Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Paper Mario's 5 Most Memorable Moments https://www.gameskinny.com/rpetq/paper-marios-5-most-memorable-moments https://www.gameskinny.com/rpetq/paper-marios-5-most-memorable-moments Thu, 09 Jul 2020 12:24:06 -0400 Josh Broadwell

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Paper Mario Color Splash's True Ending

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Paper Mario: Color Splash was bound to be a divisive Paper Mario game, but it still has its fair share of good moments.

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Spoilers ahead, of course.

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Conceived in that odd period where Nintendo insisted it knew what fans wanted and needed because the Wii and DS sold well, Color Splash continued Sticker Star’s unfortunate — and unnecessary — trend of trying to distinguish itself separate from RPGs. The result was still ultimately an RPG (go figure), but one with a few vital points taken out.

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The trade-off was getting to enjoy the gorgeous environments and colorful characters Mario encountered this time around. Huey might not get the most attention, being cursed as the obligatory tutorial character. But he’s one of the best side characters since The Thousand Year Door. That’s largely down to having more personality than the likes of Kersti, who was basically just a Starlow rehash, or the Pixls who just… existed. 

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Huey’s a scrappy lil’ guy with a wide range of emotions, some quick-witted retorts, and a penchant for breaking the fourth wall in as dry a way as possible. Maybe it’s because you’re in his world, restoring color that he represents, but Huey also seems more closely tied to Mario and the Color Splash journey.

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So you really feel it at the end when that one thing happens, much more so than the end of Sticker Star. It’s the first time since TTYD where Paper Mario managed to pluck the heartstrings again, even more so because you don’t necessarily see what happens next unless you get the secret ending.

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There are no Disney-style Mario tears to bring Huey back to life this time. It’s a subtle moment where Huey (in the yellow circle) rejoins the fabric of his world, and this story comes to an end.

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Our picks for the best Paper Mario moments are just the beginning. The series is brimming with memorable moments, so sound off in the comments and let us know yours! Paper Mario: The Origami King is set to release on July 17, here's to hoping for many more memorable moments to this new entry to Mario's most unique spin-offs.

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Luigi as Mr. L

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Poor Luigi. He’s been in the limelight just as long as his sainted brother, but despite having his very own (and very fun) spinoff series, Luigi never gets the same kind of love and attention. Paper Mario adds insult to injury most of the time.

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In the original, Luigi quietly stews in his own jealousy while Mario’s off on a grand adventure. His only reward for tending the home fires, making sure meals are cooked, and generally whiling the time away by pining for a better life is leading the parade on Mario’s return. Mario’s parade — not his.

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In The Thousand Year Door, Luigi tries setting off on his own adventure paralleling Mario’s. He’s off to rescue Princess Eclair in the Waffle Kingdom. Do we get to hear about it? Only in long bouts of exposition. 

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Super Paper Mario finally sees Luigi come into his own. He’s briefly playable, but more importantly, he’s a recurring enemy. He even has a big destiny and important role to play, as foretold by the ancients.

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Granted, Count Bleck brainwashes Luigi and turns him into Mr. L. to “help” him fulfill that destiny. But you gotta know Mr. L constantly harassing Mario, attacking him, and trying to be the hero was really just the true Luigi crying out for validation and love. Poor Weegee.

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Bowser Doing Anything in The Thousand Year Door

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Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga started Bowser on his road to comedic relief. But Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door proved the Koopa King’s talents were decidedly not strongest in the evil villain department.

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TTYD shifted Bowser from the primary antagonist role he occupied in the original Paper Mario to that of wannabe bad guy always left behind.

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Bowser never catches up to Mario, let alone Peach, until the very end. Which is just fine, since it leaves plenty of room for a variety of antics between him and Kammy Koopa.

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These are definitely some of the game’s — maybe even the series’ — funniest moments, whether Kammy’s mourning the loss of her brown bag blimp lunch after Bowser refuses to take a ride or Bowser’s terrorizing the inhabitants of Rogueport.

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His role in TTYD also made Bowser playable for the first time ever in Mario games, which is kind of a big deal. It probably isn’t a stretch to say the Bowser segments were the precursor for the Mega Mushroom. You have two goals: destroy as much as possible and get swole while doing it.

