I loved Super Mario RPG. I loved the original Paper Mario. And I loved the Thousand Year Door. Then....Paper Mario changed. I'm not sure why Nintendo decided to take away all the good parts of Paper Mario and make the games into boring, repetitive messes, but that's what they did. I heard this one was a little closer to the original Paper Mario, so I decided to give it a go.
There are so many reasons I wanted to like this game. It's adorable, the writing is hilarious and entertaining throughout, and the places to explore are varied and unique. The music is also pretty decent. I really enjoyed running through the world bopping things with my hammer to see if a Toad came out. But these things are completely overshadowed by a terrible combat system where you spend more than half of your time.
The combat system is essentially a wheel, where you can spin it around to line up enemies. Okay, that's fine Nintendo. I can get behind that. However, there are only *two* moves. You have a jump attack and a hammer attack. That's literally it. You don't get other party members. You don't get special moves except in boss fights. Yes, you can equip a different hammer or shoes, but the actual mechanic is the same every time. And there are only so many ways to spin the wheel, this system gets old after the first hour....and this game is 30 hours long. Enemies are *everywhere* so you spend a crap ton of your time in the game facing this repetitive, pedantic battle system. If you fail the line up the enemies, all that means is that now the battle is going to take longer. The game helps you solve these "puzzles" frequently as well, so there's no real incentive to care about the battles. And Nintendo continues to keep out the RPG elements of the game, meaning the only reward for battles is coins, which are overly abundant to begin with. You will quickly find yourself avoiding battles if at all possible because they become to tedious so quickly. In my opinion, this battle system is inexcusable. It feels lazy and uninspired. It takes away from the fun of the rest of the game entirely, since you have to spend so much of your time dragging through 15 battles just to get to the next area of the game. It's too bad, too, because the boss battles are genuinely fun, but slogging through the rest of the battles to get to them just isn't worth it.
The game is also plagued by unskippable and ever-so-slow dialogue. The dialogue loads so slowly, and you can't speed it up. I have no idea why this continues to be a thing in video games, but it doesn't seem hard to be able to press a button to load the dialogue faster. It just brings everything to a completely unnecessary crawl. Lastly, I never understood why the entire game I was just pushing a button to fill up holes with paper. I thought it was amusing at first, but it somehow just kept happening. There is nothing interesting, unique, or purposeful in this, it's just there to slow you down or add "variety" in the things you do. If pushing a single button to fill in holes counts as variety, count me out. I hated this mechanic.
I wish that Nintendo would do what it's done with Mario and Zelda for Paper Mario and Yoshi: creating a whole new universe with creative ideas that change the games as we know them for the better. Instead, Nintendo just slaps on "wooly " or "origami" and makes the same mediocre game it's been making for 10 years. It's frustrating to me because I know Nintendo can do better, it feels like a slap in the face to keep making these same games with different themes and making them $60 when everyone is clamoring for what Paper Mario and Yoshi's Island used to be. Do better, Nintendo.