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‘Paper Mario: The Origami King’: The Return of the Mario RPG?

The newest title in the Paper Mario series is set to drop on July 17th. What can we expect from this highly anticipated game?

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What can we expect from this highly anticipated Paper Mario game?

Nintendo just dropped a bombshell on everyone and announced that the next highly anticipated entry in the Paper Mario series, Paper Mario: The Origami King would be coming to the Switch on July 17. This marks Paper Mario’s debut on the Switch and the first game in the series since 2016’s Color Splash for the Wii U.

One major thing we wonder is whether The Origami King will return to Paper Mario‘s traditional RPG design. The first two games in the series, Paper Mario 64 and The Thousand-Year Door, were extremely well-received for their surprisingly deep RPG-inspired turn-based combat mechanics and overworld exploration. The third game in the series, Super Paper Mario, ditched the turn-based combat and introduced a novel form of platforming that involved switching between 2D and 3D perspectives. Super Paper Mario is regarded by many as a good game, but one that feels distant and disconnected from its predecessors.

The two most recent console titles, Sticker Star and Color Splash moved further away from the original RPG-design. Despite both games getting favorable critical reviews, they nonetheless received harsh criticism from diehard fans for deviating from the series’ original formula. Many fans have been waiting for a return to the traditional RPG gameplay that made the first two titles (and the third, to an extent) so popular.

Paper Mario: The Origami King will see the return of the Mario gang in paper form, this time with a twist. Marios will battle a mysterious “Origami plot” and deal with dangerous origami copies of familiar Mario characters and enemies. The new announcement trailer opens with Mario facing an origami-copied Peach who drops him into a hole after he refuses to fold himself for her as a sign of respect.

paper mario peach
Looking a bit off color there, eh Peach?

The Origami King will see Mario team up with a new partner named Olivia, a friendly origami creature who will help Mario battle the new threat facing the Mushroom Kingdom. There even seems to be an origami Bowser for the player to team up with. As far as gameplay goes, a new addition seems to be the “1,000 -fold arms” ability, which gives Mario a way to manipulate objects and interact with the environment. Ideally, the 1,000-fold arms mechanic will perform the same function that partners’ overworld abilities played in previous titles.

paper mario 100-fold arms
The “1,000-fold arms” ability will allow for overworld manipulation and interaction.

I would personally love to see a return to the series core gameplay showcased in the first two titles. Playing through 64 and The Thousand-Year Door recently reminded me how Nintendo perfectly transitioned the Mario format into a fun and colorful RPG adventure. The series definitely lost an important part of its identity when it dropped the classic RPG mechanics and instead brought new elements to the series.

A battle screenshot from The Thousand Year Door

Paper Mario: Sticker Star was negatively received because of the watered-down combat system based on collecting stickers. This shift took away a lot of what made the first two games such critical hits. The change from the intuitive action-command turn-based battles of 64 and The Thousand-Year Door to battles based entirely on consumable items was universally regarded as a major step backward for the series. Color Splash did little to fix these problems and made them even worse in some areas (battle cards, anyone?).

It looks like combat in The Origami King will be focused on “rotating” lines of enemies so you can line up attacks. The announcement video does not have much battle footage, so it’s hard to tell exactly how the combat system will be set up. The reason why the sticker collecting and battle card mechanics of the last two games were negatively received is because they were the whole battle system. Combat gimmicks like those are fine, as long as they are set on a competent frame and don’t constitute all there is to fights. So hopefully, whatever new combat mechanics The Origami King brings to the table won’t be the entirety of it.

paper mario battle
Battles look like they will involve lining up enemy formations for attacks.

If one thing is for sure though, The Origami King will retain the series colorful and unique aesthetic. Even the poorly received titles had absolutely gorgeous visuals. To be honest, this is the perfect game to take advantage of the Switch’s hardware and what we have been shown looks amazing. One of my favorite aspects of the Paper Mario games has been their unique visual presentation and how the game incorporates the whole “paper” theme into the gameplay via perspective puzzles and overworld interaction. I honestly would not mind seeing the return of the 2D/3D shifting mechanics from Super Paper Mario, but maybe with some twist that takes advantage of the Switch’s motion controls.

The Switch’s hardware is perfect for Paper Mario‘s unique graphical style.

Ever since the Switch launched, fans of the series have been waiting on bated breath for a new Paper Mario title. Now we finally get to see the next chapter in the saga. I don’t know about you, but Paper Mario was one of my absolute favorite games growing up. I spent countless hours exploring the world, trying out badge combinations, and enjoying the series hilarious writing (seriously, whoever localized these games needs a huge pay raise).

Here is a wishlist of features that we hope make it into the final version of the game:

  • Classic, turn-based battle mechanics
  • No more finite items required for battle (no stickers or battle cards)
  • Funny writing. 64 , The Thousand Year Door and Super Paper Mario had hilarious English localizations.
  • Bring back the badge system, maybe with some tweaks
  • More partners with unique abilities
  • Optional sidequests, bosses and dungeons, like the Pit of 100 Trials
  • More player character than Mario. This is one area that Super Paper Mario did very well.
  • Maybe a hard mode for more serious Paper Mario fans

Given that we just have an announcement trailer, we are still waiting for more information from Nintendo. However, the title is set to release July 17, so we won’t have to wait long to get out hands on it. Let’s hope that this is the Mario-RPG for the Switch that everyone has been praying for.

Alex Bolano is a freelance writer based out of St. Louis, MO. When he isn't writing about anime, games, and gaming culture, he is probably eating mac and cheese or having a debate about the cosmology of the Elder Scrolls universe.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Brolanyo

    July 8, 2020 at 8:46 pm

    Paper Mario Origami King – let’s goooooooo!!

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