The first Paper Mario game was released on the Nintendo 64 internationally in 2001, then was re-released for the Nintendo Wii’s virtual console in 2007 as well as the Wii U in 2015. The first Paper Mario was very successful in scoring an aggregate on Metacritic of 93% from the press. We then had Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door for the GameCube in 2004, Super Paper Mario for the Wii in 2007, Paper Mario: Sticker Star which was the first handheld Paper Mario game launch on the 3DS back in 2012. We then had Paper Mario: Colour Splash for the Wii U in 2016 and finally in 2020 the released of Paper Mario: The Origami King for the Nintendo Switch.
Over the years Paper Mario has changed and altered as Nintendo Mix it up and try out new ideas. Due to this, a number of fans of the franchise are not happy and would love the game to go back to its roots. This is not going to happen as games need to change with the times, so has Paper Mario: The Origami King change too much or have Nintendo created a winning formula with their next outing in the franchise, Let us found find out in our review.
A story is something, I always want in a Mario game, interesting, evolving and something that drags me into its world, does The Origami King offer up this?
Mario and his long time plumbing partner Luigi have been invited to the Origami Festival by Princess Peach, a festival that takes place near her castle. Once you arrive something is not quite right, even the princess is acting a little odd, to the point where she drops Mario down through a hole into the dungeon.
You learn quickly that everything has been orchestrated by King Olly, known now as The Origami King. You meet Olly’s sister called Olivia, you then meet up with Bowser who is oddly shaped, and you all end up escaping the castle just before the castle is wrapped up in multicoloured streamers and ripped up from its foundations and set upon a mountain top. The multicoloured streamers lead you to the Legion of Stationery, as you can probably guess these are the likes of a stapler, colour pencils etc.
As the story progresses you find out why King Olly is doing what he is doing, and his plan to fold the entire world into origami. It will be down to you and your friends to bring an end to The Origami King’s plans and resume the Origami Festival. I do not want to spoil the game’s story any more, I am simply going to say, that it’s folded with fun.
Yet, there is one more thing I wish to tell you about, this is Mario’s New Ability Called the 1000-Fold Arms. This ability sees Mario growing long folded arms that allow him to tear the world apart, solve puzzles, even help in battles. These new arms are controlled through motion control and it even works on the Nintendo Switch Lite, which is great.
The gameplay is what you expect when it comes to a Mario game, the only major difference is the battle system, as in Paper Mario games you get a turn-based combat system. You can expect to explore everywhere, collect coins, find collectables among other items, solve plenty of puzzles, encounter NPC’s and fight bosses and mini-bosses.
For fans of the Paper Mario Franchise the biggest change this time is the battle system, you still have the turn-based aspect that you get from JRPG’s, but it is the way Nintendo has transformed the battle arena into a 360° ring based battle system. The new system requires you to think about how you are going to attack, and where to place the enemies for the most amount of damage. Move enemies you say? Yes, each ringed arena has a number of inner rings that can be moved into a new position so you can line up enemies or stack them up for maximum damage (see image below).
So Boss battles, same 360° ring based battle system, but instead of lining up the boss, which would be stupid, you line up arrows in a way that allows Mario to move around the arena and pick up items or land an attack. These battles can be tricky at times and sometimes very long. There are even mini-bosses to take on, which can feel just as hard as a boss battle. You also need to be mindful of the timer, but not too mindful as you can purchase more time to think about your moves.
If you die do not fret as there is no major consequence to worry about, just time, which for me is very precious as I have a little one that is always wanting my time, all for himself, the wonders of fatherhood.
Moving away from the battle system which can be annoying, and I must admit I wish they kept to the original formula and not change it. But I guess things have to change, new ideas have to tested, as a game evolves, however, this battle system does get a little laborious after a number of battles.
Levelling up is done differently in The Origami King as you simply DO NOT level-up. You simply gain money in a number of ways, and as I said before can purchase more time to make choices in a battle, but money can also help you solve a puzzle if you are struggling, or unlock stat-boosting equipment. You will also find hearts in the wild to give you health, and even find shopkeepers pop up after a battle, all interesting and true.
When looking at the actual world itself the idea of Origami really works well, and feels perfect for this type of game, bringing colour and life to a franchise that needs to evolve. In real life watching someone create a dove or a flower from paper blows my mind as I simply can not do it, so I do wonder, can everything in this game get recreated from real paper? As I know Nintendo, do a lot of work when it comes to their games and everything comes from a real-life idea.
Looking back at past Games Zelda was inspired by a forest Shigeru Miyamoto used to play in as a child, so I do wonder if Paper Mario and the introduction of Origami was in a way of showcasing Japans love of (折り紙) the art of paper folding.
I said at the start of the review I love a story in a game, a story that drags me in and pulls me through the game. This game certainly has one, but it is more or less, go here, defeat this, yet for some reason, I much preferred the humorous comedic sections throughout the game. They were silly and dumb, something that made me laugh. Like the dance scene with the old tree stump, or finding a flag pole which in turn finds a bunch of steps to grab the flag at the top of the pole with the good old sounds from the first Mario game. There are so many good elements to this game, you might stay for a while. By doing this Nintendo has made the game more enjoyable, fun to play, and fun to come back to and not just a long slog with loads of text to read, and constant battles to have to complete.
Puzzles OMG, they can become laborious at times, and you have to wonder why they put so many of one type in the game, like the slider puzzles.OMG so many and sometimes they took me to the edge of my seat and stressed me out. In the end I, well you could say I cheated and just paid coin for the puzzle to be completed for me, yes I know, maybe I should have more confidence in myself.
Exploring the whole game can take some time, but this is one thing you should be doing so you can find all those collectables as there is a good amount of them in the game. By exploring, you will enjoy the way Nintendo has crafted this game, with love as always. The design, artwork, everything you can see is well crafted, this you should know is nothing new when it comes to a Nintendo published Game, they are renowned for creating top-quality games. Not to mention the Soundtrack, characters, everything is top-notch and everything feels perfect.
To sum up, Nintendo’s Paper Mario: The Origami King is a loving message for fans of Origami, the puzzles and battles can for some of us get little tiresome and for some of us, you probably wish Nintendo would go back to the games roots. I found the battles to add more pressure thanks to the timer, and more strategy thanks to the 360° ring based battle system. I do play a lot of turn-based JRPG’s, and this is the first with such an odd system, but it does work. Do I love this Paper Mario? I would say I like it, not love it as I feel a more traditional battle system needs to be added next time around, and more, a lot more variation of puzzles and finally come on Nintendo, it’s time to add voices.
You can purchase Paper Mario: The Origami King here for £49.99
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