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July 17, 2015

Super Paper Mario (Part 1)

Super Paper Mario review
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4
Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7 - Part 8

(If you don't want character stuff, just skip to the game's cover, below.)

I don’t want to do this. I just don’t. My mind is somewhere else right now… I mean, I’ve got to plan out the blog’s second anniversary! I… got a dentist appointment! …I… got a date with a hot chick! Oh no, you wouldn’t believe that. Um… I’m gonna get a liposuction! …Nah, that’s not believable either, I’m too poor. Look, I don’t want to review Super Paper Mario, alright? And the reason is right there:

I just don’t want. The review of Scott Pilgrim VS. The World ended in a horrible way for me. Would you like it if I came up to you and played every single one of your worst moments in a loop? Would you start feeling like an asshole? Yeah, well, I’m the asshole it happened to. Let it be clear that I try to keep a rather friendly attitude towards both my readers and the games I’m reviewing, but the past two years have been a mess. Just a mess. It’s like every next bad game I’m reviewing is driving me closer to the edge. It’s been a while now, but I knew at some point all this pent-up rage would be used against me. It’s like I have… a problem. Anger issues, to be precise. Mostly because of some motherfucking games that aren’t worth shit- Okay, okay, I’ll stop. See? My fuse has never been this short!

I saw it coming when I was reviewing the Super Mario Brothers movie… At that moment, I knew something was off. Especially after this whole song where I started pinning blame on everything. Then there was PlayWith Birds… that was shit. And then I flipped out at Mario Kart DS. MARIO KARTDS! Which is, in all fairness, an awesome game with one shitty thing to it. One! And I went all AVGN on its ass! In fact, I think I’m doing this right now. Oh, but there were signs long before that… I mean, this could be seen all the way back in 2013, when I expressed my lack of enjoyment towards games such as, say, Castle of Shikigami III… or perhaps it was any of the other bad games I’ve reviewed… Maybe it was, I dunno, Mario Pinball Land that pulled my trigger? Unless it was Garfield: The Search For Pooky? Or Reel Fishing: Ocean Challenge? Or that game I can never remember, I just know it’s about puzzles you can play on paper? Or maybe it was the fucking Bit Boy! Or Mario Party 2! No wait, I got it, it was that Gamer flick! Yes, that stupid movie! No, it was Pop-Up Pursuit! Shit, I say! This is all shit!

Oh no, I think I know who it was… It was AnubisII! This shit-ass--crap-tabarnak-osti-motherfucking game! I could sense it that fateful November 21st, 2014, when I reviewed that paragon of awfulness. It’s like… something broke in me. And from that day on, I kept on seeing bits of my life go to shit. People I held in high esteem turned out to be horrible. I lost my job and haven’t found one since. I overspent at G-Anime. And I’ve become so jaded about life.

I think I have a problem. And it’s turning my passion of reviewing games and movies into a chore. It’s making it harder for me to enjoy reviewing games.

Am I gonna need twelve steps to get rid of it? Ah, whatever. Better get this review started, maybe I’ll figure it out during that time...

So, Super Paper Mario is the third game in the Paper Mario series. It came out for the Nintendo Wii in 2006. The Paper Mario series is known for being an RPG series, and yet Shigeru Miyamoto decided to go a different route for that one. Oh, it would still be an RPG, but most of all, it would play out like… a PLATFORMER! Oh, the genius! And, I’ve got to admit, it works very well; when you kill enemies, you get points. When you reach a certain amount of points, you level up. Mario’s HP and attack power increase. Have I mentioned that all the enemies in this game had an amount of hit points? It takes a single stomp to kill a Goomba, but you can find yourself having to stomp another enemy a few times if you want it dead. Mario is given complete freedom, however: You can basically attack at any moment, any number of times, like in a platformer. You don’t have to wait for the enemies to attack you first, like in RPGs.

2D... 3D!
We add to this a few great ideas. First off, Mario gains an amazing ability. He can flip through dimensions! At first, he’s just a 2D character in a 2D world, but when he learns to flip, he becomes a 2D character in a 3D world! And it’s a vital thing to do, as some enemies love to hide in either dimension. Flipping through dimensions allows Mario to find plenty of secrets, solve puzzles, and do other things. Oh, but that’s not all; as the story progresses, Mario stops being the sole playable character. Princess Peach, Bowser and Luigi end up joining him on this enormous quest. Sole problem; they can’t flip between dimensions. As a result, Mario will still end up being your main choice, as he’s often the only one who can let the whole team through obstacles. However, the other three playable characters all offer their own abilities. Peach can glide, Bowser is a powerhouse and breathes fire, and Luigi… jumps very high. Yay? Oh, but that’s not all. In order to progress, Mario also needs to get help from the Pixls, strange beings who give him additional abilities. There’s about, what, ten of them, and some are more useful than others. However, they all have to be used at one point or another.

