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Video Game Reviews: Paper Mario and Paper Mario Thousand Year Door
The extensive game cast!
Why Paper Mario?
I've played almost every Mario game from original NES to the Wii. I have a lifelong love affair with the Mustacheoed hero, and true love lasts a lifetime. One of my absolute favorite games in his extensive series is Paper Mario, and to a further extent, Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door. While tons of Mario games are worth their weight in gold as far as replay value goes, I always come back to Paper Mario. Many others do as well, which is why a copy of these games can still fetch 45-60 dollars on ebay or amazon. I do not touch upon Super Paper Mario or Paper Mario Sticker Star in this review because I have very limited exposure to them. So for the purpose of this review, we are just covering the first 2 Paper Mario games.
Standing the Test of Time
Paper Mario and Paper Mario Thousand Year Door have engaging storylines and addicting gameplay that I keep going back to after many years. The visuals are bright and colorful like a storybook, without the problematic, chunky low-poly look of N64 that can be hard on the eyes after a while. The story is your usual Mario fare, where it's up to you to collect star crystals and spirits to save Princess Peach from the clutches of the Evil Bowser. There are also about a billion side quests to complete, including collecting star pieces, badges and opening up gambling parlors to gain more coins. There are cooks in the games who can make specialty recipes out of your items, and many players collect the different recipes as well. This only increases Paper Mario's replay value, as there is a bunch of stuff you can do aside from the main quest.
When you are not fighting, you can explore the land, get ahold of items, talk to people and complete quests. Or you can just do your own thing and collect a buttload of badges. The timing of your story is completely up to you. The games are chock-full of cute characters to interact with, with different results all the time. The extensive detail on dialogue and shifting attitudes in characters make them fun to keep talking to after each mission is complete.
Fighting enemies is done on an RPG turn-taking platform similar to the Final Fantasy series. Basically, you and your enemies take turns attacking each other, defending, or using items. This type of gameplay isn't really meant for players who love the quick action of first-person shooters. This platform is meant for strategists and players with excellent timing skills. You can certainly be a lover of both, I'm just highlighting the differences between these kinds of games. Check out the video below, showing the first fight of Paper Mario, to get an idea of how battles work.
An Example of the game's turn taking gameplay
In the photo above, is one of Mario's many gameplay partners, Lakitu. With his help, Mario is able to float across chasms and scoot quickly along the landscape, as well as throwing spinies during battle. One of the really cool things about the Paper Mario series is all the different partners you get to play with. Each have their own abilities and attacks, which are required to navigate the new areas of the story. This keeps the story and the gameplay really fresh while you are following the main line of the star-collecting quest. While each chapter of the story contains a new partner, some goonies, and a big boss, the levels end up being really different. Some are puzzles, while others are straightforward juggernauting through legions of enemies.
Because of the huge amount of side quests and the freshness of each mission that you get out of these games, their replay value is huge. In combination with the colorful visuals and major attention to dialogue for even the side characters, Paper Mario is a series worth visiting time and again. These cute games will always be some of my favorites!