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Super Paper Mario
TBA 2007

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Super Paper Mario
Written by Jonathan Westlake

Oh no! Another game previously destined for the Gamecube that’s now been hastily ported to the Wii. Surely that means second-rate graphics and a gimmicky motion control scheme offering little more than a brief novelty at best?

Well…yes and no. It is a ported game, it does have graphics that a Cube could handle comfortably, and motion controls are possibly unnecessarily present. However, having said that, the more I look into the game, the more I think it could work well and actually be slightly better as a game for being ported to the Wii.

Before I go any further, I should declare I am quite a fan of Mario platform games ( well, except Super Mario 2 – that was rubbish ) and I love JRPGs. That said, I’ve always been put off the Paper Mario games as I think they picked the wrong elements of both genres to fuse into a new game style, and despite the critical acclaim, I have never picked one up. This Paper Mario could be turning point for me, however, as it looks like they’ve addressed my concerns and in theory, it could work really well.

Graphically, although the game is no technical masterpiece, it is highly stylised and easy on the eye, much like the previous games in the series. Mario and his cronies are represented as paper cut-outs, and the 2D/3D game world (more on this later) is largely designed to feel hand-drawn. The style also blends seamlessly with the gameplay on offer, allowing for suitable suspension of disbelief to make the more unusual mechanics to work.

That is to say that the game messes with physics and dimensions pretty liberally – hopefully making for an original and fun game. At the press of a button, Mario has the ability to change the Yoshi’s Island style 2D platform world into that of a fully 3D rendered version of the same world, much resembling a cardboard cut out of the Mario 64 world. Not only does this change the style of play, but it also provides a mechanism for some puzzle elements. What originally may appear as an impassable gap in the 2D world may be revealed to contain a bridge hidden in the background when you switch to 3D.

This does lend credence to the RPG element of the game, as you will need to explore the worlds in both dimensions and solve spatial puzzles. Whether this turns out to be a fun addition or just an inconvenience, is yet to be seen. Like in most RPGs, you will also need to level up, although combat is no longer through a protracted turn based system as in the previous Paper Mario games, but now more like the gameplay in Super Marioworld/Mario 64.

Further strategy is introduced by bringing several playable characters into play. To clear some of the levels you will need to play as Peach and even Bowser (is this a first for a Mario platform game?). Each have their own ability, with Bowser spitting flames from his jaws and Peach floating across the levels with the aid of her trusty brolly. Hopefully this will work, but I’m not certain playing as Bowser will actually be that fun.

Control wise, I am relieved to hear that the majority of all movements will be done by using traditional controls while holding the Wiimote sideways like playing Super Mario on the VC. To me, this is better is far more natural for playing 2D platform games than the Gamecube pad and could make the game better for being on the Wii. Motion sensing is included, with hints given by pointing the Wiimote at the screen like a torch and special moves requiring some gesture based motions, although details are still a little sketchy on how this will actually work. Again, a full hands on is required to understand if this helps or hinders the game.

If the controls work well (especially the special moves), Super Paper Mario could possibly be one of the best games to come out on the Wii this year. As always, a full an in-depth review will appear on Wii-UK after we’ve spent some time with the beast.

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