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July 20, 2015

Super Paper Mario (Part 2)

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

Continuing where Part 1 left off, we see Mario entering World 1-1. Gee, if it took an entire part to describe just the intro, I really wonder how long this review is gonna be…

By the way, a quick thing to explain: Tippi’s power is to be expository. Yeah, that’s all. When you want to ask about something on the screen, point the Wiimote to it and Tippi will explain what it is. You can also use that ability to make visible things that are invisible, like doors or platforms. I guess that makes her more interesting than, say, Navi or any other expository fairy out there...

The first level starts off similarly to World 1-1 of Super Mario Bros., because of course it does. That’s becoming a Mario cliché all to itself. (Cliché Counter: 22.) Mario progresses with Tippi, defeats a few Goombas, then sees a door surrounded with blocks; impossible to enter. So Mario and Tippi go a little further and see Bestovius’s house. They enter, but it seems empty… Tippi makes a door appear inside the house, and they enter. There, they meet Bestovius, who teaches Mario how to flip between 2D and 3D. Neat! To do it, you just have to press A. P.S. That Bestovius is a money-hungry fool. He’ll make you pay all your cash so you can learn to flip! Thank God you don’t have much this early in the game. And at first he was asking for 10,000! Is he nuts?

...He probably is, but that’s beside the point.

Just give him the skill for free! What, you think those coins
will get you anywhere once the Multiverse gets destroyed?

You can now flip between dimensions at will now, but be careful; you have a bar that decreases the longer you spend in 3D mode. Spend too long in 3D and you will lose one HP. Then the bar refills, re-empties slowly again, and you lose another HP. Don't want to lose HP? Flip back to 2D. That’s pretty much it. Also, yes, I said HP. This is still an RPG, after all. I already described how it works in Part 1.

So yeah, starting now, every level will contain a part of the story. It’s like they felt like it was an obligation that every level contained a bit of the plot. The rest of Level 1-1 lets you try out the few power-ups in this game, especially the MEGA STAR of awesomeness. To end the level, just hit the Star Block at the end.


To see this guy's dark side, answer anything but Red.
Mario enters Level 1-2, a mountainous area where the flipping powers turn out really useful. At one point, you need a bridge to cross a large endless pit, so you go save the bridge’s owner from being stuck in 3D and he brings the bridge back for you… only if you say that red is the best color ever. If you choose green or both, he kicks you the fuck out of his house. Gee, some people are really intolerant! Fuck you, asshole! Anyway, Mario crosses the bridge and enters Yold Town, a small town that used to belong to a certain Tribe of Ancients, that we’ll probably hear more about later. Here, there are plenty of secrets to discover. But the most interesting one is a creature looking similar to Tippi. Another Pixl! This one is called Thoreau and, when equipped, gives Mario the ability to pick up and toss things. Yes, Koopa shells, thou shalt not escape my wrath any longer! Mwahahahahaha! Thoreau doesn’t seem to recognize Tippi, though… strange. Mario has to use Thoreau’s help to leave the room, and then gets back to the village.

When this game ends, I'll Thoreau a party just for you!

Another interesting idea in this game: Each time you buy something in a shop, you get one purchase point. Rack up purchase points and you’ll get very good rewards! Yep, you win stuff by buying stuff. Like a Mario version of Air Miles. So, east of Yold Town another bridge is missing. Once again, you must ask a guy to put it up for you. This one is wearing green, and he asks the same question as the red guy asked. If you don’t answer green, he, too, brutally kicks you out of his house. Fuckwads! They’re both fuckwads! I hate the kind of person who can’t respect other people’s opinion.

Then again, to some extent, I was kinda like this before, wasn’t I? …I mean, I wasn’t that bad, was I?

