ⓘ Paper Mario

                                     

ⓘ Paper Mario

Paper Mario is a role-playing video game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 home video game console. It was first released in Japan in 2000 and in the rest of the world in 2001. Paper Mario was re-released for Nintendos Wii Virtual Console in July 2007 as well as Wii U Virtual Console in 2015.

Paper Mario is set in the Mushroom Kingdom as the protagonist Mario tries to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser, who has imprisoned the seven "Star Spirits", lifted her castle into the sky and has defeated his foe after stealing the Star Rod from Star Haven and making himself invincible. To save Mushroom Kingdom, rescue Peach, get the castle back, and defeat Bowser, Mario must locate the Star Spirits, who can negate the effects of the stolen Star Rod, by defeating Bowsers minions guarding the star spirits. The player controls Mario and a number of partners to solve puzzles in the games overworld and defeat enemies in a turn-based battle system. The battles are unique in that the player can influence the effectiveness of attacks by performing required controller inputs known as "action commands".

Paper Mario is the second Mario role-playing game to be released following Super Mario RPG and is the first installment for the Paper Mario series. Paper Mario is the predecessor to the GameCube game Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the Wii game Super Paper Mario, the 3DS game Paper Mario: Sticker Star, the crossover title Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, and the Wii U game Paper Mario: Color Splash. The game received critical acclaim upon release, attaining an aggregate score of 88% from GameRankings and 93% from Metacritic. It was rated the 63rd best game made on a Nintendo system in Nintendo Power s "Top 200 Games" list in 2006.

                                     

1. Gameplay

Paper Mario combines traditional role-playing game RPG elements with concepts and features from the Mario series. For the majority of the game, the player controls Mario, who can jump and use his hammer to overcome physical obstacles placed in the games overworld. Many of the games puzzles and boundaries are based upon the abilities of Marios partners, who each have a specialized skill required for progression in the game. The player accumulates partners as they advance into different locations; only one partner can accompany Mario in the overworld, although the player can interchange them at any time.

These characters also assist Mario in the games turn-based battles, where damage inflicted against them results in temporary paralysis as the characters do not have individual HP statistics. Attacks in the game are similar to those in traditional RPGs, although the player can influence the power of a move when attacking or defending by timing a button-press accurately or performing some other action command as required. Mario and his partners have a finite capacity to perform special moves, with each of these consuming a particular number of flower points FP when performed. Such statistics can be increased by earning Star Points experience points in combat to level up. There is also an on-screen gauge to display Star Energy, which is required to perform another type of move that accumulates in number as the player advances through the game. The player can locate hidden battle upgrades in the games overworld, which promotes one partner character to a new rank at a time.

Progression through Paper Mario depends upon interaction with the games non-player characters NPCs, who would often offer clues or detail the next event in the storyline. As in other RPGs, the player can find or purchase items from NPCs to help in and outside of combat. Badges can also be obtained that yield bonuses ranging from added moves to gradual health restoration during combat; each consumes a set number of Badge Points BP, meaning Mario can only equip a limited number of badges at a time. Princess Peach is playable at particular points in the game as a recurring sidequest. The objectives and actions of each transition to Peach vary, although most are stealth-based.

                                     

2. Plot and setting

The game is set in the Mushroom Kingdom, beginning as Mario and Luigi are relaxing in their house when the mail arrives with a letter, which turns out to be an invitation from Princess Peach to a party. The Mario Brothers then head to the castle, and as Mario is about to have some quiet time with Peach, her castle is suddenly lifted by Bowsers fortress. After his invasion and victory over Mario, the attached fortress serves as the location for playable side quests of the kidnapped Peach. In the main quest, Mario tries to retrieve all of the seven imprisoned Star Spirits on land, where most of the locations are linked to the central Toad Town, which acts as the games hub area. The storys main conflict arises when Bowser invades Star Haven, the residence for the Star Spirits, and steals the Star Rod.

                                     

2.1. Plot and setting Story and characters

The games story centers on Mario as he tries to reclaim the seven Star Spirits, who have been sealed in playing cards by Bowser and his assistant, Kammy Koopa. Their combined power is required to negate the effects of the Star Rod, which makes Bowser invincible. Once Mario rescues all of them, he uses their assistance to defeat Bowser and rescue Peach. The story is presented in the context of a novel, with each adventure involving the rescue of a Star Spirit denoted as a single chapter. Peach is playable between chapters, where she allies with a star kid named Twink in the castle to relay vital information to Mario regarding his quest.

