Published on July 22nd, 2020 | by Zorbz
REVIEW – Paper Mario: The Origami King
Another entry in the Paper Mario Series is out and for the first time on the Nintendo Switch. This sort of snuck up on us all out of nowhere as it was announced and then released shortly after which may have left people thinking, is this going to be a good game or something rushed. Well you’re gonna have to read on to find out 😉
Story: King Olly has taken over Princess peaches castle and turned her into origami, which makes her a creepy almost possessed version of herself. He literally rips the castle out of the ground sending it to the top of a mountain and wrapping it in coloured streamers which act as some sort of forcefield. You must set out to take down each coloured streamer across different areas/lands, whatever you want to call them, to gain entry to the castle to stop Olly from turning everything into origami, rescue Princess Peach and save the world essentially.
Paper Mario games are generally quite tongue in cheek and use light comedy to entertain throughout. What I was surprised to find was a lot more emotion at play then I was expecting. I was generally upset at certain points in the game as it had some sad, yet sweet moments through out which showed a lot more heart to the story. What was even more surprising is normally I struggle with pure text based RPGs after being blessed with fully voice acted ones over the last decade or so, but wow was I surprised at how engaged I was.
Comedy though is the major highlight as it had me literally laughing through out. The dialogue is just perfectly written and the supporting cast are exceptional, especially Olivia who accompanies you on your journey to defeat her evil brother King Olly (the origami king). Olivia is so loveable and kind to everyone and has this naive quality to her that is just adorable. I just love how everything excited her and it made exploring in the game that much more endearing. The other supporting cast which I won’t spoil are also so loveable and hilarious in their own right, hell even some generic toads spurt out one liners that cracked me up.
Graphics: This is hands down the best the Paper Mario franchise has ever looked! I think this is also one of the most colourful games I have ever seen too. Everything from character designs to the use of realistic looking structures to the Origami looking ones, everything just looks amazing and all blends together.
The characters are all familar from other Mario titles but they have a more cutesy look to them, I honestly don’t know how else I would describe them because everyone including bowsers minions just look adorable, the paper versions that is. The Origami versions of characters however look creepy, which is cool because you immediately know which characters you have to battle and who you can engage with. Creates that easy to spot contrast of good and evil.
Environments are a mix of craft materials like cardboard trees, folder paper to create the ground or mountains and other unique touches like that, but there’s also the more realistic looking buildings completely 3D rendered as well as structures made of origami. As I said earlier it all blends well and I like that they spice it up as one minute there will be a river of water that looks like paper and other moments it will be realistic looking water. It just keeps the game looking fresh making every new environment a delight to explore, as I was always looking forward to seeing what the team used to create each location from deserts, fields, jungles and temples etc.
Gameplay: What do you get when you mix a platformer with a turn based RPG? You get the Paper Mario games. So what is different you ask? Well the main difference in this entry is that battles, whilst still turn based are actually played out with Mario in a circle center stage with enemies taking positions on rings around Mario. The focus is to line the enemies up so that you can attack them all with the amount of turns you are awarded as well as being awarded bonus damage for lining them up perfectly. At first this plays out fairly simple like a little puzzle before you attack but towards the end of the game I almost never got perfect lineups and so battles took that much longer for me which was quite frustrating. It really feels like part puzzler, part turn based RPG.
Boss battles are more fun with you working your way around the outer rings to attack the boss who is now in the center, I really recommend having a look at the trailer above to get a glimpse of how this all plays out. The boss battles are definitely more challenging and a lot more engaging in comparison as i found myself avoiding random battle because unlike most RPG’s you don’t gain any experience, just coins. Coins are quite useful for help from the cheerleading toads in battle that fill out the stands as you find them in the over-world, but there’s an absolute abundance of coins that I still didn’t feel much point in engaging in random battles.
Since you don’t gain experience like other RPG’s, you gain extra HP which increases your attack power by collecting special hearts. Most are awarded to you through regular playthrough however there are occasional hidden ones unlocked through over world puzzles and good old fashion searching. Apart from that Mario can equip a bunch of different boots and hammers which also deal out more damage but also break after a certain amount of use. You can also find items to help reduce damage and deal more damage which can be used permanently, but again with all this stuff the battles still feel really monotonous and not rewarding. This is one thing I would love the team to tackle for the next entry, making the battles more engaging.
Fortunately the game doesn’t revolve purely on battles as there’s a lot of platforming elements, exploration, puzzles and mini games that are really fun. I could have played the entire game with out any random battles and just have boss battles occasionally and I would have loved the game even more. I really just loved exploring the different worlds, filling in holes in the environment with confetti that Mario can throw which he collects by smashing trees and objects, as well as enemies, and sometimes you can even just jump on a weak enemy and kill it without having to enter a battle…the way it should be. There’s actually quite a few enemies you fight throughout the game with your hammer which makes it more action based, these fights are a thousand times better then the turn based ones, so I would have loved more of that.
Sound: Everyone knows Mario games have amazing music and The Origami King is no different. Each world has amazing music that really fits the environment you’re in and you’ll even notice some remixed Mario themes that can be quite subtle. What i really wasn’t expecting was the metal blasting when you hop into battles, it’s badass and again something I never would have expected in a Mario title. It all works well together and is top quality audio wizardry. The only slight negative would be the fact that the music in battles, although cool, does get repetitive.
Whilst there’s no voice acting there’s still the random noises and grunts from enemies and allies alike that you’ll be familiar with, especially all the sound effects that will forever hit that place of Nostalgia for fans of the Mario universe.
Awesomeness: It’s really the charm of the overall experience that just makes this game look and feel so different to other RPG experiences. It’s so unique with the visuals and the origami aspect just adds that extra flare to help differentiate this from the previous entries.
There is collectibles to go back to mark off the checklist of 100% however there wasn’t a real reward dangling that lures you in to want to do that. This of course is personal preference but I was quite happy with my playthrough as a complete experience which is always great when you can finish a game and feel content and not like you are missing something or like you didn’t get enough out of it.
Final word: It all started with Super Mario RPG on the Snes which eventuated into the original Paper Mario on the Nintendo 64 and every console since has had it’s own Paper Mario experience. This might just be my favourite i’ve played. If you’ve never played any of the Mario RPG series whether it be Paper Mario or the Mario and Luigi saga, do yourself a favour and give this a go because it’s just a delight to play from start to finish.
Out of 5 Bugs!