O'Chunks has talent but I don't think that's what you call
a... "talent pickup". Toss him, Mario!
Anyway, that’s when Level 1-2 ends. In the next level, Mario and the Pixls find themselves in Yold Desert. They must find their way, but it seems to be an impasse… until Mario finds a signpost telling him to jump 10 times under a red palm tree. Mario does just that and a door appears. Gee, good thing there was only one red palm tree here! Further into the level, Mario and crew are stopped in their tracks by O’Chunks, who challenges the plumber to a fight. Use all you got, and especially Thoreau, against him! Once he’s defeated, O’Chunks says he’ll remember Mario’s name (yet he remembers it as Maria), then leaves. We’ll meet again. A boss who comes back every once in a while, always gets its ass kicked, and just loses credibility with every appearance? CC: 23! Eventually, Mario finds a temple in the desert and opens it. Level 1-4 will take place in that temple.

Mario makes his way through this mazelike temple and solves a few puzzles requiring him to find keys, unlock doors, that sort of stuff. Near the end, he even has to create a floor to get to a door… by letting hundreds of spiked balls fall in a pit and then walking on the ones at the top. At some point, Mario finds his way out… and accidentally awakes the temple’s spirit. Or something like that. The temple’s spirit, a giant 3D robot shaped like a dragon, speaks like a computer and scans Mario, identifying it as the Hero of the legend. Oh, great, I knew that prophecy would just mean trouble! However, what astounds me is that this robot is Wii Shop-compatible. Thankfully, the robot actually seems nice, and appears willing to let Mario approach the second Pure Heart…well, that’s when Dimentio shows up. He screws up the robot’s program and makes it attack Mario. The ensuing boss fight is pure awesome. Mario has to get on the giant robot, named Fracktail, and then throw smaller robots at its antennae. Doesn’t sound awesome? Well, that robot is HUGE! Eventually, Mario beats Fracktail and gains access to the second Pure Heart. Or rather, Mario moves on to a room where the Pure Heart's other guardian awaits.

That's a few thousand tons of robotic dragon coming towards you!

She tells the tale of the Purity Heart and the Dark Prognosticus. She goes off on a long story that puts Mario to sleep, but we still get the most important part: Thanks to the Prognosticus, her tribe knew that the end of the world would one day come, so they created the Purity Heart, meant to stop the Chaos Heart, and divided it in eight pieces. She then gives the Pure Heart to a half-sleepy Mario. The plumber then returns to Flipside.

This Bleck's castle has five colors: Black, black, black,
black and white. He needs an interior decorator.
We get a scene with the villains. O’Chunks apologizes for failing (yeah, you better! How are you gonna be in the next Smash Bros. if you lose all the time?), Bleck realizes the Hero is stronger than it seemed, and thus Mimi is sent to World 2, where she’ll be sure to set a trap for Mario and his team. Bleck vanishes with the Dark Prognosticus, and Nastasia leaves as well, not before mentioning she has hypnotism powers, which she used to get Bowser’s army to join Bleck. Mind control, huh? Where have I seen that before… oh right, every-frickin-where. CC: 24.

Oh wait, you can add shades of dark purple.
Silly me, I had almost forgotten those.
Meanwhile, Peach wakes up and wonders where she is. She mentions something about Count Bleck having forced her to marry Bowser… wait, what? I repeat: …WAIT, WHAT? I’ll take a chance and say that it’s too early to make sense of that yet. Peach realizes she’s alone in a black castle, and Luigi and Bowser are nowhere in sight. She runs into a Hammer Bro and a Koopa, who seem untouched by Nastasia’s hypnotism, and they decide to help Peach get out of this dark place. Sadly, they end up at a dead end, cornered by Nastasia and a few mooks from Bowser’s ex-army. However, before Nastasia can use her mind control powers on her, Peach disappears, apparently teleported somewhere else.

