Paint, color, and adventure are in the cards for Mario's final Wii U outing.
There is no denying that many fans of Mario and particularly the old school Paper Mario games were fuming at the changes the developers of the series made starting with Paper Mario: Sticker Star on the Nintendo 3DS. Battles were borderline meaningless, the story was bare bones, and the game's puzzles and level design were about as obtuse as a game could get. Thankfully, the developers took the criticism of Sticker Star to heart, and while the Wii U's Paper Mario: Color Splash isn't the type of traditional Paper Mario experience old fans would like, it's a marked improvement over Sticker Star and just a fantastic game in general.
Right away from when you first insert the game disc into your Wii U, load up the game from the system menu, and are greeted with the title screen, you'll find yourself amazed by the high-definition visuals of Paper Mario: Color Splash. The game was one of the most visually impressive games of last year with its bright, vivid, and colorful graphics. Paper Mario was already a looker on past consoles and handhelds it made an appearance, but it looks better than it ever has (and amazingly so) on the Wii U in jaw-dropping HD. The environments, the characters, and the effects like the smattering of paint that splashes from Mario's hammer upon a super successful hammer attack in battle all look wonderful. Everything is devised up of paper and cardboard, making this world so engaging on the eye to gaze upon.
|Paper Mario: Color Splash's visual identity is simply splendid.|
|Thankfully, even on hot days like this, Paper Mario never has to worry about sunburns.|
Paper Mario: Color Splash uses a course progressing system just like Sticker Star to proceed through the game. Each course you go to has different puzzles and problems to solve in order to reach the highly desirable Mini Paint Stars, used to unlock new courses on the world map of the game. Some of these Paint Stars are a bit lame, as they are located nearby another in the same course. Because you get kicked out of the level once you collect one Paint Star, that means you have to go through all the way through the same course just to reach the same location where a second Paint Star is located. Still, this problem isn't too bothersome and doesn't happen too much. It's just notable when it does.
|One of countless Mini Paint Stars that need to be collected by Mario and his companion Huey.|
|This Fan Thing has been found...|
|...and then can be used to help out this shipwrecked Toad.|
Another issue with Sticker Star was how battles felt trivial, as winning them didn't do much of anything besides waste previous stickers to use for boss encounters. This is remedied in Color Splash. Like past Paper Mario games, battles are much more active than they are passive like they are in typical turn-based RPGs. Performing actions like offense moves and blocking is done with timing the pressings of buttons. For instance, using a Jump card requires five successful button inputs made just before Mario makes contact with an enemy in order to deal the most damage. While Mario loses HP when damage, enemies lose color when they get attacked. You see, as enemies take damage, their color diminishes, starting from the bottom. The closer they are to being defeated, the more the white that begins at the bottom reaches their top until they are defeated.
|When he's tired of using his feet, Mario lets his butt do the attacking.|
|This Shy Guy may have been defeated, but he lives on in Mario's paint supply.|
|Depending on the card used, the timing of your button presses varies.|
|Colorless spots as seen in the background need Mario's special hammer to fill them up.|
|While you won't be seeing too many original characters, |
their wacky antics and dialogue more than make up for it.
Paper Mario: Color Splash may not be the Paper Mario game that longtime, devout fans of the original games want (far from it), but for those like me who don't mind the insistence of Nintendo to stick with this new formula founded in Sticker Star, Color Splash is a mighty fine game that's well crafted, full of wit, charm, and personality, and possesses clever puzzles, interesting level designs, and has packs a punch in the adventure department. Color me surprised with how impressed I was with this delightful and colorful adventure.
[SPC Says: B+]