Paper Mario: The Origami King - Switch Review

Paper Mario: The Origami King by developer Intelligent Systems and publisher Nintendo of AmericaNintendo Switch review written by Natasha with a purchased copy.

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

I can't tell you how excited I was to hear that we were getting a new Paper Mario game back in the month of May AND that I only had to wait a month and a half to be able to purchase it. That's impressive. I've always had a soft spot for the Mario RPG-style games since way back on the SNES when Super Mario RPG: The Legend of the Seven Stars came out. With Thousand Year-Door being my favorite out of the Paper Mario series, I couldn't wait to start playing this new and stylish looking game.

Paper Mario was developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the N64 back in 2001. Acclaimed for being one of the best RPG's on the console and having a refreshing and somewhat strategic battle system this was the start to a charming 2D folding adventure. The unique look is what makes this Mario series different then other. Unlike when The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker decided to change it's appearance and everyone was like WTF? Paper Mario was able to draw in a curious crowd of gamers that fell hook, line and sinker for it's new fashion choices. Even to this day I'm still impressed that they can still surprise me with new and creative ways to FOLD our Moustachioed friend.

The Story

The story starts off with Mario and Luigi driving (Really? Driving? No air ships or warp pipes?) into the Mushroom Kingdom on their Go-Kart (Must have just finished a race in Mario Kart: Double Dash) to celebrate the Origami Festival near the castle in Toad Town. But upon arrival the place is a ghost town. Worried, the two brothers rush to see the Princess at the castle only to find that Peach has been FOLDED into a mindless follower by King Olly and his FOLDED Soldiers. Desperate to save her Mario teams up with Olivia, his origami companion, and runs around the kingdom in search of the coloured streamers that surround Princess Peach's castle. Will they unFOLD this tragedy?

The Open World

One thing that stays consistent in Paper Mario games is that they always have a large open world experience. As mentioned earlier, Mario starts off in the Mushroom Kingdom and from there he visits all kinds of geographical environments. Forests, Oceans, Desserts, Tundras and the odd Modern Cultural town or city. Over the years I find this to be a bit repetitive, however with each instalment comes a different piece of that echo-system. Remember that Forest segment in the last game? Whelp, we've added dancing trees. Very little Ocean time in the last game? Let's give you the wheel and have you explore the surrounding area. Do you recall that Western?... It's still there, but with more empty dessert. (Editor's Note (Richard): normally there are seven or so areas in a Paper Mario title, but they dropped that down to five for Origami King)

It's about a 50/50 chance of you either enjoying it or grumbling that it's the same thing as the last time.

For Origami King they have taken the idea of paper and multiplied it by ten-FOLD. Characters, locations, and most items are all made out of paper. This time around Mario is given something called a confetti bag. This bag will hold any pieces of loss paper that are found throughout the game. Shaking trees, smashing rocks or foliage, defeating enemies and finding specific items that'll drop paper is a must in this game. You'll also come across missing areas of the map and when I mean 'Missing' I mean that something has literally torn a chunk of paper out of the picture. Mario can take damage if you fall through. (ED note: a surprising amount of damage at that) So with your handy-dandy scrap bag you can throw out the pieces of paper you've been collecting in the game and repair these holes that are scattered around the world. Fixing missing areas or defeating enemies will also drop coins which you can collect and save in order to help you buy weapons or badges.

Speaking of collecting, this game has plenty to collect from finding all the hidden Toads, to repairing all the tears in the map, to finding trophies that represents an item or enemy in the game. Everything that you find will be logged in your menu, as well as the museum in Toad Town. There you can take a stroll and figure out what you've collected and what items you're still missing. For being a trophy hunter myself I am driven to go through each area with a fine toothed comb and a magnifying glass, trying to find each exciting way they could have hidden something in the environment. (ED note: I just finished the 100% completion recently, and while most of the hidden ? Blocks are reasonable, some of them made me want to flip a table. Thankfully you can pick up an item that will indicate direction and proximity to toads and ? Blocks.)


Here's something that I haven't got a sweet spot for in this game. The combat has changed a lot since the last Paper Mario I've played and I'm sad to say that I'm not impressed. Let's say that Russian Roulette decided to have a baby with a Rubik's Cube. The results... are not pretty. Enemy encounters happen when you engage them by either running into them or getting in a preemptive strike by bopping them on the noggin with your hammer or jumping on their heads. At the start of the battle the enemy will jump somewhere within the perimeter of the field. It's up to Mario (You) to solve a 1-3 move action to either line them up like domino's or bunch them together like a sandwich. If you succeed you get a power boost on your next attack. Fail and your dealing less damage.

