The Paper Mario series has been around for 20 years, and can you believe that it took me all 20 years to play just one of them? An absolute travesty! To be fair, with exception of the 3DS, I never owned any of the consoles the games were released on, another travesty! Was it worth the wait? Hell yes! Paper Mario: The Origami King is an utterly fantastic game!
Released on the Nintendo Switch, Paper Mario and Luigi are invited to the Origami Festival in Toad Town by Princess Peach. However, when Mario and Luigi arrive to the town at the foot of Peach’s Castle, something is amiss. Toad Town is deserted, not a Toad to be seen. Mario and Luigi venture to the Castle to investigate and discover that Princess Peach is not quite herself. She has been corrupted by the Origami King, King Olly and has been folded into origami.
Princess Peach is not the only one that has been folded, many of Bowser’s minions have been folded into Soldiers for King Olly. Upon further investigation, Mario discovers Bowser himself has also been folded. Upon his rescue, Mario discovers King Olly had even folded his own sister, Olivia, into origami too. With Olivia rescued, she joins forces with Mario to save the Paper World and defeat the evil King Olly.
This game caught my attention instantly. I was both disturbed by the twisted words that came from the usually kind princess and the quippy hilarious one-liners from those that are rescued. I found myself laughing quite often throughout. However, Paper Mario is not all fun and hilarity, it is also emotionally charged. You cannot help but get attached to the characters you meet along the way. One character stands out, the amnesic Bob-omb that Olivia nicknames, Bobby.
With King Olly and his folded soldiers, you join forces with Bowser’s minions to rescue them from their comrades from their origami state. This is the only Mario game that I have played where Koopas, Goombas, Shy Guys and even Bowser himself are your allies. It was quite refreshing to have a protagonist that was not Bowser for once.
The visuals of the game are stunning. From the crisp clean outlines of the characters, to the brilliantly designed world, Origami King is easy on the eye. Due to the release on Nintendo Switch, while you can play in handheld mode, it is best played on the TV. There are even moments where you can take advantage of some motion controls, although, I found it easier to play without them. There are several special abilities that you obtain throughout the game, notably the 1,000 Folding Arms where your arms are converted into a long accordion like shape that allows you to reach for hidden objects and peel back paper walls to rescue Toads.
Not only is the story brilliant, but the battle mechanics keep you on your toes. When you battle enemies and bosses, you are taken to a battle arena with a ring-based combat system. To defeat the baddies, you need to rotate and shift the platforms to line them up into a row of four, where you can jump on them to knock them out. Or if you want, you can place them into a two by two grid where you can smash enemies with your hammer. During the boss battles, you need to align the rings to match up the arrows on the board, so it directs you to an attack tile. Each boss requires a different attack technique and progressively gets harder as the game progresses. There are also four elemental beasts you need to defeat along the way; Earth, Fire, Ice and Water. After each elemental has been defeated, Olivia gains the ability to convert into these beasts during battles.
Overall, Paper Mario: The Origami King is a fantastic game that will give you hours and hours of fun! There are even hundreds of collectibles and side tasks to complete in each world. From finding hidden and folded Toads, to bumping and finding hidden ‘? Boxes’, to my favourite, throwing confetti into the air to cover the not-bottomless-holes strewn across the levels. I do not know why, but it felt very cathartic having the ability to just throw paper around. I would find myself randomly throwing confetti even when there was no need to.
This game has everything that I wanted; a brilliant, captivating and surprisingly emotional storyline, visually stunning graphics and world design, collectibles and hidden objects, and a fun and challenging battle system. I only recently completed the story gameplay, but there is still heaps to do to achieve 100%. Some collectibles are not available until the main story is completed, keeping you engaged even though it is finished. There are not many games that can achieve this effectively and it makes Paper Mario: The Origami King one of the best Mario games I have ever played in an exceptionally long time.
Whether you are new to the Paper Mario series like me, or you have played each of the previous games in the series, you will not be disappointed Paper Mario: The Origami King. It has provided me with hours and hours of entertainment and distractions from being stuck in lockdown. If you can, head out and grab yourself a copy. If you cannot because of COVID restrictions, buy it online for delivery or buy digitally and jump in to unfold this touching, fun, genius game. You will not regret it.