I could not have imagined such 3D charm could be packed into a 2D game.
“Paper Mario: The Origami King” was developed by Intelligent Systems and released on the Nintendo Switch on July 17, 2020.
“Origami King” is the sixth entry in the Paper Mario series since “Paper Mario” was first released on the Nintendo 64 in 2000.
The game begins with Mario and Luigi heading to Princess Peach’s castle to celebrate an origami festival.
They are soon met with confusion when the town outside the castle is completely abandoned.
When entering the castle, they soon find the origami prince, Olly has transformed Princess Peach and a number of Mushroom Kingdom residents into origami.
After discovering this Mario is thrown out of the castle, which is then covered in 6 streamers that stretch throughout the land.
Mario teams up with Olly’s sister, Olivia, to defeat new origami enemies and return the kingdom and it’s residents back to their former selves.
From the start of the game, the atmosphere oozes character.
Not being too familiar with the Paper Mario series might fuel my fascination with the art-style, but I can’t help admire the originality of the paper characters and objects.
The game doesn’t hesitate to remind you of this unique style by having you complete tasks specifically based on paper.
Many terrain throughout your adventure is stripped of it’s paper base. So you then must collect various confetti by hitting paper objects to throw on this terrain for it to be restored.
Another paper-based mechanic resides is in one form of travel in the game.
To fast-travel far distances, Mario is able to send himself through a fax machine where he is printed off in a different location.
Another gimmick I enjoy is finding toads hidden throughout the world.
Toads can be jammed into tight nooks and crannies where you have to pull them out or even folded into various creatures.
There was one instance where I saw a butterfly and hit it with my hammer, it then began unfolding and revealed a lost Toad who had been transformed by the Origami King.
Completely optional, rescuing Toads allows you to have a larger crowd to help aid you during battles.
The way battles start in “The Origami King” is similar to previous series entries, with almost all of them starting from enemies running at you or you at them.
Battles themselves, however, play out in a new way.
Presiding in a circle-shaped arena, the hoard of enemies you face will be spread out around 5 rings.
There is then a time limit giving you a chance to line up the rings and rows the enemies are on to have them next to each other.
If enemies are put in the right arrangement you are given extra attack power and have the ability to take them all out in one turn, avoiding any damage from their attacks.
Sound somewhat confusing? That’s because it is, and rather difficult to pull off as well.
This ring-based battle mechanic, though ambitious, can become quite tedious.
Coins can be earned in battle and spent on the Toads in the audience to attack enemies.
Aside from the coins gained by winning a fight, there is no “leveling up” making battles less rewarding and worthwhile.
I often times myself running away from enemies I could battle, and instead running towards new NPCs to talk to or origami objects that toads could be hiding in.
Though the boss battles can increase the battle mechanic difficulty to its limits, the bosses themselves are so bizarrely entrancing.
Only in a Paper Mario game could one find themselves facing a giant hole puncher or pair of scissors.
The first of these bosses I encountered was a realistic colored pencils case.
These pencils acted as rockets to attack Mario, and to defeat the case you had to slam it shut so that the rocket pencils would have no choice but to detonate inside.
Instances like these made me invested with a desire to see what insane characters awaited my travels.
There are some characters you meet who are even able to join your team, aiding in battles and adding a fun dynamic to travel.
Such is the case with a drifter bob-omb you meet on-board a train with memory loss who Olivia aptly names “Bobby.”
With lasting up to 40 hours, diverse areas to progress onward are to be expected, and the game definitely delivers, with stunning visuals residing in all areas of the game.
Ironically, some areas of the game look highly realistic, contrasting the characters’ aesthetic.
Many online have praised the water of the game, in particular, in being the most life-like they’ve seen in any video game to date.
Ultimately, though its battle style isn’t ideal, “Paper Mario: The Origami King” provides a unique experience to the player through it’s stunning visuals, quirky characters, and humorous story elements.