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Paper Mario: The Origami King Trailer Analysis

by Xander Morningstar - June 3, 2020, 7:14 am PDT
Discuss in talkback!

I got a few paper "cuts" making this video.

Hey everyone, Xander here. I am excited to play the newly announced Paper Mario: The Origami King for the Switch. I have poured a lot more energy than I care to admit into creating this in-depth look at the nitty-gritty details of the game. There’s a lot here, despite the short trailer we were shown, and I have done my best to organize it in a presentable way that flows nicely and chronologically. A quick disclaimer: all this information is from my own observations when comparing screenshots to footage. So, it's entirely possible that some or all of what I say turns out wrong. That said, grab a snack and let’s jump in.

Prologue – Toad Town and Peach’s Castle is stolen (again)

We start with Mario and Luigi driving to Toad Town after reading the Princess’ invitation to the Origami Festival, but the town seems to be deserted, and in rough shape with large origami sculptures everywhere. For one reason or another, Mario goes to the castle alone, where he meets Origami Peach. Not sure what happened to Luigi; maybe he stayed outside to watch his go-kart. Also, the drawbridge to the castle is up when they arrive, so getting in has yet to be discovered. It’s worth noting that the OO/XX’s seen on the invitation are in other games like TTYD’s chapter with Flavio and Keelhaul Key. They use these to signify the date and time rather than hugs and kisses. Also, there is a large, regal building behind Luigi on the right that may be a museum much akin to the Card or Sticker museums from Sticker Star and Color Splash. We can also see it later in the trailer from a bird’s eye view. This may be a location for showing off collectibles, maybe papier-mâché masks, items, music tracks, looking at concept art, or it may act as a model viewer. It is also possible it houses something else that I will get to in a moment, so keep this place in the back of your mind for now.

While we are looking at Toad Town, it doesn’t seem to be based on Toad Town from Paper Mario on the Nintendo 64. In fact, I’m just realizing that we haven’t been back to Toad Town since that game! All the other Paper Mario titles were in different locations: Rogueport, Flipside, Decalburg, and Prisma Island. The castle now has a monstrous wall and a moat around it with a drawbridge. It’s kind of weird that there isn’t much protection for the folks in Toad Town. We can see that there are a lot of origami sculptures all around the town, holes in the ground from where papier-mâché Goombas have feasted. Some of the areas in the town are blocked off from the sculptures and the holes in the ground. This means those holes are probably going to be able to be interacted with, but more on that later. There are 12 buildings in the town, most of which aren’t identifiable. But we can label a few of these for the time being. We have the potential museum; we have two areas of transportation: the sky tram and the boat house. There’s a toad house with two hammers on it, so this could be a dojo for practicing combat or maybe a place to buy weapons and gear if we’re lucky. If history repeats itself, we can also infer that one of these buildings is a shop, a dojo for practicing combat, and maybe a post office or area for quests of some kind. There’s a Warp pipe in the bottom right; perhaps we will be exploring the sewers again, or this could be a shortcut to somewhere else that is hard to reach in Toad Town.

So right away, the trailer is establishing a very eerie tone with the lack of music, the echoing of the door, and the figure entering the room slowly. It’s interesting that these doors have handles on them, but the door is being pulled from the other side, not something I am reading into, just some appreciation for simple cinematography to add to the creepy atmosphere. The elements with this opening and the origami sculptures in Toad Town really lend themselves to a goofy horror genre. This visual style is very much in line with Color Splash and Sticker Star; literally everything is made of paper. All the models in this scene have been modeled to look like they are folded over one another like layers of paper. Origami Peach appears to be up to no good. Also, this room is reminiscent of the design of Paper Mario on the Nintendo 64, which itself is based on Super Mario 64. So, this is a three-way reference, which is very fun. Last thing I want to point out here is that the text from Origami Peach is clustered together and uneven. This is expressive text that was featured in other Paper Mario titles to convey emotion without voice acting.

After falling into what is most likely the dungeon, Mario gets Olivia out of the wall using the 1000 folded arms ability. I think maybe he is exploring this area, until he hears a muffled voice from a wall, which is probably Olivia, who instructs him on how to use the 1000 folded arms power to help her escape. This could be like the cut-out feature from past Paper Mario titles, and it’s worth noting that there is a large “Hand” icon on the ground. I think this might be an indicator that this is an area where you can use whatever ability Olivia has, which is probably origami related, if she is the one granting the 1000 folded arms ability. A hand is a good signifier that you’ll be folding something, and the sprite-like characters from the past all had powers that were in line with the game’s theme (Kersti had the sticker powers, Huey helped with paining, etc.)