Well, this guy already seems a lot more likable than Edward.
Some ominous white text over a completely black screen tell, in dialog, the story of a member of the Tribe of Ancients who rescues a human girl. …Did we jump into a completely different game? Scratch that, did we jump into a completely different genre? What does this have anything to do with the Mario series? Mention is made that people from the Tribe of Ancients aren’t quite human. A human girl, a non-human man… I swear to God, if this turns into a Twilightian love story, I’m gonna close the review right here, right now!

Sure! I can just pull out a 1-Up Mushroom and...
Whaddaya mean they don't exist here???
Mario is back with Tippi in Flipside. They show the new Pure Heart to Merlon, and then a Flipsider comes in and says that a girl fell down from the sky. They go see, and the girl is none other than Princess Peach. She’s K.O. and shivering. Merlon tells Mario to go to Flipside’s cook Saffron; she’ll make something to make Peach feel better. Mario runs around Flipside, finds Saffron’s house, and the cooking lady says Peach needs a spicy sou. If you have a Fire Burst in your inventory, all’s fine and good, but if not, then you have to buy one at the shop. I guess, even between dimensions, mercantilism is a driving force of life… So, Saffron makes the soup, Mario goes back to Peach and feeds it to her. Peach wakes up, sees Mario’s familiar face and is instantly reassured. Back at Merlon’s house, Peach explains what happened to her. Heh, you wanna bet she didn’t say anything about her marriage with Bowser?

An extremely important mechanic that allows you to upgrade the items
you buy so that they're more effective, like restoring more HP.
That's a GREAT idea!
A side-note: Saffron and another cook named Dyllis are part of a side-quest that was also present in both Paper Mario games that preceded this one, albeit with different cooks; but here they advance it to the next level; Saffron can take almost any item you bring to her and make a meal out of it. HP-restoring Shroom Shakes become recipes that restore even more HP, as an example. Dyllis, who lives in another part of the game, can mix two ingredients into a recipe. Careful, though; for Saffron, not every item will produce a recipe, and for the second cook, not every combination will result in a meal. Finding every single recipe, which requires most of the items in the game, is a huge side-quest and a great thing to do in this game once the story has been completed. And it’s so complex that you will certainly need an online guide to find everything. And don’t get me started on the rare ingredients, which are sometimes so difficult to find that they’re almost a quest all to themselves! To add to the complexity, some of the second chef’s recipes requires one or two of Saffron’s dishes as ingredients… good luck! Wished I was such a good cook. If my bad luck decided to go beyond what’s possible, I’m sure I’d burn water.

Also, by this point, you can control Peach. Tell me about that, royals who do something for once! Sure, she did help Mario on a couple adventures, but never to this extent. She can float with her umbrella, and she can also use it as a shield. Perfect if an enemy above is causing trouble. Also, she’s necessary to reach the second stone pillar and put the Pure Heart in it. As a result, the second world is unlocked.

Her heart is in the right place.

And boy does Peach prove herself useful in this one! Insurmountable walls that must be flown over, large gaps… can you imagine that? Hadn’t Peach showed up out of nowhere, Mario would be stuck! Goodbye adventure! Coincidences that greatly help the hero? Kinda sounds like another cliché, doesn’t it? CC:25.

He'll rise, die, rise again, die, rise again, die, rise again, die.
Nothing can kill him.
In the middle of Level 2-1, Mario and Peach find a new Pixl called Boomer. In case his evocative name didn’t make it obvious, he’s got an explosive personality. Oh, and an explosive body, too. He blows up. That’s what he does. And then he magically comes back, like a G-rated Kenny McCormick. Oh well, I suppose he’s gonna come in handy. Alaways good to have a fun guy in the party, one that knows how to have a blast. However, Boomer seems to enjoy exploding a little too much. If I were him, I’d think my situation blows….

