198th RPG Review Special part 4: Paper Mario for the N64 review

Super Mario RPG Legend of the Seven Stars. What could I possibly say about this Super Nintendo game that hasn’t already been said? Granted, I do want to review it, but I’ll just give a short summary here. The gameplay is fun, the characters are memorable, the story isn’t too complex, and the music is great. It was one of Square’s last things they did with Nintendo until the Gamecube and Gameboy Advance came around. It’s one of the best Super Nintendo games, and one of my favorite Mario games. Sadly, they didn’t make a sequel to it due to its limited release all around the world and other reasons I don’t want to get into. However, I do want to get into an RPG that stars Mario that sadly, no one really talks about. It’s a great game, but no one really seems to talk or give it as much praise as Super Mario RPG. It isn’t an underrated gem since it did do well in the gaming market, but I don’t think it gets as much love as it needs to. Let’s dive right into one of the best and one of the ONLY RPGS on the Nintendo 64, Paper Mario. I decided to do this game some justice. Not only did it get a lot of the votes, but also the new Paper Mario 3DS is coming out, which I am excited for. It is one of the Nintendo 64’s greatest games and one of my favorite RPGs. Let’s get started then on this wonderful N64 game.

The story starts off with Mario and Luigi getting a letter from Princess Peach to come to the castle. When they get there, Mario FINALLY gets some alone time with Peach, but then Bowser attacks the castle! I know it’s shocking since this hasn’t happened before at ALL! However, Bowser does have tricks up his sleeve, like lifting up the castle into the sky, and having a powerful weapon known as the Star Rod at his disposal. After a quick fight, Bowser blasts Mario off the castle and onto the ground below. After meeting a surprisingly friendly Goomba family, Mario sets off on another adventure to stop Bowser, regain the Star Spirits, and get back the Star Rod. The story is very light-hearted, which is a nice change of pace from the usual aiming toward the female demographic with male heroes with huge hairdos and giant swords. It is wordy since there is no voice acting, but it’s an enjoyable story with characters with different personalities. It’s a fun game with a fun story.
The gameplay is, of course, a turn-based RPG like its older brother, Super Mario RPG. The difference here is that you only have two people in your party at a time, instead of the 3 members, which seemed to have been some big fetish with RPGs during the late 90’s to only have 3 members in the party instead of 4 or 5 like in Lost Odyssey. Anyway, you wander around a huge world filled with the typical Mario characters like Koopas and Goombas, but there are some truly unique and interesting character designs for the monsters in this weird little world. When you explore the world of Paper Mario, enemies are visible, and it can go either way. You can actually hit the enemy and get a first strike in the turn-based battles, or the enemy could do the same to you and get in a first hit. When you get into the turn-based battles, you can choose from a large variety of attacks and your partner can do the same. Just like in Super Mario RPG, if you press the attack button before hitting the enemy, you can perform more damage with your attack. Mario has a few normal abilities, like his famous jump attack that has many variations, and he also has a mallet that can more damage, and depending on what badges you wear, will also have multiple attacks. One of the major gimmicks in this RPG are the badges you can buy and collect that give Mario multiple different kinds of abilities, like resistance against spikes and poison, always getting first strike, added ice damage, and you get the idea. Your partners also have their own abilities that can be leveled up by upping their rank. Each partner has his or her own set ability in the overworld, like there is a fish ally that helps you swim across watery areas, a bomb character that can blow up cracked walls, and an electric spark character that can light up dark areas. Sometimes in battles or just going across the world, you will need all different kinds of abilities to get to where you need to go. The other battle gimmick comes from the Star Spirit. Each time you beat a boss, you get to gain a very special ability that runs off a different energy bar than your special attacks. These abilities stem from having an all-enemy attack, putting the enemies asleep, healing yourself a bit, and you get the idea. They come in very handy during boss fights, so make sure you save your star powers for boss fights. There are other little things like finding crystal shards to trade for badges from a fortuneteller-like character. You can also use items in battle like the fire flower, pow block, and mushrooms to either heal you or attack the enemy. Let’s just say you have a deep combat system and a large amount of stuff to do.
The graphics are very impressive with the surrounding environment being in a very watercolor children’s book style, while all of the characters that populate the areas of the world are 2 dimensional, like a paper cut-out from a book. It has a very unique charm that isn’t seen a lot in video games. The composer for this game is one of the most influential female composers in Japan, Yuka Tsujiyoko. She is mostly famous for the fan favorite Nintendo Tactics franchise, Fire Emblem. She has also done music for Tetris Attack, Battle Clash, and also worked on the music for Super Smash Brothers Brawl. The music is very cheery and quirky, kind of like the music for Final Fantasy Mystic Quest since there are not a lot of dark moments that require an emotional attachment.
There are some minor flaws in an overall very well put together RPG package. The story is very light-hearted and enjoyable, but it’s very wordy. It’s kind of like the text-heavy Yakuza franchise, where there are just times that have nothing but text. It is also kind of annoying about where I need to go or what I need to do next. This isn’t as big of a problem like in Xenogears, but I bumped into a few areas about what I need to do. My biggest complaint is that you can’t have 3 members or more in your party, you can only have 2. This means that when you get into a battle, you better have the companion right for the occasion or else you will have to take a turn to switch out your partner, which can get tedious if you’re going against some strong enemies. This is also a problem in the sequel, but that’s for another time.
All in all, Paper Mario might not be Super Mario RPG 2, but I think it deserves a little more respect than what is given to it right now. I would highly recommend this RPG for any RPG fan or any Mario fan. You can find a hard copy of the game for about 20 or more dollars, but I would recommend getting it off the Virtual Console for 10 dollars. We are now 2 reviews away from being at 200 reviews and I hope you guys are up for an adventure into the world of Grandia!
This game gets a 9 out of 10