While We Wait: Paper Mario 3DS
Paper Mario for the 3DS was announced when the system was revealed at E3 in 2010, but we haven’t heard much about it since. This disappoints me because I have been a fan of Mario’s role playing adventures since Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars for the Super Nintendo. While we’re waiting for as much as a release date on Paper Mario 3DS, I want to talk about Mario’s past ventures into the genre.
Way back in 1996, Japanese RPGs were extremely popular, but they were also becoming clichéd and repetitive in a lot of ways. Nintendo wanted capitalize on its popularity by letting Mario star in his own RPG, with a fresh new perspective on the typical RPG. Square Enix, the creators of games like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger, were given reigns to make such a game. The result of Nintendo and Square Enix teaming was a game that simplified and reinvigorated the genre. No longer were you playing an RPG where you are in a fantasy world playing as an amnesiac hero that is trying to save the princess. In Super Mario RPG, Mario isn’t even saving the princess because she is one of the companions during the game, as well as Mario’s arch nemesis Bowser. The game didn’t take itself as seriously as many JRPGs, as it was funny and lighthearted at every moment. There were even solid platforming elements, which plays a hand in separating this RPG from the rest, and also making it feel more like a Mario game.
The game is primarily known for its combat system, which was simple and interactive. When you enter a battle, which isn’t random by the way, you are given more control than just pressing a button and watching your attack take place. When attacking, you can use well timed button presses to do more damage, allowing skill and strategy to play a part in battles, setting the table for future Mario RPG combat.
The next Mario RPG to come along had a new visual style, but retained many of the mechanics and ideas that could be seen in Super Mario RPG. That game was Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64, and it spawned its own series of games. Paper Mario is a personal favorite game of mine, and has me consistently smiling from ear to ear as I play it. The warm and inviting paper aesthetic, the clever and humorous writing, and the Super Mario RPG style combat system all work in perfect harmony to deliver a great gaming experience.
Paper Mario does go back to the clichéd save the princess routine, but the game is less about the main story and more about experiencing the world and the characters inhabiting it. I’ll never forget characters like Kolorado the archaeologist, Chuck Quizmo the game show host, or each and every member of Mario’s party. In my opinion Paper Mario on the N64 has the best representation of the Mushroom Kingdom from locations to characters out of all Mario games.
The second game in the series is Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door for the Gamecube. It didn’t change much from its predecessor in the gameplay side of things, but if it isn’t broke don’t fix it. What is different is the story, setting, and characters. It somehow managed top the previous game because the writing and visual style is so well executed, you might feel as if you are watching a Pixar film. There were some small gameplay additions that make this game live up to the paper a little more such as abilities that allow Mario to turn into paper airplanes or other paper themed transformations.
Super Paper Mario for the Wii was the third and most recent game in the Paper Mario series, and it significantly changed things up from the previous games. It was no longer a semi traditional RPG, but it was a platformer with light RPG elements. Typically you would be running through side scrolling levels, and it felt more like a traditional Mario game. You also had the ability to turn the 2D world into a 3D world to further explore. The game still had the typical humorous and light hearted story and premise you would expect to find in the series.
The Mario RPGs went in a weird and brilliant direction with the Mario and Luigi series, which began on the Gameboy Advance with Mario and Luigi: Super Star Saga. What was weird about the series was the absurd Japanese humor that oozed throughout the storylines, and that was a good thing. As an example of its humor the main premise begins with the evil Cackletta stealing Princess Peach’s voice, and he makes it so every word she speaks causes explosions. It kind of gets crazier from there.
From a gameplay perspective it takes the Super Mario RPG combat system, and makes it far more advanced. You would now do attacks using both Mario and Luigi at the same time. It makes the combat faster paced, and relied heavily on the player having fast reflexes. In my opinion the combat system in the Mario and Luigi series is easily the best of all the Mario RPGs.
The second game of the Mario and Luigi games was Partners in Time, and it was the first entry to appear on the DS. It is usually seen as the weakest entry in the series, because it seemed more like a GBA game. As a result it didn’t feel as inspired as it could have been since it was on a brand new handheld.
Partners in Time is definitely not a bad game by any stretch. It had still had the crazy Japanese story and humor seen in its predecessor. The story has Mario and Luigi meeting their baby counterpart, which means they team up. This means they also battle together, and this added layers to the already deep and enjoyable combat system.
Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story was the series second go on the DS, and it’s also the most recent Mario themed RPG released. This is the game fans of the series were waiting to come along on the DS. This was also the game to give Bowser a starring role, and the addition is the best part of the game.
The premise sets the game up to be the craziest in the series, and it is indeed. Mario, Luigi and Peach get sucked into Bowser’s mouth because of some magic mushrooms given to him by Fawful. I wouldn’t believe it either if I was reading this. This results in Mario and Luigi making their way through Bowser’s body in 2D sidescrolling levels looking for Peach and an exit. While this is going on, you are controlling Bowser as he stomps through the Mushroom Kingdom. Unbeknownst to him he is being influenced by Mario and Luigi every step of the way to stop Fawful. The dialogue from Bowser will truly make you laugh, and you will wonder why they waited so long to give Bowser his own game. The combat system in Bowser’s Inside Story doesn’t change much from its predecessors, but the addition of Bowser alone freshens up the experience immensely. At times Bowser grows to a gargantuan size and he battles bosses in a Godzilla style of fight. Bowser’s Inside Story may take the cake as the best Mario RPG of them all.
The only game left to talk about is the game we are waiting on, Paper Mario 3DS. We hardly know anything about the game sadly. All we see is from a handful of screenshots we can assume it’s similar to the first two Paper Mario games. We also don’t know how long we will be waiting for it to release, but I can only hope that it’s soon.