Later (or possibly before he meets Olivia), Mario finds Bowser in Peach’s dungeon(?) and Bowser explains the Folded Soldiers have taken his minions and they no longer listen to him. He was also transformed into that folded piece of paper. Mario then frees Bowser and Bowser tags along. The trailer shows us several shots in this dungeon area where Bowser is folded and hung by a clothespin, and Origami Shy Guys attack his minions.

Next we have Mario, Bowser, and Olivia confronting Origami Peach at the top of the castle, so they probably were able to escape the dungeon and work their way back up to the top of the castle, still no signs of Luigi. One must wonder if Luigi’s go-kart will be used at all for transportation other than the opening of the game, as there are clips later that show various forms of traversal, like a boat, a shoe car, the clown copter, the airship, etc. The Yellow Shy Guy near Origami Peach reveals himself as King Olly, who is Olivia’s brother. King Olly uses his power to summon five colored streamers, which begin to wrap around the castle. The eShop description explains that King Olly moves the castle to a distant mountain. Mario and co then escape via a Shy Guy in the Clown Copter as the castle is being completely wrapped up. During the escape, the group gets separated, with Mario and Olivia falling back into Toad Town, where they first meet the papier-mâché Goomba.

From here onwards, things can go in just about any direction. That said, I’m going to speculate a little on how the rest of this timeline shapes up. Interestingly, the HP numbers, and colors of the streamers are handy indicators to put each of the pieces in chronological order. Mario starts off with 50 HP. We see a scene where Mario is in a room with Olivia that has several different colored pipes in it, that are numbered, and have arrows pointing away in different directions. I believe this room will be encountered soon after the time spent in Toad Town. I think this room is where all the McGuffins of this game are going to be focused on. In past games it was the Star Haven for the Star Spirits, the Thousand Year Door’s Crystal Stars, the fountain of paint in Port Prisma, etc. Each of these pipes has a color that matches one of the streamers that stole Peach’s castle. One can assume Mario will enter these pipes, or maybe the streamers need to be returned to the pipes to weaken the grip on the castle. Do the streamers need to be cut, or stored away, or used to make something else? Another thing to mention is that we can’t assume we will be going after each of these streamers in the order of the colors: ROYGBIV, (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet). In the room with the pipes, they’re all numbered 1-6, with 6 being on a black pipe in the center of the room. I didn’t see a black streamer, so this may be an endgame element. The initial grasslands area features the red streamer, which had the corresponding red pipe marked with a 1. If you look closely at the directions of the streamers, they are each coming from a different part of the world. Red from the east, blue from the northeast, yellow from the north west, pink from the west, and green from the south. Interestingly, the pipes in the pipe room all point in the same direction that these streamers came from, reinforcing their connection.

Another big thing to consider is the location of this chamber. Could it be in that regal building in Toad Town? A room of that significance would probably be in a building that looked important. However, it’s also possible that this chamber is deep underground. The first obvious location would be where the large crater is where Peach’s Castle once stood. In later footage we see Mario running alone from a large falling bottle cap-like boulder. This may take place early in the game given the 50 HP and that the lighting matches the room with the pipes. There appears to be fire in the back too, so it may be in the mountain where Peach’s castle was taken.

We also see a large papier-mâché Goomba, but we will get back to that in a moment. Before leaving Toad Town, it seems that Mario practices the newly learned 1000 fold arms abilities, which do use motion controls. The “Hand” icon that was shown when Mario first met Olivia is shown again while peeling off the side of a wall to create a platform to walk on. We can see exactly where this is in Toad Town using the bird’s eye view perspective. It may not be that each hand is mapped to each Joy-Con separately, but I could see that still being the case. The motion here just shows both Joy-Cons almost together, making a downward motion. This would probably be the same case for the Switch Pro Controller, which I would assume is supported given that this game will likely support Handheld Play. That said, anything goes, so we can’t be entirely certain which play modes will be available.

One last thing to look at is in the grasslands area where we see the first red streamer. On the far right, we see some stairs in an area that seems a little more developed and leads into a cave. This may very well be the cave that takes us to the room with the pipes.

