Paper Mario: The Origami King – Review
Follow Genre: RPG, Puzzle
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Switch
Tested on: Switch

Paper Mario: The Origami King – Review

Site Score
6.4
Good: Amazingly well-crafted world
Bad: Tedious combat system, Slow
User Score
5.0
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/10 (3 votes cast)

While the Paper Mario series has been a massive thing in the Nintendo universe ever since the Nintendo 64, this franchise could easily be linked to the 1996 title on the SNES, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. This game was the first RPG in which Mario starred as the lead and was also the first in which he also teamed up with unlikely allies. On the Nintendo 64 we first met Paper Mario. That new title had a lot of aspects of the aforementioned title but also very unique traits that put that version of the red plumber on the map. The series started off as a proper RPG adventure, and then slowly became something quite different over the years. Paper Mario: The Origami King is the latest installment in the Paper Mario franchise and is already the sixth game in the series. This game introduces new mechanics, and honestly, while the game is one of the prettiest Nintendo titles we’ve ever seen, things sometimes feel a bit flat.

Story

The concept and story of this game are quite simple. You get invited to the origami festival in Toad Town. As Princess Peach invited you herself, you, the valiant red plumber rush over to the event. You immediately spot that things are not right, as the town is deserted and Princess Peach looks funny, having a few more dimensions than usual. Apparently she has been turned into one of the origami minions of King Olly, who dubs himself the Origami King. The evil miscreant wants to turn every inhabitant of the world into one of his folded origami puppets. You then set off on an adventure to save the world and stop King Olly, with the help of his very own sister Olivia.

Overall the story is simple and the concept is quite decently handled. You’ll get snippets of story as you go, and things are often presented in a light-hearted fashion. The storytelling of the game is nicely handled for young and old, with enough silly puns and dialogues to remain entertaining for a while.

Graphics

The Origami King is probably one of the prettiest Nintendo titles out there. While the game can get away with certain rough edges because of the theme of the game, this installment uses many different graphical styles and they blend together so well. You have the paper characters, ranging from the typical good guys, to Bowser’s minions. These all look crisp, and very detailed, in their own paper-esque way. Then the newly introduced origami creatures are added to the mix, which feel a bit more realistic in terms of textures, but also look very interesting and are properly embedded in the Paper Mario world. On top of that, there are a few ‘realistic’ enemies thrown in-between, which again clash with the normal style of the game, but still feel welcome in this universe.

Outside of the typical character models, you have the fairly expansive world of this game. There will be different regions to explore, each with their own specific style and theme. The game does very well in making every region feel like a part of this big combined world and even the clutter feels nicely done. Even if most of the item models are done in a 3D fashion, it all comes together well. The graphical portion of the game is amazingly handled, and is probably the game’s strongest point in luring in potential players.

Sound

The sound design is also properly handled in this game. The game doesn’t have any voice acting, which is perhaps a bit of a shame for a proper RPG series such as the Paper Mario games. Nonetheless, all characters do have their small little sounds, and the SFX feedback from whacking people on the head and smashing objects is pretty much perfect and honestly, quite satisfying.

In terms of music design, the game also does a formidable job. There are tracks you can recognize, but at the same time, you can’t put your finger on them. Overall, the music accompanying the events unfolding on screen is very nice.

Gameplay

Paper Mario: The Origami King is an RPG along the lines of the first Paper Mario games, but this version steps away from many traditional RPG mechanics and focuses a tad more on puzzles, backtracking and pretty much exploring the world around you. The game features a very unique battle mechanic but at the same time pretty much removes fun party mechanics that were present in earlier titles. The overall progression and gear system also feel a bit wonky, and the gameplay portion is actually what drags this otherwise picture-perfect experience down.

This Paper Mario stands out from the crowd due to its battle system. In the game, you’re pretty much a party of one, where you rely on Mario’s stomping and bashing techniques. The game will always throw you in different variations of a certain puzzle, in which you have certain dials around you, divided into squares. On these squares you’ll find the enemies spread out. You’ll then have to twist and turn them, with a limited amount of moves, to line up the enemies so you can deal more damage. If you mess up, you can expect a lot of damage being done to you. This system also has no rhyme or reason when it comes to its difficulty. Sometimes the game forces you to spend coins in order to get help from the Toads you save along the way or to buy extra time to solve the puzzle at hand. As the game only rewards you with coins, and no actual experience, combat becomes very tedious really fast, especially with how slow everything is. This type of combat is only quite enjoyable for the boss battles, in which you have to twist the different circular layers around you to forge a path to the boss, allowing you to attack him.

Outside of the dull combat system, you also have an annoying gear system. You can buy new boots and hammers for Mario, but they all have limited uses, and for some battles you actually need certain types of weapons in order to actually deal some damage and/or progress. It’s quite annoying to keep track of which items are nearly busted and then having to equip them individually, rather than having them active in battle if you own them.

The biggest problem in Paper Mario: The Origami King doesn’t only lie with its tedious battle system and its poor gear mechanics. It also lies with its slow progress and the lack of an incentive of actually engaging battles. The battles feel redundant, as you don’t get any experience out of them. Battles only reward you with coins. The coins contribute in buying gear or adding time to your battle timer or even have you enlist the help of the Toads in the tribunes. These handy Toads can help you place the enemies in the proper order, deal damage to them or even heal you. The game claims to be an RPG experience, however, it has no proper experience system, no party members of any value and there is a complete lack of progress. You roam around the world, you engage in meaningless battles that drag out whatever the hell it is you’re doing and other than the puzzles, this game has no real goal, no reason to grind and no proper backbone. Everything is beautiful and it’s a joy to explore the world, but after a while, you don’t really know why you’re doing it.

Conclusion

Paper Mario: The Origami King is an amazingly beautiful game that will entice you in from start to finish but only if it was a game about exploring this massive paper and origami mixed world. Sadly, the game starts to show its many cracks when you actually start playing it. This is because of its slow progression, tedious battle system, annoying gear mechanics and sadly, the lack of a proper party which is somewhat a cornerstone of a basic RPG experience. The game does not motivate you to battle at all, as you hardly get any rewards from doing so. While this game is still probably worth it for fans of the series, it also feels a bit tedious to play through. The Origami King is a very beautiful game, but it folded its scored drastically when it came to the actual gameplay.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Paper Mario: The Origami King - Review, 5.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Ibuki
Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

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