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Paper Mario

Vital Stats
System(s): Nintendo 64
U.S. Release Date: Feb. 5th 2001
Current street price: $50.00
Save: Battery Back-up
Size: Seven stars, 30-40 hours of play
Players: 1 Player
ESRB Rating: E

In a nutshell
A Paper-thin version of Mario tries to save the Princess and Star Haven from Bowser, who has stolen the Star Rod. Turn-based battles and lots of non-player characters make this more like an RPG than a standard hop-and-bop Mario title.

Story
Note: This story comes straight from the Paper Mario instruction booklet
Once upon a Mushroom...Far, far away beyond the sky, way above the cloyuds, it's been saidthat there was a haven where the stars lived. In the sanctuary of Star Haven there rested a fabled treasure called the Star Rod, which had the power to grant all wishes. Using this wondrous Star Rod, the seven revered Star Spirits watched over our world carefully... very carefully. Then

Gameplay Overview
Paper Mario is half RPG, half 3D platformer. You have a full 3D range of movement on the field screen, although all the characters are 2D cutouts. The platforming aspect is pretty basic, however. The bulk of the game is standard RPG fare: talking with characers, shopping in towns, and fighting enemies for experience, coins, items, etc. Paper Mario adds a few Mario style twists to this formula. Back from SMRPG are the timed attacks; hit a button at the right time during an attacks animation and it does extra damage. New to PM are first strikes; jump on an enemy in the field screen or hit it with a hammer and you start out in the battle doing extra damage to the enemy. These two things add a familiar hop-and-bop feel to an otherwise standard RPG. Mario has many helpers that aid him throughout his quest: Another new feature in Paper Mario is the badge system. Badges have various effects on Mario such as new attacks, higher jumps, and high HP. Thing is, each one take up some of your limited badge points. Every time you go up a level you can choose to raise your max. HP, max FP (magic Flower Points) or maximum badge points. Choose wisely.

What's the big deal?
The flatness:
Paper Mario's ultra-thin graphical premise isn't exactly original; Parappa the Rapper on Playstation did the same thing years ago. But it works so well with the world of Mario. Anyone who's played a Mario game will get a pang of nostalgia seeing the plumber in rich 2D glory again (even if the worlds are still made of blocky polygons). The paper premise adds a lot of in-humor as well; characters get scotch taped into the scenery, Mario can't swim by himself (cuz he's made of paper), and he flutters like a piece of paper when he falls. It's just enough to set the game apart in a world where better graphics usually just means more polygons or brighter explosions.

Notes of interest
Luigi watches the house while Mario goes adventuring.
First appearance of playable goomba character. (Goombario)
"Star Road" replaced with "Star Haven"
Story is divided into distinct chapters a la Yoshi's Story.
Geno and Mallow are nowhere to be found, as they are partially owned by Square.

Quote
Gwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
-Bowser Koopa

Ending
A detailed ending description by John Ashline. WARNING: SPOILERS
You face Bowser once in Peach's Castle, and wallop him rather easily, he runs off, telling you to follow him if you want the princess. Following him outside, he shows you a new battle platform Kammy Koopa created for the battle. You and your partner (I used Lakilester a.k.a "Spike"), you battle Bowser again. His attacks aren't that tough, but, eventually (with Kammy Koopa's help) he makes the Star Rod's power grow. Your Star Beam won't help. Twink appears (after smashing Kammy Koopa in the head hehehe) and unties Peach. Together they "fight" Kammy Koopa. You use Peach to Focus her wishes, and Twink gets more powerful and attacks Kammy. When her influence is gone, Mario's Star Beam is upgraded to the "Peach Beam" with Twink's help. Then it's a pretty regular battle with Bowser from there. The platform explodes, and Bowser and Kammy are blown away, while Peach's castle floats to the ground, via the help of the Star Spirits. After Bowser is defeated, you see Parakarry delivering letters to the different members of Mario's party. Finally he delivers one to Mario and Luigi's house, inviting Mario to a party a Peach's castle. When they arrive in the Mushroom Kingdom, Luigi leaves, and says he has something to do, and Mario joins his friends at the castle (you control this bit of action). Peach thanks all the heroes, for their help in saving her castle. Then, Luigi is show as credits roll. He is the leader of a HUGE parade (1/2 hour to 45 mins. if I remember). You see many of the games villians, and heroes. There are some very funny moments, like, Tubba Blubba's body floating, and his heart chasing after it, then Boos reveal that they have the body. Also, Kammy Koopa, and Koopa Jr. get in a magic fight with their wands, and Bowser gets caught in the crossfire. After the parade, Mario and Peach show up on a float (with Twink I believe) they are waving happily. Together, they get off at Mario's house, and watch fireworks.
It was a long parade, and had me laughing out loud! It was a great ending to the game!



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