Reviewed: July 17, 2007
Released: April 9, 2007
He’s back!! He was the first Nintendo character you fell in love with years ago. From the early beginnings of Mario, putting down the controller was difficult for many because helping him save the day was at the top of your to- do list.
Mario is back and bigger than ever in Super Paper Mario. In Super Paper Mario, Mario is not confined to a 2-D world, but has the power to “Flip” into 3-D, which helps him navigate though treacherous grounds. Different from the previous Mario games, in Super Paper Mario, Mario does not fight alone. In this game he has plenty of help from his classic friends in various encounters, which he picks up throughout the course of the game to help him save all the dimensions from the evil Count Bleck.
Although Super Paper Mario is for the Wii, the Wii controller is rarely used for the physical movements, so don’t expect to be throwing your arms around like you might have thought. The Wii controller is turned sideways and used like any other system controller. However, throughout the game it can periodically be used in a pointer-like fashion as a flashlight, which illuminates hidden objects (doors, steps, etc.) and allows the player to access various types of information.
The +/- buttons access various menus while the 2 button allows you to jump and the 1 button activates the ability of your current Pixl. And if you are playing as Mario, the A button will flip the game world into 3D allowing for all sorts of clever gameplay strategies. In the old days, a passage full of crushing stone traps would require precise timing, but in 3D you can simply flip the world and walk behind them. The same goes for all sorts of ledges, stairs, and even boss battles that require switching between 2D and 3D.
When the game starts the player is given a story to set up the rest of the game. Although many video games often open up with a general story line, the 20+ minute epic in Super Paper Mario seems to drag on far longer than necessary and turns the player from "excited to play the game" to "moderately frustrated". There are other substantially long and annoying cutscenes throughout the game but none as painful as the opening. Of course you can opt to skip right to the gameplay and probably not miss much of why you are here or what your are supposed to do.
Aside from the never-ending storyline, another frustrating factor of Super Paper Mario is when the player is sent to find the pillars of the 8 “Pure Hearts,” which then allow the player to open doors to the next level/dimension. This part of the game is rather frustrating because the player is supposed to find the pillar through different clues given throughout the course of the level. However, it becomes difficult when the clues provided are pretty vague. You'll also want to make a map or diagram of where all the doors and elevators go within the city. It's practically a puzzle in and of itself.
After getting away from the boring and useless dialogue, it is rewarding to find out where everything is using your new powers. Some of these new powers include being able to flip the screen into 3-D, use new and improved powers from Pixls, and being able to switch characters to use their strengths at any given time. As far as the powers gained from the Pixls, the player has the new ability to grab and throw objects, become paper thin to avoid adversaries and slip under doors or through cracks in the floor, place bombs, and many others.
The fact that the player has the opportunity to change characters adds to the game and is a great way to keep the player in strategy mode, keeping in mind which characters possess the strongest qualities for that particular segment/challenge of the game. For example, Princess Peach can be used in parts of the levels where there is a need to “fly” for long distances. The characters are given to the player for a reason, as they are to use them to overcome certain obstacles.
The game is divided into 8 lengthy chapters that take you from the Etchesketch-style of Lineland to the large pixel-style of The Bitlands and even into Outer Space before you ultimately arrive at Castle Bleck. Each chapter is divided into 3-4 substantial levels offering a lot of gameplay and even more fun. Each level require careful exploration in both 2D and 3D if you want to find every secret room and unearth every treasure. It's a fantastic concept and flawlessly executed.
The visuals in Super Paper Mario are quite exciting because Mario can change from 2-D graphics to 3-D. The only problem with the flip is that not everything in the scene changes to 3-D. For example, the boxes and some other land forms change, but the characters do not nor do some of the monsters. You can actually use this to your advantage if you are holding a monster when you flip.
It also proves to be problematic when some characters that could not be seen before 3-D show up after the flip and block the path. While in 3-D mode, there is a time limit on how long the player can stay there, which adds to the strategic focus of the game, and if the player stays in 3-D for too long, some of their life is lost. However, the flip meter can be quickly recharged in the 2-D mode. Mastering this timer is crucial to successful gameplay.
The art and visual style of the game itself is classic Mario. It's not pushing any boundaries that the GameCube couldn't have handled, but you really don't expect dazzling next-gen from a Mario game. All of the characters, enemies, and worlds look familiar and comforting, like going home after a long time away. Even when you switch to 3D the game still maintains a primitive, almost contruction paper-like quality about it. The designers do manage to sneak in some clever special effects including one of my favorites; the Wii load icon in the pupil of the dragon boss while he is accessing information.
In Super Paper Mario it is still the classic Mario music that plays in the background throughout the game. The player should not expect anything out of the ordinary as far as sound goes. It is the typical happy-go-lucky background music like every other game, and it changes with each level. Cutscenes with the villains have the traditional "evil" music while scenes with the heroes play the "good guy" music.
Unlike many other of today’s modern games, in Super Paper Mario when a hit is made or received, the player hears an elementary ‘Ugh’ sound that tells you that you got hit. There are no super realistic sound effects that make this game stand out, but yet the sound, much like the graphics, is something that is comforting and brings back memories to all Mario fans.
Like all Wii games, especially Nintendo first-party titles, you are paying a good penny for it, and are looking for a game with an entertaining story line worth spending your hard earned money on. Super Paper Mario has a really nice length with lots of problem solving and strategizing activities in it. Some activities are a little over the top and some are fairly easy, but all in all they keep you into the game and hold you into the story. With this classic spin-off game you will definitely get your moneys worth.
Now being honest with ourselves, we don’t buy Mario games for hi-def graphics or realistic sound effects. We buy Mario games because they are classics, a great story of good versus evil. They never fail to keep us entertained for hours and hours, and are just down right fun to play.
I really enjoyed playing Super Paper Mario, especially after I got through the monotonous streams of dialogue, I found I was really looking forward to reaching each new level. el, and thinking about what I had to do next to get through those levels, like which players I had to use and which Pixls would give me the best chance to completing the challenge. The new options and powers used to help play this game add an exciting “Flip” to an already enjoyable Mario.
In my opinion, this is by far the best Mario game currently available, although that may change when Galaxy arrives later this year, but if I could only buy one game for the Wii right now this one would be at the top of my list. It is a classic with so much more, and since we don’t buy Mario for all the special effects, but for pure entertainment Super Paper Mario is a must-own title for all Mario fans who have already managed to get their hands on a Wii.