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July 24, 2015

Super Paper Mario (Part 3)

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

Still in Merlee’s mansion, Mario and Co. find the basement. They go down towards two doors. This part is a maze across many rooms, but thankfully it’s not too difficult if you have an idea where to go. At the end of this half of the maze, Mario sees "Merlee". (Why "Merlee"? Because I know it's Mimi.) She suggests to let go the Pure Heart for ten MILLION rubees… Let me have a painful flashback to Level 2-3, and then say to you, "Merlee", as I slam my foot down, an expression of pure anger in my eyes, FUCK YOU! Just watch me refuse every single offer she does. And yes, in the end it turns out this was a fake Merlee; the real one appears above them. The fake Merlee transforms, revealing herself to have been Mimi all along. Mimi, enraged, lets go of the masquerade and turns into her true form: A mechanical spider.

God I wish.

That's apparently Mimi's real form. There are cogs in her.
Don't search for an explanation, you'll go mad.

This is a place man was never meant to see...
Oh, and she's invincible, so all Mario and Co. can do is run away from Spider-Mimi. They get chased through the second half of the maze. This ends in a hallway that leads... to the bathrooms. Ah, now that’s Mario’s field of expertise! Don’t you dare battle Mario where there is plumbing to do, Mimi! The men’s bathroom has nothing special, except enough graffiti to wonder whether this is Merlee’s private bathrooms or those of a public area. Seems like we won’t have any other choice; we must go into uncharted territory. We have to enter… the women’s bathroom.

Damn good thing we’ve had Princess Peach join the team before this world, huh?

I don't think the women's bathrooms are supposed
to hide a full game show.
Mario finds Merlee hidden in the women’s bathroom, but Mimi comes in and disguises herself as Merlee yet again. Since it’s impossible to differentiate them, we are brought to… a quiz show? …What the… I really shouldn’t have started drinking alcohol. Time to put this away. …The booze, not the game. Welcome to a quiz show that will determine which Merlee is the real one. …Yeah… Weird. Not like you couldn’t guess already; after all, the real Merlee hid in a toilet and she has a new follower: a fly, attracted by the smell. You still have to ask both Merlees five questions before you can decide which one is real.

I guess Mimi's got legs. Too bad she's losing them!
Once you get it right, Mimi transforms back into her spider form and the real boss fight begins. Merlee who ran out of the bathroom, casts a spell to remove Mimi’s invincibility. Mimi spews out rubees, which you can pick up and throw back at her. Yes, take those rubees and shove ‘em! When defeated, Mimi returns to her humanoid form and escapes. Merlee then hands the Pure Heart to the heroes, but not before she mentions that the light prophecy was talking about not one, but four heroes…

Oh, by the way, did I mention this? When Mimi transforms into a spider, her head spins, and her neck cracks; you hear her neck snap. Holy damn, that's too graphic for a Mario game.

And then Nastasia works her magic.
That's not a good thing.
In Bleck’s lair, O’Chunks asks to be sent back towards the heroes, but Bleck figures this will not be enough, so he calls forth Dimentio and sends the two of them in World 3. A little later, Luigi wakes up in Bleck’s castle, uncertain of what happened. He finds two Goombas who haven’t yet been hypnotized by Nastasia. They try to escape but the exit is nowhere to be found. And before you know it, Nastasia appears with some of Bowser’s ex-soldiers. The two Goombas are dealt with quickly, and then the other Koopas hold down Luigi while Nastasia prepares to hypnotize him…

A good guy turned evil? That sounds like a cliché to me! CC:??

Huh? It’s not working? What happened? …Ah, whatever. I think I got my point across. I won’t need to point out the clichés in this story any longer. Just know that it is, indeed, full of clichés, the kind we see in every Chosen One story, and damn it’s become annoying. I can just feel the Messiah metaphor coming from miles away!

…Wait a minute, the Cliché Counter is broken! …Guess I’ll have to do without. Just give me a second, gonna throw this thing away… Alright, we can continue.