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These aren’t touching like Peach’s segments. They’re just fun because breaking things is fun and breaking things as Bowser is even more fun.

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Peach + TEC

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The first Paper Mario introduced a side story for Peach. It was an interesting way to give Peach a new level of relevance while showing off life under Bowser’s occupation, but it also felt somewhat non-essential.

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Peach outwits Bowser’s cruel and dense guards to find information that helps Mario on his quest. Maybe it would have been different if Peach’s segments were more common.

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Either way, non-essential is definitely not how you could describe Thousand Year Door’s side story for Peach. It’s miles ahead of the original, and aside from being probably more relevant to the overall story than Mario’s own actions, it actually managed to be touching as well.

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Slight spoilers follow.

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Peach is once again held captive in an enemy stronghold. This time, she strikes up an unusual friendship — unusual because it’s with a computer, the X-Naut main system TEC XX. It’s friendship for Peach but something more for TEC, who falls in love with the Mushroom Kingdom’s most eligible princess. That’s a strange scenario that could easily just seem farcical.

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But repeated conversations and interactions where TEC proves his devotion, plus that bittersweet dancing mini-game and TEC’s final sacrifice, make it touching and add a great deal more weight to Peach’s role in Thousand Year Door, particularly when considering what TEC knows about the X-Naughts’ plans.

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Yes, it’s technically a series of best moments, but Peach and TEC’s story is still one of the best Paper Mario moments.

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Meeting Your First Partner

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Meeting Goombario in the original Paper Mario might seem like a strange choice for one of the best Paper Mario moments, but it was a sign of something big and new for the famous plumber and a big step up from his previous RPG adventure.

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Don’t get me wrong. Super Mario RPG is a great game with plenty of memorable characters (looking at you, Geno). It’s also very much a Mario-meets-Squaresoft game.

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All of Mario’s new partners and friends in Super Mario RPG, and even the villain, are slightly random. A talking cloud-mellow, what's basically Pinocchio in blue, and an evil sword thing determined to supplant Bowser as Chief Bad.

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There’s nothing wrong with that. Heck, it’s the kind of adventurous experimentation a lot of games need anyway — but Mario embarking on a brand-new adventure with Mario characters by his side like we see in Paper Mario is something special.

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Here was the start of a journey delving into the Mushroom Kingdom and putting its stars at the forefront instead of leaving them as supporting cast. And more than that, it gave everyone much more personality, even former enemies.

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The irony of a Goomba idolizing Mario (how many of your forebears has his squashed, Goombario?) is uniquely Paper Mario, but even aside from setting the game’s comedic tone, it showed there was a lot more to the Mushroom Kingdom than just jumping high.

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Paper Mario is one of Nintendo’s most beloved spinoff series, and it’s not hard to see why. Every game, even the iffy ones, are oozing with charm and character. And every game has at least one big standout moment that grabs your heart, breaks new ground for the series, or is just incredibly fun and ridiculous.

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With Paper Mario: The Origami King lurking just over the horizon, we’ve combed through the Paper Mario series and picked out five of the best Paper Mario moments ever.

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5 JRPGs You Should Play Instead Of Tales Of Berseria https://www.gameskinny.com/xyn90/5-jrpgs-you-should-play-instead-of-tales-of-berseria https://www.gameskinny.com/xyn90/5-jrpgs-you-should-play-instead-of-tales-of-berseria Fri, 27 Jan 2017 03:00:01 -0500 BizarreAdventure

Tales of Berseria is finally out in the west. Why should that stop you from playing other games though? Here's a handful of games to play instead!

Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger is the mac daddy, big papa, that cool kid in High School, some other phrase or such to delineate that this game is the utter best. If you make a list about JRPGs to play this one should always be there. Seriously, this game does just about everything right. Great story, characters, solid gameplay and amazing technical achievements for its time.

It's almost not fair that this game is a thing. It was pretty much destined to be amazing from conception. Seriously, some of the guys who worked on it include Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of Final Fantasy, Yuji Horii, creator of Dragon Quest, and Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball. These three dudes just decided one day "Hey, want to make one of the best games ever?" Then they did. If you haven't played this game just do it, go, now.

