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Review: Paper Mario – The Origami King (Switch) ~ Fold And Turn

Official websiteWikipedia entry

2020 is quite a strange year. Back in May, we got a trailer for this game and to everybody’s surprise, the game dropped a few weeks later. The game has been out for around a month now and I have finished the game a few days ago. So, I want to talk about this game. Especially, since some people are quite curious how this game holds up compared to the previous entries in the series. The two previous entries in the series weren’t that well received, so will this game “save the series” or will it divide the fanbase even further like Color Splash? Let’s take a look at the game while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Fold The World

So, the story starts a bit similar to Sticker Star. A festival is held in the (paper) Mushroom Kingdom and something goes horribly wrong. In this case, the princess is converted to origami and suddenly, you meet an evil origami character called Olly that wants to fold the whole world to origami.

In your journey to save Princess Peach and save the Mushroom Kingdom from certain destruction, you team up with the sister of the evil origami character called Oliva. She is able to grant you special powers that aid Mario in his quest.

To avoid spoiling the whole game or sections of it, I’m going to try to keep story explanations to a minimum. But, I do want to give my honest opinion of the story. The writing and the dialogues are pretty good, the pacing is excellent as well. I barely felt that any sections were filler or padding. But, the story isn’t thrilling at all.

The structure of the story is somewhat like the Pokémon anime series. Just replace the gym badges with the streamers and you have the structure of the story in this game. Barely any of the characters, apart from the main duo, of course, go from one section to another.

The next point I want to bring up with the story is that it’s a bit too predictable in my eyes. I can’t pinpoint exactly why but I felt that I experienced this whole story somewhere before or that I had seen the arcs. I think that the main issue with this game is that it barely does anything creative story-wise.

Does this game have a bad story? Well, yes and no. Apart from the predictability and the “safeness” of the whole story, the charm of the story is so great. I have a few ideas that could have improved the story. The first thing is the world-building, I felt that wasn’t done enough. For example, you have an area called “Picnic Road”. Why o why are there no picnic benches? I mean, one of the previous areas had a whole barbeque setup…

The second suggestion I have is that there could have been a bit more side stories. A great example is with Luigi. Side-arcs, side quests, or just things to explore on the side. I know that you can free toads, fill in Not-Bottomless Holes but in most cases, those don’t affect the story that much.

It almost feels that the developers just cut out several sections to improve the flow or the pacing but with that, they also cut out too much. Sometimes a bit of padding or filler doesn’t hurt.

Oh, and before I go to the next section, I usually talk about the voice acting and voice work right after the story. And I can finish my opinion quite fast. That’s something where I think they could have done more but on the other hand, the animations are so good during dialogues that the very little voice work is “replaced” if that makes sense.

Turn Your Way To Victory

One of the biggest criticisms of the previous two entries in the Paper Mario series was the battle system. The games before those had an RPG style battle system. Then in Sticker Star and Color Splash, we got more of a sort of puzzle system.

I think it would make this review too long if I start to analyze the flaws of the two previous battle systems. For the sake of going forward, let’s focus on the battle system of this game. There is no real RPG-style battle system in this game. But, something that does return somewhat is the buddies from previous games. Now, before you get too excited, the buddies just provide a chance of an attack after you finished yours. And that’s it.

Before I talk about the puzzle battle system, I do want to mention a huge improvement compared to the previous two titles. At certain moments, you can find a health improvement. Besides having more HP, these improvements have other implications on the mechanics of the game. For example, after a few upgrades, I was able to just jump or hit these Goomba’s with my hammer and I didn’t have to go into battle. The only downside is that you don’t get all your coins like you would have defeated them in the puzzle battle. But, it does save your weapons for each little encounter.

Speaking about weapons, I barely had any problem with those. At the start of the game, I just stocked up on weapons and healing items and I do have to say, I barely had to go to the shops in the game to stock up on items. The game is quite generous with items to use in battle. A bit too generous for my liking.

The game is a bit too easy. Apart from some scripted sequences, I barely saw the ‘game over’ screen. Also, quite rarely, I felt challenged during the battles. Even when I was unable to solve the puzzle in front of me, I was almost always able to beat the enemies with relative ease.

