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Super Paper Mario (Wii) artwork

Super Paper Mario (Wii) review


"The lack of challenge is the game’s biggest issue, but it opens the playing field to people looking for a more casual experience. "



The stage is set. The bride, resplendent in her white dress, looks dreamily across the altar at her groom. With a little coerc- err, convincing from the other attendees, she speaks the words that will bind them together forever. But wait a second! Bowser’s not supposed to get the girl.. is he?

Well, it seems the answer to that is a resounding NO! In fact, the idea is so perverse, Bowser and Peach’s wedding has actually rent the fabric of the universe! So of course, Mario is called upon to play the role of hero for the umpteenth time, saving the "newlyweds" and everyone else in the process.

Thus begins the third installment of the Paper Mario franchise, the first game in the series for the Wii. Like the opening sequence, Super Paper Mario approaches the franchise from a different angle. While the original game (and its sequel, The Thousand Year Door) were RPGs, this iteration is a platformer with RPG elements.

In a nod to the older Super Mario games, there are 8 worlds to conquer with 4 stages per world. The stages are 2D and relatively linear; however, early on Mario obtains the ability to flip into 3D. This allows you to bypass obstacles previously insurmountable, as well as find hidden enemies, paths, and treasure.

Eventually Peach, Bowser, and Luigi join you as playable characters. Switching between the four characters allows access to each of their unique abilities, which frankly, vary little from other Mario games. Peach can float or use her umbrella to completely deflect damage, Bowser breathes flame and is super strong (but super slow too!), and Luigi jumps extremely high, but has little control when he lands. I found myself sticking to Bowser just because he was able to defeat enemies faster and from further away. I also relied heavily on Peach to completely nullify damage, leaving Mario and Luigi for use only when absolutely necessary.

Mario’s party also gets assistance from creatures known as Pixls. These creatures are living, geometric line drawings with a wide range of uses - from becoming a bomb that lets you clear rubble out of the way to a platform that lets you traverse spikes without fear of damage. Yet another one, Tippi, serves as a guide and cannot be switched out. Pointing the remote at the screen lets her search out hidden items, doors, and platforms. She also provides information about on-screen objects when aimed at them, including tips on enemy weaknesses.

Experience is gained by defeating enemies and is displayed at the top of the screen as a traditional score. Extra points can be earned by wiggling, shaking, and otherwise manipulating the remote as you bounce off an enemy. But not all enemies can be defeated by a simple stomp on the head.

Discovering the hidden method to defeating enemies is one of the more interesting and enjoyable aspects of the game. The variety of enemies adds a little more flavor to the basic "jump-stomp-move on" pattern that is so familiar. Some of them have spiked hats or armor. Some can only be stunned for a time. Others need special techniques that are not immediately obvious. A perfect example (and a personal favorite) is a giant eye named, unsurprisingly, Mr. I. Jumping on it, breathing fire at it, and bombing it did no good. The only way to defeat it is to flip into 3D and run circles around it - definitely a first for the series. Boss battles, while not particularly difficult, are still centered around exploiting the unique weaknesses of each.

Unfortunately, there is little challenge to the main game. It can be finished in 20-25 hours or less, and rarely will the Game Over screen be seen (unless of course you venture into an area with no healing items). However, for people who want to invest a little more time into the game, there are quite a few sidequests and things to collect.

Three optional areas are available as well; the Pit of 100 Trials in Flipside, the Pit of 100 Trials in Flopside, and King Sammer’s kingdom. The former two are available after a certain point in the main game (and are great places to level up if you’re so inclined), and the latter is available as a post-end game challenge. For a person who has to have 100% this can be a bit of a nightmare though since some of the cards and items are very rare.

The sense of humor that has always been a staple of the series remains intact. From a stage lampooning dating simulators to Dyllis’s invitation to "spank" the flavor out of her cooking, there are many giggle (and groan) worthy moments in the game. Nostalgia rears its head when an invincibility star turns your character into a giant version of their 8-bit counterpart, literally smashing everything in their way.

At the beginning, I was not certain how comfortable it would be to hold the remote like that, or how effective the limited motion controls would be. But holding the Wii remote on its side quickly begins to feel natural, and the controls are very well-executed. Although pointing the remote and shaking it occasionally feels gimmicky, it doesn’t detract from the fun to be had.

However, there is no way to switch between either characters or Pixls on the fly. Even though there is technically a shortcut to opening the menu, you still have to scroll to the correct menu and select the option from there, so the shortcut saves all of two seconds. I got annoyed with the menus very fast, especially when required to switch quickly from one character to another.

