Paper Mario Preview

Super Mario Adventure will play through 2D characters that exist in 3D environments, as Nintendo's graphical goal is to make players feel as if they're in an "animated painting."

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The classic Super Mario RPG (The Legend of the Seven Stars) on the SNES took place in a world in which fighting wedding cakes, furnishing "group hugs," and helping a Koopa Troop partner find his birth parents were the norm. Nintendo's now working on bringing out the sequel, Super Mario Adventure (known as Super Mario RPG 2 in Japan), to the N64.

Super Mario Adventure will play through 2D characters that exist in 3D environments, as Nintendo's graphical goal is to make players feel as if they're in an "animated painting." Reportedly, the Mushroom Kingdom will return, as well as a desert and a snow-filled environment similar to the first Super Mario RPG, the gameplay will be menu-driven. In addition, and just as predictably, Mario will host a group of characters throughout the game, and we can probably assume stars (or something similar) will be the motivation. Will Bowser play traitor to his own cause this time (the footage does reveal Bowser on the opposing side of battles.... )? Nothing has been said, but in Nintendo fashion, probably only if he's in a jam.

You'll walk around in the main world and eventually come across an enemy who will charge at you. Once you touch that enemy, you'll be thrust into a battle scene with it and possibly others. And how you collide with the enemy in the main world may affect the battle scene. For example, if you happen to jump on an enemy in the main world, in the battle scene he may be already lying on the ground.

In the battle scenes, of the variety of weapons at your disposal is displayed on the screen by a film projector. You'll choose one, such as a hammer, then a little charge window pops up. This window is to help charge up your weapon. And in order to do this you must hold the analog stick to the left and then release it as the meter charges up fully. If you release the stick at the appropriate time, your weapon will be more powerful. There are other attacks you can use as well, such as jumping on an enemy. Again, this is time based as in the original- you'll have to press the button at exactly the right time to inflict the greatest amount of damage on your enemy possible. Also similar to the first Super Mario RPG, in some cases you'll have to explore which weapons work best on which enemies. For example, if you jump on an enemy wearing a spiked helmet, you'll quickly learn that it will spell pain for your character.

As for the actual main world, so far we haven't seen anything else that's new; we've just walked along, running into enemies. The monitors showing the game on video at Nintendo Space World, however, displayed a few cool scenes that appear to take place in castles and dungeons.

One more quick note about the game-one that's easily my favorite effect: when your characters turn around in the game, they actually flip over. They're completely 2D cutouts that have been placed in this pseudo 3D world - it truly sets the mood of the comic strip/puppet show atmosphere.

Currently listed as 50 percent complete, Super Mario Adventure is being slated for a January release in Japan.

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