Finally! Paper Mario Color Splash! I’m a big fan of the long running Paper Mario series so you can imagine how cool it was being one of the first people to play the full game. As excited as I was though, I also had my doubts. This is a series that started out fairly strong, but slowly drifted to the back burner over the years. Not to say Paper Mario isn’t a great series but instead, vastly underrated or (in my opinion) overlooked. But now, on the verge of the Wii U’s end we finally have our new Paper Mario and all of the beautiful HD awesomeness that comes with it.
The story begins when Paper Mario and Princess Peach receive an envelope that turns out to be a colorless Toad (which is pretty much the equivalent of sending a dead body in the mail in the this world, so yeah…). Mario recognizes the stamp and traces it back to a place called Prism Island. Curious about the mysterious parcel, they set sail hoping to find some clues that will help them track down the horrible person that sent them this lifeless, colorless Toad.
From the moment you start Color Splash you can tell it’s going to be a gorgeous game. I would compare it to the likes of Yoshi’s Woolley World, but instead of yarn it’s different kinds of paper. So much detail and thought went into making this flat world come to life. Not to mention this is the first HD Paper Mario game, and it looks amazing! There are so many textures and different types of paper being used that it actually feels real at times.
When Mario first arrives in Port Prisma he discovers rather quickly that something is definitely not right here. The streets are deserted and the color is missing is numerous areas, leaving bland white spots where vibrant color used to be. After investigating a bit more he discovers a lone paint can named Huey. Huey explains to Mario and Peach that Prism Island has been robbed of its precious paint stars and he must restore them! Mario figures this could lead to clues about the colorless Toad so they agree to team up and look for the paint stars together. As you delve deeper into the mystery of Prism Island the story slowly unfolds and you find out how this whole catastrophe really happened.
Paper Mario Color Splash follows in the footsteps of previous games in the series, in terms of gameplay. You’ll be doing plenty of exploring and battling various enemies along the way. This time around instead of a big open world to wander around in, the island is broke up into levels. To progress to the next level you have to collect a mini paint star. Each level has 1-3 mini paint stars and when you collect one it opens up a new level (or area) on your map. After you’ve collected all of the necessary mini paint stars in an area it will lead to a level that contains a big paint star. Each level is a world in itself, some are big and some are on the smaller side, but each has something unique to offer. You’ll be revisting some of the levels quite a few times in order to find items you need. Sometimes it’s a bit if a hassle but it can be fun hunting for clues and asking around for info. There is also the wonderful presence of comedy that this series is known for. Dialogue that’s equipped with fun quirky humor and inside jokes and Nintendo/movie references that will have you laughing from beginning to end.
During this colorful adventure Mario’s main weapon is the Paint Hammer. Every time you hit something with it, a bit of paint will splat out. You can use it to hit colorless spots and restore the color to each level. If you fill in every colorless spot in a level, a gold flag will appear next to it on the map. So for all of the completionist’ out there this is just one of the many things to accomplish. It feels rather fun to paint things. I don’t know why but I looked forward to going into a new area and restoring it’s color. It’s like that weird satisfaction when you peel dried glue off of something.
The paint in Mario’s hammer is not infinite. Hitting tree’s, grass, flowers, blocks, enemies, etc. with a normal whack from the hammer will supply you with paint droplets that will restore your paint meter. It’s hard to run out if you utilize the environment the right way. You also need to make sure you have paint when battling or you wont be able to paint your cards. Instead of gaining experience points after defeating an enemy you get little hammer tokens (which I wracked up pretty quickly). Getting enough of these will expand the paint hammer’s meter allowing you to carry more paint. It’s a really fun, interactive weapon.
Battling is fun, and different using the battle cards. Instead of simply jumping on an enemy you would choose a normal jump card. After you’ve chosen the card you want to use, you have to paint it. The more paint you use on a card the stronger your attack is. After choosing and painting your card you then fling it up towards the screen, that’s when the action begins. A big part of battling is being able to perform the action commands during an attack. So, let’s say your normal jump card is in play. Mario will walk over and jump on the enemies head. Right before he lands the attack you can press A and get another attack in. If your timing is right you can successfully jump on the enemy numerous times. It’s all about the timing though. There are also TONS of battle cards and all of them require a different technique when using the action command so you need to master each one in order to get the full potential out of the attack. Each time you collect a big paint star Mario’s HP and attack will go up. So later on in the game you can kill most enemies with your hammer and not even have to initiate a whole fight scene.
On the subject of battle cards, there are around 159 all together. You’ll want to try and collect at least one of each card. The reason being, there is a cool little underground museum in Port Prisma. They are of course short on exhibits so you need to donate cards in order to help the museum grow. There is a section for basic attack cards (these can be bought in the Port Prisma card store or hidden throughout levels), enemy cards and thing cards. You can collect enemy cards after defeating various enemies throughout the game. Using these cards during a fight will summon that enemy to fight on your side, some of them are actually pretty helpful. Thing cards are a whole other story. During the game you will come across real world objects like batteries, desk fans, teapots, etc. Mario can squeeze the color out of these object’s and turn them into cards. Most of these are key items that you will need to progress to another area or defeat a boss.
I also want to take a minute and talk to you about Toads. Green Toads, red Toads, blue Toads, every color you can think of Toads! Toads are everywhere in the game. After all, they’re the main inhabitants of Prism Island. This isn’t a bad thing though. They’re eager to help Mario in anyway they can and the game does a good job of giving each Toad a different personality. So even though you’re talking to only Toads most of the game, it doesn’t really feel like it… I’m really quite fond of them now. Throughout the story you’ll also come across Toad squads. These easily distracted, but useful little guys are spread all around Prism Island. You’ll be reuniting them with their squad leaders and in return they will perform some sort of goofy task that will unlock a new area or level for you to explore.
There’s a good balance between battling and adventuring and the game is quite lengthy, more so than I expected. Mario ventures through volcanos, haunted hotels, magical forest, he even travels across a lost sea with a crew of pirate Toads. The game is packed with cameos of characters you’ll recognize from past Mario games and plenty of side quest’s to keep you busy. Color Splash is also a game that requires you to use your brain. You’re going to be piecing together clues, back tracking to specific locations, finding hidden areas and deciding which cards to use during battles. Its not going to be a breeze by any means and that’s always a good thing. My expectations were low when it came to Color Splash but my faith has alas, been restored. Paper Mario Color Splash is an awesome installment to the series and I highly recommend picking it up.
Review: Paper Mario Color Splash
Color Splash is an awesome game with a beautiful world to explore. While the story lacks depth the rest of the game makes up for it with hilarious dialogue, intriguing characters and fun gameplay. I highly recommend picking it up!