Now, what is this “puzzle battle” I’m talking about? Well, if you look at the screenshot a bit higher, you might notice that Mario is in a battle area with four rings. Your goal is to line up the enemies in a line or in a group of 2 by 2. You can do that by either rotating a ring or move planed vertically.

In order for you to solve the puzzle, you have a limited amount of moves and time. But, here is where some amazing game design shines through. During the adventure, you can buy various items that give you more time, health and defense during battles. You can enable or disable all of these items in the pause menu. On top of that, you can invest your coins in more time or cheering. Now, what is cheering? Well, that means you can invite the Toads you have rescued during the adventure to aid you in healing or solving the puzzle in front of you. The only moment where the Toads don’t solve the puzzle is during the boss battles. But more on that in a minute. So, if you find the game too easy, you can challenge yourself more by disabling all these support items and not cheering or buying more time during battles.

So, do you HAVE to solve the puzzles to be able to attack the enemies? Oh no, you don’t have to. It just gives you an attack bonus that can one-shot most enemies. Otherwise, you have to rely on your partner or block the attacks and try again. Also, just like the previous games, when you time your button press correctly during the attack, you do more damage to your enemies.

I could talk more in-depth about the battle system but I want to avoid that this review gets too long. So, I’m going to link you to an interesting article of a great blogging buddy of mine Adventure Rules, who talks a bit more in-depth on the battle system on his blog. Be warned, there are some spoilers in his article. (And yes, I know that he is going to read this article… And no, the fact that I’m shouting him out here has nothing to do with it… Maybe… Maybe not. 😉 )

Now, let’s talk boss battles. These battles are the highlight of the game for me. The sheer creativity in these battles is just amazing. Each boss throws a unique challenge your way that changes up the battlefield or the way you have to solve the puzzle. It’s really amazing stuff. I’m not going to talk more in-depth about it to avoid spoilers but I found myself saying out loud, several times, “wow, this is creative and unique.”.

Speaking about creativity, I’m still surprised at the huge amount of different puzzles in this game. Rarely I had similar or the same puzzle during the game and if there were, I barely noticed. I always had to think about how to line up those enemies to win.

Stardance

This review is getting quite long and I have only talked about the story and the battle mechanics. There is still so much to talk about in this rather enjoyable game. For starters, let’s talk about the Starman Theme in this game. I’m just blown away by the amazing remix that has heavy metal influences and electronic influences.

And the rest of the soundtrack, my lord. These tracks are just amazing. I think that this game might have my favorite soundtrack of 2020. If the soundtrack ever comes out on CD, you can be sure that I’ll add that to my collection. The soundtrack is even part of my playlist when I’m writing or games like Minecraft. Now, the sound design of this game is equally as well done as the soundtrack.

Overall, this game is visually quite impressive. In very rare cases, I found that some textures weren’t the best or that the scene had a tad bit too much lighting, but I think that most players won’t notice the moments that I noticed as a hobbyist critic.

The theming of the areas are quite well done as well. So yes, the visual presentation of this game is something to enjoy. It really shows the power of the Nintendo Switch in my opinion. The art style is also quite consistent, vibrant, and colorful. Couple that with great animations and you have a great and smooth running game. Speaking of smoothness, the only time I noticed some slowdown was during the loading of some battles.

The UI of this game is extremely well done. The only minor complaint I have is that you can’t change your weapons during a battle, but that isn’t such a big issue because you just need to remember to swap your weapons after a battle.

One thing I loved in this game is the mechanics in place to help players who have trouble with the game. The electronic manual is quite easily accessible and on top of that, there is a training area for when you need to practice your timings to hit enemies and such.

In most of this review, I have been praising this game and pointing out some minor flaws. To end off this review, let me talk about some things that I didn’t really like. The first thing is the overall running speed, I found that a tad bit too slow. After seeing how fast you can go to the Boot Car or on the ship, I found it a shame that there was no run button. That’s the biggest complaint I have about the controls.

The other issue I have with the controls is that it sometimes was a bit too tricky to hit some enemies with the hammer. But I think that the issue is that you are unable to interrupt the animation and most of the time I wished that I was faster with my hammer because I barely missed the enemy.

