Note: Contains mild bad language
Over the years, Role-Playing Games have acquired their own unique image. When a Western RPG comes to mind, you may think of knights, wizards and princesses. Games such as Morrowind and Oblivion have adopted this concept. World of Warcraft not only adopted it but made it so popular that gamers would happily spend hours of their lives in a virtual reality instead of enjoying the great outdoors. On the other side of the world there's a different style of Role-Playing Games that replaces swords, magic, princesses and goblins with bigger swords, crazier magic, whorish women and'fucking'weird hair'.
Of course, you know what I'm talking about. Role - Playing Games from Japan have become so unique over the past twenty years that it's kept away from other RPGs and is slapped with the term "JRPG" on the front. You've probably played at least one Final Fantasy game in your life. If you've looked closely at the franchise you will notice that it includes pretty much everything that I just said in the previous paragraph.
Characters with unimaginable hairstyles summoning beasts that can only be seen in acid trips while wielding swords at least twice their body size might be quite ..er' baffling at first. While it doesn't make a franchise or a genre bad, it is usually just what you'll expect nowadays when you pick up a JPRG nowadays. Hell, it can even be seen in the fighting and hack and slash genres. Just look at Ivy from the Soul Calibur series for Christ's sake' I have nothing against Final Fantasy, Phantasy Star or JRPG entirely, or their concepts for that matter. It's just something that seems to be quite common in RPGs of the Japanese Nature.
If you managed to get through the past three paragraphs: Well done. You've wasted two minutes of your life. Sorry to waste your time but I really just wanted to compare the main concept of JRPGs before I get on with this review. So without further ado lets actually review this game.
Paper Mario's franchise has such an incredible and unique look to it that it stands out from most RPGs. When Super Mario RPG first came out, you may have been confused when you heard that a character from a platforming game would star in an RPG. I don't blame you either, imagine if someone such as Crash Bandicoot or Spyro the Dragon were to star in their own RPG. The only difference between Mario and the franchises I just mentioned is that Mario games are still actually GOOD. (Fucking Legend of Spyro series'grumble) The main idea of Paper Mario is that Mario must use his special paper powers to go through areas and unlock the Thousand Year Door.
Yes, that's a brilliant summary. I'll wrap up this review right away ^.^
Fine, I'll go into detail.
Mario receives a treasure map in the post from the bubbly Princess Peach and is convinced that it could lead him to treasure. Mario quickly leaves his home and his brother behind in order to visit Rogueport to find Princess Peach, discover the treasure and live in wealth and happiness for the rest of their life. Except there's just one problem. The treasure is hidden behind a mysterious door and the only way to open it is to collect seven crystal stars scattered across the land. This quest will take you to many places where you'll meet lots of new and exciting people. Some noticeable characters will even join your team.
Princess Peach plays a strong role in this game and by "strong role" I mean gets kidnapped right at the fucking beginning of the game. So not only do you have to trek across the land fighting seven stars but you also have to save Princess Peach, you know'the one who gets kidnapped in EVERY GAME. You think she'd just sit down and be nice and sensible like a real princess should; instead she decides to be "adventurous", stepping into problems that she shouldn't try to deal with because we all know she's going to be swooped away and dropped into some dirty dungeon. She may appear to be scared but in the back of her mind she's thinking "Oh, never mind Mario will help me!". Ah Mario, why do you put up with this silly lass' In fact, why does Link put up Zelda' Why does anyone bother helping'.
Stepping away from my cold, cold beliefs however, the story is good enough to keep you interested throughout the entire game. Along with the dialogue there's a wide range of characters that can make you giggle at their silly behaviour. You start off with having a little lady goomba in your party (and if you're like me, she'll become an afterthought once you get new team mates). To be honest, she's quite useless but hey, you'll get some more interesting partners to help you to unlock the thousand year door. Some characters however will just fucking freak you out. Madame Flurrie for instance...
Overall the story isn't going to win any awards but it's a fun and exciting adventure that will keep you entertained for a good 30 hours.