Once again, we see quotes on a black screen, telling another part of the story between a human and a member of the Tribe of Ancients… or was it a demon? Whatever. This intermission gives us these two characters’ names: Blumiere and Timpani, the boy and the girl respectively. Blumiere… “lumière”, which means light… and this game has a Bleck… Why do I feel like this is gonna be relevant…

"This... is Garson. Garson works at a 5-star pub called The Underwhere.
There, some of video games' most popular characters go to have a drink.
Sometimes, they share stories... and even secrets. For as we all know,
what the bartender hears is confidential... isn't it?"
Whatever. Mario and Peach return to Flipside. After they talk with Merlon, it’s time to look for another heart pillar. While I’m at it, I guess I should talk about the new sections available to visit in Flipside. First, one floor below Saffron’s kitchen, we can find a bar that serves milk; the barman will often tell tidbits he heard, tidbits that prove to be important if you want to  understand the whole story. However, you can also flip to 3D and head for a pipe at the end of the bar; this leads to an arcade where Mario can play four minigames, as long as he pays for the tokens. There’s also the lowermost floor, which leads towards the Pit of 100 Trials… but I’ll discuss that later.

Offense in 3... 2... 1...
So, Mario places the third Pure Heart in a pillar, and the third door appears on top of the Flipside Tower. That door leads to the Bitlands. Hm, how could I describe the third world… Um… Imagine “Mario meets Minecraft”, in that the world is all made of blocks and pixels, but you can’t mine them and build stuff. As soon as Mario’s group sets foot in Chapter 3-1, Tippi gets grabbed by something’s tongue and pulled off-screen. A chameleon wearing a T-shirt and square glasses appears, yelling stuff like “HI-TECHNICAAAAAAAAL!” and rambling about having found a unique kind of butterfly to add to his collection, how his Internet friends are gonna envy him, how he mustn’t miss the next episode of some TV show that just sounds shitty…

Allow me to facepalm. SLAP! Nintendo, is that how you picture otakus? Is that your image of geeks? This guy is closer to a nerd. Or, uh… I don’t know, all three terms appear to fit. Either way, I feel insulted by this representation. This chameleon guy is named Francis, and yeah, it’s pretty much the most offensive portrayal of otakus/geeks/nerds I’ve seen since the film Gamer. I mean… wow. This Francis sucks. I mean, it's kind of hyporitical of me, considering my behavior in recent months...

Don’t start thinking that I’m a raging lunatic who yells at everything... okay, I’ve become like this a little… which reminds me that if I want to stop, I need to go back on all my reviews and see where I was at my worst.

Okay, so first there was Castle of Shikigami III, in which I criticized the army of Sues; Mario Pinball Land, which I still hate to this day; Purr Pals, in which I thought the cats were creepy; Garfield: The Search For Pooky, which sucked almost all the way through; Reel Fishing Ocean Challenge, because it’s an incomplete game that offers too little; Rayman Hoodlum’s Revenge, because Globox is a goddamn coward; Puzzler Collection- I can’t even remember it; Bit Boy was just awful; Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards, because its main character is a Gary Stu and the whole story revolves around him; Mario Party 2, because of its terrible board layouts and my own shitty luck; the Gamer movie, which just plain sucked; Pop-Up Pursuit, which was also pretty bad; Anubis II, the WORST THING I’VE EVER FUCKING SEEN IN ALL 23 YEARS OF MY EXISTENCE; the Super Mario Bros. movie, which was just painful; Play With Birds, which literally broke on me; Mario Kart DS, which I hate because of one single aspect…

I just can’t lie to myself anymore. I’ve been a terrible person. Who would want to hang out with me after all this? I need to confess. Maybe if I apologize to someone about it...

And I promise that I’m going to remove these defects of character! If I can’t, I’m at least going to try and tone them down. A LOT.

I get the feeling out bomb buddy will be very useful here.
Okay, where was I… oh, yes! Francis. I already hate him. Anyway, we have to chase after him. That’s gonna be tough. Thankfully, Mario finds a Pixl that gives him a few pointers… but it refuses to join him until after you’ve rescued Tippi. Don’t ask why. Mario makes his way through Level 3-1, which includes a recreation of the original SMB’s Level 1-2 (because nostalgia, I guess), and destroys the castle at the very end. Thanks, Boomer! A familiar face is revealed: Bowser! He was in that castle??? Huh. Bowser fights Mario and loses – of course – and after Mario and Peach reason with him, he joins the team. After all, if Bleck destroys all the worlds, there won’t be a world left to conquer!

