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July 27, 2015

Super Paper Mario (Part 4)

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

No time to explain all the past parts, let’s jump into World 4 right now!

Squirps will serve as your personal cannon.
As Mario and Co. enter the great emptiness of space (with a helmet on their head; don't worry, for some reason it's a one-size-fits-all), they rescue a little alien in a spaceship. Aw, it’s a cute one named Squirps. It seems we’re gonna have to trust him, since he appears to know where the Pure Heart is… also, thank God he can create portals! Level 4-1 has Mario swimming in space with Squirps being used as a laser gun of sorts. The team travels across many sections of space, through portals, until they find the Star Block.

At the beginning of 4-2, after the group lands on a dwarf planet, Squirps shows signs of hurry. He has to go… to a porta-potty. Yes, they’re going there. Sadly, the potty is occupied. The dialog box makes it look like a Pixl is in there, but it refuses to go out and let Squirps in. Why? Because no toilet paper. And Squirps won’t move on until he’s relieved himself. So, believe it or not, 4-2 is a quest for toilet paper.

SLAP

That's when Mario finally had the realization that
his daytime job was the grossest thing ever.
Alternate joke: The next sci-fi hit: Mars Needs Plumbers.
Sorry, I had to facepalm. Did they need to go there? I mean, come on! Sure, Mario’s occupation as a plumber lends itself to plenty of jokes, but that doesn’t mean you have to do them! Still, you need to go far right, through many rooms, until you find an elder with a treasure map, looking for treasure. He’s too old to continue his search, so he hands Mario the parchment. And now, Mario has to backtrack all the way to the start of the level… and give the parchment to the Pixl. I hope it’s not too rugged for your weakly fairy ass! Honestly, I couldn’t care less.

I'll go get some painkillers. My forehead hurts. I need to stop with the face-palms.

Here's your @#$²%& paper.

He doesn't even have a goddamn ass to wipe!
The Pixl comes out and presents itself as Fleep. It has a unique power that allows to flip cracks in the fabric of space itself (no clue whether this Pixl can help with rips in the time-space continuum, but that would be awesome). And of course, this ability turns out necessary to leave the level; just look for a rip on top of a statue, use Fleep on it, and voilà, like a new key to open a locked door! More like magic opening something... that can't close with... magic... I kinda lost my metaphor halfway through. Allons-y, towards the Star Block!

Gee, I wonder why. 
4-3 is built up as a big maze, but it’s not that bad once you know what to do. You use Fleep to make an entrance appear; bizarrely, that door is surrounded by two columns, and one of them has a hole shaped just like Squirps. And he fits snugly into it, which unlocks the door. After going through it, Mario and Co. find a second door like this, except there are two Squirps-shaped holes. Squirps alone isn’t enough. However, he says he’s hungry, so you have to bring him chocolate. And not any chocolate; Hell no, this spoiled brat wants the best one of the bunch! Fork over the money! …So Mario heads into the maze, finds a store – in space! – and buys chocolate, then goes back to Squirps, who gleefully gobbles it up. The little creature then seems to duplicate itself, both copies go in the holes, the door unlocks itself, and Squirps reunites with itself. …That was pretty weird, but hey, it’s better than a “quest for toilet paper” in a friggin’ RPG! So, Mario and Co. reach the Star Block and then find themselves in 4-4, the Whoa Zone.

Look ma, no gravity!
Now THIS place is a real maze. It’s gonna be hard to navigate- Nah, it’s also not that bad once you know where to go. It looks more confusing that it really is, because the Whoa Zone plays a lot with gravity. The floor, the ceiling, and the walls; almost every square inch will be walked on. This level is basically three sections where you must look for keys to unlock doors. The keys aren’t very far, but you need to play with the gravity to go get them. It’s not that difficult… And surely there’s a boss at the end of this level, huh? Possibly a certain “Him”, right? Call the PPG, we’re gonna have a demonic emergency!

