Review

Paper Mario: Color Splash Review

  • First Released Oct 7, 2016
    released
  • WIIU

Kaleidoscope World

Paper Mario: Color Splash puts a new spin on the "Mario Paint" idea. Reminiscent of the adhesive gimmickry of Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Color Splash’s main appeal hinges on the joys of painting blank spaces with reckless abandon. This dependence on game mechanics that aren’t traditionally associated with Paper Mario appears to be indicative of a series that does not want to rely on its 2D charms alone. With that in mind, it's all the more surprising that painting isn't Color Splash's standout feature.

The game begins with a troubling mystery, one involving a missing Toad, a blank letter in the shape of Toad, and a postmark from a seaside resort, Port Prisma. It's immensely refreshing to kick off the first hour of a Mario game without a Princess Peach kidnapping, but--spoiler!--she does get abducted eventually. There's more to this story than just a Toad rescue, though. Port Prisma and its surrounding vacation spots have been invaded by a sadistic contingent of Shy Guys. Their lungs are especially large, using straws to suck the color and life out of the environment--and worse, Port Prisma's locals, who are mostly unfortunate Toads. As usual, Mario's up to the task of saving the day, but not without a special color-splashing hammer and the guidance of a floating, talking paint bucket named Huey.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

As gorgeous as the series had looked on the 3DS--first with Sticker Star and then the Paper Jam crossover--seeing Paper Mario return to a console is an opportunity to see the series' stationery aesthetic in all its textured, subtly shadowed glory. Like Yoshi's Woolly World and Kirby's Epic Yarn, Color Splash's best visual moments are when you have the urge to reach out to your TV screen for a tactile sensation that isn't there. Some backgrounds even look like the thick paper stock used in high-priced greeting cards. The creative ways different paper products are used can provoke chuckles, whether it's toilet paper that operates a water wheel or blocky background objects decorated in well-folded gift wrapping. A modest grouping of two dozen strips of green paper can effectively and cleverly convey the visual of a small field of tall grass--and corrugated cardboard has never looked more gorgeous in a video game.

Exploring the 39 other areas beyond the starting hub of Port Prisma reveals the usual gamut of Mario environments, from icy locales to humid tropics. This sense of familiarity doesn't hinder the enjoyment of traveling through these environments, however, since there's more than enough detail and imagination to keep your playthrough from feeling stale.

The biggest challenge you'll face in the initial hour is in having enough paint to thoroughly color the first few regions. Your hammer can only hold so much paint and select areas will use up one of your three main colors, which are red, blue, or yellow. The best short term solution is to smash colored objects for a few droplets of their respective color. This issue is remedied as you progressively enhance your paint hammer to hold more paint. Hammer experience points, in the form of hammer icons, can be picked up as part of a post-battle loot drop. By the time you've cleared 20 or so stages, running out of paint won't be a concern. You'll also have access to other hammers, like a type that lacks paint capabilities you so can whack enemies without losing paint as well as a hammer that unrolls paper bridges.

Seeing Paper Mario return to a console is an opportunity to see the series' stationery aesthetic in all its textured, subtly shadowed glory.

Your primary tools for fighting, though, are combat cards--each one represents an attack or defensive action. Provided you're competent at managing your cards, it's easy to have a capable combat deck without having to buy additional cards at a shop. And unlike the last few Mario & Luigi RPGs (Paper Mario's sibling series), timing high damage attacks is much less challenging. This is due in part to Color Splash's training dojo, which allows you to learn how to time strikes without sacrificing cards. Even with more than 150 cards, you can count on variants of an attack type to all function the same way--just with different degrees of potency. Jumping on a Goomba with an iron boot is as easy as jumping on it with a beat-up boot.

Aside from timing attacks and blocks, the other stimulating aspect of battling comes from picking the right card attack for the right opponent. For example, it would be inadvisable to use a beat-up boot to jump on a foe with a spiked helmet. It's pleasingly apt that you can employ tactics that go as far back as the original Super Mario Bros., such as using a Koopa shell to clear out a row of enemies. Echoing an over-the-top assault from a Final Fantasy summons, some attacks are hilariously excessive--like an electric fan that's as large as the planet. It's easy to feel guilty when using it to blow away a trio of Shy Guys.

Navigating in and around 2D structures in a 3D plane has always been one of Paper Mario's main draws, thanks to the obstacles that a given area presents. Color Splash doesn't task you with as much spatial manipulation as Super Paper Mario did almost a decade ago on the Wii, but you will make leaps in and out of the foreground and far background planes. Craftiness is needed for many of the puzzles--and that includes not limiting your viewpoint to the default, side-scrolling camera. For instance, some monochromatic 3D objects aren't completely repainted unless you go behind them. Shy Guys will also surprise you from time to time by manipulating your surroundings to their advantage, such as rolling up a path in the foreground in order to trap you.

