Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars was a collaboration between game developers Square and Nintendo that resulted in a well-beloved game that was praised for the vastly different gameplay than any other in the Mario franchise as well as including a large cast of new characters, giving existing characters their own personality, and giving it a story far beyond the basic “the princess has been kidnapped by Bowser for like the fifth time this month! You need to save her because after all these repeated kidnappings the kingdom still hasn’t increased security in the slightest for some reason!”
Nintendo later tried to make a game like Super Mario RPG themselves, resulting in Paper Mario, which included partners for Mario that you have different abilities and you can swap them out at any time, as well as a modified battle system that keeps the ‘timed hits’ feature and adds badges that give you extra moves in battle, modify your stats, or just make your hammer sound like a frog. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door took these elements and improved them, as well as having one of the best and most complex stories in the entire franchise. Super Paper Mario decided to return to the classic platformer gameplay of previous Mario games, but still included elements of the previous games like the partner system, badges to increase stats (in the form of cards that let you deal more damage to certain enemies) growing stronger as the game goes on, and of course an original and entertaining story. So when it came time to create the next installment in this series known and praised for a complex battle system, partners with special abilities, growing stronger as you level up, great characters, and an original story, what did Nintendo decide to do? They of course made the most logical decision of all. Get rid of all of it.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star was very disappointing to just about everybody who liked the previous Paper Mario games, mostly because they ditched the battle system, partner mechanic, any sense of progression beyond stages on a world map, and last but not even close to least the great characters and story, for… stickers. They also specifically made a point to only include characters from the main Mario games. Their thought process sounded somewhat logical on paper (no pun intended), as most other games in the Mario franchise can get along just fine with little to no story and only preexisting characters. Though they apparently completely forgot that one of the greatest things about the other Paper Mario games is that they go outside the normal boundaries of classic Mario elements.
Many fans, including me, hoped that Nintendo would fix these problems in the next Paper Mario game. Things looked promising with the well-received crossover with the Mario & Luigi series, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam (only Nintendo can find a way to make a crossover with yourself work. Well, besides SEGA). Though with the announcement of Paper Mario: Color Splash, people feel like history may be repeating itself.
O_O Sorry, I’m just in shock over how beautiful the HD looks with this art style. At least they’ve got that going for them. But let’s take this step-by-step to find all the elements that made the first three Paper Mario games so great. So far we’re off to a decent start with the setting. We’ve gone outside the Mushroom Kingdom onto the new location of Prism Island, which seems to fit the color-based theme. Although I notice that it does look rather similar to Rogueport from Thousand-Year Door. Mario even gets to both of them by boat. Also, I notice there aren’t a whole lot of characters, and the few characters there are seem to just be generic Toads. In the first two Paper Mario games, the Toad species had a lot of variety. Here are a few examples.
In Super Paper Mario however, we were crossing into multiple dimensions that didn’t actually have Toads, so the only one we saw was the classic Toad at the beginning, the one you play as in Super Mario Bros. 2 who is actually named Toad. In Sticker Star, all of the characters were basically just clones of the original Toad, and in this game it seems about the same. The enemies are also basic Mario enemies, like Shy Guys and Koopa Troopas. Though they have only shown two battles, so maybe there is a larger variety that hasn’t been seen. The first level usually sticks to basic elements anyway.
The new gimmick in this game is the paint hammer, which I’m sure they came up with by looking at the success of Splatoon and then saying “Let’s make a Mario game like that!” The paint hammer is used to spread paint across color-less objects to reveal characters and items, including cards, which seem to give you an attack to use in battle. At the moment, the cards seem like a repeat of the stickers from the previous game. As far as partners go, they have a paint bucket. So far it seems they might just serve the same purpose as Kersti in Sticker Star, who was pretty much Little Miss Exposition. There is talk about a story where the color has been drained from from the island, so maybe there could be something there. No signs of leveling up stats existing, but we haven’t seen a whole lot of the battle system in general.
So, will Color Splash be worth buying? At this point, I don’t know for sure. I mean, there’s only so much you can really show in 1 minute of footage, and that’s all we have so far. I will be looking for new information on the game. I’m looking forward to it. Maybe Miyamoto learned something.