For this month, the game I’m choosing to focus on for the Wii U is yet another one where colour plays a major role. We’ve had Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush and Splatoon before, but now it’s time for a certain paper-thin plumber to join on that particular theme.
Paper Mario: Color Splash has a title that bugs me way more than it should, simply because of the use of the American spelling of ‘colour’… Regardless, it’s my Wii U Game of the Month for October 2016.
The story begins with Princess Peach and a Toad paying a visit to Mario, with a letter – or, more accurately, a colourless Toad who had been sent through the post from a place called Prism Island.
Mario, Peach and Toad hop on a boat, and soon find Prism Island is rather empty. There also seems to be some patches of colour missing. After some investigation, they come across a sentient paint can called Huey, who grants Paper Mario the Paint Hammer.
With said hammer, Paper Mario is able to restore the lost colour and start looking for Paint Stars to restore Prisma Fountain. Thus begins Paper Mario’s next adventure, which involves Shy Guys who literally drink the colours out of Toads and other non-sentient objects…
On his quest to recover Paint Stars, Paper Mario will face a multitude of enemies in combat. The key to fighting enemies are Battle Cards. Yep, we have a gimmicky battle system, despite it being perfectly fine in the first Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door… well, I assume that’s the case for the latter. I’ve never played it, because people charge an arm and a leg for it… one day, I will, though…
Back on topic, Battle Cards allow Paper Mario to perform actions such as jumping or hammering. There are a few more familiar Mario techniques available to, and sometimes enemies become Battle Cards after they’re defeated. You also only have a finite amount.
The idea with Battle Cards is that you choose one at the beginning of your turn, and paint it to power it up. Once you’ve done that, Paper Mario carries out his attack, which is where you can carry out the usual timed hits – hitting A right before a jump lands allows Mario to jump again, for example.
You can buy more Battle Cards from a shop in Prisma Port or find them in ? Blocks. If you do run out, then you’ll have to rely on the ‘Battle Spin’ – and this isn’t available right away. It does crop up fairly early on, though.
Anyway, for the price of 10 Coins you effectively get to pick a Battle Card at random, making this something of a last resort. It seems you’re completely out of luck if you have no Coins or Battle Cards…
Another type of Card you’ll come across are Thing Cards. Things refer to 3D objects in the otherwise paper-thin world, that Paper Mario can wring and convert into Thing Cards. These Thing Cards can be used in battle to provide some rather spectacular attacks, or solve puzzles outside of battle.
If you use a Thing Card up, you can simply go back to the location of that Thing and wring it again, or you can visit the Wringer in Prisma Port and pay to get another one.
Outside of battles, there are occasions when you may not see any clear path forward. However, Paper Mario learns the Cutout ability in this game, allowing him to cut out a piece of the background, transcend dimensions and move forward.
You also have a limited amount of paint to play with. It’s really easy to restore paint, so running out isn’t an issue. Just hammer everything, and you’ll probably find some paint refills. If you so desire, you can also hammer Toads and even Peach – they don’t provide any paint, but Peach’s comment when you do it to her in the early stages of the game might get a laugh.
Actually, I have to say I really like the humour in this game; arguably one of its strongest points. Somehow the game manages to have a dark tone whilst keeping things suitable for everyone, which I found entertaining.
Paper Mario: Color Splash has a pretty great electronic manual. You can see an example of it here. I figured that it would be worth pointing out.
For many people, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has never been bettered – I can’t say anything on that matter, having never played it, but I can offer my opinion on Paper Mario: Color Splash.
It’s effectively some harmless fun – I’m not too keen on the battle system myself. Seriously, why does Mario need cards to jump and hammer foes when he’s perfectly capable of doing so outside of battle at the press of a button?
However, I’m always up for a good laugh, and this game has proven to be very enjoyable thus far. Is it the best Paper Mario game I’ve played? No, I think that honour would have to go to the original, at least until I’m able to get my hands on The Thousand-Year Door.
When it comes down to it, having fun is all I really look for when playing video games, and Paper Mario: Color Splash definitely has plenty of fun to go around.