Paper Mario: The Origami King is another action and adventure game from Nintendo. I have personally been waiting for a new Paper Mario game for a long time. When this was announced, I counted down the days until release. Yet, I worried how good this game would be considering the past few Paper Mario games have been subpar. I’m pleased to say that Origami King did not disappoint.
The beginning starts off like any other Paper Mario game. Mario and Luigi get invited to Princess Peach’s castle for a party. When they arrive at Toad Town, things are strange. No one is around and Peach is… different, to say the least. Instead of flat paper, she’s folded into origami.
King Olly, the antagonist of the story, makes his appearance. He wants everyone to be crisp as origami and not full and flat like regular paper. He has crumpled up Toads and turned enemies on his side, folding anything and anyone they can. He binds Peach’s castle using five streamers strung across the Mushroom Kingdom. Thus, Mario and Olivia, King Olly’s sister, go on a quest to get rid of the streamers and ultimately defeat King Olly.
I have to admit, considering most of the games have about eight levels or worlds, I was sad to see there’s only six in The Origami King. The Paper Mario games are fairly short, so I thought this would be shorter. However, each world is pretty long. It takes a few hours to get through one world, and you need to set aside a decent amount of time for the boss battles. (Trust me, you don’t want to start boss battles over!)
Needless to say, I’m happy to pour hours into this game. It’s so great that I want it to last as long as it can. So, let’s get into the mechanics that are good (and some that are not so good).
While this game is tough at times, the overall difficulty level is fairly low. Anyone can pick up and play this game, which is great. But for Paper Mario veterans, it may not pose much of a challenge.
Seeing partners in the trailer made me excited. Yes, there are partners in the game, though it’s not how it used to be in Paper Mario 64 or The Thousand-Year Door. A partner will stay with you for a single area, and they don’t come with you to the boss battles at all. I enjoyed all the partners, especially Bobby the Bomb-omb. They all had great personalities, and I wish I could have spent the entire adventure with them.
Let’s talk about the battles. I wish it were more RPG-like. The battle system in the first two Paper Mario games, especially, was wonderful. Mario had various jumps, hammers, and items, and his partners had their own unique skill set as well. The battle system in Origami King is vastly different.
Mario stands in the middle of the ring while enemies surround him. You then need to move the circles around you or move each section up or down to line up the enemies. This is timed, and you only have a certain amount of moves to line them up just right. You can buy more time and you can also cancel your moves if you made a mistake. So, if you have the coins, you can take as long as you want on this.
Or you can let the timer run out if you’re truly stuck. The point of lining up the enemies is so that Mario will get a 1.5 attack boost and it’ll be easier for you to defeat the enemies in one turn.
I didn’t care too much for this system because I prefer strategy for battle over a puzzle system. Plus, it made the battle incredibly one-sided (especially at the beginning of the game).
With that said, there is a bit of strategy to the battles. Mario has his regular boots and hammer, but you can get items such as iron boots (that stomp on spiked enemies) and a flashy hammer (that does more damage than a regular hammer). Each row of the rings on the battlefield, if you will, have four sections where the enemies stand. The hammer packs a punch, but it can only reach the first two rows. The boots can only stomp on enemies in a single-file line.
I enjoyed that strategy bit, but I felt it could have been done without trying to rearrange the rings.
The boss battles add a little more flare. You still need to rearrange the rings, but they have panels on them such as arrows (that control where Mario moves), hearts, a treasure chest, a letter (to give you hints on how to defeat the boss), an attack spot (you must land on this in order to attack), the Vellumental panels, and an “on” switch (to turn on the Vellumental panels).
You need to carefully plan out Mario’s trek through the rings to get to the boss and effectively attack them. Of course, every boss is different, and most of the time you can’t attack right away or you need to attack a certain spot. This is a reason the boss battles take so long. Usually, I needed to read the letter to figure out how to attack. The obvious answer usually wasn’t the correct way to attack.
I will admit that the bosses usually did something to the rings to make the battles harder, which was a nice challenge. I found the mini-bosses of the Vellumentals to be more fun (and sometimes tougher) than the main bosses.
The Vellumentals are a major part of the game. These are elemental mythical beings with certain powers. Upon defeating them, Olivia will learn how to fold into them and harness their powers such as earth, water, etc. These powers are used in boss battles for big blows or outside of battle in order to complete a puzzle and progress further into the game.
When it comes to gameplay mechanics, Paper Mario: The Origami King has a lot to learn. It’s easy to play and not at all difficult to get the hang of. However, there will be times you’ll get stuck on a puzzle thinking you’ve exhausted your options, and then you realize you forgot to try one thing. This game makes you think, which is great.
Each world is unique, as well, ranging from a vast desert and underground mine built by Monty Moles to a western amusement park run by Goombas, Toads, and Koopas alike. You also get to sail the Great Sea Wind Waker style.
The graphics are stunning. I expected no less from the Nintendo Switch, but the paper and origami aesthetic is strong and the game overall has a polished look and is satisfying to watch. The music, as always, is top-notch. It holds true to the type of music from previous Paper Mario games, even with remixes from old school Mario games.
The story is also strong. It’s unique from the other Mario games (though it holds onto those paper puns, which great). The writing is humorous. There’s hardly anything to dislike about this game.
If you love the Paper Mario series or enjoy playing Mario games in general, you’ll certainly have a lot of fun with Paper Mario: The Origami King. Between the main story, finding crumpled Toads, and collecting the various treasures, you’ll pour a lot of hours into this game.
Review: Paper Mario: The Origami King (Nintendo Switch)
Paper Mario: The Origami King is a wonderful addition to the series. While the battle system isn’t my favorite, it’s challenging. The overall game is hilarious with an engaging story and fun gameplay.