For some reason, using Bowser in this battle against Luigi
makes me feel bad. Enjoyably so.
Oh it’s just Luigi. Nothing abnormal, go away, nothing to see here- …LUIGI???? Oh, wait, he now calls himself Mr. L? And he associates himself with Count Bleck? Oh, I see, he has been hypnotized. That’s no good. The two bros will have to fight! Yes, at first, it’s good old mano y mano, with the two jumping at each other’s heads. But at one point, Luigi summons a giant robotic version of his head, which he calls Brobot. The next scene is a horizontal shoot’em-up between Brobot and a Squirps-equipped Mario. Still pretty easy.

Despite having the highest HP in the game (255), this guy
is extremely easy to defeat.
I mean, the boss battles in this game really aren’t all that hard. The long levels make it easy to battle plenty of enemies and level up, it’s also very easy to find healing items – or have some better ones cooked by Saffron – and use them, so in the end the bosses are mostly pushovers. That, sadly, removes a lot of the emotional weight these battles should have in this story. It’s less, “wow, these guys are tough, they really mean it!” and more, “Ah, come on, are you really expecting me to give up? You guys are pathetic!”

Anyway, Mario crosses the door and finds a large statue of an adult from Squirps’ species. Turns out Squirps is actually the Prince of his species and he had ben tasked with giving them the Pure Heart hidden in this “throne room” of sorts at the end of the Whoa Zone. Well, that explains why he’s so spoiled… So, Mario’s team gets the Pure Heart and ventures back to Flipside.

When I die, I want a statue like this, except I'm crushing
Anubis II's skull with my boot.

Pissing off villains is what Mario and Luigi do best!
Though, in this case, Luigi is with the bad guys...
Bad idea to piss off your new allies if they can kill you.
A scene with the villains, yet again. Mr. L presents himself to the others. Not without insulting them at the same time. It turns out the Dark Prognosticus foretold that the Heroes would be stopped by a Man in Green, and that man in green would use the Chaos Heart to destroy the universes. In other words, Luigi is the only piece that was missing in their plan, the final stone in their multiverse-endangering structure. Now they’re certain that victory is theirs. Bleck’s minions leave, and he has a chat with Nastasia, who mentions that Bleck wasn’t always trying to destroy the world; that he once loved it. That he once loved a girl, too, and-

…loved a girl… What if… …Naaaaaaah.

Bleck mentions that the girl was destroyed (“killed” was too hardcore a word to use?) and cannot be retrieved, regardless of the universe. Why does this sound like Bleck is trying to destroy the multiverse… because of her? …Bleck leaves.

We cut to the dialog between Timpani and Blumiere again (I swear those names seem easier to decode than they appear), with the two deciding to run away to another world, where they can get married and be happy. Aw, that’s sweet…

Back in Flipside, Tippi seems jollier than before. Well, that is, until she faints in front of Mario, Peach, Bowser and Merlon. After they bring her back to Merlon’s place, Merlon explains that when he found Tippi, she wasn’t a Pixl; she was a human girl cursed to wander across dimensions. She was dying, so Merlon used the Ancients’ magic and revived her as a Pixl.

Tippi. Timppi… Timppaiii… a human girl... What if…

Anyway, the void grows larger, so Merlon sends Mario, Peach and Bowser back on their quest.

Makes me think that I should, too, pray to get help for my problem. Our Lord, whoever you are and whatever your name is, please help me. I promise to think twice before going crazy because of a game, I promise to be calmer. I promise to work on myself to avoid falling into the abyss of wrath… … … …Well, it doesn’t seem to work. Meh, I’ll probably have to apologize to everything I’ve been mean to. Come clean, to have a fresh start…