Mario and Peach make it through 2-1 and reach 2-2. Merlon told them to go look for a certain Merlee, who guards the third Pure Heart. Merlee lives in a big mansion, so big you could get lost in it. Okay, while I’m discussing this, here’s a bit of advice. If you plan on going one world at a time, give yourself at least one hour for each world. The levels are of regular length, but due to the puzzles and the mini-quests, there’s a lot of backtracking, a lot of searching, and a lot of stuff to look for, both in 2D and in 3D. World 2 is a major example of this, especially Level 2-3. Also, it’s not Levels, but Chapters. I’m saying “Levels” for the sake of clarity. This is a video game, what do you think? That you’re reading? Yeah, right.

I think I heard that name before...
So, Mario enters Merlee’s mansion and is greeted by the place’s… maid, I guess. She presents herself as Mimi (O.O), and while she doesn’t prevent Mario from looking for Merlee in the top rightmost room, she forbids him to look in any of the other rooms. There are five doors, one is locked, the other four all contain traps. Thankfully, nothing Mario can’t take care of with Boomer. In the rightmost top room, Mario finds a key and goes back down to the locked door, which is kept by a blocky guard dog. When the door is unlocked, the guard dog… attacks Mimi. Mario can’t defeat that dog, so all he can do is move ahead. In the locked door, there’s a Star Block, indicating the end of the level. Gee, that was short.

Level 2-3 makes up for it by being horribly long and boring. When trying to move forward in Merlee’s mansion, Mario breaks a vase. Mimi arrives and, enraged, asks him to fork over a MILLION Rubees. Oh, but all he’s got is coins. Therefore, Mimi decides to make him work in the mansion. Mario – and Peach – thus end up working there. The first job they get is to punch cubes emitting electricity. You hit them like Mario does when he hit bricks, that is, by jumping. Every jump earns ONE Rubee. Hey Link, help me out on this one, hand me some spare Rupees! God, this is gonna take forever. And look at all the slaves. This is awful. I swear, Mimi, if Mario wasn’t so reluctant to hit a girl, I would be controlling him to beat you down for reintroducing slavery to the world! (Have I mentioned I was strongly pro-freedom?) Thankfully, the prisoners often have interesting tips to help Mario and Peach. Still, in order to get a good tip, Mario has to collect 100 rubees, which means… hitting the electric block 100 fucking times in a row. This is, hands-down, the most boring part of the game, possibly the most boring thing I’ve ever had to do in a Mario game. However, the tip you get by paying 100 rubees is a code leading to a “VIP room”, where Mario will get a lot more money… by running in hamster wheels. Think that’s not bad? Even if you do get money faster this way, it’s still slow, and you need to collect a staggering TEN THOUSAND rubees to get the next tip. FUCK!

Yippee. This is so much fun. So much better than every game out there.
I am overflowing with excitement. I am so happy. This deadpan tone
does not disguise an extreme form of sarcasm at all. Yippee.

All this work makes me think that I should be looking for a job, too! This part is so bad that I’d rather work a real job than do this again!

So, while looking around in 3D Mode, Mario finds another Pixl. This one’s called Slim, and it allows him to cross to the other dimension without actually changing the view; as a result, Mario becomes thin as a sheet of paper and can pass through cracks and other traps that require him to be, well, fatter, for them to work. So, after Mario gets this new Pixl and gets the 10,000-rubee code, he can finally go through a trap that prevented him from crossing a hallway in both 2D and 3D forms. He inputs the code in the numbered lock of the vault he finds, opens it, and finds… 1,000,000 rubees! Yes! Mario takes it all, then runs back down to pay off his debt. FINAL-FUCKING-LY.

As you can guess, I’m not too fond of that level. In the game’s defense, my only real points of criticism so far are the incredibly cliché story and this stupid level. Everything else is great…

So, Mario goes to Mimi and pays all 1,000,000 rubees. When Mimi realizes that the debt has been paid entirely, she goes… nuts, she… starts floating, and then she… explodes. … ... ...Okay... ... ... ... I guess she got her just desserts. Mario hits the Star Block and moves on to 2-4.

Makes me think that I, too, should pay my debt… See you in Part 3 this Friday.