Chapter 1 – Grasslands and Papier-mâché

I’m going to assume that the grassland outside of Toad Town will be the first chapter of exploration following this large plot-filled prologue. Frankly, I didn’t see a whole lot of specifics on this area in particular other than what looked like a standard first area affair. An HP meter and a bag icon are shown right away. Similar to the paint hammer from Color Splash, I suspect this bag icon will be used to track how much of something you have. In this case, it’s material to repair the holes of scrapped paper in the world. Later, we also see the Extra life Mushroom next to the HP bar, which may be some sort of safety equipment attachment that means that if you fall to 0 HP, you get one more chance to get back up? We also see Mario running from an array of Thwomps, still at 50 HP. We also see Mario and Olivia talking with a group of Goombas in a location that looks similar to a previous shot where we still see Mario at 50 HP. The Goombas appear as if they are about to join the party, which makes me think we actually will be receiving aid from Goombas before the featured Bob-omb. In this particular scene, we see a bunch of Goombas with lots of scraps of paper around them. If you remember earlier, we saw a large papier-mâché Goomba eating a house in Toad Town, with scraps of paper on its face. I think that papier-mâché Goomba was created from all of these Paper Goombas. I have seen some folks confusing papier-mâché and origami. To quickly set the record straight: Origami is artwork that consists of folding paper to create sculptures, whereas papier-mâché is taking strips of paper and using an adhesive like glue or starch to attach them to a wireframe and create a sculpture. So, it would make sense that beating the papier-mâché Goomba would free all of the Paper Goombas that were used to construct it. And the reason that papier-mâché Goomba was eating the house and the ground? Maybe to get more strips of paper for itself!

Chapter 2 – The Autumn Forest, Ninja School, Wheat Field, and River Boat Ride

Having Bowser’s minions join the party means that they are probably joining in order to get back to Bowser, where Mario and Olivia are also probably headed, whilst also dealing with the streamers that have Peach’s Castle. Mario and Olivia ride the sky tram at some point and take it to a forest that looks like it is in its autumn season, but it may be broken at the start of the game given the state of Toad Town and also, they may not meet the featured Bob-omb until the second chapter, as that Bob-omb only starts showing up during segments within the Autumn Forest. We see the blue streamer coming from a red mountain that could indicate an Autumn Forest. Like the Goombas, the Bob-omb will probably join you as you try to reconnect with Bowser. Although the Bob-omb is not with Mario and Olivia in the room with all the pipes, it is plausible that they will visit that room before meeting the Bob-omb. With this come a few questions: are we only getting one Goomba and Bob-omb to join the party? We saw a lot of Goombas earlier. It may be that they all join, and will assist in combat, but only one will follow around and have dialogue. This may be the case for the Bob-omb as well. In another Mario RPG title, Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story (which was developed by the now defunct Alpha Dream), Bowser was a playable character who would recruit minions to complete battle moves for him in combat. This may be a similar situation.

We see the Bob-omb with Mario and Olivia in the autumn forest several times. Once, in a still of them relaxing on a bench. There’s another example of the world having been eaten away here. The other is when they are all riding in a boat down the river. Mario is throwing confetti while also collecting coins. There is also a life bar for the boat with five hearts, so you may be only to take five hits from obstacles. Mario is throwing the confetti at the blue streamer in the sky. Maybe throwing confetti on the ribbons is what weakens them? In the pipe room from earlier, the blue pipe has a two on it, which may indicate that this autumn forest is the second chapter of the game, and Bob-omb may have been recruited near the end of the first chapter. Also, Mario now has 70 HP, a slight increase from the start. Bob-omb may also be hiding in the scene where Mario is traversing through the wheat field but is too small to be seen through the grass. Very deceptive! But the red paper grass and leaves indicate that this area is connected to the area with the boat going down the river and where they were enjoying a break on a bench. And you see it in the Japanese trailer; there you go! The Japanese trailer also showcases a Japanese-style village, and we know there is an area dedicated to a ninja school dojo that is filled with Ninjis. This Ninja-themed area has a large thwomp wall art piece, as well as Mario being surrounded by Ninji Stars. I think that these stars could actually also be Paper Ninjis that are folded up. This scene looks like the trope of a character walking into an empty room, and the stars fall around Mario and Olivia, they look up, and then they are surrounded. I think it is safe to assume at this point that chapter 2 will feature Bob-omb in the Ninja school, the autumn forest, the field of grass in the mountains, and the boat ride down the mountain.

