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Game review - Paper Mario: The Origami King

31 Jul 2020

First-party Nintendo Games, especially ones where Mario is the star, are the lifeblood of the Nintendo Switch. They are what makes the console special. I never had the chance to play a Paper Mario game before, so I was especially excited for the Origami King.  

The story

Peach invites Mario and Luigi to go to Toad Town and visit the castle for an event. When they arrive, the entire town is empty and looking a bit strange. When Mario finds Peach in the castle, she looks different and she’s acting strange too. It's then revealed that King Olly (the origami king) has taken over the castle and folded Peach into a piece of origami.

King Olly then transports the entire castle to a different area using these long coloured streamers that lead to five different areas. The only way for Mario to access the castle and save Peach is to go to each one of the five areas and detach the streamers. 


 
Early on in the game, Mario meets a new character called Olivia. Olivia turns out to be Olly’s sister. She doesn’t approve of what Olly is doing, so she accompanies Mario on his journey, trying to help him to restore everything back to normal. 

Even though the story is the usual ‘Peach is in trouble and Mario needs to save her’ storyline, I think the Origami King is a nice new twist. It brings the idea of different universes into play and expands on the usual “Bowser is the enemy” plot. 

It's important to mention that the writing of the story is hilarious. I found myself chuckling at some of the character responses. There is also a scene with dancing trees very early on in the game that isn’t necessary, but it is amazingly done. 

Graphics and the gameplay

Just like every other Nintendo first-party title, Paper Mario: The Origami King looks stunning. From the second the game boots up, you can see how well designed the world is. It isn't really an open-world style, but more like enclosed areas that you can roam in. Each area has its own theme and they are all beautiful. 
 
The gameplay is interesting. You walk around as Mario with Olivia accompanying you. There are holes in the ground that you have to fill with confetti in order to access certain areas, and to proceed forward in the game.

In some areas, filling these holes gives you access to the “1000 folds hands” that will also help you interact with the environment in a different way. (Tip: turn off the motion controls for this feature, there is no need for them.)

The world is also filled with toads that need your help. They are stuck in places and need pulling out, or they are wrinkled and folded and need your help to flatten them. Once you save them, they will either give you access to their shops or they will be available to cheer you on in your battles. 

Throughout his journey, Mario will meet different characters with interesting backstories and he will even have access to multiple vehicles that include a boat and submarine. 

The problem

Everything I mentioned so far makes for an amazing game that you would never want to put down. That is very much true except for one issue: the combat system. 

This might simply be a matter of preference, but I hate the way this game handles the combat system. Every time you face an enemy, you enter the battle mode. The best way to describe it is a turn-based puzzle battle. 

In regular (non-boss) battles, Mario is positioned in the middle of a ring and his enemies are on the outside rings. You have a certain number of moves and you are supposed to line up all the enemies in the correct way to be able to hit them all without taking damage. 

This was a cool system for the first four times around. After that, it just started to feel like a repetitive chore that happened every twenty seconds. I found myself running away from enemies trying to avoid combat! I just wanted to explore the world and find and save all the toads. 

Boss battles are much more fun. The boss is positioned in the middle and the player has to plan Mario’s route on the outside rings in order to get the best attack possible. I really wish the game only had the boss battles and did not have the regular ones. 

Verdict

Overall, this is a great game. The world is fantastic, and the story is fun. While the battle system annoyed me, it didn't stop me from enjoying what Paper Mario: The Origami King had to offer.