Paper Mario
Nintendo 64
Reviewed: 03/28/2006

Back in the days of the N64, people were calling for new RPGs for the system, since Square had jumped ship to develop for Sony’s PlayStation. Their cries were largely unheard, because the few RPGs that the console got were rather dull and easily forgotten. Paper Mario is such a game, that has its moments where it shines, but just helped make gamers want more, largely due to its general mediocrity.There’s always one really nice thing about the Mario RPG series: their battle systems are fun! The battle systems are easily some of the better ones used today. Sure, it’s basically the same thing the other Mario RPGs with timed hits and all, but that’s not such a bad thing. It’s entertaining, and it keeps focus on the game instead of something else, such as book. For those unfamiliar with a Mario-style RPG, here are the basics. Whenever any sort of action is taken, whether it’s an attack, or defending, or casting a spell, there will normally be some sort of button press indicated. Follow that command with the correct timing, and the effect will be enhanced, such as doing more damage, or healing more, etc. Perhaps the best thing about the system is that it takes most of the tedium out of waiting around for turns, effectively increasing hands on playtime.

For Mario, this was the last straw. The Princess could handle this mess.

The story is a big oops by Nintendo’s Intelligent Systems. The story is the basic “Princess has been kidnapped, go save her” from the very first Mario Brothers game, or any other NES game really, for that matter. Worst of all, the developers try to be original, and due to this, fail more miserably than they would have at the start. (It should be noted that Mario & Luigi gets things right, by using this basic premise and spicing things up a lot.) See, the writers make Bowser invincible, (seriously, nothing can touch him) and he has one weakness: Find seven star spirits, which will grant Mario the power to fight off Bowser’s new powers, and save the princess and world yet again. The problem here is the fact that the basic idea of the first Mario RPG is to acquire seven stars. The comapny ripped off their own prequel. Not the best way to keep the player’s attention, since everything in the plot has been done before, multiple times.

Paper Mario isn’t the most graphically stunning game ever on the N64, but it does stick with the “paper” theme rather well. All the characters are 2D, set on 3D areas, but they have slight 3D mobility, such as when they turn, and they are as thin as paper. It’s really quite nifty, and adds a lot to the overall theme of the game. The backgrounds kind of leave something to be desired though, as they’re pretty flat and static, and don’t have enough detail to them to be interesting, they just manage to convey what the location is like, and call it quits there.

The sound is average. Most of the tracks are kind of boring, stale, generic music that fit the settings fairly well, but just don’t have that “oomph” that makes them memorable. However, the old Mario theme is in here, and a couple of new pieces (specifically “Flower Fields”) that are particuliarly pleasant, so in those areas at least, it’s an enjoyable experience. The sound effects kind of don’t match either. When Mario performs a spindash to cover ground quickly, this whooshing sound effect is made, that is probably supposed to be the sound of paper blowing in the wind, but it really doesn’t sound anything like that, and a couple of other effects don’t really seem to match with the action either. It’s not all bad though; whenever Mario does a traditional action, such as jumping on enemies heads sounds perfectly natural…at least for the Mario universe anyway.

Mario’s symptoms of insanity finally began to show when he brought a bomb into the desert, thinking it was his canteen.

Replay value is small for Paper Mario. There’s really not a whole lot to do outside of the main story, except look from some hidden badges to improve Mario’s stats and such, and when completed, it doesn’t unlock anything extra to extend the playing time. All that there is is the main event for this show.

Paper Mario was a defining moment for RPGs on the N64, which is a little sad, considering the quality of it. The game isn’t bad, in fact, the battles are highly enjoyable, and the game’s worth at least a rental simply because of that. It’s just disappointing that everything else was merely average in this first Super Mario RPG sequel.

-Joey Janowksi

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Great
Story Below Average
Graphics Good
Sound/Music Good
Replay Value Offensive
The Verdict: 5