After drudging through the ten minute long introduction, I was presented with a simple command: "...save all worlds from destruction!" I answered "Nah." Merlon, the wizard who had asked me, began to freak out and kept pressing it, but I kept refusing. It was funny watching his eyes bug out as I kept turning down my hero status. It would be like Obi Wan Kenobi responding to Leia's desperate "you're my only hope" cry for help with "sucks to be you!"
The joke was on me when they stopped asking and my game ended, causing me to restart from scratch.
That's the kind of humor you can expect from Super Paper Mario. There's a lot of sillyness and self-referential quips to be found throughout the game, making it a light-hearted romp all the way through, from the "high-technicaaaaal" lizard nerd Francis who engages Princess Peach in a hilarious dating sim to the absurd, exaggerated designs of each character.
Yes, Paper Mario is back. And while Mario may be the star, Bowser is who really stole the show for me. Every time you use him, he's going to make you laugh, either because you'll see his feet shuffling across the ground or his over-the-top look of horror as he wildly flails his arms. His theme music is amazing and fits his character, and his dialogue will make you grin stupidly every time he angrily tells someone to hurry up or sulks about how he can never beat Mario.
The story is nothing too new to Mario territory- Princess kidnapped, end of the world nigh, blah blah blah. The sappy love story intertwined will probably make you sick, but it does add a bit of drama and mystery to the tale, despite being extremely predictable.
The feature that gets touted the most is the plane swapping that allows you to "flip" the traditional side-scroller world into some funky 3D rendition that doesn't look or feel quite as good, but definitely introduces a lot of fun (and frustrating) scenarios. Half of all the puzzles in this game will be solved by flipping the world, and believe me, it'll get boring once the novelty wears off. Combine that with the fact that only Mario can flip meaning that you'll either constantly be switching to him or just get lazy and leave it. If Nintendo were smarter, all four characters would have that ability. To make matters worse, the game is far too easy. While having an RPG-style HP stat was definitely a cool addition to a platformer, taking away one-hit deaths and consequently, some of the stress associated with lots of cheap deaths, I didn't die once in the game, and my HP never dipped below 5. The platforming itself isn't that difficult either, and the enemies present little challenge.
The game's level design peaks early, so by the time you finish World 3, you'll be giddy as a twelve year old middle school girl who's just been asked to the big dance, but by the time you get halfway through World 7, you'll be rolling your eyes and wishing the level would Just. End. Already. There are some levels like the Whoa Zone that will have you in complete awe, but others just get convoluted in their design and become annoying. However, the art design of the game really adds to the overall feel, especially on the remakes of old Super Mario Bros levels that are brimming with nostalgia. That rapidly-growing, screen-encompassing, worlds-destroying void in the sky will fill you with urgency and dread. Bright blue skies filled with odd Algebraic questions and lush forestry will make you feel bright and cheery.
I can't stress it enough how funny this game is at times. When the giant mechanical dragon Fracktail is "loading" and his eyes turn into the Wii's "connecting to the Internet" symbol, you can't help but crack a wry smile. When Bowser is getting ready to raid Peach's castle and among the text bubbles you see a few "We're under attack!" messages and Bowser takes this as a hilarious joke from his troops until he spots two mustaches in the crowd, you'll laugh. When Mario goes into his completely ridiculous "YOU GOT A PURE HEART!" pose or you meet the "mysterious" Mr. L for the first time, you'll be giggling uncontrollably and gasping for air.
But speaking of text, this game will bore you to tears with it all. I can't ever bring myself to skip story, so I was forced to read every last line, and I'll tell you now: It drags. Not only that, but the motion controls are rudimentary and feel like an after-thought. Pointing at the screen ruins the flow, and shaking the controller at the right time doesn't always work; the game would've been better off without it. And the entire towns of Flipside and Flopside? Yeah, completely worthless.
So before my review gets as wordy as some of Super Paper Mario's characters, I'll leave you by saying that while this is one of the finest (and funniest) Wii games to come out thus far, its occasionally plodding level design and low replay value make it hard to justify buying this game, but easy to recommend a play-through.