Kingdom Hearts

I'm one of those twenty-something year olds whose taste in games was heavily influenced by this one. Did I know that something that combines Final Fantasy with Disney was going to be the thing that did it? Hell no. But it did and here we are. If you haven't played this series you're in for a doozy. It's got tight action rpg combat, a wonderful (albeit cliche at times) story, big shoes and a cast of new and known characters that all mesh together wonderfully.

Which is one of the weirdest things about the series. Never would I have thought that I would be so engrossed into a series where Donald Duck says, and I quote: 

"Look Sora, it's Sephiroth!"

This is also the same series where Mickey Mouse goes on a murderous rampage after believing Goofy to be dead via falling boulder. If that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, I completely understand. But if you're at all on the fence I highly encourage you to give them a shot.

I do have to admit one thing though, the original Kingdom Hearts is lacking in the tight combat department as well as the "gummi ship," mechanic used to travel between worlds and the second in the series Chain Of Memories is very, very niche.  But hey most first games in series have a bit of roughness to them and sometimes developers take gambles on game design and they fail. Every game beyond that one though is absolutely fantastic.

Xenosaga

This is in my oh so humble opinion, the best Sci-Fi JRPG you can play.  It's a massive space opera that takes you on a journey filled with aliens, androids and enough Christian themes to make the Pope blush. Don't let that deter you though if it would. As I said they are just themes, the game isn't trying to convert anyone or anything. At it's heart it's a story about humanity's fight against the alien race known as the Gnosis.

It's not much of a fight though more of a slaughter, because the Gnosis can phase through all physical objects and rip your soul right from your body. So humanity has to develop a way to truly fight them. This comes in the form of an android named KOS-MOS which can create a field that makes the Gnosis tangible. Without going too deep this puts you in the shoes of Shion, the Chief of the department developing KOS-MOS and her fight for survival.

That fight comes in the form of a classic turn based RPG style with some impressive strategic elements. For instance each character can charge up to 6 action points. Each character has 2 different basic attacks available (square and triangle) and a special attack (circle). These attacks can range from basic hits, to elementally charged moves that hit enemy weak points. Saving action points allows you to perform combos as well. This is how you deal big hits in one turn. Chaining together multiple attacks and finishing off with your special attack for massive damage.

Combine all of the above and you've got yourself a really solid JRPG series.

Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky

What can I say about this game? Story wise it's one of the most finely crafted games I've ever seen. The combat is quite easy, but never unenjoyable. Requiring nothing but a basic understanding of a slightly more advanced rock, paper, scissors elemental weaknesses chart.

But that's not the draw of this game. You can spend hours going through a single town reading every bit of dialogue for every character and feel engaged, or at least I did. This isn't just a world revolving around your main characters. This is a world where every NPC is living a life just as your playable characters live theirs. You can talk to the woman in the first town who owns the shop for instance and find out that her son is single. Talk to the son and you find out that he's friends with your main characters and annoyed that his mother is always trying to find him a girl. After you progress through the game a bit, the mother has left the town to find a daughter-in-law in a neighboring town. With no luck she gets on the airship back and meets a woman whose dream is to run a shop. You might be able to allude what happens next.

That's just a vague recollection of one of the many side stories too. The game is filled with them and it's world building is so much richer for it. So give this one a shot if story driven games are your thing.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

This one might not be truly considered a JRPG, but I believe it takes a lot from the genre and makes it it's own. Which is a wonderful game with JRPG elements.

Princess Peach is missing again and it's Mario's job to go find her. Like the title says though, this isn't your favorite plumber in 3D. No, once again he's made of paper. The only lead he has for the Princess though is a map she left behind. With this map, Mario embarks on a journey to find seven crystal stars in hopes that they will lead him to his end goal, the Princess.

The overarching premise isn't what drives this game to be on the list though. It's the wonderful sub-plots, humor, mechanics and simplistic yet enjoyable combat that make this title so good. On your quest to get the stars you encounter all kinds of enemies known throughout the series as well as allies. Some of them including a girl Goomba with a thirst for adventure, or a Bob-omb who was once a famous sailor, but has since vowed to never sail again.

