Intelligent Systems and Nintendo have come together once again, this time bringing Mario into the next generation of gaming on the Wii. Super Paper Mario brings something different, and yet, it'll seem like it's been done before...
The game starts, and we learn that a the prophecies from a dark book have started. And the only way Mario will solve this is to go old school. Mario has returned to his superstar form: a straight up side-scroller...at least until a new look on life is needed. Armed with the ability to change from 2D to 3D, Mario sets off on an adventure like no other to stop the prophecies and return the world to how it once was.
Having the ability to flip dimensions leads to some interesting, unique, and fun gameplay. Most of the game is spent in 2D, so it's just like a retro game. The Wii Remote is used sideways, mostly reminiscent of a classic Nes controller. And for the most part, that's how the game works, and it's where Super Paper Mario shows it's true colors. The controls of the Wii are not shoved down a players throat, but the motion censor is used, and in a good way.
Until the 3D aspect hits, the gameplay is very similar to that of the Super Mario Bros. series. The change in dimensions allows for many different ways of avoiding enemies, obstacles, and other things like that, as well as see levels in a new way. But it really isn't that simple. With the dimension change, there's a ton of puzzles and secrets, which make this game not as simple as it looks.
Unlike recent Mario games, there's actually an element of difficulty. There will be times when a player is stuck for upwards of 10 minutes to an hour or longer. It works because the levels are so, so long, which was a great thing to see. There's not levels that are 5 minutes long and then done, but levels that can upwards of a half hour. The game took me 17 hours on the dot, and for most, it'll be near 20 hours, probably around 25.
Flipping is the key to Super Paper Mario. Unfortunately, it does not last forever and limits the player to how long he or she can spend in 3D. But that's ok, because the player will want to be in 2D, because it works so well. Seriously, it works incredibly well. I'm still confused on how Intelligent Systems created such a masterpieces by combining the platforming genre with the RPG genre in this way, because it really was such a nice change from all these Mario spinoffs and all the other gimmick Mario games that have been released lately.
Not everything has changed though. The visual aspects are those of so dear to the Paper Mario series: Nothing new, nothing special, but nothing bad. Everything's crisp and clear, as we've come to expect. The music is also very nice, and is very much like Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door's music. There are some tracks that could've been worked on just a bit more. However, the bad tracks are very limited, and I really enjoyed the music in the game, especially the classic tunes.
Speaking of classic tunes, it's good to know this game is full of them and other classic references, much more than any other Mario title in recent years. This game has roots that go back to the late 1980's and 1990's, and all of the classic references are in full swing. None of them are butchered up and made modern, and none of them have been destroyed and ruined from what they once were. They are what they are, whether it be a visual, an aspect of gameplay, or a nice sounding piece from the old days.
All that aside, Super Paper Mario isn't perfect. Until the last part of the game, the storyline is incredibly weak, and leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately, the end of the game picks that up, although it a deeper storyline should've been developed way earlier in the game. Some characters could have been better developed and played bigger roles, but for the most part, the end part of the game really does fill in everything missing from the beginning.
Along with the weak storyline at the beginning, there are some bad times in this game, including parts that should never be in a game. There's really only 2 parts that fit this description, but they are truly horrible and do not deserve any praise. A player literally has to work - not play, work. It's not fun during this times, and I found myself quite frustrated during these times.
In short: Intelligent Systems did it right. I haven't enjoyed a game like this in 10 years. It brings me back so far, and takes new gamers into a different world. This, to me, is the best game on the Wii that's available. Everything is great, except for a few choice parts, which is what keeps this game from getting a perfect score. Super Paper Mario is better than it's predecessors, and really has propelled the Mario series back into the spotlight.
Finally, for the first time in years, a truly great Mario game has arrived on scene.
Overall Score: 9.4/10