Wii

North America

Super Paper Mario

by Michael Cole - April 8, 2007, 12:25 am PDT
Total comments: 34

9

Is Super Paper Mario the second coming of platforming? Well, no, but it is still a very funny, enjoyable game.

Note: the white spaces in this review are spoilers. Highlight the text with your mouse to read them.

From Super Paper Mario's crazy art style to its clever 2-D / 3-D mechanics, Nintendo fans were drooling at the first details for the GameCube. With its hype machine turned up to 11 (at least over at Radio Free Nintendo), it’s clear gamers have expected great things from Intelligent Systems's game. Super Paper Mario isn't the perfect platforming package some expected, but it is an adventure game chock-full of humor and craziness.

Super Paper Mario conveys the story of the ancient Dark Prognosticus, a forbidden book that foretells the end of the universe, and a second prophecy, the Light Prognosticus, written in hopes of counteracting this grim fate. Mario, Luigi, Bowser, Peach are drawn into the prophetic fray when the Dark Prognosticus's executor, Count Bleck, storms Peach and Bowser's castle as part of his nefarious plans. As the hero described in the Light Prognosticus, Mario must venture through eight worlds from different dimensions with his friends to accumulate the Pure Hearts of love needed to stop Bleck's chaotic intentions.

Mario's adventure begins in Flipside, which serves as the game's hub. There he meets Tippi, a butterfly pixl who joins him on his quest. The game is generally played with the controller held sideways; using the Wiimote as a pointer freezes the action so that Tippi can provide strategy on baddies and spot invisible objects. Mario recruits more of these mysterious pixls created by the Ancients during his quest, of which he can use one at a time in addition to Tippi. The pixls' powers are used to solve puzzles, but those also providing offensive abilities (such as the bomb) tend to get more face time. Mario is also eventually united with his companions from the Mushroom Kingdom, whom the player can switch among for their various abilities.

Let's get one thing straight: Super Paper Mario is not a Super Mario Bros. game with Paper Mario visuals. In fact, this game is more accurately described as Paper Mario without turn-based battles. While some levels consist almost entirely of run-and-jump action, Super Paper Mario focuses on more leisurely exploration, character development, and emotions. The dungeons and Bowser mini-stages from The Thousand-Year Door are analogous to Super Paper Mario's gameplay and pacing. Mario must venture through the worlds by solving puzzles, stomping baddies and jumping true. Mario and his foes have life meters (heart points) as well as attack and defense statistics. An experience point meter cleverly disguised as your score yields level-ups. Just as in the RPGs, Mario can buy, sell, and use power-ups to attack foes or regain health. However, unlike earlier Paper Mario games, the action takes place on a true 2-D plane…at least, until Mario flips into three-dimensional space.

When Mario "flips" the camera rotates 90 degrees, transforming the flat world into a 3-D environment for a limited period of time. Up and down become forward and backward along the X-axis; left and right become left and right along the Z-axis. With the introduction of a Z-axis, vertically aligned platforms in 2-D space are suddenly disjoint, one coin reveals itself to be many, the foreground no longer obscures secrets, and so on. Some rooms (or portions of rooms) are even connected through Z-axis passageways and doorways completely invisible and inaccessible in the default perspective. Not everything gains a dimension in the flipped perspective, though: characters and some objects retain their two-dimensional existence in the X-Y or Z-Y plane, rendering them as though they were nonexistent when Mario is in the opposite perspective. Einstein would be proud!

As mind-bending as the 2-D / 3-D mechanic is, the worlds' varying styles, ranging from relatively sane to the utterly abstract, are what really brings the environments to life. Etch-a-sketch lines, huge-ass pixels, and Game & Watch backdrops are just some of the wacky flavors in this cacophony of madness. The more conceivable locales' aesthetics are still very interesting with their different inhabitants and coloring styles.

