Over the years Nintendo has come up with a number of interesting concepts to go along with innovative or at least different games. Paper Mario has always offered a different take on Mario games, along with some interesting visuals. Much to the series credit, the paper aspect is less of a gimmick and more of a mechanic. Since the original title the series has changed what it means to be a Paper Mario title and now we have Paper Mario: Color Splash. With non-traditional RPG elements, a new setting and the gamepad to add additional depth, is Paper Mario: Color Splash a must or is it a title that relies on the series history for sales?
Paper Mario: Color Splash takes a page from Super Mario Sunshine. Princess Peach receives a letter that turns out to be a colorless toad, so she enlists the aid of Mario to figure out what is going on. The postmark reveals that Prism Island is in trouble and the team embarks on an adventure to the far away land. There they find the place largely deserted, with the famous fountain dry except for a paint can named Huey. He explains how paint is common on the island, that it can be used to fix the colorless areas and tasks Mario with finding the big paint stars to restore the fountain and town.
The story itself goes in a fairly predictable direction. The usual suspects are causing problems, removing color from things causes them to cease operation and adding color to the land fixes most of the problems. The real highlight isn’t the story itself, but the dialogue and interactions. Several lines are written in a way that, while serious, are a bit of a joke. Like when a toad loses color on his lower half he remarks he can’t feel his pants and it becomes a running joke with that character. It’s the type of story where you can just sit back and laugh at the nonsense or silly visuals, like the Slurp Guy being a Shygun with a straw in his mouth hole.
The same fun and attention to detail can be seen in the way Paper Mario: Color Splash is designed. The levels themselves make perfect use of the concept. Not only can the world be altered, attacking certain things will make it look like smashed paper or fall over revealing how it would look if this world was created with actual paper. Not only does this make the concept seem like less of a gimmick, it adds a lot of fun and variety to the world. It’s just a shame the same fun does not appear in the combat system.
At its core, the combat in Paper Mario: Color Splash attempts to transfer traditional Mario elements to a card and turn-based combat system. The nice thing is that a lot of thought went into the mode with you having the ability to interact with enemies the same way they work in Mario Bros. Like if you jump on a koopa they go in their shell and the shell can be used to defeat other enemies. This stuff is great, especially since you can block and interact to further damage/defense in real time, but it doesn’t stop the system from being very slow paced.
Executing an attack has a lot of steps and it can take up to 20 seconds just to start the attack. From there the combat system is pretty hollow. While there are deeper mechanics and a lot of thought went into it, you can almost always do one or two things and win, with most enemies posing little to no threat. Most of the fun doesn’t come from defeating your enemies, but rather exploring the world.
The average Paper Mario: Color Splash stage is a largely linear world where you can fill in white spots, interact with objects and maybe participate in a fight or two. It’s a game centered around exploration and fun instead of combat and skill, which might be a turn off to some people. In only real downside is that there isn’t much challenge, but this is made up for by planting the seeds of interesting developments in the future.
Instead of being able to finish every zone the second you get there, most places have interactions, objects and elements that require something you don’t currently have. This makes for an interesting revisit, along with keeping completed areas relevant for a longer period of time. With this being said, don’t expect too much from the resulting event.
Paper Mario: Color Splash is everything you’d expect from a Paper Mario game following Sticker Star. The story is cute and humorous with a gorgeous world to interact with and explore. The only downside is that it isn’t very difficult and fights tend to take a while. But if you’re looking for a silly adventure to wander around and explore you won’t be disappointed with Paper Mario: Color Splash.
[Editor’s Note: Paper Mario: Color Splash was reviewed on Wii U platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Paper Mario: Color Splash Review,