Time To Fold Your Way to Adventure!
— Nintendo Updates (@Switch_Updates) July 7, 2020
Paper Mario is one of those niche game series that either you know and love, or go “heh?” When it’s brought up in conversation. Regardless of your stance before now, though, Paper Mario will once again be on the front lines, with the much-anticipated release of Paper Mario: The Origami King next week on July 17th.
The Paper Mario series is, basically, exactly what it says. You play as Mario, except this time he’s made of paper, and so are *most* of his enemies. However, behind that seemingly easy idea is a worthy RPG game, one that was one of my first RPGs way back on the Gamecube.
Players use their unique paper abilities to fold themselves or stretch themselves in weird ways to access parts of the level that would be hidden to regular old 3D Mario. You travel with various companions that gain skills of their own, or otherwise help to access even more areas that were previous locked to you.
In a way, Paper Mario feels like a Metroid-style game, in that you have to gain various abilities to fully explore each map’s sections. The game allows you to move in both 2D and 3D at various times, when it’s appropriate tot he level or town you find yourself in.
Origami King opens with Princess Peach being kidnapped (yes, again), by the King of the Origami Kingdom. Not much is known story-wise beyond that, except that you travel with the Princess, who wishes to stop her brother’s reign of terror on the world. King Olly kidnaps Peach and steals her castle away, and so Mario once again must go on a journey to save his own beloved Princess.
There are several confirmed partners, including a Bomb-omb, Princess Olivia of the Origami Kingdom, and Kamek, one of Mario’s old magical rivals that usually works for Bowser. Companions were a highly requested return feature, as their presence was nearly non-existent in the two previous installments, for 3DS and DS respectively.
Another highly requested feature is making a return, albeit in a variant format than previous iterations. In the first three games, the battle style followed a turn-based combat, such as one would see in Final Fantasy and Persona. It involved basic experience through leveling, and weapon upgrades found around the levels. In the games since, this was replaced with strange gimmicks, such as a necessity to collect and buy stickers in-game to place over opponents, or turning the game into a trading card game.
For Origami King, turn-based combat makes its return, but in a unique way. It becomes a ring-based system, where you move enemies around a ring before attacking them, to make lines up for stronger attacks. It’s odd, but it’s far better than stickers and playing cards. I feel that the return to turn-based will honestly widely make up for the new style.
All in all, it seems that Paper Mario looks promising! I don’t think it’s too early to say that this will be one of Nintendo’s heavy hitters for the year, but it does have a LOT to contend with. The release of Animal Crossing for Switch far surpassed expectations, so fingers crossed for a lot of success for Origami King as well!
I’ll be back in a week(ish) with a preliminary review of the game, as well as a spoiler-ridden review once I finish the game.
Good luck, and good folding!