As funky as the environments are, though, it is the game's other aspects that make Super Paper Mario Nintendo's most emotional game yet. Unexpected situations are the norm, and the designers weren't afraid to toy with their customers. The game throws you seemingly impossible tasks to demoralize, non sequitur comments to surprise, and intentionally annoying conversations to infuriate. For example, at one point you must type out "please" five times to gain a NPC's assistance. But most of all, SPM is incredibly funny. Nothing is off-limits in this dimensionally-charged escapade. Discussion of the player? Yup! Greek mythology? Fine. Indentured servantry? Why not?! Heck, Super Paper Mario goes as far as to bemuse and mock video game fans with game and gaming culture references. What's more, the characters are believable and endearing—burly and vaguely Scottish henchman O'Chunks charms with his bumbling incompetence, and Count Bleck's managerial-type second-in-command, Nastasia, may as well have been named Lumbergh. The villains, including the Count himself, have their reasons, which become apparent as Mario's adventure and the universe's destruction proceeds. Even the heroes are funny, from Peach's polite but stern responses to Bowser's sass. Players will likely replay boss battles and similar moments of banter with a different character just for the clever adjustments to the script. Of course, Mario remains mostly silent, so the spunky Tippi usually retorts on Mario's behalf.

Unfortunately, the level design itself isn't always so lively. The platforming is amusing, though it’s only challenging at choice times and can sometimes be circumvented by flipping. However, many of the adventure-heavy levels rely on tedious puzzles involving backtracking and scouring. No, I do not want to comb the same five rooms over and over to spot that Z-axis passageway I stupidly overlooked. I'd also rather not have to keep a pen and paper ready for inane passwords I must later remember. If you thought you were being clever, Intelligent Systems, you weren't. Of course, the state of mind that thinks passwords are awesome also invents gigantic 8-bit Mexican-hat-dancer Toadstool, so perhaps this is the price we pay. Anyway, players can return to Flipside and usually get relevant guidance from the fortune-teller if they become genuinely stumped, so Super Paper Mario's less dazzling moments are not deal-breakers.

Super Paper Mario is easily the NOA Treehouse's funniest localization yet—perhaps because the game doesn't outstay its welcome. While it may be more RPG than platformer, and it has some design flaws, if you own a Wii, Super Paper Mario is an experience not to be missed. Personality drips from the television screen—personality you do not want to miss.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9.5 10 9 8 9 9
Graphics
9.5

Intelligent Systems has never been good at 3-D graphics, so what do they do? Turn 3-D into 2-D! The results are fantastic. Some very imaginative environments and clever plays on perspective make Super Paper Mario's visual style truly is its own. Half of the experience is its presentation, so even those just watching Super Paper Mario will have a blast. The paper-thin characters and environments can make judging distances difficult when flipped, but with 2-D in the toolset this is only a minor problem during some 3-D skirmishes.

Sound
10

SPM's music is very much in tune with the game's varied personalities—the usually happy-go-lucky music makes a stop in Bizarro Land when something screwy is amok. The soundtrack strikes a good balance between memorable themes and emotional or atmospheric emphasis, and its production is far more cohesive than the admirable but less noteworthy one from The Thousand-Year Door. Peach's yelps sound a bit odd, but I'll look over that.

Control
9

The Wii remote is surprisingly adequate for both the 2-D and 3-D perspectives. The various heroes and their unique abilities handle differently but always how you'd expect. The quick-menu, used to switch characters or sprites and use items, feels slightly odd mapped to (1) + (2) but works well enough. Tilt controls are used in moderation for items and stylish aerial tricks, used to earn more points when stomping on baddies.

Gameplay
8

Super Paper Mario has some action-packed sequences, and the boss battles are enjoyable, but the game's adventuring can be trying, especially for those yearning for a more serious platformer. The game's troubles are mitigated by incredible presentation and localization. For what it's worth, the level design definitely ends on a high note.

Lastability
9

Although the main game only lasts roughly 20 hours, Mario & Co. can return after preventing the apocalypse for side-quests such as the Pit of 100 Trials, exploration and the collectable trading cards of characters and enemies. Of course, to relive all of the game's hilarious dialogue you'll have to start a new save file.

Final
9

Thank you, Intelligent Systems, for this peculiar, unexpected love-letter to Nintendo fans. I should also tip my hat to Nate Bihldorff and his pals: never before have I laughed so frequently or loudly to one of NOA's localizations. The gameplay has its setbacks, but Super Paper Mario's humor, creativity, and storytelling exemplifies how games can be a cinematic and multifaceted experience.

Summary

Pros
  • Clever 2-D / 3-D game mechanics
  • Crazy art style
  • Emotional rollercoaster with plenty of humor
  • Excellent and appropriate soundtrack
Cons
  • Forced searching of overlooked crannies
  • Light on the run-and-jump
  • Unwarranted password-based "puzzles"
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

ShyGuyApril 08, 2007

9.0d!!!


..wait that's a pretty good score.