A nitpick I have about filling the Not-Bottomless Pits, I found that sometimes it was a bit too tricky to get in the right position to fully cover the hole with confetti. Thankfully, this problem occurred maybe two or three times in the whole game.

One of the biggest irritations in this game is how the bells work. You can buy three bells, one for hidden Toads, one for treasure, and one for hidden blocks. They ring when one of those is close, but I can’t tell the radius of those rings. Especially now when I’m trying to find some parts I have missed during my main playthrough.

But my biggest disappointment is the lack of a completion reward and post-game content. There is barely any post-game content to find and the completion reward is just a 5-second extended ending that changes barely anything. Oh, yes. You get a gold star instead of a silver star on your profile.

And with that said, I have said almost everything I wanted to say about this game. I did leave certain things out of this review because I wanted you to have some surprises when you play this game. So yeah, it’s time for the conclusion.

Wrapping up

The bad:

-The bells can be a bit irritating.

-There is no post-game/completion reward.

-The walking speed can be a bit slow.

-Overall, the game is too easy. You have to create the challenge yourself.

The good:

+ Charming story (even when there was more that could have been done with it)

+ Amazing soundtrack.

+ Creative puzzles and battle mechanics.

+ …

Final thoughts:

It’s quite possible that you will see this game on my top 10 games of 2020 list. This game came out of nowhere and really blew me away. I was expecting an “okay” or a fine game but I was blown away. I can understand that Paper Mario veterans expected more out of this game, but I don’t think we are going to get an RPG Paper Mario in the near future.

I think that this game took major steps in the right direction of an enjoyable adventure game. I enjoyed my time with this game and I can recommend this game to everybody who enjoys adventure and/or puzzle games.

The biggest flaw of the game is that there is just a major lack of depth. There is so much more that could have been done and the game is over after 20-25 hours of gameplay. But, these 20-25 hours are quite enjoyable.

But this game gives me high hopes for the next Paper Mario game. Since if this is the direction that they are taking with the series, I’m carefully optimistic about the series again. While there is a very vocal veteran fanbase that wants the old school style of Paper Mario back, I think that is better suited for the Mario & Luigi series. I think that Paper Mario is better suited for games like this. But, that might be just me, I still have to beat the original Paper Mario trilogy.

But, I’m trying to see this game apart from the whole series that it originated from. And when I look at this game as a standalone game, I’m quite impressed with the game. Compared to the two previous games, this game makes a ton of improvements that make the game more enjoyable and entertaining to play.

Any with that said, I want to thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Score: 85/100

First Impression: Paper Mario – Color Splash (Wii U) ~ A Quick Paintjob Should Fix It.

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Official website

So, last week, I bought this game. I tried to avoid as many spoilers as I could. After I play most of Paper Mario Sticker Star, I was rather curious what the next game in the Paper Mario series had in store for me. When I came home, I set up my Wii U and popped the game in. And then I started playing and I started to take notes. And with these notes, I’m now writing this first impression. But what do I think about it? Is this game any good? Should people buy it? Is it a better game than the mediocre-received Sticker Star on 3DS? Well, I’m going to tell you my opinion about it, so I hope you are ready. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Paint the world

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 Finally, a story that doesn’t start with Princess Peach being kidnapped in any way sort or form. This game starts with Peach and Toad going to Mario’s house during a storm. She brings a Toad that’s drained of its color. On the blank paper Toad, there a postage stamp that leads the gang to Prims Island. Here you discover that somebody is stealing the color from the world. After you meet a living paint bucket named Huey, your adventure starts to find the missing and stolen paint stars while also restoring the world’s color.

So far, the story in this game is rather enjoyable and light-hearted. I love the humor in this game and the writing is top-notch. While I could see that some people who have liked that some characters had a bit more development, I don’t mind it that much.

Something that really helps the story is the world design. For some reason, I’m drawn into this world. The setup of the story that you need to color certain areas of the world is just very interesting to me. But more on that later in this article.

Cardboard and effort

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I’m quite sure I’m not the only review who is going to say this, but this game is eye-candy. Sometimes I put my gamepad down and look at the game. This game is beautifully crafted from cardboard and cardboard boxes. It looks like an art project that came to life.