Chapter 3 – The Desert, Sniffit Town, and the Ruins

Moving on, the third warp pipe was yellow, and we now see a yellow streamer in a vast desert at night. We also see that yellow streamer emerging from a rocky cliffside, which may be a wall blocking off the desert. The night aspect is interesting, and it immediately points to the large black hole in the sky where the Sun is supposed to be. Did one of the papier-mâché soldiers eat the Sun? Or maybe, King Olly used his powers to take the sun and turn it into the yellow streamer. Having the streamers be returned to fix parts of the world wouldn’t be that different from Color Splash’s progression of having the Big Paint Stars repaint large portions of the world. We also see Mario in a vehicle resembling Goomba’s Shoe / Kuribo’s Shoe, or even that ice skating power-up from Super Mario 3D World. A Toad-shaped tower can be seen off in the distance. The windows that act as eyes on the tower also resemble King Olly’s insignia, having only one eye lit up. A few shiny spots are scattered around the desert, where you could potentially get treasure like in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker or in the Animal Crossing series.

We also see the interior of the aforementioned tower but accompanied by a Toad dressed in explorer’s garb. This Toad could possibly be a Toad specific to this area, much like the Toad that was seen rowing the boat in the previous area. There is also footage of this Toad show in the combat section of the game, but more on that later. And it looks like in these ruins, there is a shadow of a toad that has a giant hole where the face is supposed to be? That’s pretty dark especially for these paper characters. We also see a wall art piece of a Toad with long legs that we have seen before in Sticker Star. In that game, they would move based on puzzles Mario would complete. I want to draw attention to the pots here. They look super breakable, and we know Mario has a hammer in this game, so presumably… they gonna be smashed. But it looks like on the inside, they are filled with something metallic and shiny. My mind immediately jumps to some kind of wiring or chicken fencing which would make sense because there are holes all over the world where the papier-mâché soldiers have been eating away. I wonder if one of the objectives is to repair the world as you explore it, similar to how in Color Splash you would have to repaint areas where paint had been stolen using the Paint Hammer. I bet that is the purpose of the bag icon; to show how much material you have to repair the world. Maybe you need wiring and paper scraps from the papier-mâché enemies, and that’s something you collect. This would also show how Mario is able to access other parts of Toad Town by repairing the ground.

There is another shot with an interesting creature that I guess is some sort of yarn-based mummy? It’s hard to place this one. But the overall movement of a slow walk, make me think we’re looking at some kind of mummy. This the closest thing I saw to a thing sequence. There were sequences in Sticker Star and Color Splash that had real life objects called things that could be summoned to help you in battle. This creature made of yarn or ribbon seems to be walking in a stage area, almost dancing or doing the hula. Behind it, is the crest of our villain, King Olly, on what appears to be spool of yarn. Or, this could actually be the source of the blue streamer, and this shot could actually be taking place in the previous chapter. It does follow the Ninji reveal immediately in the trailer, I could see this going either way, and I think I am leaning closer on the second area being where we see this character. The environment it is in, is interesting. It looks like some kind of stage, which leads into the next area I want to talk about… Outside of the tower, there is also a large town to be explored, that seems to play up Sniffits. It resembles the Shy Guy Bazaar racetrack from Mario Kart 7, and there are a few buildings here that have iconography on them that can help us identify them. An example is the music house where Mario will most likely be dancing with papier-mâché Shy Guys or Toads that are missing faces even though they were located in that tower. We can see a Toad stuck atop the building that has several items on it: A Super Mushroom, the Fire Flower, and Hammer. These indicate to me that this is a shop. Usually in Paper Mario games, the item shop has items on it. That Toad might be the shopkeeper. Also, if you look really closely in the back… there is a magic lamp with a green “L” on it… Could this mean… Genie Luigi! What could that mean? Will Genie Luigi grant us three wishes? We know from past games that Sniffits are usually the characters who host the game “Sniffit-or-Wiffit”, so there could be a chance we will see that game show segment return here. This is another dance sequence and could be a later portion of the chapter with the desert. It may play out like you meet the Explorer Toad in the Sniffit Town, obtain the shoe vehicle and head to the tower. You can just make out the Explorer Toad in the bottom left and as we saw in the trailer, these Toads are missing their faces as well. Perhaps they were partially eaten by the paper-mâché soldiers, and Mario will need to repair them.

