First Impressions: New Paper Mario isn’t flat

Don’t fold under the pressure!

The sixth game in the Paper Mario franchise is out now, and it’s a fun and worthy successor to the series.

Paper Mario: The Origami King
Console: Nintendo Switch
Published by Nintendo
Developed by Intelligent Systems

The Paper Mario games debuted on the Nintendo 64 system in 2000, originally considered as a sequel to the amazing Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, which was one of my favorite Super Nintendo games. In high school, my friends and I rented Super Mario RPG so much that it’s ridiculous that we didn’t just buy the game.

There was something special about Super Mario RPG, a light-hearted adventure where Mario teamed up with enemies and allies to defeat Smithy, a robotic blacksmith from another dimension. It set a new standard for a property that had, for the most part, been presented as a platformer for consoles. The game absolutely deserved a sequel, considering how acclaimed it was, but the partnership with developer Square didn’t continue, so Nintendo took a new path. And Paper Mario was born.

The Paper Mario games retained the charm of the Super Nintendo RPG, while forging a new path of quirky game play mechanics. In Paper Mario, a 2D version of Mario traversed a 3D world battling enemies. While the Mario of the platform games faced off against Bowser to rescue Princess Peach, the Paper Mario games introduced new threats for Mario to overcome, usually with the help of some of his old adversaries.

With the latest incarnation of the series, Paper Mario: The Origami King, released earlier this month, the 2D Mario is once again tasked with rescuing the kingdom from a new threat. After receiving an invitation from the Princess to attend an origami festival, Mario and Luigi discover the place in shambles. The angry origami King Olly has turned many of Bowser’s former minions into origami warriors as part of his plot to make everyone origami. Mario travels throughout the kingdom with Olly’s sister Olivia to try and stop his plan.

There’s a lot of wandering around the kingdom, solving puzzles and whacking things with Mario’s hammer, and it’s a lot of fun. Getting into battles ups the ante a bit, as the turn-based battle system also includes solving puzzles – mostly involving setting enemies in the right configuration to either stomp them or hit them with a hammer. Getting it right the first time means Mario likely won’t take any damage AND getting more coins.

Of course, because it’s a Nintendo game, Paper Mario: The Origami King is actualized for the Switch, with certain commands that depend on moving the controller forward or backward or left or right. Using a controller, these motion commands work great, but when I used the Switch as a handheld, it became a little unwieldy to get the movements right quickly.

I’ve tried to get as much time as possible with the game since it came out two weeks ago. I’ll pick it up in between work and taking care of the kids and other various chores. I’m no where near as far along as I’d like to be. But whenever I find the time to turn the game on, it’s so easy to pick up from where I left off. As someone with not as much time on my hands as I’d like, it’s the mark of a great game. The game may offer options for a little bit of exploration, but it’s linear enough that you won’t have to struggle to remember what you were doing.

I’m always excited to play a new Mario game, and Paper Mario: The Origami King is as fun to play as I had hoped.