The way Color Splash keeps track of all the monochromatic areas you've colorized, plus the myriad environmental puzzles, creates considerable eplay value. It's impossible to earn a 100 percent colorization credit in any of the game's early sections on your initial visits, given that you haven't unlocked the abilities or cards to access each stage's hard-to-reach areas.

At its most imaginative, Color Splash's visual gags and thoughtful manipulation of 2D objects rival any "wow" moment from Sony's Tearaway games.

Where Paper Splash stumbles is with many of Mario and Huey's exercises in backdrop cutouts. By literally cutting sections of the background, Mario can surmount roadblocks and bypass large gaps. The trick lies in figuring out where these detours are. Some of these removable backgrounds are revealed through visual hints, but many are difficult to spot. It's mildly annoying having to spam the Cutout ability in the hopes that a dotted line--the traditional guiding line for scissors--will appear. Constantly pressing a button with no sense of direction hardly feels rewarding, even if the result is forward progress.

Color Splash's seemingly limitless gang of Toads offer a wide spectrum of personalities. Most are enthusiastic about assisting Mario, while others are precious as they plead to him for help. One standout citizen is a glasses-wearing Toad whose card-collecting zest perfectly portrays him as a lovable (albeit stereotypical) nerd. Unsurprisingly, however, Toads don't have a monopoly on charm in the game. The Shy Guys--the dominant enemy type in Color Splash--occasionally have their heartwarming moments, too. They're precious when they fall over themselves in battle and are amusing conversationalists while they wait in line at a trendy Toad-run coffee shop.

In all, conversing with these endearing characters, mushroom-headed or otherwise, is a joy, especially since many of these chats are often snappy. It's as if Nintendo has been mindful of the criticisms directed at prior Mario RPGs for their verbose, drawn-out conversations. Jokes don't solely rely on referential humor or puns; sometimes an amusing, G-rated expletive like "What the scrap?!" is all it takes to make a particular Toad memorable.

At its most imaginative, Color Splash's visual gags and thoughtful manipulation of 2D objects rival any "wow" moment from Sony's Tearaway games. What Color Splash lacks in moment-to-moment paper tricks, it more than makes up for in persistent visual appeal and a wholly adorable cast, including antagonists from all pay grades. Its only frustrating feature is its Cutout interface, which can leave one stumped, disrupting the game's pacing and enjoyment of levels considerably. The novelty of the paint splashing doesn't grow tiresome, but it does take a backseat to the visual allure for which the series is known. Color Splash makes a solid case for a Paper Mario sequel that doesn’t need to rely on shtick like stickers or paint, though I won't be surprised if Nintendo’s considering using crayons in the future.

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Now Playing: Paper Mario: Color Splash - Hammer Down Battle - Gameplay

Back To Top

The Good

  • Exquisite detail and lighting make it the prettiest Paper Mario yet
  • Concise dialogue is a vast improvement over past Mario RPGs
  • Toads and the rest of the familiar supporting cast are as adorable as ever

The Bad

  • Cutout feature lacks problem-solving gratification
  • The painting mechanic, while functional, isn’t remarkable.

About the Author

Miguel needed 25 hours to get through Paper Mario: Color Splash, which also included time spent trying to reach 100 percent colorization in all areas. He managed a 90 percent average. His favorite installment in the series is the original Paper Mario. GameSpot was provided with a complimentary copy of the game for the purpose of this review.
54 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
  • 54 results
  • 1
  • 2
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for the1Jugg
the1Jugg

38

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

Its okay. If you dont have time to make a video review, I will go over to IGI and check theirs out. Too bad its happening more often lately, I used to LOVE the video reviews here.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for dajupe
dajupe

35

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I think this game is a solid 9.5 if not a 10. Its so well written and designed, the artwork is exceptional as is the music. The only thing that is making it nearly a 10 and not a definitive 10 is if you are not in the mood for the card system it can be a bit annoying.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for wolfpup7
wolfpup7

1502

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@dajupe: The only scoring system I like is Netflix's where 3 is "liked it" 4 is "really liked it" 5 is "loved it", so I just think what I'd give something on that, and double it...so yeah, I'd give it a 10.