A... church... Goddammit, religion!
Time to put the fifth Pure Heart in place. But all the Heart Pillars in Flipside are used! Mario gets Fleep to open a secret passageway, and Mario goes in that 3D passageway, which leads to a church. In it, there are two rooms separated by a wall and a solid passageway that Mario can’t cross yet; he has to hit all eight blocks in the first room once, first. Once that’s done, Mario can go in the other room, through the second door, in 3D towards the town… and finds himself in a flipped Flipside… Flopside! Here, every character is the opposite of its Flipside resident. The shops change. Saffron is replaced by Dyllis, who cooks with two items each time. The bar sells coffee. COFFEE! The tower leading to the world doors is black and there isn’t a single door on it… yet. And it’s not Merlon, it’s… Nolrem. Ah, come on, every other named character from Flopside has an interesting name that differs from their Flipside counterpart, yours is just Merlon backwards! Nolrem explains that Flopside is Flipside’s dark secret, its opposite. Anyway, the group finds a fifth heart pillar, inserts the Pure Heart, and thus opens the fifth world… in Flipside. Somehow, this led to Merlon being able to revive Tippi, which means they can get their exposition fairy again! Time to enter World 5…

It's time to destroy some natural creatures!
...who somehow speak like they're 90s surfer dudes.
…a prehistoric world??? Huh. These prehistoric rocky men, better known as Cragnons, were asking their “god” (Jesus Christ, we’re mixing religion in this now??? Tabarnak!) for help. Needless to say, Mario’s surprise fall from the sky ends with him being treated as a gift from their God. I can sense the Messianic tropes a-coming! The team is thus brought to the elder, who explains that their species has been at war with aliens dubbed the Floro Sapiens. They’re taking control of Cragnons with mind-control plants. As the elder finishes, we learn that the village is under attack from King Croacus, the leader of the Floro Sapiens! When Mario comes out, he gets immediately targeted by Floro soldiers who say they need someone to polish the Pure Heart they keep. …What an odd thing to say in such a context. I mean, this line comes the Hell out of nowhere, is oddly relevant to the heroes’ quest, and comes from bad guys. Are these plants’ photosynthesis turning CO2 into exposition instead of oxygen?

Mario chases the kidnappers across many portions of levels, and twice has to ask for passwords. The first one is short enough to be remembered. The second one is mind-numbingly, stupidly, inordinately, incredibly, and just plain dumbly long, so much that you CAN’T pass this part without paper and a pencil. No, seriously. It’s just three bloks and you need to hit them in this order: Middle, Right, Left, Left, Right, Middle, Right, Left, Right, Right, Middle, Right, Right, Left, Middle, Middle, Left, Left, Left, Right, Left, Left, Left, Middle, Middle. I suppose a 10-piece passcode, or even a 20-piece one, wasn’t impressive enough. The kicker? To get the code, you need to go back to the start of the freaking level. AND you have to say "please" multiple times to a Crag who won't give it to you as long as he's not satisfied. Woe on you if you forget this 25-piece passcode! URGH. Anyway, after this code, Mario finds a pipe that leads him towards the Star Block. Phew!

Every time Cudge speaks, he sounds like he's had a few
alcoholic drinks. He sounds like he's... hammered.
Ba-dum tish! No refunds!
In 5-2, the Gap of Crag, the heroes catch up with the Floro Sapiens, but the plant baddies escape in a pipe, which is then conveniently covered with a huge yellow block. Nothing appears to break it, not even Thudley’s Ground Pound. Mario goes around this level, finds three stone tablets (which are moderately simple to find, it’s just long because you need to find the clues leading to them), and brings them to a platform high in the skies. As a result, a hammer-shaped Pixl named Cudge appears and decides to join you! Mario uses Cudge to break the big yellow block, then goes down the pipe, and hits the Star Block.

This speaks for itself.
Though, not every side-character needs a catchphrase.
Worst. Idea. Ever.
At the start of 5-3, Mario and Co. encounter a Cragnon known as Flint Cragley, a… TV show producer and actor, who was trying to film in these caves but lost his crewmen. …Stone Age TV. No, seriously. Not even joking. Should I go buy a funnel hat? I'd fit in with the craziness going on here! Anyway, Mario’s team has to look for the two as they venture deeper into the cave. It’s not that hard (the place is still mazelike, though – seriously, who decided to turn these levels into mazes???), but be careful; there are plenty of Cragnons with mind-controlling plants on their heads; those have become baddies, but since they’re just mind-controlled, you’ll lose points should you kill one. You could even lose a level if you’re not lucky. Eventually, the crewmen are found, Mario gets the key, then goes down the cave and finds the Star Block.