Not to mention that it makes the level maps look pretty damn weird.

Beyond that point, Super Paper Mario contains almost everything that can be found in a great game: Moments of action, moments of logical thinking, enemies, bosses, a huge story, minigames, side-quests, bonus dungeons… Let’s jump right into this!

The game opens at Mario and Luigi’s house, on a peaceful day. So peaceful, in fact, that Luigi wishes something big would happen. To escape from boredom, they decide to head over to Peach’s castle. Good idea, maybe she’s in the middle of being kidnapped right now.

Mario. She'll be happy to see Mario. Besides, don't you
have a thing with Daisy, Luigi?

Just as they get out, they see a Toad who tells them Peach has been taken away by a dark character. Hey, I was only joking in my last paragraph! I never thought it would end up really happening! Wow, do I have divination powers or something? Luigi immediately assumes Bowser is behind all this, so the two brothers leave. Toad stays behind, and wishes them good luck. They didn’t even pay him! At Bowser’s Castle, the Koopa King is getting ready to attack Peach’s Castle, and is doing a neat little speech in front of an army of Magikoopas, Goombas and Koopas. The Mario brothers bust right in, and when Bowser confronts them, Luigi says the front gate was open. Gee, Bowser, are you taking a page from Peach’s own book on castle security here? Since Bowser hasn’t even attacked yet, that means someone else kidnapped Peach! The Princess’s voice is heard, and she appears imprisoned in a colorful cage made of hexagons, after which a demon kinda looking like a caped stage magician appears out of thin air, yelling “BLECK!” That sounds like something a heavy metal singer trying too hard would scream on top of his lungs during a concert.

Whoa, this guy doesn't even have legs.

The entity presents himself as Count Bleck and drops something about a Dark Prognosticus that might be the reason he kidnapped Peach. Nice monocle, Bleck. Also, nice talking in third person. Totally not cliché from a villain. Nicolas Hamel really doesn’t like when a villain speaks that way. P.S. This is just one of a large pack of clichés this game’s story contains. I could just put out a meter in here that indicates the number of clichés this story contains, and I’d fill it up in no time. Oh hey, that  might be a good idea. I retooled the Insults to Continuity Counter as a Cliché Counter. I tried it when I watched a couple films. It exploded near the end of Titanic, though. To make up for it, I increased its limit. However, I didn’t have the courage to try it with 2009’s Avatar. Pretty sure it would have exploded twice. Anyway, let me put the Counter here…

Cliché Counter: 1.

Okay, it’s set.

So, Bleck announces that Peach is a vital part of his plan, which consists in destroying all of the worlds. …Okay, and what will you do after that? Go out for gelato? There won’t be gelato anymore. Go on a roller coaster? There won’t be a roller coaster. Visit an alternate universe? There won’t be any alternate universes left, you fucking moron! They’ll all be destroyed! Do you guys even think before announcing that you want to destroy the entire multiverse? Unless you kill yourself afterwards, which… Oh. Oh, I see… Well, congrats Bleck for being the darkest Mario villain… and proving it in the first five freaking minutes of the freaking game!

Though, with a face like this, you kinda know what
to expect... Seriously, he looks like a mix between
Black Mage, Jack Skellington and a stage magician.

Mario tries to attack, but Bleck evades and K.O.s him with some kind of void. After which Bleck summons a larger void that sucks in Peach, Luigi, Bowser and all the present members of the Koopa Troop. After which Count Bleck himself vanishes.

Later, Mario is awoken by a strange rainbow-colored butterfly thing. It presents itself as Tippi, a Pixl (described as a kind of fairy; hey, as long as you don’t turn out like Navi, we’re fine). Tippi says that it’s there to help Mario against Count Bleck, as his plan requires both Peach and Bowser. Tippi sends both itself and Mario into another dimension.

So, a mysterious helper who proves vital to the plot and whose backstory is, for the moment, the least of our worries.

Cliché Counter: 2.

Now that I think of it, the Counter should be higher than that. Peach being kidnapped is a cliché all to itself. Let me restart this thing at the beginning of the game…

Cliché Counter: 7.

Okay. But just let me call it CC from now on.

Tippi and Mario appear in a strange beige and white world, welcomed by a creature that kinda looks like a wizard. Surely a benevolent figure who will give wise insight on the adventure, one who will help the heroes a great deal… CC: 8. Apparently, the reason Tippi brought Mario to this world is because he matches the description of the hero in the Light Prognosticus, CC: 9. Well, here’s MY Prognostic: The Cliché Counter will blow up before the end of this game! The elder presents this world as Flipside, a place between worlds, and then presents himself as Merlon. Obvious wizard reference? CC: 10. You could have called him Gondolf, Domblodore or Votrovios, for all I care.

