Paper Mario: Color Splash Review – Written by Jose Vega
Special thanks to Nintendo for providing me a copy of this game.
Paper Mario is a franchise that had some ups and downs. It started as an RPG series that were hits on the N64 and GameCube before going into a different direction on the Wii with Super Paper Mario and then abandoning what made it good in favor of something that turned everyone off with Sticker Star for the Nintendo 3DS. Now we have a new Paper Mario game and unfortunately, it has been under controversy due to it following the formula of the previous game. So much so that videos relating to it would be the most disliked on Nintendo’s YouTube channel. However the game had been released by accident two weeks early and people got to experience it. I got my chance to play the latest entry in the series. The question’s this: Will Color Splash be a repeat of Sticker Star or is this a game that’s worth the moniker of “Paper Mario”.
Let’s start with the plot because that’s the one thing you should probably wonder about this game. It centers on Mario, who along with Peach and a Toad head to Prisma Island after they receive mail that came in the form of a color-deprived Toad. What they find is a place that has been devoid of color and with it life on the island. Upon encountering a strange bucket named Huey, they soon learn that someone has been draining color from the island and using it as a means of destruction. So Mario now must travel all over Prisma Island and seek out the Paint Stars in order to bring life back to this once vibrant island.
I am going to give Nintendo credit. This is a story that I can get behind. Sticker Star’s story was just nonexistent whereas here, it always has incentive. It made you want to see what became of the island, its inhabitants and what can you do to help out. The story can be quirky with the dialogue and I love that. It makes the game good and it’s a step in the right direction. I don’t know if it can be the same for the rest of the game itself. Let’s find out.
One of the biggest controversies this game has had was its gameplay. Yes, the gameplay is similar to that of Paper Mario: Sticker Star. A lot of people hated it due to its simplicity and the fact you needed to use stuff like stickers to attack during battle. With Paper Mario: Color Splash, that’s out the window. The theme is of course, paint and your job in this game is to travel from one area to the next battling enemies, acquiring items and restoring life to said areas by means of using paint. Depending on where you are, you have various options. For example, outside of battle you can jump and use your hammer to hit anything, even enemies. But if you hit something with the X button, you let out paint. Remember: the gimmick here is all about paint and you have to use said paint to restore Prisma Island and it’s many areas. But there’ll be times where you think there’s no way out but in fact, there is. Color Splash has the addition of “Cutout”. Cutout lets you take advantage of your environment and literally lets you cut out a bit of the area to reveal something new. This can lead to some unique results and sometimes hidden goodies. It adds more on the exploration side and gives you an incentive to find every hidden spot and obtain its secrets.
In battle, everything is like Sticker Star but with some differences. Instead of stickers, you have cards. I do like the mechanics in this game better because you use cards to deal damage to enemies. Depending on the card, you can either deal damage with your trusty hammer or stomp them flat with some jump attacks. There are many variations and they can help turn the tide of battle if you’re lucky. Also, battles emphasize on how you do it successfully without suffering damage. Doing these net you bonuses like more coins and you’re going to need a lot of coins to get more cards so that you can dish the pain to your opposition. Sometimes you’ll get cards that are devoid of color. You use paint to give it life and in turn use it to attack enemies. Expect to do it a lot since most times you’ll get stuff that have no color. The same can be said for Things. Yes, that’s what they are. Things return in this game and like the previous game, they have a lot of use. Not only that but they have all new ones that can have various results. I like some of the things they included but if you look and at times listen hard enough, there may be some Easter eggs if you can spot them.
Speaking of battles, there are boss fights. They’re a plenty as you travel and they’ll need you to plan accordingly and with what you have at your disposal. The game does provide you some hints on what you’ll need to tackle a specific foe. I like it as for new players, it’s a great opportunity. Don’t let your opposition fool you. If you are not prepared, expect to get beat. That’s a fact. Preparedness is key.
Even with exploration, battles, there is a lot to do here. There are mini games too in the form of Roshambo. Roshambo is rock paper scissors and your job pretty much is to win. There are Roshambo temples spotted all over the map and your job is to take on each temple and win. Be warned that you’ll be up against foes that will beat you. It comes down not only to a matter of patience but skill. Only the most skilled of players can be able to pull it off and the rewards are high, along with the incentive. Roshambo Temples are also a good opportunity for you to get coins with the max being at 9999. Just like Sticker Star. There’s replay value here in the game and if you want to get 100% and complete everything, you’ll have to spend a lot of time on it… roughly 20 hours or so. At least in this game it’s worth it because the game’s charm helps add to it.
Presentation wise, the game is a step up from Sticker Star. Many of the areas you’ll travel are vibrant, full of colors with various different themes. They range from volcanoes where heat is high with bits of red and orange to the beach side and the area fills with lots of blue. It gives the game and its areas a bit of atmosphere. I love it personally and it has you enjoying everything it has to offer. Humor is aplenty in every area. Some bits will make you laugh out loud and other instances they throw stuff that have them break the fourth wall. It’s impressive. I could go on and on but in my honest opinion, it’s a game that’s best enjoyed if you play it yourself. Though if I had any flaws with the game, it’s that the game is using a system that really didn’t work aka Sticker Star style. Had it be using the RPG elements from the old games, it would be a surefire hit.
Paper Mario: Color Splash may follow a formula that didn’t work the first time but it makes up for it in various ways. An improved battle system, great story, interesting characters, strong humor and replay value helped give the game a boost it definitely needs. But I can’t help but feel that the Paper Mario franchise should revert back to its roots. I will commend Nintendo for at least trying something different. They did try but unfortunately, you know what they say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Color Splash is an exception because what it offers more than makes up for its shortcomings. This game is a must buy on the Wii U and considering that this console is on its last legs, I recommend it. No doubt about it. This game is worth the full purchase price.
I give Paper Mario: Color Splash a 9 out of 10. This game is a MUST BUY and it deserves my Seal of Approval.