5-4 is the Floro Sapiens’ Headquarters. This is gonna be yet another friggin’ maze. So tired of those… After much search, Mario’s team finds Dottie, a Pixl who gives its user the ability to shrink to use tiny doors and hallways. It (She?) was helping a Cragnon escape from the Floro Sapiens. However, she goes with Mario since, ya know, hero of prophecy and all that other crap.

Ah, come on now, don't be so surprised, Picasso-so!

Um... Lettuce fight with you and maybe we'll reply.
Mario is now able to enter the Floro Sapiens’ mind control chambers. They need to find a thing to let them reach the Floros’ King, as the entrance is forbidden to any being who isn’t a plant or who doesn’t have the Floro sprout on the head, like the brainwashed cragnons. Mario ends up facing Dimentio and O’Chunks again, but Dimentio brainwashes O’Chunks with a Floro Sprout. This is a tough battle, and when O’Chunks is defeated the sprout falls off. O’Chunks calls it quits once he realizes he’s hungry (and off he goes, probably for some Scottish treat that the rest of the world would find disgusting). Mario picks up the sprout, uses it to bypass the security system, and reaches King Croacus. Don’t even get me started on the puzzle between the cave and the throne room.

That's King Croacus... a plant wearing makeup.
But unlike the other Floro Sapiens, it doesn't
speak in an antiquated 90s surfer dude slang.
When Croacus appears, he (She?? It???) seems to pride him(her?)(it?)self on… … …ITS beauty. And on its Pure Heart, which it considers so pretty. Oh, so we’re fighting against vanity here, are we? Narcissism, perhaps? There we go! The fight against Croacus is a bit tougher, but still nothing that hard for a great player. When Croacus is defeated, it keeps trying to justify itself through its beauty… wait. I think I’m starting to get it. Narcissism, the cult of beauty, love of the appearance… Before that point, we had Francis, who loved all kinds of things, and all kinds of girls too, but he loved them as objects to collect, not as people. Mr. L. is a corruption of fraternal friendship. Mimi? Hell if I know. But it’s like this entire story is a reflection on love… and how it can get corrupted… And that side-story we get glimpses of, after each world…

Not cool, Mario! What would Captain Planet say?
Servants of Croacus arrive and are appalled to see their King this way. They explain that the Cragnons aren’t entirely innocent; they were throwing their trash in the lake, polluting the water, which the Floro Sapiens really needed to survive (and stay sane, it seems). Flint Cragley arrives and says he tried to reason his people but they wouldn’t listen; thankfully his transmission was viewed by a record number of Cragnons (TV rating do not work this way!), so there we can hope this little environmental message went through their heads- wait a moment. A quick, thrown-at-the-last-minute environmental message? Sounds like an ass pull… Whatever, at least we get the sixth Pure Heart… Also, thankfully we didn’t get more religion stuff. Let’s hope there’s not more coming.

We cut to the villains’ headquarters, where a now thrice-defeated O’Chunks is singing a motivational tune Nastasia made him write, and now she’s forcing him to sing it a thousand times. I hope he sings better than I do. Mimi and Mr. L are ready to go in battle, but Nastasia tells them they should follow the Count’s orders and stay at the castle. After Nastasia leaves, Dimentio shows up and convinces Mimi and Mr. L to join him for an all-out strategic attack against the heroes!

We get another bit between Bleck-I mean, Blumiere, and Tippi-I mean, Timpani… they seem to be enjoying themselves, though Timpani appears to be cold…

On this, I think I should stop here for today. See ya in Part 5.