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Nintendo Wii Review: Super Paper Mario

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Games such as Super Paper Mario are all you need to justify buying a Wii. This is a true system seller, reassuring players that while Nintendo will milk Mario with disasters like Mario Hoops on the DS, there’s always a way to bring him back. This is a game just shy of perfection.

After an overly lengthy text-based introduction, you’ll soon forget that time waster as you run through a 2-D Mario creation, stomping on Goombas and hitting blocks for coins. With a sharp, clean graphical presentation, this superb throwback level immediately involves the player from the first time they begin moving the classic plumber.

There’s depth here though, and that’s to be taken literally. Mario can switch at anytime into a 3-D view of the level, radically altering the mechanics and leading to some of the most ingenious puzzles Nintendo has ever dreamt up. Since the switch always occurs directly behind Mario, there are no camera problems and the enhanced shadow keeps players on the right plane when trying to knock out an enemy.

The Wii Remote is held sideways, as it would be when playing some Virtual Console games. Actual uses of the motion sensing controls are relatively weak, such as pointing at the screen to reveal hidden object or to complete a series of motions to use a power-up. Still, while by no means revolutionary (they could have been handled by any controller), required uses of these moves opens up another avenue of exploration when trying to solve Paper Mario’s levels.

During the quest, additional characters become available. Some are directly controlled (such as Princess Peach), and others are Pixls, creatures that grant the lead character a special skill. Swapping between these is the game’s most significant hindrance. There’s no option to swap between characters without digging into the menu system, stopping the game entirely while you make changes. Worse, the flipping into 3-D view is a Mario exclusive making the swaps more apparent.

It’s definitely something you can grow used to over time. You’ll be far too involved in the fun mechanics to notice the majority of the time regardless. Nintendo has managed a few basic concepts, kept the simplicity new players will appreciate intact, and still avoided feelings of repetition. Puzzles are crafted in a way that each one feels unique, even when at their core they’re the same as the last one.

The game’s story is riddled with comedy, and loads of references to the company’s past. Boss fights always bring something different to the table, both in terms of advancing the story and their means of defeat. Some struggles can take an entire level to clear.

Paper Mario will surely be on “best of” lists when 2007 winds down. There’s an exhaustive amount of content to find, explore, and play through contained on this disc. This is the best title in the Mario RPG/Paper Mario line by far.

Super Paper Mario is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Comic Mischief and Mild Violence.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • http://www.breakingwindows.com/ Ken Edwards

    A GameCube port is a Wii system seller? That is a sad commentary in and of itself.

  • steve thompson

    SPM is not a game cube port, I have yet to see a gamecube version of SPM. SPM is a gamecube game redesigned for the wii.

  • Will

    It can be a Gamecube port and be good, just poor graphics, but to be honest, who cares?

  • Deez

    Overly lengthy is a pretty conservative way to describe the 20 minutes of text and backstory (who cares) you have to wade through to start playing. Yeah there’s some cool 2D levels that bring to mind Mario of old, but there’s never more than a level or two before you’re interrupted by more text that you must scroll through with no option of bypassing.

    Its like they tried to make a Sidescroller Mario RPG with all the little mini missions you have to do. Like they Made Zelda suck and replaced all the characters with Mario guys.

    I was expecting something more along the lines of Mario 1-3/ Mario World. Something you can sit down and just play without having to immerse yourself in the (weak) storyline. This did not deliver.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    “I was expecting something more along the lines of Mario 1-3/ Mario World”

    If that’s what you’re expecting, that’s your own fault. This has the most platforming of any games in the Paper Mario series. They’re all like this, though this one adds the cool 3-D flip mode.

    Check out New Super Mario Bros. on the DS. That’s what you’re looking for.

  • marty

    Free Official Nintendo Players Guide for Super Paper Mario

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