Super Paper Mario Wii
I am sure anyone that even has just a passing interest in Nintendo games got ridiculously excited when Super Paper Mario was first announced for the GameCube during E3 2006. Everything about the game just looked phenomenal. The locations were beautiful, and the colours were vivid. Most importantly the developer was Intelligent Systems, who are in my opinion still highly underrated, particularly for the great work they have done over the past five years. Overall the game, the idea behind the game, and the prospect of what exactly the game was going to bring to the table was high in the loftiest echelon of hype.
Now over a year on, and after a much need change in console to give the game an audience it deservers Super Paper Mario is finally here, and just like its predecessors it offers the similar mix of both RPG and platforming action the series in known for. This time round the main villain in the game goes by the name Count Bleck, who seems to have FURY due to the forced marriage of Princess Peach and Bowser. Anyway, regardless of how strange or convoluted the main story is it really does not matter as playing a Paper Mario game, or ant quasi-RPG’s done by Intelligent Systems is more about the journey rather than the over arching narrative. Thankfully Super Paper Mario does not fail at this juncture as on your way through the game you meet a veritable tonne of likeable, interesting and over the top characters to entertain. Then, once all this plot is sorted out, it is of to the games main hub, Flipside, which is then used to access all of the game levels.
Even though Super Paper Mario was originally conceived with the GameCube controller in mind it still manages to make some interesting use of the Wiimote, letting you use it in many different ways as you play the game. When you first start of you begin to play the game holding the Wiimote like a NES controller, and for the most part this is your main way of controlling the four main characters – Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Bowser – as they make their way through the game from a 2D perspective. From there the each of the four characters can gain a special ability. Peach can use her parasol to float around. Luigi gains the ability to jump much higher than any of the other characters. Bowser becomes much more powerful when he uses his ability, letting him use a fiery blast to take out enemies. And finally, there is Mario who is able to use the much vaunted ability to flip the 2D world around into a 3D view. Then as you move on you can switch between all of the characters on the fly, and mix and match their abilities to solve the games puzzles, and combat the enemies in real time. On top of all this you are also given the ability you use the Wiimote to point at the screen to find hidden items around the level.
However, the game does have a few problems that could be grating as you advance though the game’s 32 separate stages. But thankfully any game breaking bugs are few and far between. The biggest problem would have to be that the game forces its story far too much. In all honesty there seems to be just a few too many times when a cutscene or line after line of text will make an appearance, and even though the characters are likeable the whole conversation just ends up going on far too long to remain interesting throughout. Also unique abilities for each of your characters called pixls are also a bit more awkward than they needed to be, as they have to be accessed via a menu by pressing +. However, there is a nice selection of them, and most are interesting to use, and get to grips with as you advance though the game.
Simply by looking at the screenshots dotted abound this page you can see easily see that the game is very appealing graphically, particularly for gamers of a certain age. But obviously, seeing as the game has roots on the GameCube it will not have the instant graphical splendour seen in the likes of the upcoming Metroid Prime 3 or Super Mario Galaxy. Nevertheless, as you work your way though the game there is definitely a lot to see, especially in the later levels as they drastically evolve from what was on show in the earlier ones. Just like the graphics, the game’s audio also harks back to older Mario titles, but regretfully as a result it at times comes across a feeling almost too retro. In particular, the sound effects are the main offender as you very quickly start to get the feeling you have heard almost all of them before somewhere else. However, the music is almost the complete opposite, as some of the tunes are truly a treat to the ears, with many remixes of memorable tunes from the likes of Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario World on show.
While recent Mario console efforts may have seen him partying, golfing and playing a few round of tennis, baseball and football there is no doubt that the plumber continues to remain at his best when he stays close to his roots. If you have been a fan of Mario ever since you stomped that first Goomba on level 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. then you will find a lot to love here. There are just so many little witty references to parts of games you’d have thought Nintendo had long forgotten, excellent memorable sequences, and brand new character on show it is quite easy to label SPM one of the greatest Mario games in the last few years, and quite honestly it could be one of his best since is debut back in 1981.
It’s great, but it’s a shame we had to wait this long.