My only real complaint are some of the one-off events. I didn't like that gameshow level at all. Found that super obnoxious and used a camera to be able to finish it. Probably a few other places that were annoying too. Mostly though, it has great writing, it looks and sounds fantastic, with real instruments, and the level design is amazing.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for clookoo213
clookoo213

44

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

@dajupe: Everything you said is correct, except combat. Yes you pointed that out, but it's a BIG part of the game. I found the combat system repetitive, boring, and completely pointless. Since you are always losing something in any battle, just what exactly is the point? This game would have been the rating you said (in my opinion) if it had just stuck to its roots and had a more conventional battle system. I never thought there was anything wrong with the battle system that was implemented in Thousand Year Door, and I find that the combat in this game, as well as the combat in Sticker Star is way over simplified, and completely pointless. I just don't see why Nintendo thought it was a good idea to remove XP and conventional turn based combat. It worked great in the past, and would have been a great fit in this installment, and it probably would have become a system seller to be honest. Also, the map and over world is lame to say the least. Takes the awe of exploration completely out of the game when all you need to do to progress is go to an over world that literally points out your next objective. All in all, I personally give this anywhere from a 6.5 to a 7.5 somewhere in the middle there. Quite a disappointing installment in the series indeed. If you want to experience an excellent Paper Mario game, I suggest the original, or hey, even better; Thousand year door. This is honestly a pathetic attempt by comparison, sorry Nintendo, do better next time and give fans what they want instead of catering to children.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for wolfpup7
wolfpup7

1502

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

Edited By wolfpup7

@clookoo213: I think the combat is one of the game's strengths. I think it's actually much LESS repetitive than most games...

I would have enjoyed an experience system though...but then I enjoy that in most any game, and don't think poorly of a game for not having one. (Though you still do get more powerful as you go along.)

Upvote • 
Avatar image for dajupe
dajupe

35

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@clookoo213: I am willing to forgive the combat system as the artwork, music and writing are fantastic. They really hit the ball on the mark and I laughed a lot at the humour that was created with a combination of witty writing and colourful original artwork. I have played all of the paper mario series and this one rates as one of my favourites in regards to these two strong factors that make up the paper mario world. I liked the way the overworld opened up and played as sections of the story I thought it was clever. The thing about the combat system is that it was repetitive but you could delve a little deeper into it to make fights funner and finish quicker but I agree they dropped the ball on it a bit but I didn't hate on it. I think this stands up with thousand year door and being an adult who has played many titles of all genres I still rate this as a solid and original title. Maybe a 9 instead of a 9.5 but still awesome.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Sunuva22
Sunuva22

243

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 155

User Lists: 0

Fun game. The mario music in this game is literally the best music out there for a mario game(you tube that stuff). Try it someday, don't let the card system and all the trash talk about it stop you from trying out a pretty decent game. Buy it on the cheap or rent it if you can. 8/10

2 • 
Avatar image for wolfpup7
wolfpup7

1502

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@Sunuva22: Yeah, the soundtrack is AMAZING. Real instruments.

The art is amazing.

The level design is amazing.

I thought the combat was a real strength though too!

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24222

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 603

User Lists: 4

I expect the next Paper Mario game to retain the card system and also implement microtransactions.

3 • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24222

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 603

User Lists: 4

Here's an example of the game's witty writing, something about the game of rock-paper-scissors.

It's unfortunate that the writing has been wasted on a game with less-than-good gameplay.

2 • 
Avatar image for wolfpup7
wolfpup7

1502

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

Edited By wolfpup7

@Gelugon_baat: IMO the game plays incredibly well, and is an example of how great Nintendo is as a developer. Most developers would LOVE to be this well designed.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24222

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 603

User Lists: 4

@wolfpup7: I disagree.

For one, I don't see many other developers doing things like having the player's options strictly limited by whatever he/she found as loot. Even for games where loot matters, the player character has some readily available "default" options.

Sure, you can then argue that the player gets so many cards, but then there's the issue of the user interface. It has very little in the way of organization. Of course, there were games with terrible UI, like Dark Souls, but the player does not have to access them so frequently.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24222

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 603

User Lists: 4

The card-selecting and card-painting system for combat seems so tedious - and there are occasions where the cards are hidden from view, making combat a matter of guesswork and luck.

Who the **** at Intelligent Systems thought that this would be a good idea? I swear, ever since the very first Fire Emblem on the NES, bad ideas sit alongside otherwise okay ones in its game designs.

P.S. In the very first Fire Emblem,healers can only gain experience by being hit, and they are very squishy. Go figure.

2 • 
Avatar image for so_hai
so_hai

4142

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 89

User Lists: 0

Weird reference there to Tearaway... We'll see how long-lasting and fresh the Tearaway series is after 15 years and across 5 platforms.

5 • 
Avatar image for deactivated-5802d4d9371b3
deactivated-5802d4d9371b3

613

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@so_hai: You realize that the reference to Tearaway was actually in defense of the game being reviewed right? "At its most imaginative, Color Splash's visual gags and thoughtful manipulation of 2D objects rival any "wow" moment from Sony's Tearaway games." He's saying the game (basically) stands on its own, and stronger, than the Tearaway games. Do people not understand reading comprehension anymore?

