Unlike most other Mario games, Paper Mario is an RPG. There are a few Mario RPGs but this is arguably the best of them and looks fantastic as the Mushroom Kingdom and it’s inhabitants all appear to be made of paper. The game’s protagonist is of course our favourite Italian plumber Mario. The story begins with Mario and Luigi relaxing in their house when the mail Parakoopa, Parakarry, arrives with a letter which turns out to be an invitation from Peach to a party. Mario and Luigi then head to the castle. Just on time to wreck everything as usual, Bowser appears and defeats Mario and kidnaps Princess Peach. He lifts her castle into the sky and steals the Star Rod from Star Haven which makes him invulnerable to any attacks. In order to save Princess Peach and the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario must locate seven “Star Spirits” which can negate the effects of the Star Rod. Along the way Mario and his party members must solve puzzles and defeat enemies. Take a look at the intro to the game below.
Gameplay combined elements of platforming and role playing. Mario could jump and use a hammer to overcome some obstacles in the game world. Party members are acquired throughout the game and play not only a part in combat, but also helped solve certain puzzles using their abilities. Only one party member can travel with Mario but can be switched out at will. The combat system follows a traditional turn based RPG format with a slight difference in that you can increase the effectiveness of attacks by performing action commands. These action commands were basically pressing a button at the correct moment. Each move performed by Mario or his friends consumes flower points, and after each battle the party is awarded star points which eventually allow the characters to level up.
There are eight party members Mario can encounter during the game. They are:
- Goombario, a Goomba who has the ability to tell the player about any character, any environment, and any enemy.
- Kooper, a Koopa with the ability to throw his shell at otherwise unreachable objects.
- Bombette, a Bob-omb with the ability to blow up weak parts of walls.
- Parakarry, a Paratroopa with the ability to help Mario cross gaps too large to jump across.
- Lady Bow, a Boo with the ability to make Mario become invisible and transparent.
- Watt, a Li’l Sparky with the ability to light up rooms (also, the only ally in the game with the ability to penetrate an enemy’s defenses). Also has the ability to see hidden objects.
- Sushie a Cheep-Cheep, with the ability to allow Mario to swim.
- Lakilester a Lakitu, with the ability to allow Mario to traverse dangerous environments, such as spikes and lava.
The game’s upbeat soundtrack was written by Yuka Tsujiyoko, a well known composer for the Fire Emblem series, with reprise arrangement of previous Super Mario themes by Koji Kondo. The games other event and sound effects music were composed by Taishi Senda. You can have a listen to the soundtrack below.
The game was well received at the time, and afterwards as it was re-released on the Wii Virtual console and is now available on the Wii U Virtual console. If you haven’t played it yet I’d highly recommend you give it a go. If you have played it, what did you think? Leave a comment about your Paper Mario memories!