Inventory capacity is limited to ten items, with the store being able to hold 30 more for you. While this is in line with the other games in the series, it actually feels like a cheap way to increase the difficulty level in some areas. The optional areas do not allow you to leave and return to the same spot, so if you run out of healing items and you exit the area you have to start all over again at the beginning. And since each of the three areas consists of 100 mini stages (100 rooms each to the Pits, 100 straight battles in King Sammer’s kingdom) it is easy to quickly become overwhelmed and frustrated.

Overall, this is a very solid game. Colorful graphics, interesting characters, and occasionally catchy music add a certain charm that makes the game fun to play. I found myself laughing hysterically during quite a few scenes, and obsessively trying to collect just one more character card or treasure map before shelving it and moving on. The lack of challenge is the game’s biggest issue, but it opens the playing field to people looking for a more casual experience.

Rating: 8/10

siara79's avatar
Staff review by Danyal Vierheller (May 01, 2008)

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asherdeus posted May 02, 2008:

Do you publicly announce the first review of all of your staff members, or just the girls?

I don't mean to sound like an asshole, but it seems entirely unnecessary to put that in the focus window. It doesn't interest me at all that this is her first review and, if anything, it'll make me trust her less.

I'll try to comment on the review later. I read the introduction and it seemed to try too hard, but it was a lot better than my first review by far. Just felt like tossing my two cents in.
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Felix_Arabia posted May 02, 2008:

Ashy, there isn't any reason to berate poor Siara because of what is said in the focus window. I'll admit I was skeptical of seeing how her first review would turn out since, to my knowledge, she has never done anything like this before. But as you said, this wasn't a bad first attempt at all.

Siara, I would like to see you partake in review contests here. Maybe then no one will complain next time your review is in the focus window.
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Suskie posted May 02, 2008:

I don't know who decided to put that in HG's main focus window, but I can change the caption if it's really bothering anyone.
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asherdeus posted May 02, 2008:

It's not that it bothers me, it's that it just doesn't inform me of anything that is really important to know. I thought that the whole point of the focus window was to give me a little sample of what was in store, or to entice me to click on it, but telling me that some girl wrote her first review doesn't interest me in the slightest, and I just don't understand why it's there in the first place.

Does it really matter if it is her first review in the grand scheme of the site? It seems like it's either an attempt to excuse the review for any mistakes it may have (which makes me even less excited to click on it) or it's an effort to show off that HG has a girl on the staff. I just can't imagine putting that in there for any other reasons and neither of those reasons are good. Honestly, if I really cared about how many reviews she'd written in the past, I would click her name and I could easily find out that this was her first review.

To Felix: None of this is directed at Siara and I didn't mean to sound like I was attacking anyone. I imagine that she didn't have any say in it at all. Like I said, it seemed like it might be a bit overwritten, but from my skimming it seemed alright.
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asherdeus posted May 02, 2008:

Oh, and finally, for some real comments.

This is a good review. I expected a 7/10 by the time that I got to the end, but an 8/10 is close enough and everyone has different standards for their scores, so this is basically a moot point. I thought you could have improved your paragraph transitions substantially in some areas. There were times when you talked about one thing and then very abruptly began talking about something entirely unrelated (or seemingly unrelated, I didn't have an idea if they were or not). This felt like a sectional review without headers. I thought your introduction used some words that it didn't need to, but you cut back on the thesaurus parade after that and the rest read fine.

All in all, this is a great first effort and like I said, substantially better than my early efforts. I can tell from the writing that you have the enthusiasm and you know most of the points to pick up on. You just need to learn how to turn all of those points into a cohesive review.
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Suskie posted May 02, 2008:

Is this Siara's first review, anyway? I know she doesn't have anything else on HG, but I was under the impression she'd written something elsewhere...
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honestgamer posted May 02, 2008:

Asherdeus, I don't know who put the text in the focus window but I think it's less inappropriate than you imagined.

There was some tongue-in-cheek discussion on the forum for awhile about what siara79 might choose for her first review and people were suggesting titles and so forth because no one had heard from her and she's been staff for awhile.

I see the focus window as a result of that, a kind of "Hey, you'd all been talking about what she might review first and now here it is!"

Perhaps it's not the most thrilling of text samples and definitely I wouldn't want to see that become the regular sort of focus window, but of course we're not in danger of that happening, anyway. First outings from staff don't come along terribly often.

