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July 31, 2015

Super Paper Mario (Part 5)

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

So, Mario’s team finds a pillar in Flopside and places the sixth Pure Heart. Only two to go! The group opens the way to the sixth world, Sammer’s Kingdom! Nolrem warns the heroes, however: In Sammer’s Kingdom, they must defeat 100 opponents, and only then will they get the next Pure Heart. The Sammers are a test of strength.

One big, happy, giant messed-up family.
Yup, the legend says they're all brothers.

That's a big Sammer, but he's nowhere as big as that Void
in the background and this sword of Damocles over
their heads. Let me pass, damnit!
The group goes in World 6 and sees that the Void is HUGE here. This dimension is closer to destruction than all of the others. And Mario still has to defeat them all? Nonsense! Their world is at stake, they shouldn’t be wasting the hero’s time! Still the Sammer King insists on following the protocol (stupid by-the-book people! Can’t they be more like cowboy cops sometimes?), and thus Mario has to fight through 100 gates, 100 Sammer Guys, 100 opponents with crazy names referring to the Mario series, like Jade Blooper. Mario’s group starts fighting.

I rather like this level because it’s difficult and challenging, but I don’t like how repetitive it is. Well, okay, for such a challenge that’s pretty much an obligation, but still… one of the reasons why I like it is that all the Sammer Guys, all 100 of them, have separate personalities, different names (looking for all those references is FUN!), and many of them have different designs. Some have swords, others have maces, some are normal-sized, some are tiny, some are big, some have spikes on their heads, others don’t, some can flip between dimensions, others can’t… It’s very enjoyable. It almost makes up for how repetitive it is.

After Sammer Guy #20 is defeated, the Void behind grows a bit bigger. Bleck appears out of thin air to mock the heroes yet again. However, he gets into an argument with Tippi on the value of things, on the life of all that is, on the heart. When replying, Bleck drops that everything is meaningless to him, because he lost a certain… Timpani.

Not that he seems to regret it all that much...

…Bleck, Blumiere? Ha, called it! Not like it wasn’t already obvious. By this point, it’s just to bring every player up to speed, especially those who still hadn’t figured it out. After gloating a last time, Bleck leaves. However, Tippi seems to have recognized the name Timpani.

Then again, I suppose it’s about time we get some revelations. It was good to have the story of Blumiere and Timpani in glimpses, but those were puzzling and, at first, came almost out of nowhere (unless you watched the intro, of course). And now that the game is about to end, it becomes obvious, it hits like a ten-wheel truck. All subtlety gets dropped, and I fear the same will happen to the rest of this story.

And when she's defeated, she calls us bullies. She's the one who
attacked first. And tried to kill us.
The next five Sammers let Mario pass, allowing him to hit the Star Block. After which we get to Level 6-2, where Mario’s group meets the Sammer King, who tells them he decided to cut them some slack (ah, finally, someone who decides to be reasonable!) and lets them access the Pure Heart on Gate #26. They reach the arena, open the treasure chest… and it turns out to be a bomb! BOOM. This King Sammer turns out to be a fake, another of Mimi’s deceptions. …Geez, I would have never guessed! She attacks! This boss fight is a bit tough, but eventually Mimi is defeated. Mario hurries through the gates, but by gate #30 the Void has grown, the earth is shaking every few seconds… and it finally engulfs all. Well, if you needed a reminder that this Void is very much a threat, here it is. Tippi manages to teleport the heroes back to Flipside, just in time. The group notices the door leading to World 6 still exists, so it would be good to go and see what it’s like now…

For a battle against a giant robot, this place is all white.
Thus, Mario goes and sees… it’s a sea of white. White background, white floor, rubble and pieces of stone on the ground… nothing else. Not a single trace of life. Holy crap… Mario finds the Pure Heart, though it’s turned to stone, but then Mr. L shows up and attacks them with his new ameliorated Brobot! And this is one tough fight if you don’t know this robot’s weakness to explosions. Otherwise, well, it’s still tough, but not as tough. Defeated yet again, Mr. L decides to make a run for it. Mario gets the stone Pure Heart!

Further, Mr. L. is accosted by Dimentio. The jester mentions that Mr. L would just be a problem now, so he traps the green-clad villain in a box and blows him up. Dimentio mentions something about having an agenda to himself… I never hid it from you guys. Even if I play dumb by being surprised at every twist of the story, I already played through this game. I know Dimentio’s plan is to overthrow the Count by the end. I don’t know how often through the history of this website I have mentioned Dimentio being the final boss, and how his final form is absolutely ridiculous. Needless to say, I’m soon going to have to explain why I hate Dimentio this much…

Holy damn!