Upvote • 
Avatar image for doctor_pancakes
Doctor_Pancakes

27

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@so_hai: That bit of the review was done for click bait and to start a war in the comments lol

Paper Mario is a much better and longer established franchise. Mentioning Tearaway was clearly the reviewer stirring the pot.

3 • 
Avatar image for AndreasRufus
AndreasRufus

284

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

The bad points seem pretty much based on taste more than they should. It's fine, but it feels like the reviewer had to search for something that's "not good".

Upvote • 
Avatar image for DeadrisingX1
DeadrisingX1

1850

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 157

User Lists: 0

I clicked on the video mistaking it for a review...
Damn it.

6 • 
Avatar image for drumjod
drumjod

848

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@DeadrisingX1: It even says "Review" right under the play button which is pretty misleading. I wish Gamespot would stop doing that. It's pretty disrespectful to those of us who have frequented the site for years imo.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for cboye18
cboye18

3589

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 18

User Lists: 0

So it's Sticker Star all over again? Keep screwing up, Nintendo.

6 • 
Avatar image for AndreasRufus
AndreasRufus

284

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By AndreasRufus

@cboye18:Well, you do get some kind of experience for battles this time around and it's way easier to spot WHEN to use WHAT thing-card.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for mark_unix
mark_unix

912

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

A 7 because it is the only game the wii-u is getting in a period of awesome tripple-a titles never going to come to any Nintendo near you...

2 • 
Avatar image for doctor_pancakes
Doctor_Pancakes

27

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

The Paper Mario series has been wowing us with fun paper visuals since long before Tearaway came around... what was the point of putting that? That is the snippet they put on Metacritic too lol

Wow

6 • 
Avatar image for Arachnofunk
Arachnofunk

92

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I'll definitely pick this up, top quality rpg/adventure game

2 • 
Avatar image for csward
csward

2155

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 20

User Lists: 0

This was our only holiday release for Wii U too. :(

3 • 
Avatar image for BrunoBRS
BrunoBRS

74156

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 6

User Lists: 0

the review doesn't answer my biggest question (well, two biggest questions) though: do bosses rely on gimmicks and foresight to have the one card that can beat them, like in sticker star? and is there a reason to fight enemies or are you better off just avoiding combat altogether, since there is no reward other than "more coins that you have too many of anyway"?

5 • 
Avatar image for wolfpup7
wolfpup7

1502

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@BrunoBRS: Some bosses do, but there's a character in what's kind of the central hub who tells you what you're going to need. Just check with him before levels. I haven't played Sticker Star yet so I'm not sure if Color Splash is way better, or if people are just being super weird about SS.

Combat is pretty great IMO (switch it to use the controller though, obviously, not touch!). As others mentioned, there is experience though it just gives you more paint.

I pretty much fought everything the first time I went through a level, though I'd sometimes skip stuff if I was running through a level for other reasons.

There's also easy ways to get piles of coins, so pretty quickly you can basically spend what you want.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for chacobo1
chacobo1

10

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By chacobo1

@BrunoBRS: Yes you still need a "Thing" card or bosses will have a one hit KO attack that is unavoidable unless you use that card. I still can't find a review that says you get EXP or anything for doing battles.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Sunuva22
Sunuva22

243

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 155

User Lists: 0

@chacobo1: You get like paint exp, it levels up your paint hammer to increase the total amount of paint you have on hand for battles and painting objects. There is also some progression in other areas too concerning battles. There are no real levels like 1-2-3 for mario though.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Tarquin_lord
Tarquin_lord

29

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@chacobo1:

Gamexplain's review says you get XP from battles, so they're not totally pointless.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zvc0rUJl41Y

2 • 
Avatar image for CagedOkami
CagedOkami

370

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

i forgot this website makes reviews. you dont see them much around here.

2 • 
Avatar image for biggamerdude
BigGamerDude

2073

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 13

User Lists: 0

meh

2 • 
Avatar image for ice12tray
Ice12Tray

839

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

I will definitely be picking this up. For me, the pros outweigh the cons and after everything I've played recently, I really just want a colorful game that has personality and whimsy.

4 • 
Avatar image for wolfpup7
wolfpup7

1502

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@ice12tray: It's got piles of personality and whimsy. The level design is amazing. The combat is a STRENGTH of it, not a weakness...my only real complain are some one-off elements, like this lame gameshow on one level.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for so_hai
so_hai

4142

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 89

User Lists: 0

@ice12tray: Only Nintendo is committed to making games feel like games, so you've got the right idea.

Upvote • 
  • 54 results
  • 1
  • 2

Paper Mario: Color Splash

First Released Oct 7, 2016
released
  • Wii U

7
Good

Average Rating

16 Rating(s)

7.6

Developed by:

Published by:

Genre(s):

Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
Everyone
Mild Cartoon Violence