Chapter 4 – Ocean and Jungle

And Mario will eventually take to the seas in the fourth chapter when pursuing the pink streamer, and he doesn’t appear alone as both Kamek and Bowser Jr. seem to be along for the ride in many of these shots. And yup, the fourth pipe from that pipe room was the pink, just like the pink streamer. The first thing to talk about is the form of transportation here, as each portion of this world has seemingly had its own transportation system: the sky tram in the grasslands, the river boat in the mountains, the Shoe Vehicle in the Desert, and now Mario is on a full-on ship! You can explore the vast ocean and visit various islands using the ship at the dock in the right side of Toad Town. The one shown here appears to look just like the question mark from a “?" Block. What could be on these islands? Could there be combat challenges on them? Are they going to have mini-games like Ro-Sham-Bo from Color Splash or the Pianta Parlor from TTYD? It’s hard to say. There is a Sea Chart option, so even though we only see this one island, we can assume there will be more. The abilities to boost and dive are also present, as well as the option to immediately return to town which is probably our Hub World: Toad Town. I would also expect more shiny spots for treasure like we saw in the desert, similar to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. We see a close up shot of Mario and friends on the boat, looking up at that pink streamer, which seems to be a guide for them in the sky. Last part with this boat that I want to draw attention to is that I believe the interior is where Mario is when he is wearing Samus’ visor in the stinger at the end of the trailer. You may have also noticed that a papier-mâché Donkey Kong head is on the right-hand side as well. It is possible these papier-mâché helmets could act as some sort or gear or item that is replacing the “Things” from Sticker Star and Color Splash. It’s also worth mentioning that the producer for the Metroid Prime series, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Sticker Star, Color Splash, and presumably The Origami King are all the same person: the legendary Kensuke Tanabe.

In this same area, we seem to find Mario with Bowser Jr. and Kamek in a jungle setting in several shots of the trailer. We see Mario and Kamek together in a few shots, and Kamek appears to be holding a rolled-up Bowser Jr., covered in mud. You can just make out the clown copter eyes and a little tuft of red hair on the rolled-up piece of paper the Kamek is holding, as well as when he and Mario are escaping from a giant papier-mâché Chain Chomp. In the background we also see a giant floating island with a large tree and waterfall in the background. Origami Ptooies also lurk around this area, and the HP is considerably higher, emphasizing how late into the game this area is. We later see a still muddy Bowser Jr. unfurled and then cleaned up in a hot spring. Having Bowser Jr. in the party also brings up the question if the Koopalings are returning as well, but this time as allies. We also have a quick shot of a giant Cheep Cheep being fished out of the water by Mario, so there may be a possible fishing mini game. There’s also a shadow of another Cheep Cheep hiding just below it. This also appears to be in slow motion because the waves aren’t moving very fast. Placing this scene is tricky as it could go in the grasslands portion or the jungle area. This next shot appears to be a different boat, with purple trimming, and is a lot larger. The Bob-omb is still here to help Mario. The boss is Gooper Blooper, in papier-mâché form. And we see eight of its tentacles with King Olly’s insignia on them, one being on Gooper Blooper’s eye.

Unknown Areas -

Okay so, at this point the remaining shots are a little harder to place chronologically. There are several shots of Mario and his friends in the sky aboard Bowser’s airship. We know they were separated at the beginning, and so some time must have passed for them to reunite. Bowser Jr., Kamek, and even Bowser are all visible on the ship as it is being rammed by a giant paper airplane that has King Olly’s design on it. Having all of these minions does imply it is very late into the game if what we have so far is true. There is also a sequence with paper planes that are folded up that are flying. These could be more of Bowser’s minions having been converted to origami. The color scheme of these could be something like a Dino Rhino. We also have a shot of an origami Spike coughing up our Bob-omb friend in what appears to be a ship of some kind to me. The way that door is designed with the bulky frame, the treasure chest, and the collage of Princess Peach pictures makes me think this is Bowser’s airship. And fans of the original title will spot another Nintendo 64 reference, one of these portraits of Peach is a picture of her from the original game! This next shot shows a large origami Koopa Troopa emerging from the ground, that looks to be based on its design from the original Super Mario Bros. It may or may not be worth pointing out how realistic the ground appears here in comparison to the ground being made of paper almost exclusively elsewhere. This could be a boss fight, or maybe an escape sequence, it’s hard to say.

