8.6

This wacky homage to the platforming days serves as a great addition to any Nintendo fan's fledgling Wii library.

Super Paper Mario is an incredibly fun game that both retains the things that made the original 2-D platformers great and adds new content to ensure that the series matures perfectly.

Most of the game is set on a 2-D plane (like the original games of the series) and the player's main objective is to end up at the right side of the level. Like Super Mario World, many of the levels feature doorways leading to branching paths which impede the players progress. Added to the platforming style is a dab of RPG. When Mario (or any of the main characters) jump on an enemy it will do a certain amount of damage (represented by hit points), so instead of jumping on an enemy once or twice to defeat them, you have to jump on them enough times to deplete their HP. As you progress you will collect points and when you amass a certain number of points your main characters will level up, making it easier to defeat enemies. Also, you can collect cards that allow you to do double damage to the enemies featured on the cards. Each of the main characters has a particular ability needed to progress through the game: Luigi can jump high, Peach can fly, Bowser can breathe fire and do double the amount of damage as all of the other characters, and Mario can flip between 2-D and 3-D. The character will have to use Mario's ability to flip between the two dimensions quite often, but the major problem is that the 3-D realm is not used to it's full potential. Only a certain amount of time can be spent in the 3-D realm, because your health will start to deplete the longer you stay in there, movement is much slower in the 3-D realm than the 2-D realm, making it much harder to move around, and it's also much harder to hit enemies. It doesn't matter too much because the 3-D dimension is only really intended to be used for solving puzzles quickly, but I would've liked to see it used more fully and give the player more of a chance to explore than it did. Over the course of the game, you will collect a certain number of PIxls that allow your character to perform certain functions needed to progress in the game. Each Pixl is used at least several times in the game, so none of them feel like they're there just for fluff. So, aside from the lack of depth to the 3-D realm, the game plays really well.

The controls are different than most other Wii games in that you hold the controller horizontally (like an old NES controller). The controls are intuitive and easy to use if you've ever played a sidescrolling Mario game before: the D pad is used to run, the 2 button is used to jump, and then the A button is used for Mario's flipping ability and the 1 button is used to harness the power of the PIxl's. The controls work very well for the game and help create the retro vibe of the game.

Although most of the graphics in this game are 2-D, the style in which they are presented is purely awesome. Every part of this world has so many little details to see, like flipping into 3-D to see arrows pointing you in the direction that you need to go, or talking to every character you have to battle in the tournament to see that they each have their own, distinct personality. The 3-D features imposed on the 2-D backdrop look amazing as well and even the 3-D world (although it looks relatively bland) fits the artistic themes of the game.

The music in this game borrows greatly from the soundtracks of old Mario games and seems to be more of something in the background than something used to create the atmosphere of the game. The best thing to do with music in this game is listen to each character's theme song when you get the Pixl PIccolo.

First time through, the game will probably last you about 20 hours, without much involvement in sidequests. There are plenty of little sidequests to do after you complete the game however, giving more length to this RPG's relatively short play time.

Overall, this game is a lot of fun and keeps you entertained the entire way through. I found the story to be deeper than I expected from a Mario RPG, to which I was pleasantly surprised. This wacky homage to the platforming days serves as a great addition to any Nintendo fan's fledgling Wii library.

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