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Preview: Super Paper Mario (Wii)

Super Paper Mario Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Platformer
Director: Ryota Kawade
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Console(s): Wii
Rated: E for Everyone

Oh boy. Another 2D Mario platformer. But of course, Nintendo throws us all for a loop by giving us everything we love about just about every Mario game. This is a 2D sidescroller, a 3D platformer, a puzzler, an RPG, and its got multiple playable characters from the Mushroom Kingdom. I recently stopped in at the Nintendo World Store for the first time, (and what a nice place it is) and I got a chance to play Super Paper Mario on its launch day. The game is generally very enjoyable, and is a real diversion from the path many developers have taken with the Wii.

Lets get down to the core feature of this game. First off, to play, you hold the Wii remote on its side like an NES controller, using the D-pad, 1, and 2 buttons. Mario can run and jump just like in any Mario game, but here comes the biggest difference. At any point in the gameplay, you can press the A button (right next to the D-pad) to flip the world into 3D. In this mode, the blocks that seemed like they were aligned will be separated, and you might even find a new pathway or way around an obstacle. (You can walk behind large walls, and even occasionally walk on the background to pass over gaps and such) Don't even try to decipher the way this works, since a lot of times something will work in one dimension and not the other. Seemingly far apart blocks will somehow be right next to each other, and defying logic, Mario will walk over blocks that are clearly not in a straight line. As this game proves, everything's different when you look from a different perspective. The controls are tight and simple as expected from a mario game. Some other interesting additions include the ability to point the remote at the screen (at which time it pauses) so your butterfly companion can explain objects and enemies to you, Navi-style. Also, everything but the actual controls plays like an RPG, with collectable and use-at-will items, hit points, and even leveling up. (When you or an enemy gets hit, they lose a certain amount of health, depending on the typical RPG plethora of factors)

Graphics are a striking feature of Super Paper Mario. While the Wii is not very graphically powerful, it is able to deliver some very nicely art directed visuals. Using its typical cartoony style, Super Paper Mario shows us very vibrant and interesting landscapes. Of course, the characters and enemies are cute and very--how should I say it--bubbly (or sometimes even blocky) There are also some very nice effects added in that give the graphics an artistic flair. For example, the screen ripples all around your selection area when asking the butterfly for help. Also, when you enter a pipe, Mario's body is split into blocks, and each one is sucked down seperately. The game uses simple visuals to create fun and colorful gameplay.

I really enjoyed playing this game for the total of 10 or so minutes I spent on it. It looks very nice, especially on an HDTV with Component cables I might add, and plays gracefully, as we've come to expect from Nintendo's development team. Super Paper Mario is looking to be the best Wii game since Zelda, and should tide over Nintendo fans until the spring-summer game drought is over.

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