The start of the chapter sheds some light on the recipe system we noted in our last preview because Mario needs to have some soup made. Upon visiting the local chef and forking over the appropriate ingredient, he's rewarded with the zesty concoction, which is then added to his collection of recipes. The second chapter also shows off the game's funky design and how Mario's ability to flip the surroundings in 3D is integral to the game. By exploring Flipside in 3D, you'll find new places to venture, some of which will require additional help. For example, you'll have to switch to Peach and use her ability to float with her parasol, allowing her to slowly glide to the ground after a jump to get to Gloam Swamp. Some of the other obstacles you'll encounter will require special help from your pixl homies. Chapter two finds Mario joined by two new faces: Boomer, an energetic flying bomb you can use to take out enemies or blow up blocks that keep you from advancing, and Slim, a triangular little guy who lets you get paper thin to slide into new places.
You'll get ample time to test out the two new pixls in the swamp area and in the mansion. Boomer is very handy when dealing with enemies, as well as obstacles. You'll "set" him by pressing the 1 button. You can choose to wait until his fuse burns down or press 1 to detonate him. Slim lets you get all skinny, which lets you avoid harm if you're not moving. With two pixls in the roster, you'll have to start managing which of them you have active. Thankfully, you'll be able to switch between them quickly. Switching between pixls and characters is vital in chapter two because non-player characters have different interactions with both Mario and Peach, and you'll obviously need to use specific pixls to clear obstacles or foes.
As far as enemies go, we've seen a mix of old and new faces from chapter one. Goombas, koopas, and boos are joined by original critters that fit in nicely with Mario's rogues' gallery. Growmebas are floating foes that keep spawning clones of themselves until you take out the original. Shlurps are invincible vacuums of doom that can be taken out only by getting them to chow down on something explosive. Gnips and their larger cousins, gnaws, are essentially bouncers you'll encounter in Merlee's mansion that will brusquely eject you if you get caught.
As far as the presentation goes, the game's storybook appearance continues to work nicely. The game's look remains consistent and manages to convey a generous helping of personality. Whether it's the NPCs you meet or the main characters, Super Paper Mario has a winning style. The audio in the game is growing on us now that we're diving in a little more. The music we've heard so far leans heavily on old-school sound effects and gives them a modern, bouncy spin. The ambient sound is good and subtle, and the various crickets and swamp wildlife droning in the background stand out in this chapter. The music is also getting to sound much more full-bodied and engaging.
So far, we don't have much to complain about in this game. Super Paper Mario is nifty and polished. The addition of multitasking to the gameplay adds some more depth to the experience without being annoying. The mechanics keep the puzzles interesting with a nice mix of challenge. Some puzzles will have you smacking your head after you realize the solution was right in front of you the whole time, while others will definitely force you to think. Check back tomorrow with our next step in saving the world: Chapter three! Super Paper Mario is slated to ship next month.