The latest installment of the Paper Mario series has garnered quite some controversy since it’s announcement earlier this year. Fallowing the same template from 2011’s Sticker Star, many fans were disappointed over the multitude of changes made to the long-running series, mostly for its focus on exploration and sticker based combat, rather than the typical RPG Mechanics that have come to define the series since its inception in 2000. Sticker Star was by no means a bad game, but it did make a lot of changes to the Paper Mario series that made it feel less RPG and more like and Action Adventure. Some of it was welcome, while a lot of it was made worse.
Color Splash has a lot against it, with the before mention controversy and it acting as the first console Paper Mario game since 2007’s Super Paper Mario. It also acts as somewhat of a Swan Song for the Wii U, as the NX will hit stores next year and nothing major is being planned for the Wii U till then. Does the latest in the Paper Mario series send the game out in Colorful style or does it turn into a drab mess?
After finding one of his Toad friends crumpled up and removed of all his color, Mario, Peach and another Toad venture to the Island of Prism Island. When they arrive, they encounter a magical, talking paint can named Huey. It seems his land is being drained of all its color and it’s up to Mario to set things right by collecting the 6 Big Paint Stars and stopping the evil mastermind behind it all. Like past games, Paper Mario’s overarching story is about as straight forward and simple as they come, with major plot twists you can see miles away. However, it’s the individual adventures you partake in that are the real stars of the show. Featuring some of the wittiest and funniest writing in the series, Color Splash’s journey will keep you smiling, chuckling, and even laughing for its 25-30 hour tale.
Following from Sticker Stars, Color Splash is split into smaller levels, rather than traversing through one big world. Each level follows a similar structure of getting to the end and collecting the mini star. While early levels start to follow this design with little in verity, the game slowly starts to pick up steam and change things. Without wishing to spoil too much, you’ll be doing tasks rescue Toads at a dig sit, fix a train, and so much more. The game is able to juggle these activities along at a decent pace and keeps things from becoming too repetitive.
Gameplay wise, Color Splash follows past games with a mixture of turn-based combat, puzzle solving, and exploration. The biggest addition to Color Splash is your new paint hammer, that colors the world, that’s also used for occasional puzzle solving. Color Splash swaps stickers for cards for combat, such as jumping on enemies, using hammers, fireballs, and so on. Like the last game, you collect cards from blocks, defeated enemies, item shops, and coloring in the world. Some cards you collect will be completely colorless and less powerful, but you can re-color it with paint and make it stronger.
While Mario doesn’t level up, like in past games, small paper craft hammers fall from enemies. Collecting enough of these increases how much paint you can hold, thus giving combat a much more satisfying feel, rather than somewhat pointless than it was in Sticker Star. Thankfully, combat still remains fun, thanks to the timed battles system that allows Mario to deal extra damage and block by pressing A at the right moment. Other ways Color Splash mixes things up is with the games is the new mechanic “Cutout.” This allows you cut parts of levels out, allowing to traverse to another section of the game. It’s simple and uses the Gamepad to good effect.
Speaking of which, it should be noted that game starts out by forcing you to use the gamepad to use cards in battle and access the menu. It’s not really ideal, as trying to switch from the gamepad to the buttons is just unwieldy in other games that force this feature. Thankfully, after you save for the first time, you can change to use the buttons in the options menu.
Other problems in Color Splash are more or less the same found in past games. Some puzzles can be a bit obtuse and hard solve and the game’s hint system is just useless as it was in past games. To be fair, though, The games puzzles are far less obtuse that in past games and Huey is at least a little more helpful that past sidekicks. The biggest problem is with the games boss battles. Thing items return from the last game, and they’re just as fun to use here, but like Sticker Star, the only way to defeat bosses is to use the right Thing item. Going in without them will lead to a game over. It makes the Boss fights less challenging and duller than anything else.
Despite these problems, Color Splash still manages to come clean without losing much of its charm.
If there was an award for a game that has the best use of paper crafting in a video game….. it goes to Sony’s Tearaway. But, Color Splash would be close. The game is absolutely gorgeous to look at. Nintendo’s system may not powerful as it’s competition, but it can still blast out great looking games. Color Splash is filled with charm, lively colors, and some of the best use of paper in a game. There are even moments where it feels like your watching someone’s brilliant stop motion cartoon, thanks to the texture and detail of each of the games worlds and its use of paper.
Audio isn’t quite as strong, but still great on it’s own. The game’s music keeps the jazz themes from past games, even having a few remixes of past Mario games that’ll give you a bit of a nostalgic feeling.
Is Paper Mario: Color Splash the best game in the series? No, that title still belongs to Thousand Year Door on the GameCube, but Color Splash is still a great game and one of the better RPG’s on the system. It features great combat, a great script with some truly laugh out loud moments and has some of the best graphics on the Wii U. If this is the last big game on the Wii U, Color Splash is a good way to send the Wii U off. It makes up for the sins it’s predecessor committed, while still managing to surprise at almost every turn and stay true to the franchise’s roots.
If you were disappointed at by Sticker Star, Nintendo has listened to your complaints. However, if you’re still looking for the next Thousand Year Door, you probably won’t find it here.
|+Better than Sticker Star||– Boss Battles|
|+Funny Script||– Obtuse Puzzles, useless hint system, and other longer series issues|
|+Improved Combat system|