Paper Mario Color Splash is a humorous game that for the most part knows exactly what it wants to be. It’s a beautiful adventure game with beloved characters and a unique style. It also tries to be something it’s not. This is my first impression playing the new Paper Mario game for the Wii U.
Combat: Not Much Of An RPG System Anymore
All previous console Paper Mario games have been RPG’s in their battle mechanics. Color Splash still has some RPG elements, but they’re minimal.
This time around you collect cards to use as attacks in battle. Various enemies drop cards and they can be found in question blocks in levels or can be purchased at the store in the main hub town Port Prisma. Once you see an enemy on screen and you jump on them, hammer them, or run into them, you go into a battle arena where you proceed to use your cards against your enemies. The steps of battle is where it gets tedious. You pick a card and put into the attack slot on the Wii U’s game pad. Then you click card ready. Then you hold onto the card to paint it (more paint=more power). Then you click done painting. Then you flick the card forward with your finger and finally you get to attack on screen – which then, depending on what battle card you chose, time your attacks to do the most damage. Then you start the whole process over again.
First half hour I hated the system. I’m still not loving it, but you can combine the picking battle card and painting steps once you’ve unlocked the advanced touch controls option in the settings. That can be achieved midway through the first level and I highly recommend it. It speeds up the process quite a bit. The constant looking down to the game pad and then up to the TV screen can get tiresome. It’s not my favorite battle system of all time, but it isn’t the worst I’ve ever played either.
Other RPG elements of battles? None. You don’t gain levels or stats. The only thing you gain is different cards and enemies drop mini hammer items that slowly increase your overall paint total. Paint lets you color the levels to unlock secrets and power up your attacks. I like the connectivity of the paint to other aspects of the game, but feel like they missed the mark on having no levels and no other stats for Mario himself.
What’s There To Do Outside Of Combat? – Plenty
What draws me to RPG type games is the amount of things to do outside of the story and combat. Color Splash doesn’t let you down in this aspect.
What can make the combat more enjoyable is the Thing cards that are spread out throughout the world. Thing cards are exactly what they seem – things like a fan, a lemon, or a plunger. These are your ultimate attacks like summons from a Final Fantasy game. How they play out in battle is probably one of my favorite parts of the game – they are absurd, creative, and sometimes just peculiar and I love Nintendo for this choice. It feels part of the Paper Mario world even with how strange they are when used in battle with real-life backgrounds against these paper enemies.
Outside of thing cards to collect, their is the do-everything hooks for each level. Every level you enter has a percentage of paint spots that have been unlocked. In the menu it keeps track of each levels completion up to 100% and also the amount of paint stars you’ve achieved in each level. It’s a nice way to motivate you to find all the hidden parts of the level and paint them with your hammer, but it doesn’t end there.
You eventually unlock a museum that correlates with your painting progress of each level among other things. Every completed 100% painted level will help unlock audio tracks in one room of the museum. They’re other rooms dedicated to artwork – which you have to donate battle cards and Thing cards to unlock the paintings. It also keeps track of how many of each type of card you have donated. This keeps you wanting to grind for enemy cards (since they can’t be bought) to keep unlocking new artwork to view. It’s a nice extra way to keep busy other than the main story. But wow is this game’s characters and world fantastic.
A Humorous Character Driven World
Paper Mario games have always been on point with their humor. Color Splash doesn’t disappoint in anyway when it comes to its quips and jokes. From the beginning of the game when you first set foot into Prisma Port their is a crate blocking your path to the town. Toad mentions something like “Looks like someone has put a crate here and it blocks the way to town. THAT’S ORIGINAL.” The Toads are the best in this game, Huey the paint can is pretty close, but I’m all about that Toad love. The humor moments aren’t just sprinkled throughout – they come and go in a nice frequent fashion. Some might stand out more than others, but I found myself (and my wife) to be chuckling many times already.
The world of Color Splash is vivid and alive. The atmosphere of the world shines throughout the game and I’m only seven or so hours in. The characters and enemies react with the environment and vice versa. A Shy Guy gets tossed in the well detailed folding waves of a bay – it comes out soggy and soaked. This doesn’t happen in real time of course, but the developers thought through the simple things and it paid off.
Enemy types and characters can be limited and not at the same time. You’ll be running into various toads that might look similar, but Color Splash has made each of them feel unique. From scheming performers to secret ninja lovers to cafe owners who want no customers, each Toad feels different from the past one. And their are a lot of Toads so that’s saying something. Likewise for the enemies, you’ll run into the gambit of Mario enemies that we’ve seen before. The Shy Guys seems to be the most varied of the group thus far. He’ll either be sucking the paint of the environment with his straw, be soaked from water, be stacked with others (stacking bros.), or even defying physics with its exorcism like back bends – it’s a nice change of pace to find different enemy types among the ones we know and love.
Some critics have been saying the story is unremarkable and bland. Sure this is Mario saving someone again, this time a town instead of Princess Peach. To me story in infused by its characters and the world they exist in. Color Splash is far from bland when it comes to these two points. This might be the best looking Wii U game to date and it helps feel like this is something special. Is the story unremarkable? Yeah it’s probably not going to deviate from what you expect from a Mario game, but that’s exactly the point – its a Mario game. I come for the fun factor and for the humor in the Paper Series and Color Splash does not disappoint in those aspects.
I’m enjoying the game and so is the wife. At the end of the day that’s all we can ask for when playing through a game. If it’s fun, you keep playing.
Will you be checking out Paper Mario Color Splash? Or have you already been playing it?
Until next time,