Mario allies with eight partners in total, each of whom represents a different type of enemy from the Mario franchise. These allies are:

  • Goombario, a Goomba who has the ability to tell the player about any character, environment, and enemy
  • Watt, a Lil Sparky with the ability to light up rooms and reveal hidden objects
  • Sushie, a Cheep-Cheep with the ability to allow Mario to swim
  • Bombette, a Bob-omb with the ability to blow up weak parts of walls
  • Lady Bow, a Boo with the ability to make Mario become invisible and transparent
  • Lakilester, a Lakitu with the ability to allow Mario to traverse dangerous environments, such as spikes and lava.
  • Parakarry, a Paratroopa with the ability to help Mario cross gaps too large to jump across
  • Kooper, a Koopa Troopa with the ability to throw his shell at otherwise unreachable objects

After Peachs castle is sent back to the ground and Mario defeats Bowser, he recounts his tale to Luigi, who had remained at home while Mario went on the adventure. Peach throws a huge party to honor Mario and his allies for saving the entire kingdom, which is then followed by a parade during the credits.



                                     

3. Development

Paper Mario was developed by Intelligent Systems. Kumiko Takeda and Kaori Aoki wrote the games script, while Naohiko Aoyama was the art director responsible for the games distinctive graphical style. The game was initially called Super Mario RPG 2, was slated for release on the 64DD, and was first revealed at Nintendo Space World 97, a former video game trade show hosted by Nintendo. Critics compared the games 2D character style to PaRappa the Rapper. Shigeru Miyamoto, who consulted on the project, stated that the game was being developed with amateur gamers in mind. He had earlier revealed at E3 that around twenty developers were actively involved with the project. Paper Mario was re-released on the Wii Virtual Console in 2007, and the Wii U Virtual Console in 2015. The game was also released for the iQue Player in 2004.

                                     

3.1. Development Music

The games soundtrack was first released in Japan on September 21, 2000, with the games original title by Enterbrain, and distributed by the magazine Famitsu. It was followed in the United States a few months later as a Nintendo Power exclusive with the illustration from the international game cover. It included both the original music to the game, as well as sound effects, in 78 tracks on two discs. All of the games compositions were written by Yuka Tsujiyoko, with a reprised arrangement of previous Super Mario themes by Koji Kondo. The games other event and sound effects music were composed by Taishi Senda. The games music mostly received positive reviews, with Lucas M. Thomas of IGN describing it as "vividly appointed with catchy, expressive tunes and comical audio cues."

                                     

4. Reception and legacy

Paper Mario received critical acclaim. IGNs Matt Casamassina praised the games accessibility, commenting that "it serves as the perfect introductory game to any person hoping to explore the genre". Nonetheless, other reviewers complained about the "brain-dead easy" puzzles and bosses requiring "basic strategy at best". The games nostalgic value was lauded, with reviewers noting the sense of familiarity with the Mario series present in the games settings and characters. The game has often been compared to the previous Mario RPG title, Super Mario RPG. Eurogamers Tom Bramwell judged that Paper Mario is a vastly superior game to SMRPG ", while IGN compared the games simple plot unfavourably with the SNES game and RPGFan claimed that some of Paper Mario s story was copied from it. RPGFan also questioned the name of Paper Mario, as there were, in their opinion, insufficient gameplay features or aspects which used the paper theme to justify the name.

Critics lauded the games blend of RPG and platforming aspects. GameSpot noted the "exciting and somewhat strategic" battle system, which requires the player exploit the enemies weak points. The "refreshing" action command features was praised in particular for adding originality to a battle formula that was present in many games of the same genre. IGN claimed the game was "the best RPG for Nintendo 64", calling it "fantastically deep, intuitively designed, and wonderfully rewarding". Despite this, enemy design itself was bemoaned for being "corny and generic", with notable exceptions to some of the Paper Mario s original boss characters. Eurogamer noted how "Of the various characters you meet, none is of less importance than any other", welcoming the partner characters and their relating puzzles. GameSpot praised the games use of humour and side quests, with references to the control of Peach in particular.

The reaction to the games visuals was generally positive. IGN noted some paper-based visual effects such as when Mario folds in a bed to sleep, but complained about character zoom-ins, which revealed "a pixelated mass of colors". Although reviewers claimed that the novel graphical style was initially confusing, most welcomed the style eventually, with GameSpot claiming that it was "extremely well done". The audio was also mainly praised, although reviewers criticised the lack of voice acting and character-specific sound effects. RPGFan were particularly critical of the games "generic filler music", despite enjoying use of multiple songs simultaneously.

The game was also well received upon release for the Virtual Console, with IGNs Lucas M. Thomas stating "its held up very well even placed into context against its GameCube and Wii era sequels, and its an RPG for goodness sakes". Paper Mario also proved popular on the Virtual Console, reaching a high of "second most downloaded game" in the US in August 2007.

Paper Mario was the top selling game in Japan on the week of its release, selling more than 276.000 copies, and the top-selling game for two weeks in other regions. It was ranked #141 on Electronic Gaming Monthly s "Greatest 200 Videogames of their Time" in February 2006, the 63rd best game made on a Nintendo system in Nintendo Power s "Top 200 Games" list, and the 13th greatest Nintendo 64 game of all time by the same magazine. It currently ranks as the sixth-highest scoring Nintendo 64 game on Metacritic, the ninth highest rated video game of 2001, and the highest-scoring Nintendo 64 game released that year.