I’ve been a fan of the Paper Mario series for a while now, thanks to Paper Mario Sticker Star and Mario & Luigi Paper Jam (both 3DS titles). The gameplay is a little different from other Mario games. These are more role-playing games than side-scrolling platformers and involve more story and mystery-solving. Also, instead of going against baddies head-on, you enter into battle mode and use attack cards. Paper Mario just recently made its Wii U debut in Paper Mario Color Splash.
Wii U Paper Mario Color Splash Review — Story
The basic story is a little long-winded at first. But, it becomes more fun and interesting as the game progresses. Paper Mario must travel to Port Prisma, a place once known for its boundless supply of color. Having the color literally sucked out of it, Paper Mario is ready to help make things right. With the help of a sassy paint can named Huey and a new paint hammer, you can return the land and toads to their vibrant selves. Plus, who doesn’t love whacking stuff with a hammer full of paint?!
I love the paper theming throughout the game. It even plays well into the dialogue and humor. It’s not quite as adorable and inventive as Yoshi’s Wolly World but that game is in its own league of awesomeness (I need to write about it one of these days). Using the paint hammer, you need to paint any colorless spots. The goal of each level is to find Mini Paint Stars. Doing so will pave the way to finding Big Paint Stars and restoring the land. To accrue extra coins, which are used for tasks and to buy cards, you can visit one of eight Ro Sham Bo temples. There are clues to beat these but most rounds are totally random.
The various levels are exciting and clever. My favorite level is the one where you enter a tv screen and play in a retro 8-bit Super Mario Bros. 3 world. Old school gaming wins my heart every time. The characters are endearing and it’s so easy to get caught up in the touching storyline. The music is super cute too! Munchkin really enjoyed listening to the various sound bites in the music gallery.
Wii U Paper Mario Color Splash Review — Gameplay
Controls are easy and you get the hang of which battle cards to use for each enemy pretty quickly. For example, you can’t use hammer-based cards on flying enemies or shoe-based cards on spikey enemies unless it’s an Iron Shoe. Enemy cards allow you to have the baddies fight on your side. Thing cards are created from 3D items and pack stronger and more specific attacks.
But, the whole choosing, painting cards, and swiping gets monotonous. I dreaded it every time we had to go into battle mode. At least you can use avoid some battles with weak enemies by just stomping on them or using your regular hammer.
To play the game, you don’t just go from level to level. Many times you have to leave a level unfinished until you get a certain item or complete a certain task first. Sometimes, you might even have to play a level several times before it’s “complete.” This can be difficult at times but there are usually hints along the way. It was only in the last few levels that Munchkin and I had to rely on online Walkthrough Guides to play. When you finally figure out what you’re supposed to do, the resulting animation sequences are quite satisfying.
Dual screen functionality doesn’t translate as well on the Wii U as it does on the 3DS for Paper Mario Color Splash. On the 3DS, it’s a natural switch back and forth. On the Wii U, it seems awkward and forced. At times, the only way you know to look at the GamePad is if the main screen tells you to do so. Also, during “cutout” scenes, the action is only on the GamePad. That means onlookers can only guess what’s happening unless they peek over your shoulder.
Wii U Paper Mario Color Splash Review — Family Appeal
Parents should note that, while the overall tone appropriate for all ages, most of the comments and conversations are somewhat sarcastic. Many times it’s still funny but this game has more dry humor than I’m accustomed to in a Mario game. It was refreshing, though, to see some bad guys have a change of heart with regards to their less than kind deeds. 😀
One major flaw is that this game is only one player. That immediately docked my family-friendly rating. After all, half the fun of video games like this is being able to play it with a parent, child, friend, or sibling. Munchkin and I took turns doing the different levels but we would have liked it better to play together.
We really enjoyed the many hours spent playing Paper Mario Color Splash. It’s not perfect but the game is fun, creative, and has a happy ending (if you complete the game 100%, *sniff* poor Huey). I’m looking forward to the next Paper Mario game! I just hope the next game in this series allows for two players and streamlines the whole battle card process.
I received this item as part of my participation as a Nintendo Ambassador. All opinions are my own.