Super Paper Mario: From Mushroom Kindgom to the Multiverse


Somehow I’ve managed to miss all the previous Paper Mario and Mario RPG games released so far. It’s always been the wrong time or I didn’t have enough money at that moment, but with Super Paper Mario I think I’ve redeemed myself.

On the surface it plays like a traditional side-scrolling Mario game, albeit with cell-shaded graphics and a few new enemies, but behind this first impression lies a 3-D world that’s been hidden from us until now.
By pushing the A button on the Wii remote, you rotate the on-screen view 90 degrees horizontally and reveal the more dynamic 3-D world behind the relatively mundane 2-D platformer.

Changing your perspective is the primary means of solving puzzles. When you encounter a column of bricks too tall to jump over, simply switch to the 3-D view to reveal that the column is just as thin as it is tall and you can walk around it.


Not all obstacles can be overcome in this manner, however. As you progress through the game, you unlock the ability to play as other characters (such as Princess Peach or Bowser). These characters have their own special abilities that compensate for their inability to switch dimensions like Mario. Peach has the ability to float for a limited time, allowing her to clear large gaps. Bowser can spew fire from his mouth and crush special bricks by jumping under them or onto them.

But that’s not all! Some puzzles can’t be solved with special abilities. Sometimes you need the help of a Pixl. Pixls are kind of like the spirits of the Paper Mario multiverse. They’re hard to find, but usually you need them to progress in the game. The first one to join you is Tippi. Tippi helps you by giving information. Whenever you encounter a new enemy or fight a boss for the first time, you can point your Wii remote at the screen and she will tell you all about them—everything from their hit points to their weaknesses.

Tippi also has the power to reveal hidden objects such as doors or stairs. Other Pixls you find will let you pick up and throw things, perform a ground pound or drop bombs.

Many games fall into the trap of offering you a bazillion different ways to do things but only giving you one thing to do. All the extra characters in the world won’t make up for poor game design.
Fortunately, this game doesn’t fall into that trap. The puzzles are a joy to solve, making you think—quite literally—outside the box and making you use every character and ability in your arsenal.

The graphics aren’t really an issue in this game (as in most Wii games). The character models are simple, cell shaded and animated perfectly. Don’t misunderstand me, the game looks great, but it’s not because of the “realistic” graphics. The cartoon, paper cut-out look matches the story and dialogue so perfectly that you become immersed in its animated world.

For the most part the control works perfectly. The part where it doesn’t work as well as it should is in the 3-D perspective. The problem lies in trying to get a 2-D sprite to land on top of another 2-D sprite, both with no depth. Targets are easy to miss and frustration is quick to be found.

Taken with the whole game, this tiny flaw is more than forgivable. In fact, I almost didn’t mention it. The game is just plain fun to play. And if you need to satisfy your Mario fix, this is the only game that will do it until we see Super Mario Galaxy or Super Smash Bros. Brawl around Christmas.