Anyway, back to the villains. Nastasia informs that Mr. L and Mimi showed signs of insubordination. Also, that Mr. L never came back. Bleck prepares to go punish Mimi, but before that, we see him wonder out loud… if that butterfly Pixl could be Timpani…

Cut to a discussion between Blumiere and… his father, who says Blumiere betrayed the Tribe of Darkness by hooking up with a human girl. And that as a result, she was punished, and that she isn’t in this world anymore. Now, here’s the full story that goes afterwards, the story that won't be outright stated in this game: In a fit of rage, Blumiere murders the entire Tribe of Darkness, his people, and then uses the Dark Prognosticus to destroy that universe. Yeah, including every innocent person who had no hand in his woe. Then he became Count Bleck, assembled his team, and the rest is the story up to now. Genocide in a Mario game. Yeah, when I said this game was hardcore, I meant it. Also, I’d like to say how it’s a cliché, but by this point I go less for “cliché” and more for “desperately trying to be as gritty and dark as possible, while staying within the limits of the Mario-‘verse`”. That’s the feeling I get: this story is needlessly dark, too dark for the Mario series. Another victim of the grimdark feel that has started creeping up in so many places, like we mustn’t enjoy our fiction anymore, like being too happy is becoming a crime. These days, it's like it has to be dark… and sad… and creepy… and simply not fun… That’s what I feel…

Mario’s team goes back to Merlon with the stone heart, but Dimentio appears. And then he proceeds to do the same to them as he did to Mr. L. He KILLS THEM.


...see what I meant by "gritty and dark"...


Mario wakes up in Hell, better known here as the… Underwhere. …I guess Level 4-2 didn’t satisfy the writers’ need for toilet humor. Mario quickly learns that in order to understand just what the Hell is going on in this Hell, he has to go see Jaydes, the lady demon who rules over this land. …I’m getting vibes of both the Greek mythology and Christian versions of Hell here… That’s not good. On the way, Mario sees a winged creature singing about her hopes to find her price one day… and then she gets angry when she sees Mario is staring at her. …What? Is it so wrong that I’m staring with disbelief at the thought of an angel in Hell? Are you Lucifer in disguise? Meh.

That's not the kind of demon I was expecting...

Mario reaches Jaydes, and after a bit of talk, shows her the stoned Pure Heart. Jaydes understands Mario is not just any hero, and decides to enlist his help after she gets a phone call. Cool Hellphone, by the way. Does Heaven and Hell have an Internet connection? If Heaven has Wi-Fi, Hell must have Hell-Fi’. Think of it as an Internet provider that randomly crashes, their personal browser never sends you to the right pages, half the pictures are missing, viruses abound and all the porn sites are locked forever.

Yeah, yeah, whatever. Jaydes learns from Grambi, the ruler of Heaven, that their daughter Luvbi has disappeared and might be in the Underwhere right now. Jaydes gives Mario the mission of finding her, and also hands him a key to a locked door somewhere in the Underwhere; she mentions a green-clad man was found falling in the purple River Twygz…

NOW that's our Luigi! Funny and coward to a fault.
So Mario goes on this double quest; first he retrieves Luigi, and then Luigi’s super high-jump allows them to retrieve the little Luvbi. Oh, by the way, what an ingrate child! I already hate her! Mario and Luigi (Peach and Bowser are, for the moment, nowhere to be found) bring her back to Jaydes, and the Queen of the Underworld (I am NOT saying Underwhere! Or Underland, for that matter. That was just stupid.) has two great news: First, she used her powers over life and death to restore the seventh Pure Heart. Yay. Second, she announces that Mario and Luigi’s games aren’t actually over, so she can bring them back to Flipside, alive and well.

On their return, the heroes are greeted by the worried Tippi and Merlon. The wise wizard realizes that Luigi might be the fourth hero of the prophecy. But if they want to go and retrieve Peach and Bowser, they need to place the latest Pure Heart in a pillar! The Bros. go to Flopside and do just that, then come back. You can enter World 7…

To Hell and back, and to Hell again.
A hero's work is never done.

…The Underwhere????? Who knew? I mean, I did, but just think about it: Dimentio pretty much sent them exactly where they had to go, allowing them to bring the Pure Heart to Jaydes, and also letting them get a glimpse of World 7! Ain’t that great? There’s one downside, though; Jaydes says Mario has to escort little princess Luvbi all the way up to Heaven, better known here as the Overthere. Hm, I can live with that name. Much better than Underwhere- wait, we have to escort that ingrate kid? Ah, crap! Well, at least it ends 7-1.

