Review: Paper Mario: The Origami King
Paper Mario is back in a new adventure on Nintendo Switch. The dangers lurking this time are cut from a completely different piece of cloth than we are used to. Although that wood is first finely ground to make beautiful colored paper. How does this expand further? Read it in our Paper Mario: The Origami King review!
Paper Mario: The Origami King already unraveled the crux in the title. The paper Mario in this installment on Nintendo Switch is up against a new kind of evil: Origami. The Mushroom Kingdom comes together to celebrate. The Origami Festival! That all sounds very appealing, but Mario and Luigi soon realize that this party is a bit more dog-eared than they had hoped. The village is deserted. Mario and Luigi decide to talk to the princess in the castle.
Is her hair different today? Princess Peach is looking a little strange today. It's not the peach they're looking for, it's an Origami peach. Will Mario surrender to the art of folding to become a so-called superior version of himself? No of course not. King Olly of the Origami Kingdom is not happy with Mario's answer and packs the princess' castle and moves it somewhere far away from Toad Town. Mario just managed to escape, but Peach is still trapped in the castle. Time for a new adventure.
Something that immediately stands out when playing Paper Mario: The Origami King on Nintendo Switch is how incredibly beautiful the game looks. Everything around you consists largely of pieces of art made of paper that have been put together. We've seen this style before on Nintendo Switch with Yoshi's Crafted World, but it comes to life even more in Paper Mario. Several times during the game I was simply stunned by the creativity that the game shows. It is truly an explosion of cute and colorful creativity.
This is accompanied by a wonderful and varied soundtrack that accentuates the entire adventure in the background. Each area has its own style and so does its own soundtrack. The second large area you enter is all about autumn and the soundtrack gives a soothing feeling as you enjoy a paper view of a temple with your friends on an adventure.
In this new Paper Mario, Origami is your enemy, but it's not always black and white. King Olly, the ruler of the Origami kingdom has a sister, Olivia. She is your ally through the adventure and explains to you along the way how everything works. If you are in a pinch, she will also give you the necessary hints so that you can get back on the road. In addition, Mario this time also has a set of folding hands that can come in handy in different places.
The road to the end is pretty much mapped out for Mario and Olivia, but along the way you'll meet new friends who will lend you a hand. There's quite a lot to do, see and discover in this Paper Mario game on Nintendo Switch, but it's not quite an RPG like previous installments in the series. It's more of a carefully crafted piece of art with a very linear thread and that's actually quite fine. In the areas where you end up, there are various things you can do to fill in that RPG formula a bit, although it is very lightly tapped.
Toads are hidden in every area you land. This one can save you and you are completely free to leave them to their own devices if you don't feel like doing extra work. It is sometimes very hard to find because some Toads are really well hidden. Fortunately, the game tells you exactly when you have found all Toads in an area. Also when you have filled all the holes with confetti, found all the treasures and discovered all the object blocks.
It's a bit of extra work, but it also pays off. Holes that you fill with confetti will first give you coins, but also open up a new area to explore where there are additional things to do. Of course there are also plenty of gaps that you have to fill, otherwise you simply won't get any further in the game.
Centre of attention
A very unique element in Paper Mario's new adventure is the combat system. You still have your shoes and a hammer with which you take out a large part of the enemy. But there is a twist to it, or should I say 4 twists?
Each battle takes place in a ring arena. Mario is in the center and is surrounded by Origami folding works in the form of iconic figures from the Mario games. The trick in these battles is to group all enemies correctly. Mario can attack all enemies by jumping in a straight line forward. He can attack a 2×2 grid directly in front of him with his hammer. At the beginning of the round, all enemies jump to another square and you have to group them again. It starts out very simple, but in some battles later in the game it quickly becomes puzzling. You can only make a few moves and you only have a short time before the attack round starts.
It's a very unique combat system, but to be honest, it got boring pretty quickly. The battles with simple enemies don't remain very interesting and the grouping of the enemies all the time became frustrating. Besides coins you get for completing a battle, there is no XP you earn. I was soon swimming in the coins so I avoided any optional fight if I could.
It gets a lot more fun once you get to one of the many boss battles. Here suddenly the boss is in the middle of the ring and you have to go to the middle in a kind of goose-board manner to attack. Again you turn the rings. But this time you have to use the arrows to find your way to the center. You can do it very directly. But if you work a little smarter, you do it via a detour and pick up some stuff or hearts along the way. The bosses do a lot of damage so you can't avoid being a bit more creative.
Paper Mario: The Origami King is a beautiful and entertaining adventure that, while not a real RPG, gives you enough freedom to explore and put the story aside for a while. The world around you is beautifully crafted and the humor is truly brilliant. The characters you encounter along the way have character and the world feels very alive because of this. The pace of the game is very pleasant so that the game flows nicely and lets you discover new things at the right moments to keep it interesting. Although I quickly found fighting against the normal enemies a bit frustrating, I can say with certainty that I really enjoyed finally another fantastic Paper Mario adventure.
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