The fan-pleasing game is every bit as diverse as it looks. With over seven minutes of video.
Super Paper Mario is certainly one of the most anticipated titles coming from Nintendo. So far, I do not think fans will be disappointed. The game blends classic platforming with Paper Mario RPG elements, and feels deep and polished, with something new to be discovered around every corner.
The game is controlled NES-style, with the D-pad for movement and 1 for jumping. Though players can just jump on enemies, shaking the controller can cause multiple hits, like the active battles of Paper Mario. I’m not sure I like this mechanic added to a platformer, but I’ll need to play with it more. Sadly, Mario has lost his B button run. 2 (the B equivalent) now switches him into “paper" mode, with the paper perpendicular to the screen. Though a platformer, it is evident that Super Paper Mario isn’t designed to be blasted through as quickly as possible, instead encouraging players to explore every nook and cranny of the game by switching between 2-D and 3-D modes. In some locations, the remote may be used as a pointer to examine objects.
The most unique feature of the game is Mario’s ability to switch from the normal 2-D mode into a 3-D one with the A button. Objects from the 2-D version may appear in the 3-D world at any depth. This switch allows Mario to navigate around seemingly impassible obstacles found in the 2-D world or find secrets not normally visible. Mario’s health slowly drains in this mode. Other characters are switchable through a menu, and Peach is playable as well. Peach cannot enter the third dimension, but she does carry her parasol, which allows her to float. Bowser is also apparently playable. Found throughout the game, Pixls are characters that can be collected, which will travel with Mario and give him special abilities.
Several Paper Mario RPG elements pervade the game. For example, there are many characters that can be talked to, and Mario has hit points. Some warp pipes will transport characters to a background plane as in Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. There is plenty of humor involved as well. At one point, a red-loving character asks Mario which color is the most manly, red or green. I saw the results of a guy who incorrectly chose green because it was his favorite color.
There looks to be a huge amount of places to explore within the game. A castle seems to be the main hub, and is where you return to if your character dies. From this location, different areas can be accessed. At one point I accidentally fell down a pit, but instead of dying, I ended up falling into World 1-2 from the original Super Mario Bros., complete with the Warp Zone pipes at the end! The designers are definitely playing games with long-time gamers, though. When I went to collect the hidden Starman from the bricks, a Mushroom popped out instead. Right as I was about to collect it, the Mushroom flipped around, turning into a Poison Mushroom and dealing damage.
Super Paper Mario takes elements from many Mario games, not just the platformers and Paper Mario series. While in the World 1-2 remake, I collected a power-up that gave me a whole set of 8-bit mini Marios to follow me around. Some parts of the level required switching to a 3-D mode to prevent the Marios from getting stuck, and the Marios were more than happy to jump down a pit to their doom as in Mario vs. Donkey Kong. Nostalgia all around, the Mega Star turns Mario 8-bit and giant, plowing through the game like the Mega Mushroom in New Super Mario Bros.
The art direction is simply wonderful. The paper nature of the characters is fully utilized, and the transition from 2-D to 3-D is really neat to watch. When elements are added to the screen, such as pressing a switch to create new platforms to climb on, their outlines are first drawn, and then the color is filled in, a neat artistic effect. There are many more pleasing touches, like characters' Star Trek-like deconstruction and reconstruction as they travel through a warp pipe.
The game will reach US shores in just over a month, April 9. While everyone waits in anticipation, what you can do now is check out some of the gameplay videos below.