Still gonna buy Far Cry Wii next week instead. Sacrilege!

Oh dear, I apologize if NWR isn't allowed to give positive reviews any more, ShyGuy.

Quote

Originally posted by: ShyGuy
9.0d!!!


..wait that's a pretty good score.

Still gonna buy Far Cry Wii next week instead. Sacrilege!


As long as you don't spontaneously combust when you see the graphics and shoddy framerate, you'll have a good 'ol FPS bit of fun there 'ol boy.

~Carmine "Cai" M. Red
Kairon@aol.com

Shift KeyApril 08, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: TheYoungerPlumber
Oh dear, I apologize if NWR isn't allowed to give positive reviews any more, ShyGuy.


Considering that this got a massive amount of diggs when IGN released an 8.9 review (and the previous games in the series a similar score) I'm surprised that the fanboys aren't asking for more blood. I mean, how can you give this game a similar score to IGN, which came from the loins of Lucifer himself!

They claim
Quote

Fitting silly sound effects and a compilation of MIDI music -- some of the tracks really ring true and others are throw-aways.


and then slap the sound with a 7.5. Yeah, go figure. I know its not an average but if you're rating the sound of the game then I'm sure you could justify it more than just MIDI slander.

Aside from that, this will probably be something I get whenif? it makes it to Australia.

CalibanApril 08, 2007

A 9.0 sounds perfectly well for a game I haven't even played yet, yup yes it does. I'm not bashing on you, excellent review TYP

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorApril 08, 2007

Tuesday tuesday tuesday

ShyGuyApril 08, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: TheYoungerPlumber
Oh dear, I apologize if NWR isn't allowed to give positive reviews any more, ShyGuy.



Apology accepted. The upcoming Mortal Kombat should of course get a 5.5 face-icon-small-wink.gif

Jome20April 08, 2007

I think TYP did a very good job reviewing this game. I think it's funny that someone was insinuating that NWR no longer writes positive reviews due to some potentially questionable Wii reviews.

The review is everything I expected from this game. A game that's going to be great and it's going to be a lot of fun. But it's NOT the game of the year and it's not the best game we'll see on Wii this year. And yet, it's going to be damn fun and it'll hopefully help tide us over until the big guns arrive towards the end of the year. And I welcome a game of this calibur at this time of the year when normally the game industry is so slow.

Great job on the review TYP and keep up the good work!

.... A little side note though. You might want to put a little notice / disclaimer on the top of your review mentioning that the missing spaces are hidden words that may be spoilers.

I think it's pretty neat how you set the review up with spoilers but change the text for all the people who don't want to read any of it.

However, with that being said, a lot of us readers at PGC ...errr NWR are definitely computer savvy and understand that when they see a blank spaces in the review that it means that if you highlight it you'll be able to read potential spoilers.

However, I imagine there's a lot of people out there that do read this site who are either quite young or just not all that computer savvy and could be confused when attempting to read the review. Some that might not understand why there are blank spaces throughout the review. And how sentences don't seem to quite finish themselves.

Anyways, that's just my opinion / constructive criticism. And maybe you did have a notice that mentioned the blank text being spoilers and I just missed it.

Anyways, great review and I can't wait to start playing the game next week.

- Jome20 ~ Jeff

Thanks for the compliments...and the tip. I've added a note at the top!

GoldenPhoenixApril 08, 2007

What a surprise, when NWR gives a positive review it is a great review, but when they give a negative review it is flawed.

wulffman04April 08, 2007

Us gamers in Southern Oregon love our Super Paper Mario!

TrueNerdApril 08, 2007

Oh god, Tuesday = Christmas. In April!

GoldenPhoenixApril 08, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: TrueNerd
Oh god, Tuesday = Christmas. In April!


I'll probably be getting the game tomorrow at 9pm or 10pm, since the Walmart in Washington usually gets Nintendo published games during that time. I can't wait!

CericApril 09, 2007

I enjoyed the review. Though by reading these forums as of late a 9.0 is a terrible terrible score and I should wait for the bargain bin right? :P

Mr. TrueNerd asked about the Pit of 100 Trials in another thread, but it belongs here I say so I'm responding here.

I got half-way through before dying when I checked it out. It is a series of 100 puzzles/battles in almost-identical rooms with different platforms/blocks and enemies. Basically you need to kill the right enemy, nab the key, and go through the door. Some rooms are more focused on the room layout, some are more focused on tricky baddies. it's pretty neat. Each room is timed, but at five minutes per room it doesn't really affect anything.

