Paper Mario

Paper Mario: The Origami King REVIEW

August 13, 2020
3 mins read

BLAIR LOVEDAY gets papercuts when he spends too much time with the latest in the Super Mario franchise.

Paper Mario: The Origami King

* Published with permission from our friends at 8-Bit Island.

It was shocking to find out that this mysterious Paper Mario series already had five other entries. Regardless, I wanted to know if you can fold your first sheet with Paper Mario: The Origami King, and can say definitely, ‘this game looks like a Rabbit Ear Fold but is as easy as an Inside Reverse Fold.’

The world of Paper Mario is… well, made out of paper.  The Origami King Olly has invaded the town, turning things and people into Origami characters. Once made into Origami, the characters become mindless drones that speak in simple words and do as the Origami King has requested.

Unsurprisingly, Princess Peach has been ‘Origamied’, so Mario needs to save her.  It’s a Mario game, were you expecting anything else?

Paper Mario: The Origami King

Mario finds a new ally in Olivia, Olly’s sister, who joins Mario in an advisory role. They set off to destroy the streamers which surround Peach’s castle but are rooted in different parts of the world. The story is light, and initially, I was critical of this, but by the end, it was enjoyable enough with some surprisingly good writing and some laughs here and there.

Initially, the battle system seems complicated.  When you encounter ‘Origamied’ creatures like Goombas you go to a battle screen which has Mario in the centre of some rings. The enemies are dotted around those rings and you get a set number of turns to rotate the rings to line them up in a row or a 2×2 square. Then you unleash an attack using a hammer or jumping using your boots.

The idea isn’t complicated, but some of the challenges can be. I was properly getting my rhythm with the battles when Boos joined the enemy list. They appear at the start, get shuffled around, then disappear. Trying to remember where the Boos were when you spin the circles wasn’t so much a challenge as a pain in the ass.

So, while the battle system isn’t hard you need to pay attention, as your time to make moves runs out pretty quickly. Lining them all up in the correct groups gives a healthy damage bonus so it is worth focusing.  Fortunately, there is no experience system and coins in the game are liberally dolled out, so where possible it is easier to avoid battles.

Paper Mario: The Origami King

The game is so beautifully built. The paper designs – which bend and move as if alive – have been gorgeously animated. Massive monsters like Koopa Troopas that are built as paper around a frame are outstandingly designed.

Running around the world and collecting coins, confetti to fill holes, and finding the Toads hidden or trapped in the world is plain fun.  It’s tempting to over-analyse in the first few hours, but that was pointless because the experience of playing the game was simply fun. And fun in these trying times is maybe what we need.

There are some gimmicks like moving around big areas in a car or boat, which honestly felt like time-wasting. And then there are the 1000-fold arms where in certain places you initiate this technique. It then goes to a minigame of sorts where you move the arms around using the Switch or controller and then bash or pull things off the scenery. As soon as the game let me turn off the movement controls I did.

Not dissimilar to Super Mario Odyssey before it, the game isn’t complicated by any stretch of the imagination, but time can easily disappear with it. I mean, it’s not as good as Super Mario Odyssey, and if you haven’t played that you should absolutely go play it now.

Paper Mario: The Origami King is a well crafted Nintendo game that’s accessible for many skill levels. At its core, it’s a treat to look at, a bit of a laugh, and so damn fun to play.  It’s not perfect, but not every game can be Super Mario Odyssey.

* Published with permission from our friends at 8-Bit Island.

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