Paper Mario fans have been looking forward to a new game that goes back to its roots, however, Nintendo had other plans for the franchise as we can see with the release of The Origami King. It is primarily an action-adventure game with a focus on exploration and puzzles. The game appears to have ditched traditional RPG systems with a more streamlined approach that is easy to settle in for newcomers. Despite these massive changes, The Origami King feels like a breath of fresh air for the Paper Mario franchise, however, it might not sit well with everyone.
Paper Mario: The Origami King begins with Mario and Luigi arriving in the Toad Town. They have an invite from Princess Peach to participate in the Origami festival, however, as they reach the Toad Town, it appears to have been abandoned. This surprises both Mario and Luigi and they quickly rush to Princess Peach castle. As they head inside the castle, Luigi goes on his way to locate others while Mario confronts a strange-looking Peach who asks him a set of questions. As Peach himself says, the answers don’t matter here and Mario is thrown in a dungeon.
The gameplay portion of the opening begins in this dungeon where Mario soon discovers his evil nemesis Browser as a victim. He has been folded into a paper and barely escapes along with Mario. During this opening section, Mario also meets with another key character, Olivia, who turns out to be a sister of the Origami King Olly. In their confrontation with King Olly, Mario, Luigi, and Browser are thrown off Princess Peach castle. Olly wraps Origami around the castle, strips its foundation off, and flies away with it to a faraway mountain. Mario has to once again save Princess Peach and return her castle to its original location by hunting down the Origami King Olly.
Most of the fun in Paper Mario: The Origami King comes from exploring every location. You can discover secrets using wrappers to cover holes in the ground or objects that can lead to rewards like coins. This is also a key part of the game that is required to solve some of the puzzles. Mario has a bag that he uses to collect colored confetti and can throw them anytime with the press of a button. This whole mechanic reminded me of Paper Mario Color Splash, however, it is more fun to use here due to carefully designed levels. The bag can run out of this confetti but more can be easily collected by defeating enemies or hitting various objects like a tree or flower.
Developers Intelligent Systems have also removed several features in Paper Mario: The Origami King to streamline the user experience. Some notable exclusion is the removal of Stickers and painting Battle Cards. The battle system now has a clear focus towards a puzzle-like approach which results in a smoother experience.
Paper Mario: The Origami King is less of an RPG compared to its predecessors with the most notable point of note being the lack of an experience or level up system. You’ll be collecting several items like Max UP Hearts and using Coins to buy better equipment to improve Mario’s capabilities in battle. Coins are also used during battle to extend the timer while you strategize. Players will also get a chance to use characters like Professor Toad and Kamek during the adventure however they’re very unimpressive compared to previous games where they had unique abilities to aid Mario on his adventure.
Overall, even though it’s not my favorite game in the series, Paper Mario: The Origami King is a quality title and one of the most memorable games of the year with its great art-style, fun music, and fun gameplay.
Paper Mario: The Origami King Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Paper Mario: The Origami King is an action-adventure RPG developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch console. It is the sixth game in the Paper Mario series, part of the larger Mario franchise, and the sequel to Paper Mario: Color Splash. It was released on July 17, 2020.
Final Score - 8/10
Paper Mario: The Origami King is not a game that is meant to satisfy fans who are thirsty for a traditional RPG. That said, it is a solid adventure game with a mix of platforming elements and a charming story.