OH!... You also have a timer to run against. So not only do you have to waste time figuring out a puzzle, but you also have to do it quickly. You CAN offer up coins to increase the timer, but I find this to be quite annoying when I just wanna get the battle done and over with. Have fun with that. (ED note: on the positive side, I actually found the battle system grew on me the more battles I fought. You can also get accessories that increase your battle time by a lot. The toad for the battle house also can give you an item to turn on that will help simplify the battles if you're having trouble)

Mario can choose to attack with either his hammer, boots or items. They did leave in the ability to deal max damage by making sure to hit the attack button at just the right moment, which is a nice bonus. You can also payout Toads (The ones you rescue in the game will become spectators during your fights) to help solve battle puzzles, so if you find yourself scratching your head over how to solve it just flash some of that Mulla you've been saving up and watch the mushroom folk go to town on the enemies. (ED note: the toads will also toss items at you depending on how much cash you drop on them, possibly even filling up your health)

However I believe the developers decided to take a page out of Breath of the Wild because all of your weapons have durability. Come on... REALLY! Other then your primary Boots and Hammer, Mario can find or buy stronger equipment to help him in battle, but they have a limited amount of use before they break. (Editor's Note (Richard): you actually get a fair number of uses out of the breakable weapons, and you get enough that by the end of the game I had about 35 weapons just sitting around in my inventory. You can also swap weapons mid battle at no penalty, which was rather kind. I still don't like the durability, but at least they made it manageable)

With your FOLDED sprite companion Olivia along for the ride she can use powers from ancient god-like beings known as the Vellumental. These 'Beasts' control one of 4 elements in the game and if you gain their blessing, Olivia can learn their abilities. She can use them both inside and outside of battles, which is another small detail that I find fun to add into the combat, but the chances of these powers becoming available to use are rare and are mostly seen during boss fights.

During your travels Mario will come across some helpful new friends. Unlike in past games these teammates aren't permanent. They are strictly tied to the story and will come and go when scripted. When they do tend to stick around they will aid you in battle, but you have no control over their action. They are random and most time they will either trip on their own feet and do absolutely nothing for you during a fight. I get that they where going for a more comedic approach for your sidekicks, but at one point whenever I had another round of enemies coming in, my partner would kill a single enemy off, causing the other bad guys to immediately call for BACK-UP! I'M LOOKING AT YOU BOBBY!

Lastly, there are a paper-mache-y type of baddies known as Paper Macho Soldiers. These types of enemies are special in the fact that you have to find their very obvious weak spot. Once you do you can run up and pull at it. This will cause the gigantors to become confused and weak. They'll try to hurt you in return, but a couple of whacks with your hammer will causes them to explode.

Visual and Music

Colour is everywhere in this game and there is no shortage of it. The blend that you get with the confetti-like scenery is beautiful and for some strange reason Nintendo has perfected the water effects in most of its scenes. Seriously, how do they make me so thirsty? Not only is the look of the game popping, but the script and music is just as theatrically catchy.

From the moment I started the game to when the credits rolled the story was a roller coaster of feelings. I mostly spent my time laughing my head off with how funny most scenarios turned out, but I also had moments that usually followed with.... Wait? WHAT? I could tell right off the bat that this game was meant to be directed at a younger audience, with silly dance numbers and musical tunes, but Paper Mario Origami King made sure to throw in some heavy moments that would have gown adults weeping behind the couch while their kids were twisting their heads back and forth trying to figure out why mommy and daddy where crying their eyes out. It was both fun and sad.

But for every great script, it must be accompanied by a memorable score. Boy, does this game have such a great soundtrack. It fluctuates from heavy bass guitar used during battles, to solemn piano pieces when the going gets tough. I don't think there was a second I wasn't tapping my foot to the beat or taking a long deserved break to just sit and listen to the score pieces of certain areas. Even the fight music was given extra care. Depending on the area you're in, like the dessert or ocean for example, the composers would change the tempo of the original song to fit the environment. Genius, I tell you. And I could tell they put some time and thought into every jingle.

Another thing that stuck out to me was the amount of Easter eggs or cameos I'd come across. A few being from Mario Kart, Donkey Kong, Metroid and Zelda. (Editor's Note (Richard): I loved the Metroid reference) The quest to unravelling the purple streamer, later in the game, is a nice homage to the Zelda Series especially. So if you keep your eyes peeled you might find other hidden surprises from other games, which is always a refreshing treat to discover.

To conclude, Paper Mario: The Origami King was a charming and cute experience. The story was both silly and heart warming at every moment. The comedy was on point at all times and the trophy hunting keeps me starving for more. Yes, the combat system is repetitive, but since Mario doesn't need to level up in this game you can easily avoid fights. Overall, I had a fun time with these colorful batch of characters. I will gladly give this game a 8 out of 10 for being such a sweet reminder that the Paper series is comedic gold.

Score: 8 / 10



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