TrueNerdApril 09, 2007

Thank you very much.

KDR_11kApril 09, 2007

Nintendo is really starting to like the idea of bonus dungeons that are just the same room over and over with more and more difficult enemies that get much tougher than the main quest, eh?

TYP sez: I'm sure others would appreciate if you used spoiler tags when talking about spoilers.

Nintendo is a big fan of not making the main game terribly difficult to complete for the less skilled gamers, and adding bonuses for the hardcore. That being said, RPGs in general tend to have at least one bonus dungeon, often with repeating rooms. TTYD had one, too.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorApril 09, 2007

Why are y'all waiting until Tuesday to pick this one up? I got my copy today!

Blue PlantApril 09, 2007

No place around me (Northwest Florida) has it until tomorrow either... *rocks back and forth* o_o

TrueNerdApril 09, 2007

Clearly our Jedi Force Persuasion skills are not as advanced as yours, Uncle Bob.

Oh dear. As a footnote, if you're reading on the Wii browser and want to see the spoilers in my Super Paper Mario review, switch to single column mode (push 2).

Bill AurionApril 12, 2007

I'm pretty sure this game was developed with the entire IS staff sitting around in a circle, taking turns going "You know what hasn't been done?..." while the rest of the group responds with an enthusiastic "LET'S THROW IT IN!" ...

It's as pure a spark of genius can get on a media disc!

GoldenPhoenixApril 12, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: Bill Aurion
I'm pretty sure this game was developed with the entire IS staff sitting around in a circle, taking turns going "You know what hasn't been done?..." while the rest of the group responds with an enthusiastic "LET'S THROW IT IN!" ...

It's as pure a spark of genius can get on a media disc!


That is exactly the impression I got, the developers were having FUN and letting every wild idea come out, which in turn brings a smile to the gamer's face. The game is so random at times it is hilarious and works perfectly.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterApril 12, 2007

I haven't played it (and probably won't in a while), but I saw a video of it on You Tube and from what I saw the game sparkles with imagination and fun.

Would love to play it someday.

CalibanApril 12, 2007

This game freakin' rocks, 9.9!

GoldenPhoenixApril 12, 2007

Well I think it is perhaps the most unique and innovatve title for the next generation systems. If not, definately the most unique title released this year.

Fanbois (and Fangirls) ... pah!

~Carmine "Cai" M. Red
Kairon@aol.com

GoldenPhoenixApril 12, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: Kairon
Fanbois (and Fangirls) ... pah!

~Carmine "Cai" M. Red
Kairon@aol.com


You are just jealous because you spent all your money on Double Dungeons.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterApril 12, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: GoldenPhoenix
Quote

Originally posted by: Kairon
Fanbois (and Fangirls) ... pah!

~Carmine "Cai" M. Red
Kairon@aol.com


You are just jealous because you spent all your money on Double Dungeons.


And Far cry! Don't forget Far Cry :p

mantidorApril 12, 2007

At first I was dissapointed by the remote implementation, but I've realized it was for the best, just like it was for NSMB, this game could have been perfectly made for the cube, and thats what I hate since they finally give me a reason to buy their overprized console face-icon-small-frown.gif good thing I don't have a dime, or I would expend it all without thinking, I'll finish the thousand year door mean while, and hope for a price drop before I can get some money, because I know I won't be able to resist.

SvevanEvan Burchfield, Staff AlumnusMay 10, 2007

lttp: I like this game.

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorMay 10, 2007

I'm stuck in the 2nd chapter and it's boring me..

Room #1
Room #2
Room #3
Room #1 again
Room #7

::Pale shuts off Super Paper Mario and plays more Pokemon::

SvevanEvan Burchfield, Staff AlumnusMay 11, 2007

Chapter two isn't all that great, but the part you're at reminds me of 2-D Zelda puzzles (from Adventures of Link and Link's Awakening).

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Super Paper Mario Box Art

Genre Adventure
Developer Intelligent Systems
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: Super Paper Mario
Release Apr 09, 2007
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
jpn: Super Paper Mario
Release Apr 19, 2007
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: Super Paper Mario
Release Sep 14, 2007
PublisherNintendo
Rating3+
aus: Super Paper Mario
Release Sep 20, 2007
PublisherNintendo
RatingGeneral

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