Moving on, we now have a shot in an area that is difficult to place. This could be deep underground, in a volcano in the jungle area, within the mountain that Peach’s Castle is being held on. Mario appears to be jumping over lava spewing from statues of enemies that I am having a hard time identifying. They look like they could be Fiery Cheep Cheeps, or Blarggs. We get a better shot of them in a combat sequence later. Most interesting is that we get our first look at the bag icon near the HP bar being different. It is slightly less full and has a yellow color compared to its normal green. The HP gauge is also almost half-way depleted. If that bag is an indicator that it supplies materials for Mario to repair the world, then for this may look like he has just repaired something. We also have a scene where a large paper boulder is chasing our heroes. This reminds me a lot of the sequences in color splash where you had to suddenly escape something very quickly before being pulverized. It’s difficult to place where this is taking place, but it does appear to be a mountainous area, so it could be in the second chapter, or it might be on the outside of whatever volcanic area the past shot showed us.

Lastly, we get a look at Mario, Olivia, and Bowser at the bottom of some stairs to what can be inferred as Peach’s Castle up on the mountain. Bowser seems very happy with whatever is happening, as he is laughing, whereas Mario and Olivia looked shocked. We can’t see what they are looking at, however there are lightning flashes that reveal the silhouettes of blocks falling like Tetris pieces together, presumably building something very large and intimidating.

The Combat System

Okay, so for the most part, that concludes our look at the worlds shown. Now I am going to shift gears and dissect the combat system. There will be some shots that show more of the areas I covered earlier, and I’ll point out anything in them that connects to something I mentioned earlier. Combat appears to have been tweaked. It looks like this time Mario will be in the center of a radial arena and be surrounded by enemies that are standing different distances from him. In the past, you have always fought enemies in a 2D plane, left to right in a lineup sequence. Whereas here, you’re surrounded, and it looks like you have the ability to move the rings that the enemies are standing on, but only a certain number of times as indicated by the “Ring Moves” box. It also prompts a, “Great Line up” message, so I wonder if there is something about the enemies specifically that will boost your characters attack if you line them up? Or is that just the game saying, “nice job lining these enemies up”. There might be enemy types that provide certain buffs depending on the lineup. Those angry symbols over their heads may count for that.

Another huge element is that you are timed in the segments where you move the rings of enemies, and you can buy time with your coins. The eshop description points out there is a level of puzzling in this new combat system, so you may need to think quickly to achieve the most efficient lineup of enemies. This certainly is putting a stronger emphasis on real time turn based combat. Maybe some of the enemies will use attacks that will make you lose time or slow the rings down when rotating them. It looks like you have to be fairly quick with your decision making, but at the same time, having to figure out your optimal positioning with the rings may make the combat much slower, and the slow battle system was a big complaint of Color Splash.

The audience has returned from TTYD, even if it’s just Toads. They may just be cheering Mario on, the return of the audience’s ability to interact with Mario may also return. In TTYD, the audience would rate your performance each turn and this would increase your star power, granting you the ability to unleash a special attack. They would often throw helpful and sometimes harmful objects at you too. The seating could also be levelled up too, which allowed for a bigger audience, which increased the interaction with them. There is a camera option that would allow for the player to rotate the camera, which presumably would mean you would have 360 degrees of an audience. If like in the TTYD, the audience can throw items or attacks at you at random, you may have to keep the audience in mind at all times because they would attack you even if your point of view obscures them. There appear to always be four rings in the arena, and I wonder if the number of rings will increase as you progress through the game, or maybe as you level up the audience, if that feature returns from TTYD. Do the colored tiles on the field indicate anything, or is that just an aesthetic choice? The combat is pushing the puzzle angle too, so there’s a chance it could contain obstacles, such as certain spots are holes that could prevent Mario from being able to reach an enemy in the back. Another example could be spikes, that hinder the ability to jump, or that you can only rotate a ring a few times before it hits a wall. Maybe the floor will crumble, or has electricity or poison on it, etc. The sky's the limit here. How would this work in water? Perhaps bigger enemies like the papier-mâché Goomba will take up two rings? It’s interesting to think about the possibilities here.

