May 22, 2022

Paper Mario: The Origami King – Nintendo Switch Review

Once again, Mario must come to the aid of the mushroom kingdom. This time however, it is not threatening the 2D inhabitants, but Olly; the self-styled Origami King. You’re joined in your quest by Olivia and a host of side characters as you fight to destroy Olly’s streamers and free the castle and those inside.
This content was reviewed playing a purchased copy.

Setting & Music

Throughout the game Mario and friends will encounter about ten different areas. Each of these are very different from one another, as you might expect from a Mario game. However, none of them feel particularly out of place despite the differences. Once unlocked, they are all easily accessible through a warp pipe system so you can come and go as you please. And this is particularly handy due to the open world sections as opposed to traditional Mario games.

These Paper environments are hardly flat however. Developer Intelligent Systems have really created some beautiful locations, and are stylised so they will hold up for many years to come. Each area will have a good number of hidden secrets or areas to explore giving various collectables and rewards.

Finally, the music. Often overlooked in games, Origami King gives some twists on classic tunes, and adds many new ones. Each area had its own unique music that was very well done and really added to the atmosphere.

Overall, the Setting and music in Origami King was fantastic. There were areas I liked more, and less, but there was something enjoyable in all of them.

Chestnut Valley was a favourite with its beautiful visuals and fantastic theme

Gameplay

Unlike traditional Mario games, Origami King features a puzzle-battle system. Mario is at the centre of concentric circles that can be rotated and moved to line up enemies. You’re given the option to attack enemies in a line, or in a block of four if you want an attack multiplier. There is nothing wrong with this battle system, and it is the first time I’ve seen something like this. However it isn’t….fun…..I would purposely go out of my way to avoid a fight, and find myself irritated if dragged into one.

After a while, you’ll level up and become able to jump on or smack low level enemies and defeat them without the need for a battle. Unfortunately there’s no way of telling which enemies you can defeat outright. And so, once again, I avoided wherever possible.

One thing that isn’t avoidable are the boss fights, where Mario must work his way towards the centre of the arena instead of out. These were rare enough that they weren’t too bad and provided a nice spin on the puzzle-battle.

Outside of the combat system Origami King is very good. It tasks you with filling in holes in the world, hitting boxes and finding Toads. Ah, the Toads….I’m not one for collectables, but finding where they had been folded was enjoyable. As well as the collectables there were a number of mini-games that were welcome additions. But the best part was exploring each area and uncovering the secrets.

Paragoombas and Shyguys lined up to be hammered and stomped

Characters

Mario is not normally alone in his adventures, and Olivia is the driving force of the quest this time. She acts as a guide through the story and is a useful source of hints should you get stuck. Her and the other supporting characters are all useful and likable in their own ways. And although they don’t make many changes to the game, they often act as a catalyst to progress.

The Origami King himself is a rather 2D character (ha!), with little real menace or motive. That being said Neither does Bowser in the other Mario games. Whereas Olly might not be that memorable, scattered throughout the game you’ll encounter a number of enemy characters having a drink. They’ll give you some more insight of what it’s like to be one of Bowser’s many goons. These are nice touches that allow you to see the lives behind your enemies.

Overall, although the main enemy and his folded soldiers were forgetable. The side characters are enjoyable to play through with and a few show some really unexpected character development.

Paper Mario Origami King - All Coffee Shop Scenes - YouTube
Mario and foes enjoying a cuppa

Story

The story, as with most other games is to rescue Peach, her castle and the people trapped and/or folded. It’s a pretty standard story for a Mario game. That being said I was happy with it staying, after all, it is a Mario game, and you kind of know what you get.

One thing that did not become apparent was who this was aimed at. A lot of the storytelling was very hand-holdy, indicative of a child-friendly game. However a number of the mechanics and some of the ‘voice’ lines were not aimed at children (though amusing). This lead me to furiously tap skip during some superflous conversations. But younger gamers might end up becoming lost or confused due to the mechanics.

Overview

Paper Mario: The Origami King is a beautiful and fun world to play in that’s let down by a mediocre combat system. That being said it is well worth picking up to see what the Mushroom kingdom holds in its charming 40 hour story.

Paper Mario: Origami King provides far more songs than previously expected

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A brilliant game held back by a mediocre battle system
  • 8.5/10
    Overall - 8.5/10
8.5/10

Summary

+ Beautiful Environments

+ Enjoyable Exploration

+ Good Characters

– Tedious Battle System

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