Back in 1996, Super Mario Bros. tapped into the RPG world in gaming after dominating the platformer scene since their adventurous debut in 1985. “Legend of The Seven Stars” was met with critical success making considering such a large genre jump proving that just about anything the Mario Bros. touch (save Hotel Mario and other education titles….ahem) turns to gold.
Their RPG success would carry on with the Paper Mario series starting on the N64 in 2000. Through the years, this series of Mario titles has jumped across platforms with decent success, with my personal favorite being “Super Paper Mario” on Wii back in 2007. Its clever dialogue along with the 2D-to-3D puzzle solving and progress approaches made it a title I could hardly put down until the very end.
Upon the release of “Paper Mario: Color Splash”, I eagerly snatched it off the rental shelf to give it a spin. The whimsical beginnings and bright presentation instantly grabbed me into the story and carried me right into the gameplay. As it begins, Mario and Peach are sent a mysterious letter with a familiar postmark. Upon opening the letter, they discover that it’s an unpainted Toad who tells of a fuzzy memory from where he came from and the calamity the land had endured. Knowing the source of the postmark from the mailed Toad, the trio head to Prism Island, where the postmark originated. Upon their arrival, the island, known as a usually active tourist spot, is unusually quiet. In the center of town, they find an empty well that Mario pounds with his tried and true mallet, and a magic paint can arrives and tells the tale of the paint stars being stolen and stealing much of the color of the world along with it (three guesses on the culprit). It’s up to Mario and his Behr of a partner to return the color to the world and the source of the color all together.
The enemies of the game come from all walks of the Super Mario series including Goombas, Koopas, Shy Guys, and other familiar foes. Some armed with classic fireballs to….straws. Yes, that’s right…straws. The Shy Guys are especially thirsty for the tainted…er painted treats that they suck Prism Island’s inhabitants dry of their color. However, with Mario’s Dutch Boy companion in tow, his mallet is pumped with the power of paint to not only put the pesky paint peelers away, but to restore the pale Prism Island patronizers back to their good graces of color hues.
The battles against those foes are based on very watered down versions of Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh card games where you choose cards ranging in powers and abilities to attack one or groups of enemies. Well timed button presses coordinated with these attacks can yield even stronger powers. Be careful, some enemies will not respond to certain attacks and some can even bring harm to Mario himself! Card weapons include fire flowers, jump attacks, and Mario’s trusty mallet in many different forms. Some special weapons include interesting household items and artifacts that unleash powers a la Summon attacks from the Final Fantasy series. Some of these battles are clever in their layout, but get repetitive quickly. Many enemies repeat their battles and perfect confrontations are more common than those you hurt yourself in. However, there is a challenge in the boss battles where certain tasks must be completed right before or during battle for much easier finishes or even avoiding imminent death.
Mini games and twists in the map of the world avoid total monotony in this title, but if you don’t like constant repetition, this title will turn you off fairly quickly. The dialogue has it’s clever and comedic moments as the series is known for, but patience during battles and the labor to endure them must be practiced to get to the good stuff. A solid title in the series but a letdown when considering the past.