Whoa! It's darker inm here than in the Yoob's belly!
7-2 has Mario and Luigi going up through the underworld until they can reach Heaven. And Luvbi keeps on insulting them. What, Luvbi, are you a bitch in the making? Here, in order to access the Overthere, Mario has to go through three sentient doors who ask questions. The first one asks three questions and only the third one is tricky, though you have to answer to the three all over again if you miss. Behind that one, you see demons (Oh, pardon me, D-Men) holding a door close. They say a monster rampaging through the Underwhere has been locked in it. Mario decides to face the beast despite the D-Men’s insistence that he doesn’t, and it turns out to be Bowser. Oh, but he’s pissed! So Mario has to fight him in what is, I must admit, quite a tough battle.

Sorry, D-Man elder lady, I don't have time for your
endless blabberings! I got a Princess to save!
Still, Bowser gets defeated, and when he learns he’s in the Underwhere and that Peach is there too, he immediately joins Mario again. The group continues on their way and answers questions from a second door (and man, this one is annoying). Mario’s group later finds a room with three old women, two of which will send Mario on missions where he must talk to D-Men located earlier in the level… and with every mission you need to go back to them, re-doing a (rather long) part of the level each time. Sigh. Because I guess the level wasn't already frickion' long enough. And one of those two missions is necessary to get a key to open the door leading to the third question door.

Oh, but that door doesn’t ask questions; it sends a monster your way and you have to defeat it. The UNDERCHOMP! A Cerberus made of Chain Chomps! The thought alone of such a mythical Mario creature entices badassery in your fellow man! Yet it’s defeated like an RPG monster. The door guy lets the group in, and thus they get access to the Overthere.

Hope you don't mind getting bitten.

This is not even one thousandth of the whole level.
No, that's not an exaggeration.
Opens Level 7-3… the longest one in the game. And by long, I mean GOD! It’s horribly long! I mean, it’s already long to climb up this vertical-scrolling level, but obviously that’s not all there is to this level, it would be too easy. That’s where Mario, Luigi and Bowser find Princess Peach. However, she ate a Golden Fruit that put her in deep slumber. A Sleping Beauty curse unlike any other. Luvbi comes by to offer them a few pointers; to wake Peach up, they need one particular type of fruit; they need a taboo fruit.

Oh, ha ha ha. We are very amused.

Of course, Luvbi decides not to help, because she’s in a bitch mood. Bitch, bitch, bitch, I hate you! Not as much as Francis, but I still hate you!

Those are not the apples we are looking for.
There are six trees located around the "Overthere Stair", and you need to find them all, pick a fruit from each of them, and then bring them back to Peach. Only one of those six fruits is the forbidden fruit. Don’t wanna spoil, but it’s the black apple. I mean, black will never make a fruit or a vegetable look tasty. Mario, Luigi and Bowser have to search around the 3+ rooms of the first two thirds of the Overthere Stair in order to find the apples. Found one? Bring it back to Peach. Wrong one, and Peach has fallen asleep AGAIN? Off we go to get another one. Seriously, you can spend over an hour in this goddamn level alone. This, added to the other three levels of Chapter 7, makes it the longest chapter of the whole game. Thankfully, the apples can restore some Hit Points, though you can wonder why they have such funny effects on the sleeping Peach and none on our team. (Also, those apples are needed for some of Saffron and Dyllis' recipes.)

74... this means there's over 70 clouds to jump on in here?
Anyway, even after Peach is awake, this level is still long, as there are additional places you couldn’t reach without Peach before, more clouds where you keep on going up. Gah, this is the Everest of video game platformers! And then there’s those strange skeleton-like creatures who start showing up as you climb… at one point, a cloud offers his help, but only if you bring him an apple that makes him grow. Guess what? MORE BACKTRACKING to earlier in this freaking level, getting a red apple, then going back. (Did I mention I hated the overuse of backtracking?) Thank God they allow us to take a pipe shortcut… Also, Thank God this cloud propels them directly at the top of the level. Over, at last! The group gets to the Star Block and hits it.

And sadly, I’ll have to continue this Monday. Between the annoying tagalong angel, the never-ending levels, the cliché-riddled story, I just need to take a freaking break.

Now that I think of it, the heroes end up in Hell, make their way to Heaven, and they’re thus revived by the end, brought back stronger than ever… It’s the Messiah’s story all over again, that same one we see everywhere, the exact one we're all tired of…



…See you Monday.