Now you can control Bowser; his stomps are stronger than Mario’s, and when you press Down he can also breathe fire. Needless to say, he will be very useful in the upcoming battles. Thus ends Level 3-1.

Level 3-2 is the Tile Pool, a water level. Mario can’t stomp enemies here, so we have to count on Boomer to clear the way, or on Bowser to set the baddies on fire. …Wait. He can breathe fire… underwater. And it still works.


Anyway, while going through the level, Mario and Co. find a new Pixl called Thudley. This one gives them the Ground Pound ability, which they can then use to solve puzzles and find new entrances. Mario uses this new ability to find a way out of this sea, and later Bowser’s fire breath turns out to be vital in defeating a huge-ass Blooper. Oh, don’t worry, it’s just the fourth or fifth giant Blooper they battle in the Mario series. The novelty is wearing out, ya know…

This giant Blooper in Paper Mario's Toad Town's sewers...
This one in Johnny Jones' ship, in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars...
The Gooper Blooper from Super Mario Sunshine...

These little flowers are annoyances of Jigglypuff
proportions. THEY PUT YOU TO SLEEP! And then
you fall off a platform and must climb all the way back.
And then we get to Chapter/Level 3-3, which takes place in a… tree. Mario has to climb all the way up a giant pixelated tree. I must admit, I don’t like this level. It’s partly because of the puzzle aspect; see, to have a door appear in a zone that can only be reached by a pipe near the bottom of the tree, you need to climb all the way up, press the switch, and then go back down. On the way to the top, there’s a puzzle consisting of switches with blue and pink platforms. Hitting a switch causes blue tiles to disappear and pink tiles to appear, and vice versa. So far so good.

Dimension D is the most boring dimension ever.
Dimentio, you suck.
But the problem is that on the way there, you meet plenty of creatures that love to get in the way, knock you off platforms, and make you fall down. Because of course they do. Get ready to swear a LOT, as you have to re-do parts of the level multiple times because of those goddamn enemies. Whatever. At least it’s not impossible. Thus, Mario and Co. enter the door… only to encounter Dimentio on the other side. And what an impressive boss battle! …No, it’s actually a pretty lame one. Whatever. Once defeated, Dimentio warps away, and decides that Mario and his group must be stronger if they want to defeat Bleck. …Huh, what an odd thing to say for a villain. Not to mention that I know exactly what Dimentio’s plan is, and therefore he isn’t fooling me. Anyway, Mario finishes the level and reaches 3-4…

HOLY WOW! How long does it take to build something
like this in Minecraft?
…Francis’s castle. Holy crap, it puts Bowser’s castles to shame. What a huge place. How the Hell did this geeky, creepy, fanny-pack-wearing, eyesight-failing, zit-faced, fat-assed chameleon manage to afford that??? Apparently, he also had enough money to build his own robotic maids… blocky cat-maids. Not that we can go any further inside, as we need two keys to enter the room where Francis is frantically taking pictures of Tippi, saying dialog that makes it sound like he’s… aroused. Ew! Whatever, Mario and Co. look for two keys around this castle, which requires visiting all of the castle, checking all the rooms, defeating squareheaded cat-maids, getting codes… FAST-FORWARD! So, the group gets the keys, and they enter the room, Peach first (or else the door wouldn’t have let them in – no, I’m not joking). Oh yeah, you have to answer about 10 questions with True, 10 questions that show not only how much of a geek Francis is, but also how much of an asshole he is. No, really, what a fucking asshole. He’s a manifestation of the worst traits geeks can have, all rolled into one annoying character. Just read these examples from the list…

-Just the fact that he refers to women as “hot babes” pretty much ALL THE TIME indicates that all he cares about is their physique.
-“I have bought games that I have never played.” Then why do you buy them? It’s called a GAME! You play it. At worst, buy two, and play only one of them, keep the other as a collector item. That solution would work for you, as you seem to like over-spending.
-“I have dumped a friend over an argument about ‘Starship X-Naut’ propulsion technology.” You know, Francis, maybe you wouldn’t be so lonely if you stopped dumping friends over such stupid-ass reasons!
-“A schweet cover illustration is more important than the story line.” Moron.
-“My first love was an anime character!” … … …Yeah, fine, crushes on fictional characters are alright, just don’t make it weird, ok? Like, don’t go say your crush was on an underage girl please. Please.
-“I love going on message boards and complaining about games I’ve never played!” …Do I even need to make fun of this?
-He even nicknamed Tippi “Francine”! I’m groaning so much right now.

