As a super fan of the Paper Mario series, I was over the moon to find this gem under the Christmas tree for me. I have been playing it non stop since and I can guarantee that it is one that will not disappoint.
The setting of the game takes place in where else, Toad Town, along with a chaotic appearance of a bad guy who kidnaps Princess Peach and uproots the palace to attempt to keep our faithful hero Mario from saving the day once again. This time though, the world has been invaded by a origami folded baddie by the name of King Olly, who is one by one trying to turn every papery character good and bad (yes even Bowser and his henchmen) into a folded origami Folder Solider to do his bidding and change the land into his personal folded kingdom.
Mario quickly gets himself locked up in a dungeon with no hope of escape, but what would a Paper Mario game be without a faithful companion to help you on your way to saving the Princess. This comes in the form of a friendly origami girl named Olivia, who happens to be the sister of King Olly. She wants nothing more than to live in a world where paper and origami folk can live in harmony.
With that, they head off on their adventure to unravel the 5 streamers that are stretched across the Mushroom Kingdom that have entangled Peach’s Castle and to ultimately bring down King Olly and save all paper kind!
There is so much to do and see in the Mushroom Kingdom as you travel on your adventure. Each place you visit involves unique personalities, a colorful environment, and endless entertainment. There is an abundance of strategizing that keeps you on your toes and always thinking and planning ahead. You will make friends with familiar characters – even the ones who normally would be your enemy – who will help guide you on your journey.
You even will encounter a few fun hidden “Easter eggs”:
The key feature of the game – is that the land is full of confetti. Each Paper Mario has had a unique feature that involves interactions with the environment – usually to collect coins, uncover secret items, or complete tasks. As you travel through the Mushroom Kingdom, you need to knock trees or plants or simply defeat an attacking Folded Solider to uncover colorful confetti. This is used to restore holes found throughout your adventure: on walls, in the ground, on stairs… it is as important to restore the beauty of the land as much as saving the Princess.
Also, you are tasked with finding all of the missing Toads of Toad Town who have been folded and scattered around the kingdom. These Toads will prove helpful in the form of special items, confetti, or adding to your collection of residents in the town. There is even a Toad who hosts a battleground training area where you can practice your timing for jumps, blocks, or hammering in battle – or battle old enemies that you have encountered.
The game interface is quite simple to use, it allows access to the maps of the areas you discover and gives you keep information about tasks completed and discoveries. This is very important for those who are completionists. It also contains an inventory of the different weapons you have for swapping in and out for use in battle, and the accessories you can buy from various Toad Shops on your journey that will increase your stats in battle, or allow for some extra help when out adventuring across the Mushroom Kingdom.
Throughout the game, you will find lots of hidden items in the form of Trophies or music clips. These, along with documentation of every folded Toad and Folded Solider you encounter in your adventures will be accessible at the museum in Toad Town. It is a great way to look back and see everything you found and determine just how much more you need to find – a great reason for replay after you finish the game.
Unlike many of the previous Paper Mario games, a lot of the gameplay dynamics have changed. This is honestly a very refreshing and unexpected change. One of these changes comes in the form of the battle format. For those who have played a previous game in the series, normally an enemy attack will occur on a simple stage with straight-line hammer, boot, or items attacks with Toads in the audience to “cheer” you on. This time, you are in a stadium-style battlefield, with the Toads still in the audience, but this time you have to put a lot more thought into your attack. Not only do you have to decide how to attack, but you also have to line up your enemies into strategic positions by rotating rings or single columns on the battlefield. Hammer attacks work best in groups of four, and boot attacks work best in straight line groupings. Seems simple enough, but there is even more to contemplate. You also get a specific number of ring moves per turn and there is a timer ticking off to make your decisions. There is always an option to add more seconds to your timer, but that will cost you a lot of your precious coins.
If this is not enough of a challenge, in each area of the Mushroom Kingdom you travel to in order to destroy a colored streamer, you face not one…. but TWO bosses.
One comes in the form of what is called a Vellumental – which is a creature that embodies the power of a specific elemental force (such as fire, earth, or water). You face this enemy in order to learn how to utilize the powers of the Magic Circle. This Magic Circle is something that you experienced when you first met Olivia and she helped you learn about the use of the 1,000 Fold Hands – but she also has the ability to embrace the Vellumental powers by folding herself into a specific version based on the Magic Circle that Mario stands on throughout the game. These are mostly preset to a specific one to complete a pre-outlined storyline plot.