The battle system has icons for Mario that indicates the option to run, a Toad that indicates the option to cheer, and Olivia, which indicates a Hint option. The “Run Away” option seems fairly standard. The support option may be for those traveling with Mario, whether they be a minion from Bowser that appears to be with Mario long-term, or a revolving character like a Toad that is dressed up for the area you find him in. Each of these characters may have some kind of ability to assist Mario in this combat section. Maybe the Bob-omb will be planted like a bomb on the field and will go off after a set number of terms, so you need to rotate it so it can reach enemies that would be out of your way to hit. The hint icon is also fairly straight forward. It may act as a guide for trickier layout puzzles, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it cost a pretty penny to use. One thing we can’t be sure of, is if Action Commands are returning. We do see Mario jump in a sequence on Origami Goombas, however he could be auto-jumping. It would be incredibly shocking if Action Commands are removed, because that has been a staple for nearly every game in the series. It’s worth pointing out though that I didn’t see confirmation.

It gets more curious when we speculate on how this battle system will work with bosses. I expect a lot of big bosses with multiple attack points or weak spots that need to be hit in a single sequence like turning off a robot of some kind. An example we see is the Gooper Blooper boss, which has eight tentacles. Larger battles with those papier-mâché Shy Guys could be intense, like mini-boss fights that are even more puzzled focused. Given my example with the papier-mâché Goomba from earlier, perhaps the Shy Guys will dance around on the combat ring in-between turns, so each formation is different, making it difficult to hit them. The Origami Boo fight set in the desert doesn’t have a full crowd, so it is possible the audience isn’t always completely around Mario. It could be that we see Gooper Blooper out of the arena, but the 8 tentacles are what show up in the ring. Doing damage to them will somehow cause damage to the boss. It looks like maybe it got punched in the eye with King Olly’s insignia. Alternatively, if this is taking place in the ocean, then maybe the boat is what will be in the center of the ring area, and the battle is on a larger scale. Maybe Mario becomes papier-mâché himself or wears one of the masks to fight Gooper Blooper. We see several instances of papier-mâché masks lying around, namely the Samus and Donkey Kong masks. Perhaps these can act as defensive measures or special attacks? Does Mario utilize the 1000 folded arms ability at all in battle? We know the basics, but there is a lot of open-ended content with this revised battle system. I can say though, having spent a lot of time speculating on this, I have thought of and shared a handful of ideas I could see them doing.

An Origami Plot that Unfolds

My biggest takeaway from watching the reveal trailer was the emphasis on the narrative this time around, which was a big criticism of Sticker Star and Color Splash. The eshop description tells us that our two new characters, King Olly and Olivia, are actually brother and sister and hail from the Origami Kingdom Are we going to get to go to the Origami Kingdom? King Olly’s plan is to bind Princess Peach’s Castle to a mountain using giant streamers that he controls, while planning to re-fold the world. Right off the bat, I have suspicions on where this will go. In a lot of adventurous, fantasy stories, the namesake villain is often a character who has a redemption arc of some kind. With these two origami characters being a brother-sister duo, I can’t see King Olly not going down the path of redemption in some way. I think right now, it’s more of a question of motivation. This seems to be a narrative about taking over the world, and making the “new world” like the old one. So perhaps something went down in the Origami Kingdom, and now King Olly wants to make the Mushroom Kingdom like his home? This was essentially the plot of the Shroob’s Alien Invasion in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time. Maybe King Olly wasn’t meant to have the throne, and jealousy overtook him. Maybe King Olly isn’t the real namesake Origami King, but the title is instead referring to King Bowser, who has been transformed into folded paper and is being forced to ally with Mario. This would also lend credence to all of the box art characters that are standing behind Mario (on his side), being Bowser minions.

Phew. That wraps up everything I could squeeze out of what was essentially just a two-and-a-half-minute trailer, some screenshots, and an eshop description. Did I miss anything, and was I able to clear up any misconceptions or enlighten you to anything you may have missed? Let me know down in the comments, I’ll be there responding to folks and I look forward to the discussion! And if you want more Paper Mario goodness, I have a reaction video posted to the channel watching the trailer, as well as a half hour discussion with NWR’s Site Director, Neal Ronaghan. Neal just posted his own video, where he returns to Color Splash and has some positive words to say about it. There’s plenty of Paper Mario content to go around, and I look forward to getting to play this game soon. See ya in 2024 for next analysis on Paper Mario: Guts, Glitter, and Glory.

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