Also, the game knows how paper works. It flies away in the wind and you can roll it up amongst various other things. Also, the animation in this game is very well done as well. Take this screenshot for example. You see Mario running from the road that’s getting up. This scene is pretty early in the game but it’s one of the most memorable scenes in the game so far.

So far, I have played 5-6 areas. All of them had a certain theming. Also, all of them were as beautifully crafted as all the other ones. It really shows that the developers really put a lot of effort into the visual presentation of this game.

In any case, I think it’s time to talk about the music in this game. The soundtrack of this game is lovely. It even has some remixes of old-school Mario games. Now, pulling on the nostalgia strings; that’s something I really like! Like the vibrant presentation, the soundtrack is really upbeat. If you like Nintendo / Mario soundtracks, this one is worth a listen.

Now, the sound design is pretty good as well. It’s another element that helps bring the game to life. This game has almost no voice acting. Apart from some samples for the Toads. So, yeah, thanks to the sound design the character’s emotions shine through. To give one example.

Oh, now that we are talking about the presentation of this game, I would like to talk about the UI. The UI is decent. I would have made a few changes. One of them is that the options menu is more accessible. It’s a bit too buried to my liking.

And the final thing I want to say about the game’s presentation is that the digital manual of this game really takes me back to old school paper manuals. If you have this game, seriously, give it a look. It’s worth your time.

Battlecards and such

paper_mario_color_splash_1.jpg

 Ah, I’m forgetting to talk about the controls. So, they are pretty good. I had some minor issues with them, but nothing worth talking about in an article. For example, one or two times, my attack didn’t really land even while I pressed the attack button right on time. Also, the fact that you have to color the cards and after that swipe them to use them is just pretty annoying. But I got used to it.

So, I have avoided talking about it for long enough. How does this game play? Well, you have two styles in this game. The exploration and the battle segments.

Let’s start with the battle segments first. I have already talked about the control issues I have, so I won’t repeat that now. So, the battle system is really similar to Sticker Star. The only difference is that you have battle cards instead of stickers. Also, these battle cards aren’t that easy to find in the world.

A big flaw, in my opinion, is that it’s rather annoying to find the card you want to attack the enemy. Since they are all displayed in a horizontal fashion. The stickers were easier presented in Sticker Star!

In this game, there is something that makes the battles more interesting. In the world, you find blank cards. If you have enough paint, you can paint the cards to do more damage. But that reminds me of another issue I have with the battle system. And that’s that you can’t really choose on which enemy to aim your attack. If that feature is in the game, I’m looking over it.

Before I ramble too much about it, the battle system is flawed yet enjoyable. It’s interesting but I can understand why it puts people off. It can be annoying to back to the world map in the middle of a level so you can go to the shop to buy some new cards and etc. It could use a bit more polish, but the concept itself is interesting to me. It’s almost like PP in Pokémon.

In any case, I still want to talk about the exploration part of this game. So far, I’m enjoying myself. It’s a blast to run around in the beautiful world presented to me in this game. There are various side activities you can do to earn various rewards. Also, in most levels, you can try and pick up the stars in any order you like. Also, looking for the spots to color back in is fun. It’s also the basis for most puzzles in this game.

But I think I’ll go more in-depth about the exploration gameplay in the review. (If I ever write it) Otherwise, take it from me, the charm of the world fits the exploration gameplay perfectly. And with an interesting story, you can’t go wrong!

In conclusion, so far, the only big flaw is that the battle system has some annoying flaws. Flaws that could have been fixed by more battle card shops and a better way to sort and display your cards. If you can look past that, I honestly think that this game is worthy of a purchase. Otherwise, wait for a sale.

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to welcome you in another article on my blog, but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

NekoJonez’s October 2016 update

SpartaSo, quite a lot is happening lately. And I honestly think it’s time to update you guys and girls. Since there are a few things I want to talk about on my blog but don’t really fit into a gaming article. We are nearing the final moments of 2016 and I have to say, time really flies. While we have two and a half months to go, this year has been quite an adventure. A lot has happened that made my life more exciting. So, be ready for an update with a lot of good and some bad news. And at the end of the article, I’ll reveal what game I’ll be writing about next week! So stay tuned.

