How’s your week going? We’re hoping pretty well. Us? Oh, we’re just about ready to fold, but this time that’s a good thing! Paper Mario: The Origami King arrives this Friday and we’ve surprised ourselves with just how keen we are to shave off an entire dimension and slip into this paper-thin yet temptingly rich world. The Paper Mario games may have left us scrunched up with disappointment in the past, but here are five reasons we think Paper Mario: The Origami King could craft a clean sheet of fun for the series.
5 reasons we can’t wait to craft some fun in Paper Mario: The Origami King
1. New tactics in the battle ring
When it comes to battle systems, the Paper Mario series has been a bit hit-and-miss. Those who hold the original game and The Thousand-Year Door in high esteem found recent entries like Sticker Star and Color Splash – to put it lightly – a touch lackluster. The Origami King isn’t returning the old way of doing things, but the new ring-based battles already have us far more interested in bopping goomba heads with our boots.
Battle takes place on a circular arena, with enemies planting themselves on concentric rings around our main man Mario. At the opening to each fight you’ll be given a short period of time to rotate and slide the rings, shifting the position of the enemies to line them up for the attack styles of your equipped weapons. The effect is to create a tense puzzle at the opening to each and every fight. You’ll still be able to do battle if you mess up, but it can mean the difference between taking all your enemies down at once, or suffering some hits in the process.
The ring battle system is like nothing we’ve seen before, and this time around it doesn’t seem like a throwaway gimmick. If each fight can offer the satisfaction of puzzle completion prior to combat, then it could be our favorite fighting method yet.
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2. Cut out companions
No, don’t worry, we’d never suggest the Paper Mario series give its companions the snip. Rather, we’re in love with the cut of these new ones! Yellow origami newcomer Olivia is the main companion joining Mario in The Origami King. She’s the sister of villain Olly, and is capable of transforming into giant origami beasts to assist Mario with puzzles and battles.
Olivia isn’t the only friendly face you’ll encounter, either. So far Nintendo has shown off a few new characters including Bobby the forgetful bob-omb and – our personal favorite – Professor Toad, an expert in ancient history. Unwilling to see their villain role usurped, Bowser Jr and his pops will also lend Mario their aid, as will their crafty wizard minion, Kamek.
Your partner of choice will join Mario as he wanders the land, able to help out with a range of puzzles and weigh in on the events occurring, usually in comedic fashion. It looks like they’ll have less impact in combat than in previous titles; a shame, but Nintendo seems keen for them to play a bigger role in the story, which is arguably more important.
3. Toad cheer squad
Typically the only person cheering us on during a tense battle is our fiancee, and even that’s limited to the rare times that the action is thrilling enough to hold their attention. Paper Mario: The Origami King understands our desperate desire for constant support and approval, which is where the Toad cheer squad comes in.
Hidden throughout the levels as a form of collectible, these calamity-bound Mushroomhead’s can be rescued by Mario. Once free they’ll join the stands during any major battle Mario faces, cheering from the background, calling out helpful bits of advice for the enemy you face, and sometimes even getting involved in the action. Thanks guys, you just get me.
4. The Legion of Stationary boss battles
Ahh stationary, the mortal enemy of the humble, unblemished paper. What, you didn’t realise you were assaulting that sheet each time you came at it with colored pencils or sticky tape and scissors? Well this time around, the Paper realm is fighting back. Boss fights throughout Paper Mario: The Origami King will see our dungareed darling tackling the might of real-world items such as a towering bundle of rubber bands, or a pack of seven pencils.
During these fights, Mario is booted out from center stage, instead finding a path across the rings to strike at each boss’ weak point. Too long has your reign of terror lasted, Legion of Stationary, we’ll show you how to move on!
5. Exciting environments!
Paper Mario: Color Splash’s different worlds were a little uninspired when it came to environment design, despite an art style that was by no means ugly. The Origami King has taken its theme and rolled with it in gorgeous style.
Brought to life in papercraft, we’ll get to visit a relaxing autumnal mountain, tricksy ninja castle and psychedelic desert oasis among several other locales. Even Princess Peach’s castle looks brilliant when wrought in Origami. The environments of The Origami King look inventive, fun and, crucially, like places we actually want to explore. Now we just have to hope that they live up to their looks with creative gameplay too!
Are you excited for Paper Mario: The Origami King? Let us know what’s got you creased with excitement – is that a phrase? Paper Mario: The Origami King releases July 17 on Nintendo Switch.
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Henry Stenhouse was formerly a Ph.D. physicist before being born anew in the fires of game journalism. An unashamed Super Smash Bros. fanatic, he’s still waiting for the rest of the editorial team to accept his daily challenges for an Ultimate showdown. Other genres of interest include FPS, RTS, and western RPGs. You can follow him on Twitter at @Fernoface