It's like a glitch in the matrix of the universe...
So, Merlon realizes Mario still doesn’t know what’s going on, so he points towards that big purple dot in the background, with lines coming out of it. It’s the Void. A hole in the dimensional fabric of space? A supposedly unstoppable, unnatural event that will lead to the destruction of all? This is devoid of all imagination or what? CC: 11. Merlon also explains that this void was predicted in a “Dark Prognosticus”, and its creation involved a fair and lovely (if airheaded when it comes to security) princess and a furious (but damn hilarious) monster king. Their union will lead to the creation of the “Chaos Heart”, which will then destroy all the universes. Wait, a union? Like, a marriage? Anyway, there’s apparently that dark prophecy that foretells the existence of the Chaos Heart, how to bring it forth and destroy the goddamn multiverse with an unstoppable Void, but then there’s that good prophecy that foretells that a hero will rise up, and against all odds will negate the Void, defeat evil and save all the worlds.

A Hero Prophecy. Really. By this point, I’m just crossing off the Obvious Clichés list. Chosen One? Link is it, Ash Ketchum is it, an assload of heroes are Chosen Ones. They don’t all succeed, but almost all of them do. Because goddamn prophecies.

Allow me to facepalm. SLAP! Okay, let’s continue. CC: 15.

In order to save the Multiverse, Mario has to collect eight “Pure Hearts” that, when assembled, contain the power to stop the Chaos Heart. Collectibles spread all across, necessary to defeat the big bad? Video game cliché! CC: 16. Seriously, that’s been seen millions of times. Gee, good thing Merlon had one!

From this point on, most of the screenshors will be taken from
Olizandry's LP of this game. Go watch it, if you don't mind
having a narrator read everything aloud for you!
Mario can accept the mission or refuse it. Refuse, and it’s Game Over. Accept, and you get the Pure Heart. After which you must go with Tippi and put it in a stone pillar located in Flipside. Oddly enough, Flipside if inhabited. If this really WAS a world between worlds, you’d think there wouldn’t be much life around here. And yet, there is. It’s as inexplicable as a dog that can speak in a world where every other animal doesn’t. Once the Pure Heart is put in the pillar, a door appears at the top of the white tower where Mario and Tippi appeared. World 1, everyone! Took long enough, didn’t it? So, Merlon tells Tippi to stay with Mario and help him on his quest. The wise old… um… thing then hands Mario a Return Pipe that will let him come back from a level at any moment (during gameplay, not during cutscenes, of course). At the start of this quest, Mario has to meet Bestovius, a Flip Wizard living in World 1-1. That guy will teach Mario how to Flip, which is the most important technique in the game. Mario enters the door towards World 1-1…

…and we cut to Count Bleck and his crew of villains (A team of villains? CC: 19). The team includes Bleck as the leader, Nastasia as the secretary, O’Chunks as the muscles, Mimi as the tactical shapeshifting trickster (we don’t even see her real form here), and Dimentio as the… um… tactical dimension-shifting trickster. Basically, they all joined Bleck because he promised to create worlds for them once he has destroyed everything. Yeah, sure. No matter who you are, don’t trust the main villain! Nastasia informs Bleck that there’s been interdimensional activity, the Count supposes that the Hero foretold by the good prophecy is the cause of it, and therefore O’Chunks decides to head out and get rid of that hero quickly. On this, O’Chunks and Dimentio leave.

Argh, so many clichés! I mean, I know the Mario series has always revolved around some particular clichés, but this is getting ridiculous! Then again, if evil attacks, of course the good guys will come to the rescue. Yeah, no matter how bad, there’s always the good…

Always the good… wait… I think I got it! My turmoil could just end now!

It doesn’t matter how many terrible games and movies there are out there. It doesn’t matter that they exist. Some may be good for a quick laugh, others are painful experiences to put behind ourselves. …But one thing’s clear: For every bad work of fiction, there’s at least one good work of fiction to balance it. For every horrible game, there’s another of outstanding quality. For every piece of shit worth throwing into the trash, there’s a masterpiece to be admired. In fact, the balance tends to be heavier on the side of the good works of fiction.

This might just be the solution to my problem.

No matter how much I rage at the bad works of fiction, they’ll keep on existing. Because they can’t be erased. However, that same point stands for what’s actually good. This is what I realized: I can scream all I want at the bad games, that won’t make them any better. But there are many good games out there, and instead of focusing on the awful stuff I’ve seen since the creation of this website, I should focus on the good games I have seen. This is what will bring me back from this darkness. I’ve got to turn my attention to the good stuff. And from now on, I will not forget them.

But that’s not enough. I’ve been a terrible person because of all that darkness, and I must try to correct myself. Maybe it’s gonna take twelve steps. But I must not give up. The path towards becoming a better person is right there, I must simply choose to take it. Out with the outbursts of rage. You are now reading a repentant Nicolas who will do everything needed to improve himself!

Out with the old, in with the new!

But I still got a review to do, so read me in Part 2 this Monday.