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This game is so underappreciated. Just look at the garbage review on this very site. My niece linked to a good writeup from someone on Tumblr about it:
Super Paper Mario
While the focus of this blog is going to be indie games, I can't ignore the wondrously unique experience that is Super Paper Mario.
Many passed this entry in the series over, seeing it as too derivative of the Mario platformers, and damning it for straying from the RPG elements of the previous Paper Mario games. But believe me, the game feels the same way that you do.
At times, Super Paper Mario feels like a hate letter to the game industry. The game hates that it is confined to the shell of a platformer for the sake of selling copies, and frequently breaks as many cliches as it possibly can. The mechanic of turning the 2D planes into 3D ones is barely even the icing on the cake.
The screenshot above is from a section which parodies visual novels, actually calling out sexist and elitist male gamers for their sense of entitlement.
There is an area where you literally have to run in place for a number of minutes. The game makes you think that there is some way around this. The game wants you to get angry at it. The game WANTS you to think "there's no way this is actually what I'm supposed to be doing."¯ But it is.
The plot is easily the darkest the Mario universe has ever seen and contains some of the most clever and empathetic villains I have ever encountered in fiction. To drive this post home without spoiling anything, I will simply tell you that there is an area where THIS is the only audio.
There are certainly sections where you won't be having fun. There are sections where the developers don't want you to be having fun. But if you never gave Super Paper Mario a chance, I can guarantee it is nothing like you expected. It is one of the most interesting commentaries on video games I've ever seen, and it came from the franchise that inspired some of the most derivative works out there. Unique is an understatement.
Well said and I hope people here gave this one a chance.
@TheOldManFromZelda Same here. Yes, a few scenes dragged on a bit too long, but it's a game that I really enjoyed. I keep meaning to go back and rreplay it, but I kinda doubt that will happen anytime soon.
I liked it okay. The overall plot and characters were fun enough, and it had some solid humor. But the moment-to-moment gameplay was pretty dull, I thought. It was a half-measure of platformer with a half-measure of puzzle, neither especially satisfying to me.
@nate38@canonj This is about what I feel as well, except I think the helper characters were lame.
I think one thing that would help this game is if all characters could flip into 3D, not just Mario. It's a neat mechanic but I don't think it was used as effectively as it could have been.
That copied post above that mentions the game wanting you to get mad at it, I never thought about it before but that could be true. This game has a weird story to it, I kind of wonder if Intelligent Systems at the time were upset about the industry. Or maybe even Nintendo, since I believe this game started out as a GCN game and then moved to Wii. Or maybe they were upset that the GameCube didn't sell well. So many possibilities of what influenced them to make this game, I wonder what the story is behind it...
I agree too. Putting aside what I personally wanted from a Paper Mario 3 and accepting Super Paper Mario on its own terms, it's disappointing in every regard. The pace is too slow, the levels aren't fun to explore, the 3D mechanic just means you have to walk through the same bland environment twice. The game has its moments of charm, but they are surrounded with dull, monotonous gameplay. I remember hearing such cool things about this game, such as the Dimentio's shocking manipulation of the villains or the fact that Mario canonically dies in this game. And that stuff is cool, but I struggle to remember a lot of the game. This is particularly bad because I just beat this game last December. Most of my time spent actually playing the game I was just bored or mildly irritated. And in some ways that's worse than being terrible. If something is horrible at least it can get some sort of emotion or feeling from me. Super Paper Mario just falls into this weird inbetween space where I can't enjoy it on its own terms, but I'm not offended by it's existence either.
I will, however, say that the ending did make me kind of emotional, even if I can't quite remember what happened. I also really liked the part with the plants controlling the cave people. Walking through the hall dedicated to past kings and queens of the plants was really neat. That chapter was reminiscent of Earthbound in the way that it contrasted dark and creepy concepts with a bright and welcoming initial appearance.
My problem was that the platforming was boring. I can't recall many instances in which I feel shifting perspectives is put to clever use. It would have been fine if the game didn't move at such a plodding pace or if the levels were more enjoyable to complete.
I was extremely excited for this game and I remember eagerly awaiting this awesome wii game. I had a great time playing it and I feel it was very under appreciated (much like Paper Mario Sticker Star). It seems a lot of people do not want a Paper Mario that is not an RPG like the first two.
@Hero_Of_Hyrule@Jargon Yeah the platforming wasn't great per se but I'm not sure it is really a platformer. It is tough to put a finger on what the core appeal is I suppose? Just kind of messing around with the fun 2D / 3D mechanics, solving some puzzles, some weird and wacky dialog, and some ok platforming.
It's definitely an uneven experience, but I think it's really worth playing. I find the way it trolls the player to be hilarious and bold.
The only problem is that the challenge is so freaking low. I always say this, but if the difficulty of the whole game was on the level of the Pit of 100 Trials, it would be outstanding. As it is, the combat system (including items and such) is almost unnecessary. Like some modern Zelda games, the design doesn't demand or even really encourage that you master it.