With your motley crew in tow you traipse around whimsical world doing battle, making use of various abilities and items that reward you with proper timing. Or solving paper based puzzles that may require you to fold yourself into a paper airplane or simple turn to slip through cracks in walls. Whatever the situation you find yourself in, it's always enjoyable.

 These are just a handful of my recommendations, take them how you will. If you think something else should be on the list, let me know in the comments!

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Is The Paper Mario Series Dying? https://www.gameskinny.com/c52bf/is-the-paper-mario-series-dying https://www.gameskinny.com/c52bf/is-the-paper-mario-series-dying Wed, 04 Jan 2017 11:00:02 -0500 Rob Kershaw

The once-celebrated Paper Mario series has had a rough few years. At one point it was considered to be one of the highlights of the plumber's deviation from the platformers which made him famous. However, recent releases in the RPG series have seen diminishing returns, and with good reason: they're simply not as good.

Where Did The Story Go?

The first game in the series, Paper Mario, was a revelation. It followed on from Super Mario RPG genre-wise, but established an entirely unique aesthetic in the process. It looked great, it sounded great, and proved that the iconic character really could hold his own in a genre more traditionally populated by teenagers with blue spiky hair and huge weapons. The Thousand Year Door took things even further, with reams of text and a wonderfully weird story that was lauded by players and critics alike.

But with the release of Sticker Star on 3DS, something changed. The focus shifted away from the story-heavy elements that embodied the core of the previous titles, in favour of more accessible gameplay. This, in part, was due to Miyamoto himself questioning whether a story was required in the latest iteration. He may have had a point: the 3DS already had another RPG series in the form of Mario & Luigi, and there was a risk of saturating the handheld with two similar franchises.

However, it could be argued that Mario & Luigi is a comedy RPG series, in comparison to the (ever-so-slightly) more serious tone of Paper Mario. The mechanics of the brothers' franchise were also much different to the solo plumber's quest in Paper Mario. Either way, something was lost in Sticker Star and subsequently the Wii U's Color Splash, despite the relentless meta-jokes and self-referential winks to the red one's career. Humour alone does not make a story, as critics were quick to point out.

Where Did The Fun Go?

A lot of the blame for the decline in Paper Mario's quality can be laid at the feet of the gameplay. Sticker Star simplified many of the game's elements to the point of dreary repetition. Encounters were frequent, and the actual combat was dull. Color Splash basically substituted stickers for cards, but went one step further by attempting to incorporate the Wii U's GamePad into proceedings. The result was disastrous; each round involved you selecting the cards you wanted to use, then selecting the power of each card, then flicking the cards at the TV from your controller. The GamePad's process added literally nothing to the game that couldn't have been handled on-screen, other than extending the length of combat to tortuous levels.

Combat also turned out to be a closed loop of pointlessness. Rewards from battles were either coins which could be used to buy cards, or cards themselves. There was no levelling up, no experience to be gained. At times, your HP would be increased when you reached particular points in the game, but otherwise there was no incentive to fight. After a few hours of playing, you'd be forgiven for dodging battles as frequently as the game would allow.

Fun, it wasn't.

Where Did The Sales Go?

Even taking into account the gameplay changes, when it comes to commissioning a new iteration in a series, the bottom line is king. Unfortunately, sales is perhaps one of the biggest issues the Paper Mario series is suffering from. Color Splash bombed horribly. VGChartz reports that it sold 420,000 units as of November last year. Compared to Sticker Star, that's a drop of over 80% in sales.

Of course, the 3DS has performed admirably worldwide, unlike the Wii U's nosediving unit sales, but when you consider that the original sixteen-year-old title on N64 sold three times as many copies as Color Splash, Nintendo will surely be weighing up the series' future when the Switch is launched.

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Is it the end for the once-lauded franchise? That depends on two factors: the appetite for another chapter, and the performance of the upcoming Switch. Fans were vocal about the perceived "dumbing down" of the last two Paper Mario games, and in particular the similarities in Color Splash's gameplay which many felt were simply Sticker Star's mechanics retooled for the Wii U.

Similarly, Nintendo will likely wait and see what the uptake of their new hybrid console is before pitching another Paper Mario title. If their failed console taught them anything, it's that more of the same simply isn't going to sell. It's also not beyond the realms of possibility that they'll be facing off against another Mario & Luigi title, given the portable nature of the Switch. The future isn't looking too rosy for the paper plumber's RPG outing but, as is so often the case, Nintendo may yet surprise us all.

What are your thoughts on the Paper Mario series? Can it bounce back? Let us know in the comments!

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How the Paper Mario Series Went Rogue and Needs to Come Back https://www.gameskinny.com/kx9un/how-the-paper-mario-series-went-rogue-and-needs-to-come-back https://www.gameskinny.com/kx9un/how-the-paper-mario-series-went-rogue-and-needs-to-come-back Mon, 07 Nov 2016 02:00:02 -0500 Angelo De Bellis

The recent bout of portable and console Paper Mario games have strayed from the well-established RPG formula used in the original titles, causing the very identity of the series to decay. The series simply doesn’t feel like it once did.

The transition began with Sticker Star and continues in Paper Mario: Colour Splash, though to a much lesser extent than its handheld predecessor. What once began as a competent RPG series, albeit with far fewer intricacies than a traditional game within the genre, has become a mess of action, adventure, and RPG elements. Combined, these genre crossovers don’t make for very enjoyable Paper Mario games.

Certain advances are totally acceptable when it comes to modernizing a franchise, but I’m sure many fans have easily detected that the Paper Mario series has been superseded by the Mario and Luigi series. The comedy and nonsensical joy inherent in the Paper Mario series is still there in Sticker Star and Color Splash, but the battle systems and travel systems have all been replaced with features that aren’t all that compelling.

A Hunt for Weapons

A total shock to the beloved series, Paper Mario: Sticker Star does away with the leveling system by forcing you to collect stickers as a stand-in currency for attacks. In the former games, basic attacks would permanently exist, and only specialized attacks required collecting. And even once you've discovered these specialized attacks, called badges, you’d be able to use them during any battle, so long as you had enough BP to do so.

The worst feeling in both Sticker Star and Color Splash is running out of attacks. Because you have to find attacks -- yes it sounds weird to even mention it -- they can run out rather quickly if you’re not careful. But this type of management is not fun or complex in the way that conserving SP or items is. If you’ve run out of stickers in the 3DS game, you have to go hunting for more moves, and in Color Splash you have the option of spending coins once a turn to nab an additional attack, but it’s all so tedious.

Source: KoopaTV

Just include the attacks and make the battle systems more robust! In previous games, when a battle began, you’d get right into it. In Sticker Star you have to select a sticker from your collection on the 3DS touchscreen; even worse, the Wii U Paper Mario has you select and ready battle cards from the GamePad, paint them, confirm that painting is complete, and then swipe them up to the battle screen on your TV. It’s obnoxious and needlessly obtuse.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door did not subscribe to this kind of tedium. You were able to attack at the start of battle with a quick selection screen, and the complexity was found in the various party members you took along with you on your journey. That’s how it should be done -- complexity in battle systems should not mean profuse frustration caused by cumbersome selection sequences. The complexity of the battle systems in the new games are more with the battle procedure than the battle itself.

Throw Me a Bone... Please

The most apparent loss when it comes to the systems adopted by modern Paper Mario games, is the leveling up system. As mentioned earlier, Paper Mario: Sticker Star made the audacious move of sacrificing statistics for stickers, and what is an RPG without stats? Perhaps it was a calculated maneuver to make the series more viable for youngsters playing on the go, but it’s not a decision that I see benefitting the series.

Source: IGN

In the original Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Mario leveled up by collecting 100 stars gained from battle. You could then up his stats like HP, FP, or BP, leading to a sense of progression. In Sticker Star and Color Splash, there aren’t really any progression systems that make battling feel like an endeavor to advance Mario’s abilities, save for the ability to upgrade Mario’s paint hammer in the latter title. Even then, it’s only a twinkle of an RPG element.

This omission really makes battles feel inconsequential. Every battle encountered only serves to progress the game. The lack of a feedback loop points to a once-RPG gone rogue, then having its identity pulled from a bunch of other genres, however, this isn’t a good look.

Mixed Identities

Say what you may about the recent Mario and Luigi games, but they have certainly come into their own. Though they may be riddled with awkward text and some uninspired locations lending themselves to bland stories, but the battle systems are very RPG-like and quite varied. The series, once an interesting derivative of the Paper Mario series, or the other way around depending on how you look at it, now employs systems that should have been injected into the new Paper Mario games.

In Paper Mario: Color Splash, after the ritual of selecting and painting battle cards, you are treated with an effortless A button command used to execute attacks. Whether you’re attacking with Mario’s crushing boots or heavy-headed hammer, the input method used to initiate the attack is all the same. Needless to say, it becomes rather tiresome after but a few turns.

The latest Mario and Luigi game, Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam, made use of bountiful RPG elements when it came to battle. The Bros. attacks offered varied gameplay in the middle of battle, tasking both brothers and Paper Mario to use unique input patterns to conquer their enemies. It’s a much better approach than timing presses of the A button to win.

One Disjointed Step at a Time

More than just the battle system melting out of the series, recent Paper Mario titles have taken systems that don’t make much sense; unless, in some sick twist, the creators want to make the Paper Mario franchise a Super Mario Bros. game. I’m talking about the use of overworld map screens.

My revulsion toward a map system may seem a little misplaced, but let me remind you that it’s the map system that lays out how the game will progress. The map systems guide and segues one sequence of events to another, making the newer Paper Mario games feel more like short levels than fully developed areas. And maybe that makes sense for a 3DS game, because you can pick up the game and play in short bursts, but for a console Paper Mario, I refuse to believe the staccato approach is better than the exploratory experiences offered by the senior games.

Source: Nintendo Wire

If Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine are akin to the Paper Mario of the past -- with enclosed spaces that include more than one objective hidden amongst other interactive elements -- then the Super Mario Bros. games are akin to the current generation’s Paper Mario titles -- with short, often linear objectives to reach the goal.

Whiteout on the Page

I know, I know. You’re probably freaking out about my omission of Super Paper Mario, the Wii game that played ever so closely to a Super Mario Bros. game. I’ve left that game out of the argument because it did maintain the deep RPG elements of previous titles. Even though it did away with the turn-based systems emblematic of the series, the level grinding, puzzle elements, and party systems remained secure.

Source: Amazon

It may not be popular opinion, but I think Super Paper Mario did an admirable job of upending the tea table while still oozing with Paper Mario traditions. When Paper Mario: Sticker Star landed in my hands, it wasn’t hard to tell that the removal of the battle system made the game suffer. In Super Paper Mario the dimension mechanic that enabled you to switch the game from 2D to 3D, along with the exclusive abilities of the Pixls, more than made up for the neglect of the battle system. With a well-balanced approach to game design, Super Paper Mario was deserving of the illustrious Paper Mario name.

Turning the Page

There is much to be done when it comes to reeling the series back in. Paper Mario: Color Splash does do a better job than Sticker Star did, at least with the frugality imposed by the paint system exhibits a glimmer of RPGish elements -- but the progression systems, and puzzle-like elements provided by the inclusion of party members are all lost. That and the structure of the game remains more portable-inspired. Hopefully, once the stickers fall off, and the fresh coat of paint dries, a new Paper Mario game -- something a little more rooted in its days of yore -- will show up on the Nintendo Switch.

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What Made Paper Mario 64 and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door So Special? https://www.gameskinny.com/k9qlz/what-made-paper-mario-64-and-paper-mario-the-thousand-year-door-so-special https://www.gameskinny.com/k9qlz/what-made-paper-mario-64-and-paper-mario-the-thousand-year-door-so-special Fri, 23 Sep 2016 10:00:01 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

The Paper Mario series has come a long way since its debut on the Nintendo 64 back in 2001. What started as a creative take on the typical turn-based JRPG has gradually taken steps further and further away from its initial RPG formula, toward a radically different pseudo-RPG style of game that most people don't seem to be quite as fond of.

Ever since Super Paper Mario's release for the Wii in 2007, many people have been down on the Paper Mario series, saying that the last true installment was the last traditional turn-based RPG the series had -- the beloved Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. While this isn't true for every fan of the series, the general majority seems to believe that the classic RPG times of the Paper Mario series, which at this point is the shorter period for the series, was it's heyday.

But why is that? There are many JRPGs that gather devoted fanbases, whether it be large chunks of a whole series like Final Fantasy or one-hit wonders like Skies of Arcadia, so what makes the early Paper Mario games so special? What makes these two console RPGs starring Mario, the most well-known PLATFORMER hero of all time, stand out as such highly revered classics? 

Let's find out.

We're going to approach both games simultaneously and systematically, in order to get to the general positive qualities of both titles before getting into the specifics. With that said, let's start with the biggest selling point of nearly every RPG of any kind -- the story.

Something that, in Japan at least, the series was initially named for.

The Story -- A familiar and yet far cry from typical Mario.

The general setup for both Paper Mario on the N64 as well as Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door are admittedly pretty typical for the Mario series, and nothing we haven't seen before... at the start, at least. While both installments do start with the classic standby of "the princess has been captured and you must save her", they both go off the rails into uncharted territory very quickly.

While both games hit a lot of familiar notes by the standards of standard Mario plots, the stories told are notably deeper than their Platformer progenitors, and were clearly written with the intent to evoke both the emotional and the imaginative. This is evident in Intelligent Systems' signature excellent character banter and world building present throughout the games.  

From the NPCs, to your party members, to even the semi-mute Mario himself, every character is funny, helpful, or lends to world-building. Princess Peach in particular is the probably the most fleshed out she's ever been in these two games. The audience gets to see her with a wide assortment of emotions, whether she's indignantly angry for being forced to cooperate with the enemy, being understanding of an inexperienced child, or shy as she attempts to explain the concept of love to a computer using personal experience. 

A subplot in The Thousand-Year Door that is both unexpected and surprisingly touching.

Your party members were also all excellent characters. They all had their own motivations for joining Mario, vastly different personalities from one another, and perhaps the most intriguing part of all, they were all different types of enemies that Mario would usually fight. By having this jumbled crew of friendly monsters follow Mario throughout the game, the world felt even more immersive and real, as it showed that evil minions of Bowser were not all that the likes of Goombas and Koopas could be.

These games took colorful cartoon monsters, most of whom aren't even close to human, and made them into likable and believable characters.

The settings explored were also much more fleshed out and believable in these two RPGs than any traditional Mario Platformer could claim. Even if in both games you explored the familiar grasslands, ice worlds, and castles, they were all far from just pallet swapped backgrounds with different colored enemies. They were all far from the Mario norm, even if they felt familiar, and going to each new area felt like crossing over to a brand new continent. 

Every area in classic Paper Mario has a different story to tell. Whether it's the mysteries of the dirty dealings of the floating wrestling league the Glitz Pit, or the desert village of Boos who live in fear of being eaten, they all have a different tale to tell.

The best thing that these different locations did for the games is how they subtly connected to each other, and gave the Mario universe a grander sense of scale and cohesiveness than it had ever had before. These locations coupled with these characters made the world feel truly alive, as you encountered tribes of insects living in giant trees, or a sleazy port-city full of criminals both Toad and enemy-monster alike.  

Not to mention they all looked and felt distinct and atmospheric as well.

What other RPG let you travel around inside a magical toy box by train?

The Combat -- Simple and easy to learn, yet still deep and involving. 

 

The first two Paper Mario games had a combat system unlike any other. 

Paper Mario built off of the strong foundation that Super Mario RPG laid down before it, and its combat reflects that fact more than anything. The use of timed hits during combat for both offense and defense allowed for actual tactile input during battles, which put more control into the player's hands and made the combat more than just strategy like most other turn-based games.

While the story and combat are the biggest aspects of the two games and obviously matter, and are themselves unique, the little things are what really make the early Paper Mario games so great because their immersive detail and sheer quantity allowed the world of Mario to feel the realest and most alive it ever has.

Additionally, something that made Paper Mario's turn-based combat so unique -- as well as easily accessible to beginners or newcomers -- was its use of smaller numbers. In most RPGs, you'll likely be going up against early-game bosses with a health bar in the hundreds or possibly thousands, but in Paper Mario, you'll be up against a first boss with 20 maximum health. This made keeping track of how much damage you were dealing the easy part, and made figuring out the specific weaknesses and strengths of a given enemy the real challenge.

The combat also allowed for adaptive difficulty for players in the form the badge system. It allowed players to use their set number of Badge Points to equip badges that could aid them, or even handicap them, in both the overworld as well as combat.

This allowed for players to customize their play-style in a way that suited the situation, or themselves, depending on what they wanted to improve, and on whether or not they wanted to make the game harder for themselves. This allowed for hundreds of level up strategies paired with badge combinations in any given playthrough, which created an enormous sense of player freedom, as well as replay value.  

  

Just one page of the badge collection screen. Dozens of badges; Hundreds of possibilities.

In conclusion...

Honestly, explaining what made both of these games good is a genuine challenge, as there are hundreds of tiny little details that are all integral to the experience, and all of them are legitimate reasons for both the games' intricate, multi-faceted, diamond-like quality. Everything from optional emails you could get from side quest characters, to the audience cheering you on as you battled, to the countless characters with punny names, it's ALL important. All of it. They're games whose beauty isn't really done justice by just a handful of words.

While the story and combat are the biggest aspects of the two games and obviously matter, and are themselves unique, the little things are what really make the early Paper Mario games so great because their immersive detail and sheer quantity allowed the world of Mario to feel the realest and most alive it ever has.

With Nintendo clearly veering the Paper Mario series away from its native satirical and anarchic style, towards a more casual and less challenging type of psuedo-RPG with the two most recent installments, it seems very likely that we will never see a game in the Paper Mario series quite like the first two ever again. 

While that is a sad way of looking at things, it isn't necessarily a true, and we can all take comfort in the fact that no matter what changes the series goes through for better or worse, Paper Mario on the N64 and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door will always be there. They exist in a joyous spin-off universe that no ret-con or prequel could ever truly lessen, no matter what they might do.

Even if you don't necessarily like where the series has gone since Super Paper Mario, and you think Nintendo should just go back to the original formula, at least there is one additional positive to a world where Paper Mario isn't a true RPG anymore. That being if Nintendo never quite matches the first two entries in terms of quality, that just makes Paper Mario and The Thousand-Year Door even better and more unique than they already are.

The simplest way to explain why Paper Mario on the N64 and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door are great is that they feel rich and complete. They're paper thin, but far from two-dimensional.


 A picture is worth a thousand words. These games are both worth volumes.

  

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Video: Dolphin Emulator gets an update after 3 years https://www.gameskinny.com/zg609/video-dolphin-emulator-gets-an-update-after-3-years https://www.gameskinny.com/zg609/video-dolphin-emulator-gets-an-update-after-3-years Wed, 29 Jun 2016 04:49:36 -0400 FlameKurosei

A few days ago, Nintendo GameCube and exclusive Wii emulator Dolphin released a new video for their 5.0 update to Dolphin -- a free and open source emulator which allows gamers to access many Nintendo GameCube and Wii titles that are not available on Virtual Console, such as Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door.

In this new 5.0 update, there is a smorgasbord of improvements and bug fixes, including a new implemented graphical feature called "Z-Freeze"!

Regarded in Dolphin 5.0's video as "one oft requested feature that continued to taunt everyone brave enough to face it", "Z-Freeze" is a troubling graphical issue for emulators in general.

Here's an example from Dolphin 4.0's update:

With Dolphin 4.0, notice how the cloudy moonlit sky smothers the character and nearby structures when the player looks in a certain direction.

Now in Dolphin 5.0, this issue is fixed -- the moonlit sky does not obscure any of the nearby environmental assets:

For other Dolphin 5.0 improvements, the list includes:

  • Texture fixes, such as loading fixes, indirect coordinate fixes, and environment fixes
  • Depth fixes, such as integer depth and lighting depth
  • Timing improvements, such as event timing and audio/video timing
  • Audio fixes, such as decreased audio latency and better audio quality in general
  • Added controller supports, and better net-play
  • Performance optimizations such as increased frame rate, and texture pooling
  • And even more!

All of Dolphin 5.0's improvements allows the new graphical updates to be accessible to many computers while maintaining performance quality.

Here is the full video, so you can see with your own eyes the new update in action for various Nintendo titles:

What are your thoughts on Dolphin's new 5.0 update? Please leave a comment below!

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