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VC Review: Paper Mario

The Nintendo 64 was a device that promised plenty of quality games, but in the end, the majority seemed to be first party Nintendo efforts. After the Playstation took off and blasted through the sales charts, the N64 fell behind. At the end of its life cycle, months before the Gamecube launched, Nintendo released a unique title to squeeze some more software sales out of the N64 before it disappeared: Paper Mario delivered one of the biggest adventures on the N64 and used a fresh art style to recreate the Mushroom Kingdom like never before. Unfortunately, many people missed out on this unique experience, but it has come back for revenge on the Virtual Console, and you owe it to yourselves to enjoy this original take on the Maro franchise.

The sequel in concept (though not in spirit) to Super Mario RPG for the SNES, Paper Mario continued to use the novel idea of putting our favorite plumber-gone-hero into an adventure complete with all of the traditions of RPGs while adding platforming elements into both battle and exploration. Super Mario RPG felt like the RPG genre with Mario mixed into it, but Paper Mario feels like a Mario game with the RPG genre mixed into it.

Peach has been kidnapped by Bowser, of course, and imprisoned in his new flying castle, but when Mario goes to rescue her, he gets his plumber butt handed to him. After Mario recovers from his long-awaited beating, our pudgy protagonist sets off on a journey to save seven imprisoned Star Spirits who will help him drain Bowser’s newfound power. The writing of the main plot isn’t surprising, but some of the individual stories found in each chapter offer intriguing events and great localization and help to flesh out the Mario world in a way gamers hadn’t seen before, including the notion that Goombas, Bob-Ombs, and Koopas could be good or bad, a concept that was new at the time. These components join forces with well-made compositions and a joyful art style (though somewhat pixelated by today’s standards) to bring Mario’s universe to new life, crafting cartoon-like characters that are paper-thin into a 3D world.

While the narrative helped to evolve the Mushroom Kingdom, it was the deep yet simple gameplay that kept core gamers playing while invited non-RPG fans to have some fun, as well. While exploring the 3D world, Mario encountered bouts of platforming, light puzzles, and more. When an enemy reared its ugly head, Mario could choose to avoid the foe or attack it to gain a head start in the battle. Once in a battle, the game shifted to a stage, and players chose which types of attacks to use, utilizing Mario’s jumping and hammer abilities while calling upon allies to aid him. These allies were all classic Mario creatures and each offered something unique, from a Goomba who could read enemy stats to a Bob-Omb who could obliterate foes with an explosion. Battles demanded good reaction time and reflexes combined with strategy, taking the best from both platforming and RPGs while not being overly difficult. Combine these with Paper Mario’s unique level-up system, Badge component, and item combining, and you have a distinct RPG that welcomes both enthusiasts of the genre and Mario fans.

Normally, N64 games on the Virtual Console can be hard to choose because they’re ten bucks a pop, but with Paper Mario, there is no question that your money will be well-spent. This is easily one of the biggest Virtual Console games to date, and will take gamers plenty of time to see and do everything. Ten dollars is a steal for how much content is here and it’s well worth every penny.

Final Verdict:


Buy It!

RPG nuts and Mario fans alike will eat this title up, and anyone looking for a substantial Virtual Console release will be satisfied as well. People who missed out on this N64 classic shouldn’t make the same mistake twice: any Nintendo fan who doesn’t hate RPGs should give it a try, and gamers of all levels of experience will find something to love here due to the simplicity concealing the overlying depth. With so much to do in such a fun world, gamers of all kinds can discover the charm and fun that Paper Mario offers. It all looks good on paper, and plays even better.


Intuitive Gameplay

Fun for the Family

Deep Gameplay/Value

Excellent Writing (Localization)

Sharp Gameplay

Editor’s Choice

Score: 4.5/5


4 Responses to “VC Review: Paper Mario”

  1. I would have given it a 5/5, but I’m biased like that. One of my favorite games of all time, and I agree that just about anyone should get it, unless you hate Mario and RPGs. If you like either (and I still think if you hate them, that this is different enough), then definitely try it out.

  2. For me personally, it IS 5/5, but being more critical means I have to try and put my personal opinion to the side somewhat. I think PM2 is a better game, and THAT one I would give 5 stars, perhaps.

  3. Well i never played this seeing as i didn’t even know it came out back in the N64 days but PM2 was great… sadly i never got to finish it because of a corrupt memory card (Got up to the boss of the train though) but it was on of my favorite game cube games when i had it… Might get it again one day (After i download this of course).

    (Heres hoping for a PM3 and Pikmin three)

  4. Nice review, very detailed.

    Homepage: Broken Controllers

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