The Dork-O-Meter would explode if I had one. But, as much as I hate Francis, at least I must admit he’s a funny way to make plenty of references to past Mario games… But that’s all there is to him. The rest is as offensive as a Seltzer and Friedberg film.

Welcome to the least sexy dating sim, ever.
So, the group enters the room. Ensues a shocked Francis trying to flirt with Peach. Yuck. What’s love for this guy? A trophy-chick? A butterfly fairy? Internet porn? Either way, his understanding of it is all kinds of wrong. To him, a woman is a possession, not a human being. He should be interested by the ideals of a certain League of Evil Exes, then… Francis pisses Peach off and the fight starts. Francis can disappear at will, but he has to reappear once in a while to summon bombs. As a result, Mario, Peach and Bowser kick Francis’s geeky green ass – good riddance, you fucking creep – and the chameleon goes away. When freed, Tippi shows her happiness… by somehow releasing a Pure Heart. …Wait, what? We’ll get answers later. For now, the group goes back to Flipside.

We get another scene with the villains. Dimentio talks about the heroes’ power and the group decides to unleash “Him” (Oh no, they got that effeminate demon to join their group too?) on the good guys. After O’Chunks, Mimi and Dimentio leave, Bleck and Nastasia discuss, and it seems that, yet again, Bleck has some form of internal turmoil… after those two are gone, Dimentio appears. He spied on their conversation. Well, gee, it seems like he has an agenda to himself!

The white text on black background shows up YET AGAIN, and in it, it appears the human girl Timpani has decided to part with Blumiere… because of Blumiere’s father. That's probably what makes it a better love story than Twilight. …See? I went there! I shouldn’t have, but I did! Whatever, this should start making sense someday…. I hope…

That's the second time you say that! Alzheimer much?
...Alright, that was just nasty from me.
On their return to Flipside, Merlon explains to the group that there was a Pure Heart in Francis’s castle, because that castle used to belong to the Tribe of the Ancients, and Tippi might have brought it to them because she really started trusting Mario and Peach… or stuff. Look, as much as I hate to say it, that sounded like an ass pull. It just sounds… cliché. I hope this gets explained later. The team finds the fourth Heart Pillar in Flipside, puts the new Pure Heart in, and unlocks the fourth world.

While I’m at it, I think I should talk about the gameplay. It’s getting late into the review to talk about this, so I better do this now. It’s great. Each playable character has his/her own special abilities, and all of those abilities turn out to be necessary to progress through the game. Whether it’s Mario’s flipping, Peach’s floating, Bowser’s fire breath or the last character’s super high jumps, you need a character’s special ability as soon as you get to play as him/her. My only issue with that is that, as a result, you frequently have to pause the game, switch character, use that character’s ability, then switch back to Mario because the next part can only be done in 3D mode or something. Same goes for the Pixls; they’re awesome, sure, and they offer plenty of great abilities that all the characters can use, but you’ll frequently have to pause, switch Pixls, use the Pixl’s ability to bypass an obstacle or defeat an enemy, and minutes later you might have to switch again. That’s a lot of pausing, don’t you think? Oh well, it’s still pretty great to have all these abilities. Also, many levels contain sections that are good to revisit later, once you’ve found certain Pixls; you can then access zones you had never seen before.

Panicky Mario!
That should be a meme.

So, the group heads off to World 4, enters the door… and ends up in space. Since none of the cast is able to breathe in space (though Pixls can, they’re just that magical), Tippi brings everyone back to Flipside in an emergency teleport that she didn’t even know she could do. (Great, more unexplained things…) Anyway, in Flipside, Mario and Co. ask Merlon for a helmet, and he had the right thing, except he gave it to a kid who’s now using it as an aquarium. But the kid’s fish has gotten too big, so he entrusts Mario’s team the bowl as long as they find the fish a nice place to stay. There’s a place of water near the Overthere Bar, so they drop the fish there (that fishy will become a MONSTER by the end of the game, grown giant, with lots of fish carcasses underwater) and can finally go in World 4. Yay!

…I’ll cover that in the next part!