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Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 8.7
Gameplay: 9
Replay: 7
Overall: 8.3

Paper Mario
Released: 20010205
Publisher: Nintendo of America
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Genre: RPG

Review by: RPGuy

Everyone who knows about Squaresoft and Nintendo's past should remember the 1997 great, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Well, those days are over, and the relationship between Nintendo and Square is kaput. Even so, the Mario RPG franchise still goes on with Paper Mario by Intelligent Systems. Lots of doubt is upon this title because it looks nothing like the original. I'm pleased to say, though, that this new Mario RPG surpasses the original in almost all aspects.

The story is a very familiar one that mixes in a few aspects from the first RPG adventure. Mario and Luigi are incited to a party at Princess Toadstool's (or Peach, if you only started playing from Mario 64.) castle. As predicted, Bowser crashes the party and Mario tries to rescue the princess, yet again. This time, though, Bowser has the power of the mystical Star Rod from Star Haven(kinda redundant, eh?) to aid him. Because of this, Bowser actually manages to beat Mario, and kidnaps Princess Toadstool, yet again. Now, Mario has to gather up allies, save the imprisoned Star Spirits, and defeat Bowser once and for all(yeah, right).

Paper Mario is hardly a visual feast, but it still looks pretty nice for an N64 game. The still pictures do no justice to the game, with thick outlines and cheesy-looking characters, because the charm of the visuals is the fact that they are supposed to look like paper cutouts. Subtle differences, like how Mario "wafts" to the ground in the preatfalls, or how the characters actually flip when they turn from side to side. The environs are nicely crafted, 3-D areas that make you actually believe you are playing in a storybook world, with little details, like in the opening scene, where it shows a certain character(guess who) is literally taped onto the scenery. The battle scenes are nice looking as well, with interesting things going on in the background, like paper clouds being moved about on strips of cardboard. The in-battle effects could have used a little work, though. Even though they look cheesy at first, Paper Mario's visuals are nothing to scoff at.

Even though the graphics aren't the best, Paper Mario sports excellent sound. The music is an interesting bunch of remixes(play with the radio in Koopa Village and you can hear the end theme to Mario World, for an example) and new tunes, and most of them are pretty catchy. The old music is very nice, adding an element of nostalgia, but the newer tunes are also excellent and fit their environs well. The sound effects are all Mario, right down to the "boing" sound he makes when he jumps. In battle, the music is fast paced, and helps you to get in the mood, while the effects are very clear, and fitting. If there is one thing I could have done without, it's the "chattering" noise the characters make when you talk to them. It gets very annoying very fast.

Paper Mario is a game that, when you hold it, seems to scream "Play me, dumbass!" right at you. The controls are very smooth and easy to learn(Use a Nintendo brand pad, tho. All of the 3rd party ones I tried seemed to recalibrate after every 5 minutes), while including lots of variety in the process(a more game-oriented version of the Grate Guy's Casino is in this one). Overland(i.e. not in battle) controls are very Mario-esque, with the classic running, jumping, and hammer smashing. The atmosphere quickly chanes when you hit a battle, though, to a wonderfully-crafted battle system that is reminiscent of the first Mario RPG. The timed hits, are still there, and are thankfully easier to execute this time (they're still easy to do in SMRPG, but if you're having an off day, they can get annoying), and every single extra party member has his own attacks. The only downside: Only one member is allowed in battle, but you can switch whenever you want, costing one turn(until you get a certain badge). Out of battle, each partner has a special move, from making Mario invisible to flying him around. Needless to say, Paper Mario's gameplay is excellent.

When it all boils down, Paper Mario is a great title that meets my expectations from Nintendo. The visuals are nicely done, but they are not for everyone, as I've noticed. The sound is very well done, mixing the best of the old with the new. The gameplay is excellent, with easy to learn controls, and quite a bit of variety(especially in battle). Also, I have to say that Paper Mario is just a blast to play. I was glued to my couch as I played through this the first time, enjoying almost every minute of it. I truly recommend that any gamer who owns an N64 play Paper Mario at least once - you'll be glad you did.

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