It has been a while since I reviewed a classic Mario game… mainly because I kind of ran through the main line. But the Plumber has been in more than just his platformers as I’ve reviewed before. So it’s time to look into the second of his RPG entries with yet another game that never got an initial release in the UK (oh but I’m sure that one game that was released a week earlier than America makes up for that…… that’s more for the people that will complain when we get games before Americans)
After the breakup of Nintendo and Squaresoft (long story) the second entry in Mario’s RPG carrier took some time and had a somewhat drastic difference in appearance. As the name of the game implies in this game Mario as well as all his friends and enemies are made to look like paper. So you play a 2D character exploring a 3D world. Of note however that outside of aesthetics this doesn’t really come into play (it does in later games)
The story is somewhat the classic Mario formula: Bowser has kidnapped Peach… well and her whole castle, having flown it into the sky. Something he has achieved by claiming the legendary Star Rod and imprisoned the Star Spirits. So after being booted out of the castle (and not dying from impact) Mario has to go around the Mushroom Kingdom, team up with a rag tag group of comrades drawn from the various peoples of the Mushroom Kingdom such as goombas and koopas. Finally you need to defeat that which Bowser has placed guarding the star spirits so you can overcome the Star Rod and defeat the Koopa king to rescue the princess.
The game is split into different chapters (somewhat like a book, eeeh EEEEHHHH). These have Mario and friends go to different areas where the Star Spirit is kept, Often also containing a town to meet and interact with people. Plenty of hidden stuff to uncover to make you stronger in battles, then a dungeon of sorts capped with a boss.
Fights are turn based, Mario being the main person while backed by 1 of his friends. Only Mario can be attacked properly so only he has a health statistic. Both Mario and the companion can use attacks and special abilities, but the special abilities cost flower points. You can change companion in battle but only 1 is out at a time. Different types of attacks work differently and are needed to tackle enemies that need more tactics than just summon the big dragon to cause a nuke… not that summoning Bahamut wouldn’t work if he was in this game. For example if an enemy is flying the hammer is useless, while an enemy with spikes shouldn’t be jumped on. Like all Mario RPGs doing certain inputs timed with increase damage and when being attacked a well-timed block will reduce damage taken, all important for later battles.
Like Classic RPGs, beaten enemies will give you exp which once you hit 100 of will allow you to increase your stats, be it in this game Heath, Flower points or Badge points. Badge points are needed to equip badges which will allow new special powers or stat increases however you need to find the badges in the game thus encouraging exploration. Of note as you become more powerful, weaker enemies provide less XP so you can’t just kill the starting game enemies hundreds of times and hope to mow down the bosses.
Thanks to the games Paper art style and turn bases battles that still require you to remain active, plus all the fun and memorable characters (something that has mostly vanished lately from Mario RPGs) the game is very fondly remembered and if you can hunt down a means to play it I highly recommend you do.