch for the game.
The plot, inasmuch as there is one, is very close to being irrelevant. The game is not tedious, however, because the translation is first-class, and there are elements of humour scattered throughout the game, at not-infrequent intervals. (A particular favourite of mine is the game’s arch antagonist, Count Bleck, who finds the need to append his name to the end of every sentence he speaks, thus: “I will crush Mario! Bleck!” For those with a predisposition towards obsessiveness, this can very quickly become a feature of one’s own speaking patterns. Bleck!)
The graphics, control and sound are all pleasingly polished, with this game showing the panache that all in-house titles developed by Nintendo demonstrate. For that, its novel approach, and the nods to the company’s history littered throughout the story, this game is highly recommended - and, as one of the few solid games so far on the console that is more than a collection of mini-games, doubly so.