Super Paper Mario

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Super Paper Mario is supposed to be some kind of action-based sequel to the brilliant Gamecube RPG Paper Mario – the Thousand Year Door. This makes it a platform game borrowing a lot of ideas from a RPG borrowing ideas from a platform game… But to avoid getting lost in the recursive borrowing, the general idea is SMB 1 with the characters, leveling system and special moves of Paper Mario. And stupid amounts of flirting with the geek crowd, but I’ll get to that later.

… In fact, I’ll get to that now because the above line is a good-enough description of the gameplay. Super Paper Mario is quite obviously intended for guys who grew up with Nintendo in the 80s, guys like me. Everywhere you look you’ll find references to earlier Mario games – in fact, it seems that delivering retro jokes was developer Intelligent System’s first priority. The result of this is that the game fails in other areas.

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Super Paper Mario has great controls, tons of different moves and the quirky art-style that contributed to Thousand Year Door’s brilliance, but it lacks in the level design department. While sometimes aesthetically well-made, they are all very flat and boring – even SMB1 had more interesting levels. The design also fails in other areas where annoying sections has to be completed – in one place, you have to run in a hamster wheel for several minutes, in another you have to defeat 20 enemies in separate duels (complete with monologues before and after). This makes the game very tedious to play.

I find Super Paper Mario hard to understand. Does it get good review scores since it packs such a heavy load of nostalgia? Why did they look at a RPG for level design when they had some of the most brilliant platformers in the history of videogames to borrow freely from? it is hard to have a fair opinion about a game with such a lineage when it disappoints – especially when it embraces that lineage so extensively.

Super Paper Mario is not a horrible game, it just could have been so much better if it borrowed more than visual themes from earlier games.

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Posted on Sep 21/07 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »