The names Mario, Paper Mario. OK, maybe the mustachioed plumber doesn’t quite have the suavity of Bond, but his legacy is just as impressive and the only words he’s ever spoken are "It's me, Mario!" There is just something great about any game the Mario license is attached to. Whether it’s soccer, dancing or, in the case of the Paper Mario series, quirky role-playing, Mario can do it and do it well.
"Super Paper Mario" for the Nintendo Wii is the latest in the aforementioned series, but unlike its predecessors, it’s not a role playing game (RPG) with platforming elements, but a platformer with RPG elements. You still build stats, play as multiple characters — Mario, Princess Peach, Bowser — with different attributes and use items like an RPG, but it’s all wrapped around some classic Mario platforming.
Well not quite classic. The "super" part of "Super Paper Mario" is that Mario can flip his world from the 2-D to 3-D with a tap of the A button. For example, if you run into a pipe you can’t jump over in 2-D just flip to 3-D and walk around it. That’s the most basic form of puzzle, but the mechanic allows for some incredibly cool moments and plenty of secrets to discover. The other characters also have their powers. Peach can float with her umbrella and Bowser breathes fire, but they are so much less important than the flipping ability that most of the game you’ll play as Mario, which is never a bad thing.
Along with these powers, the player also collects Pixls along the way. These are tiny little creatures that allow for Mario and company to pick up enemies, lay bombs, shrink or perform a myriad of other actions that help to advance them through the game.
Add to all this original game play lots and lots of the same quirky and hilarious dialogue found in the previous installments — World 3 is basically four levels of Nintendo making fun of itself— and an artistic style that will continually make you say "Wow, that was clever" and you have the most fun your going to have on any console at the moment.
The game in fact is so much fun to play that it doesn’t matter that it’s easy. It isn’t the easiest game ever made or anything, but it is incredibly hard to die. The problem is that the bad guys never seem to do enough damage to really matter, especially when you’re increasing the amount of life you have every time you level up. By the middle of the game you’ll have somewhere between 25 and 35 hit points, but the bad guys will only be taking off one or two so unless you’re into randomly charging into every goomba you see, you’re not going to die anytime soon.
I wouldn’t really list this as a complaint though, because even though the challenge wasn’t always there the game was still fun to play through. The great design of the levels, the humor and the general feel of the game allow for a game that’s easy but far deeper than it looks on the surface (no pun intended). It’s Mario’s smooth moves and looks that make this game great … maybe he does have some suavity in common with Bond after all.