My desktop issues

Warning: this part of the article can be a bit PC tech-heavy. I’ll indicate when I stop talking IT. Since, give or take, ten days ago, my desktop started to act up. I was playing Bioshock Infinite again, and suddenly my screen goes black and when I look towards my desktop, I noticed that it had shut down. After a few seconds, it reboots. My desktop can easily handle Bioshock Infinite on very high settings. Since my rig is better than the recommend specs for the game. So, since that crash, my sound jacks refuse to play sound.

I have reinstalled drivers from the official website and the CD that came with my motherboard, and nothing helps. To make things even stranger, when I connect a HDMI cable on my graphics card, the speakers of my monitor are able to play the sound. So, I honestly think that my sound chip on my motherboard hasn’t died since it can pass sound to my graphics card and so to my monitor. But when I try to record the sound of my speakers with using Stereo Mix, Audacity can’t pick up any sound. At all. So, I’m totally confused.

Since the reboot of my PC was caused by my graphics card. So, how can it cause the sound chip to misbehave? Also, I have reinstalled Windows and checked the cables on my motherboard and checked my motherboard for damage; I can’t find the cause. Thankfully, there are very cheap fixes for this issue. There are USB-sticks that can act as a sort of external sound card. I bought one for 20€ and I got the same sound quality as I got from my chip on my motherboard.

But that wasn’t the end of my problems. So, for some reason, games I was able to run flawlessly like Rise Of The Tomb Raider, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and Bioshock Infinite now shuts down my PC after a few minutes (most of the time less than 5 minutes) of gameplay and then reboot it. And to make things even stranger, when I play older games, I have no issue at all. But hey, I’m trying to look for a solution. So, I can play new PC games again, so I can talk about them on my blog. I hope I find a fix soon, without having to buy new parts. End technical talking.

So, the TL;DR, ten days ago: Bioshock Infinite crashed my whole PC. A game I’m supposed to be able to run on ultra settings. After it has rebooted, my sound chip started to act up to the point of me buying a USB external soundcard to have sound and mic stuff again. But, now I have a problem with high demanding games. I was able to play them, but now after less than 5 minutes of gameplay, my PC shuts down and reboots.

The reason why I talk about this is if you read this and you have an idea what could be the cause, feel free to get in touch with me. I would love to hear possible solutions I can try. Thanks in advance!

So, what will the rest of 2016 bring?

So, this last week was a special week for me. I won’t go into details on my blog here but the people who know me personally know what I’m talking about. To make a long story short: besides writing, blogging and gaming, I have another hobby. And that is being a part of a theater group. We wrote a play ourselves, and beyond all expectations of everybody, it was very successful. So, we got the opportunity to play it for schools. This was a very interesting experience. Sadly enough, we performed the play for the last time yesterday. Anyways, enough about that. I want to focus now on what 2016 will still bring for my blog.

Now, my schedule is still pretty filled up with activities and evening classes & work. I honestly hope that I don’t need to cancel too many articles.

While I have to admit that I have been playing games I have already reviewed and talked about in the past couple weeks, I have also played games I’m going to review in the next couple of weeks. In the past few weeks, I have also been playing games I have started and still need to finish.

Also, I have received a few interesting e-mails in my inbox that can possibly turn into articles. I’m really sorry to the people who mailed me in the last two months for the late replies but I had a very busy schedule.

So, what have I planned for 2016? Well, I have been thinking about some console and handheld games I still have to review and talk about on my blog. I have been considering to use the rest of 2016 to write about games I have played in the past but I haven’t reviewed yet. Or to talk about a game from a series I haven’t talked about yet. Like last week’s article. I have talked about so many Zelda games, but one of the most important Zelda games to me, I haven’t talked about yet. But, I fixed that last week with talking about the Phantom Hourglass game.

Before I close off, I want to reveal the game I’ll write about next week. And that’ll be a first impression article about Paper Mario Color Splash. And I have the game for the week after that also in my mind. So, I’m working on two articles at the moment. So, stay tuned for that!

In any case, I think I said everything I said everything I wanted to say in this update blog. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. If you know anything that might help me fix my desktop, feel free to leave a comment/tweet me or mail me. I also hope you are interested in next week’s article. Until I may welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!