Now, the graphics of this game are just like the story. It's not insanely original or jaw dropping. The 2D aspect seems to be the main appeal of this game. It's cute and friendly, and sometimes amusing. Still though, you're not going to be in awe and screaming "OH MY FUCKING GOD ITS IN 2D"'.unless if you're really easily amazed. You'll visit a wide range of areas throughout the game. Each town has it's own look to it. Sometimes you're in a haunted house, sometimes you're on a pirate island and sometimes you're in a dragon's castle.
This makes the game seem fresh after every chapter you beat. You won't be thinking "God, every town is the same damn thing". It gives each town it's own vibe, and it keeps you interested throughout the game. There is quite a bit of backtracking however but if you're used to that sort of thing then it won't bug you that much. The unique areas is something I found lacking in a game like Grand Theft Auto IV, where Liberty City just seemed to be constantly repeating itself. Then again, if Niko Bellik was to go into a haunted house and fight Goombas then I'd be quite scared.
The music, like the graphics, is nice and cutesy. While running through a town, you might be bobbing your head along to the happy little tunes as Mario smacks goombas with his hammer. There is no spoken dialogue however. All the game is in written text and sometimes long cut scenes can drag out a bit sometimes with huge mountains of text. However, if this doesn't bug you then that's find. To be honest, there's not a lot more to say about the presentation. It's just'nice '.and happy. I could bore you as I drag this part of the review on and on and on just trying to get this at a respectable length. Eventually the gamers who have somehow gotten to this part of the review will get angry and say "Forget this asshole, he's just messing with us". Yes, I could do that, hmmm, maybe I shouldn't. Then again, I've wasted quite a bit of text by just babbling on here.
Ah, gameplay in RPGs. Some people may find the battle systems in RPGs boring, annoying and repetitive. Personally, I don't mind. Maybe it's because I spent all my childhood playing Pokemon but then again, what child didn't? The thing about Paper Mario though is that you can avoid battles if you really want to. I'll try to explain the system but it might be a little hard, I'm sure it's been done in other games though so you might know what I'm talking about. When you enter an area, you might see an enemy pop up, for example: a goomba. If you attack the goomba or even come into contact with it, the battle stage will pop up. Even though you collided with just one goomba, you might have to fight 2 or even 5 goombas! You'll see the enemies scattered across the field and you can choose who to attack unless if you get ambushed by one. Anyway, you can choose not to battle the enemies if you want but you're going to need all that experience for the boss battles.
The battle system itself is just a regular turn based system, but with a neat little twist. If you want Mario to attack an enemy with his hammer, you'll have to complete a little mini game before executing the attack. This minigame decides whether you attack the enemy or not, so they're not optional. Don't worry though; the mini-games are very simple. Some of the just involve tapping the A button. This is a good feature, because it makes the keeps the battles interesting and you're always concentrating on the fight.
When you fight an enemy, you're fighting in front of a crowd. They never really explained why your fighting on a stage, but do we really need one' Anywho, throughout the game your audience will get bigger and sometimes they might even throw items to you to help you out in the battle. Sometimes though, the little fuckers will throw something at you, but you can prevent that through a quick time event.
Something that's really gives the game it's own unique edge is the paper aspect. I don't want to completely spoil it but throughout the adventure Mario gains some nifty skills that can get him through some tight spots. He can slip through cracks and even turn himself into a paper aeroplane to glide across long distances. Who thought paper would be so effective?
The challenge of this game is adequate. There's not much in this game that will give you a hardcore Ninja Gaiden challenge but there are some puzzles and boss battles that might require a little bit of thought. Overall however, there's nothing TOO hard about this game. Except for the last boss however but you'll be happy and feel very proud by the fact that you've beaten the game once the adventure is over, trust me.
If you were to ask me what is my opinion on Paper Mario, I'd say "Great!" and hold up two thumbs with a cheesy smile. Some points irk me however. Such as the parts of the game that required back tracking, it would have really helped if it had some kind of teleportation device. Another point is the fact that if you die it goes all the way back to the start screen, so I strongly recommend that you save whenever you get the chance, especially towards the end. Some parts kind of feel like they drag on, especially the last chapter but then again, I have very short attention span. If a game can make me play for 30 hours though, it MUST be good! Overall though, if you're looking for a fun adventure on the Gamecube then Paper Mario is a great choice. I pretty much guarantee that you'll enjoy this lovable RPG.
8 / 10