Super Paper Mario is fun, quirky and a total title for the Wii.
Super Paper Mario was a fantastic game and much better than I had expected. Well, I expected it to be good, but not this good. My fears was the platforming actually. I was expecting it to be a clunky mess like in the other two games, where platforming takes the backseat. However, Super Paper Mario takes a que from the early Mario games and runs with it.
I had a couple problems with the game, but it hardly stopped me from enjoying it. I wish there was more NPCs in the game with bigger personalities. I think the 3D elements was a big clunky, but hardly something worth chatting about. No voices overs. That's about it.
Otherwise, fantastic writing, beautiful graphics, and nice controls. I don't think this is better than the previous Paper Mario games, but it's still solid all around.
Super Paper Mario takes the simplified RPG elements of past Paper Mario titles, the platforming elements of the early Mario games with a dash of puzzle solving. That easily sums up Super Paper Mario in a nutshell, but it's deeper than that.
You gain experience points after each monster you kill. If you kill two monsters in a row, then the experience points will double. Once you hit a special set of experience points you'll gain a level. Unlike the previous Paper Mario games, you won't have a choice in which skill you want to upgrade. Rather, you will either gain 5 Max HP or 1 Attack. It rotates between the two after each level. Another thing that they changed from the previous Paper Mario games are the badges, they took them away. I don't know why because I liked the badges. It added a bit more strategy to the game. It's not that big of a deal though. With the badges gone, they added something new though. You can find or buy cards of every monster in the game. When you get a card, it will double your attack against them.
The most obvious change in the game is it's no longer a turn-based game. Super Paper Mario is almost like a standard platforming Mario game. Like the previous Paper Mario games, you'll encounter a ton of puzzles. With each new area, you'll gain a Pixl, this is almost a replacement for weapons or partners. Each Pixl has one skill, for example the Boomer can blow up walls or enemies, while Slim can make you skinny like paper. There's 8 main Pixl to find with a few extra ones along the way.
Not only will you have Pixls to use in battle, but you'll also bring along Princess Peach, Bowser and one other character. Each of these characters have one special ability. Mario has the ability to flip the world into 3D space, Peach can float long distances, and Bowser can breathe fire. To switch between the characters you have to go into your menu and choose them. This is kinda annoying. I mean, they don't even use the B button, why couldn't they have used that button for a quick change between the characters? Oh well.
Flipping into 3D is the big change. In the first two Paper Mario titles the world was quasi-3D while the characters were 2D giving the trademark Paper look. In Super Paper Mario, everything is 2D, but Mario can change that perspective by flipping into 3D. This adds a huge element to the puzzle solving and exploring. My only problem with this is combat within 3D is a bit clunky. However, you can't be in 3D forever, so once you flip into 3D, a timer slowly ticks down. Once it reaches zero, you'll lose 1 HP and the timer will restart.
The platforming is actually much better than I expected. The platforming in the early Paper Mario games were kinda clunky, but I loved the platforming in this.
The Wiimote functions are few and far between. You can point at the screen with your Wiimote to search for hidden items, or to read about an enemies status. There are also minigames you can play at an arcade within the town. Also, when you use items, you have to play a quick-time event mini-game to correctly use said item.
There's a ton of sidequests you can do in the game. You can collect Cards, Maps, Recipes and other assorted items. After you beat the game you can go back and find new skills or unlock new areas.
----------Characters / Story----------
You play as Mario of course. Just as Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach and forces her into marriage, a new bad guy shows up. Count Bleck shows up, sends everyone into a new Pixel world, and starts to brainwash everyone in sight, while a mysterious Black Void shows up in the world. Mario escapes, and takes his revenge by collecting Pure Hearts to stop Count Bleck's madness.
While the plot is nothing special (no Mario RPGs have strong plots), it's the dialog that shines in this game. This is easily the funniest game I played all year, or atleast the funniest game I played since the last Paper Mario game. I can't think of a single game that attempts humor and actually achieves it outside of the Mario RPGs. Super Paper Mario is what you would expect with that, plus some.
The only real disappointment with the story is the lack of NPC in the game. For example, in the last Paper Mario game for the Gamecube, the town was FULL of characters to talk to, each character had their own personality and they always say hilarious stuff. Super Paper Mario has that too, but there's only one true town in this game. You'll run into a couple mini-towns inside the dungeons, but hardly anyone is worth talking to or remembering. That's really my only beef with the game. It need better NPCs.
The graphics are amazing, or atleast the style of them. The colors are bold, the pixels are sharp. I can't think of a single blemish on this game. It just looks darn pretty. All characters are fully animated and constantly moving no matter what. They put a TON of detail into this game.
Once again there are no voice overs, but all the main characters have that Nintendo patented personality sound clips that the characters grunt out. There's a ton of dialog in this, so I can see why there's no total voice acting, however I think they need to atleast give some characters full voice clips. Otherwise, the music and sound effects are top notch.
The map is a bit different than the previous two Paper Mario games. In those games, you started off in a single town, and progressed to other ones with dungeons in between. In Super Paper Mario, there is one giant Hub town with all the stores and NPC within it. The town is massive and there's a ton of secrets and things to do in it. You don't have free range with the town right away though, so the more skills and partners you get, the more of the town you can unlock.
The goal of the game is to collect Pure Hearts, after you complete a chapter, you gain a Pure Heart. Pure Hearts are used to create new gates to find the next Pure Heart. Almost each Chapter in the game flows in a linear 1-1, 1-2, -1-3, and finally 1-4 level structure made famous in the original Mario bros. games. It makes the game a little predictable in the structuring, but there's plenty of things to do and secrets to find in each level.
Once you start a Chapter, you can leave it at any moment with a special item called the "Red Pipe". If you leave your current level with the Red Pipe, you will have to re-start the entire thing over again when you jump back in. However, if you beat a Chapter, you can go back to that level at any stage you want.
----------Time to Complete Game----------
The game ended up being longer than I had expected. However, that's not a bad thing. After you beat the game and watch the credits, you can save. After that, you can continue on with the game and finish sidequests and unlock new ones, just like the previous Paper Mario game.