Paper Mario: The Origami King review: Beautiful but flawed

Nintendo /
2 of 3
Paper Mario: The Origami King review
Nintendo /

The Gameplay

The gameplay of Paper Mario: The Origami King is odd in that 70 percent of the gameplay does not pair well with the remaining 30 percent. The game often feels like developers made most of a really great game with a certain vision in mind, and then were forced to smash in the gameplay of a completely different game.

The majority of the game is comprised of exploring the Toad Kingdom, going farther on the planet than Mario has ever explored. The world is split into six major areas, and each area is comprised of a few large areas filled with platforming, puzzles, enemies, and collectibles. These areas are dense with things to do, often taking ten to fifteen minutes to fully explore, and that is not including any battling.

The platforming and puzzles in these areas normally result in the player finding the game’s most prominent collectible, distressed toads. These toads can be folded into various shapes and sizes, hidden in behind bottomless pits, a thing of scrambled eggs: toads can anything and be anywhere. Collecting them gives Mario an option in battle, but mostly just serves as a satisfying and often puzzling collectible.

Speaking of battling, the player will only find themselves battling about 30 percent of the time. These battles are simple, typically short, and require about the IQ of a graham cracker. Mario stands in the middle of a circular grid, with the enemies taking up spots on the grid around him.

Once the battle begins, the enemies will position themselves around the circle, and the first thing the player must do is reposition the enemies into certain shapes so he can optimally attack them. The game will always make sure the player has ample time and circle moves to position the enemies in a way that allows them to kill all enemies on the first turn.

This battle system does not get any deeper. Boss battles are just the same thing, but backward, and still easy. The lack of difficulty and amount of favors that the game throws the player makes these encounters as not fun and as boring as possible.

This battle system and it’s quick but overly easy gameplay does not match in tone and development as the rest of the game. The puzzles and platforming in the world can be complex, complicated, interesting, and sometimes even difficult to process, which kept a smile on my face and often was the sole reason I kept playing. It is especially jarring when the game introduces combat that happens outside of the battle system, and it is some of the most fun I had while playing. These two parts of the game just do not fit together properly, like a jigsaw puzzle piece and a Ritz cracker.