As has been noted, this is an excellent first review and the expectation is that like anyone, siara79 will grow more comfortable with her own reviewing style and with the type of writing on this site. I think it would be a great idea if she got involved in the writing contests, too, but remember that staff have more duties than just reviewing. In time, you may see her pitching in more for news articles and the like, and of course staff always have hundreds of hours of database work that they can do, since HonestGamers is developing one of the largest game databases available online.

I encourage everyone to provide feedback for all writers on this site--staff or otherwise--but please don't single anyone out for criticism or even praise based on gender. I don't believe that was the intent of the focus window and I would be disappointed to learn otherwise. HonestGamers is about passionate gamers and writers (terms that ably describe siara79) coming together to share their interests an experiences.

I think there was some excellent feedback provided in this topic that I expect siara79 will take into consideration for future efforts. She's just starting out and, as always, we're all working to improve our writing. This topic has gotten a little far from its intended purpose, so I'll chime in with my own thoughts:

This was a great first review that covered teh bases nicely and did so with clarity. The transitions weren't always smooth and the text wasn't always lively, but I felt tha the first paragraph did a nice job of providing an amusing introduction (purposefully overwritten for effect, I felt) and from there the review remained suitably engaging if not fantastic. So like I said, this was a great first review that gives an idea of the sort of thing we should expect in the future (and knocks my own first reviewing efforts out of the park).
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asherdeus posted May 02, 2008:

Yeah, maybe some members of the community were talking about her first review and looking forward to it, but if they're that attentive, do they really need to be reminded in the first place? I'm interested in Mario - I don't care about the author, just what the game does right and what it does wrong and why. Along the way, yeah, I need to learn something about the author, but how many reviews the author has written isn't something I need to know. To me, it reminds me of all those introductions to so many GameFAQs review ("This is my first review!"). I look to this site to be above that. It doesn't matter to me if it is her first, fortieth, or four hundredth review, I just want to know if the game is good or not. And, quite frankly, as someone who has a website with a staff of 20 people, with "first reviews" coming all the time, it isn't important. I didn't draw attention to my 100th review, my 150th review, and I won't to my 200th review because it doesn't matter to anyone (outside of my staff) reading the review. No reader looking for an opinion on Paper Mario gives a shit if Siara is writing her first review.

It's just my opinion and you can ignore it if you want.
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Masters posted May 02, 2008:

I liked the review well enough. I also get what Matt is saying; I thought the focus window blurb was a bit strange, but I don't really question anything. Much.
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Suskie posted May 02, 2008:

Somebody change that damn focus window caption before people start getting killed.
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EmP posted May 02, 2008:

The caption stays until we know who wrote it. Should a miricle happen and anyone else on staff pen something, it'll be replaced soon enough, anyway. None of us would be happy if we wrote something and someone edited over the top of it, and I expect whoever wrote said caption is the same.

Now to read the rest of this topic through beautiful beer googles.
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sashanan posted May 02, 2008:

I guess the caption is like an onion, and you're several layers deeper in than I got. I didn't read much of anything into it.

Review's fine, in the meantime, and I'm looking forward to see what comes next. Probably because I know what comes next and want her take on it.
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Suskie posted May 02, 2008:

There. Now let's all try and work together to put this pressing matter behind us.

By the way: Was this Siara's first review or not? I was under the impression that she'd been writing reviews elsewhere. Either way, good stuff.
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bluberry posted May 02, 2008:

you guys are all retarded for caring.

anybody remember that geekwoman psycho?
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Felix_Arabia posted May 02, 2008:

I certainly let her know how much I appreciated her attitude.
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Suskie posted May 02, 2008:

I like how Bluberry completely pwns every thread he appears in.
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sashanan posted May 02, 2008:

By the way: Was this Siara's first review or not? I was under the impression that she'd been writing reviews elsewhere. Either way, good stuff.

Yes, first review. She's written FAQs before, though.
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Suskie posted May 02, 2008:

Ah. Thank you for clearing that up. For the record, this is leagues ahead of my first review.
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sashanan posted May 03, 2008:

And mine. In fact, I'd have to say it is dangerously close to being on par with what I write now.

"But Sash, you write an average of 0.4564 reviews a year now!"

Shut up, self.
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EmP posted May 03, 2008:

Sash: until you write a new review, I'm keeping all the games you won from the give-aways.
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sashanan posted May 03, 2008:

You rat. You leave me no choice.

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