Defeating a Vellumental will take extreme strategy as each one has hidden capabilities that they will use to stop Mario and sometimes even undo all the damage that is inflicted.
The battle strategy is very similar to any other, you need to manipulate the rings of the battlefield by spinning or moving vertical columns to bring Mario in a position to attack. The difference in this battle is you have to place arrows in a specific layout for Mario to follow a path. Each time he touches an arrow he will follow its direction and will collect any items (clue envelopes, chests, hearts, coins, power-ups) that are within that path and activate any Magic Circles or Battle buttons he encounters. This can become tricky fast as you only still have a specific amount of time and ring moves, Magic Circles can only be used if the “ON” button is accessed by Mario running over it (which sometimes is hidden within a chest) and each Vellumental is immune to different ranges of attacks. Each different Vellumental is weak to another so the battle will always make available the required Magic Circle needed to weaken the enemy.
I can admit that I had to use a lot of coins to give me extra time to strategize as every round was vital and sometimes you need lots of time to figure out the best path and making sure you get the things you need in order to succeed in the attack.
When Mario is successful in defeating a Vellumental, a book will appear. This is what Olivia can use to study and know-how to both fold herself into the Vellumental creature and how to utilize its power.
Just when you think that battling endless Folded Soldiers, Vellumental creatures, solving puzzles, and going on wild gooses chases to unlock hidden items was enough to keep you busy – there always comes the time to face the ultimate baddie in the form of an office supply product – who is guarding the streamer end for the specific area of the kingdom.
The battle techniques against a Streamer Boss is very much like that of the Vellumental, wherein you have to arrange arrows, items, and battle spots/Magic Circles in a specific order to complete attacks on the enemy. The difference is that each one of these bosses has a hidden weakness that you must determine, otherwise your attacks will do nothing but bounce off and ultimately piss off the bad guy. Fair warning, the scissors — so tricky and very deadly in his attacks!
As expected, there is also the ever so popular Shy Guy quiz show tucked within the game to bring you to thrill, challenge… and unless you are successful… absolute doom! This is always such a treat as it gives your mind a bit of a break from the main storyline and usually involves unlocking a unique item needed within the game. Unlike other Paper Mario’s of the past through – it’s not a simple question kind of game show this time – now it’s a multi-category tier with increasing difficulty with a VERY limited time clock to complete the required category answer. This is made even more difficult as you again have to utilize the rings – turning and manipulating them to match the result required for the question and the category. If you are able to succeed all that, there is even a Sudden Death Round – seems like its optional – but the game essentially gives you the choice of saying NO and falling into a pit (GAME OVER) or say YES and cross your fingers that you don’t fail – otherwise its back to square one.
And yes… Luigi is even in this game. He is always getting himself into a pickle, but his determination to help Mario proves time and time again to be beneficial in saving Princess Peach and saving the kingdom.
A unique feature of the game is the continuous draw to musical enhancement. This comes in many forms – from funny sounds when driving a vehicle, to the music score selected to pair well with the environment of the land you are exploring. But the best part is that there are endless cutscene moments where everyone breaks out in song and dance! Just the warm and fuzzy kind of feelings that any kind of Paper Mario game should give you – it has always been the more tame type in the series.
Overall – this game is one for everyone. The storyline is like a cupcake – endearing and soft with a bunch of colorful sprinkles of extra content throughout – and then “boom” it is smashed into your face with fast-paced battle sequences and endless strategy that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
It was refreshing to play a Mario game wherein the usual bad guys and the good guys could actually exist in harmony and help each other win the war against their folded foe.
While the game does level in difficulty at a pretty steady pace, it is one that I could not put down. I was always drawn back every free moment I had. I craved more action and to know more of the story. Even the Vellumental and Boss battles were long and stressful – but I just couldn’t get enough of the deep amount of strategy that was needed in the game. It was a good thing that after a big battle the rest of the adventure till the next one was simple – because your brain would come to the brink of implosion every time.
If you get a chance, make sure to add Paper Mario Origami King to you must play list!
A Classic Series With Some New Epic Twists
Paper Mario Origami King takes every aspect of the beloved series and turns it on its head. Enemies become allies, battles become amplified to the max and the storyline has you drawn in. Perhaps not a game one will always reach for once passing the first go around, but there is always more hidden gems to be found if given the time.