In all the excitement over the Nintendo Switch it’s easy to forget that the Wii U still has a slow but steady run of top notch games coming out for it. The issue with the Wii U has never been about the quality games, more the volume of them. The Nintendo Switch looks like it’ll have the third party support that the Wii U has missed but that doesn’t stop the games that do come out on the Wii U being (mostly) ace. We’ve had great fun with Mario Kart 8, Mario Maker, Mario Sunshine 2, Yoshis Island, Captain Toad and so on. In fact I’d go as far to say that Mario Kart on the Wii U is probably my favourite racer of this current generation.
Now with the release of Paper Mario Color Splash, we have another absolutely beautiful game to get our grubby mitts on.
Paper Mario Color Splash is the latest entry in the Paper Mario series that started out on the original Wii, progressed to the 3DS and is now onthe Wii U. The previous games looked none too shabby but the artists have really gone to town with the extra grunt that the Wii U has. It’s wonderful to see a beautiful game that eschews the hyper realistic, gritty, shades of green and brown, that seem to make up a majority of console games today. It’s also wonderful that Nintendo are stubbornly still producing great platform/puzzle games that evidently have a large potential audience in a wider gaming environment that seems to be obsessed with annual updated versions of football and first person shooting games.
As you can see from the pictures and might have guessed from the name, Paper Mario Color Splash (no, they haven’t got an Anglicised version I’m afraid!), all the characters, and indeed the world itself are styled as paper cut outs. They look properly like you could just pick them up and stick them down in an album, the effect is almost uncanny.
In terms of the gameplay, you get to wander around the 3D world with your 2D cut out character, exploring and undertaking a number of puzzles, most of which involve Mario hitting stuff with his big hammer. Mario’s big hammer puts colour back into stuff, be it mushroom people (Toads?) that have had their colour drained, or bit’s of scenery that are likewise monochrome. Blame Bowser, it’s usually his fault!
The actual combat is a bit different from most Mario platform games but if you’ve ever played something like Final Fantasy or the wonderful Final Fantasy Tactics, you’ll be at home as it’s turn based, using a card system. That makes it sound more complicated than it is though (10:27 onwards):
While maybe not being everyone’s cup of tea, it means you can play the game without have that twitch reflex that some Mario games require, and it’s made it easier for the kids to play- Nintendo games can often look very cutesy but they’re seldom easy!
Like most Mario games, there are the traditional end of level bosses to take down as you travel across the levels trying to put the colour back in that Bowser stole. There are RPG (role playing game) elements in Paper Mario: Color Splash that give it a bit more depth- you get added abilities as you get more experienced in the game- so the fighting doesn’t get repetitive as quickly as it might have.
As with most Nintendo titles, the touchscreen on the Wii U controller is integrated into the game well, you can use it to cut holes in the scenery in certain instances to make new routes for Mario for example. All in all, much like Tearaway, the paper is used as more than a decorative style.
I loved Paper Mario: Color Splash. The kids loved it but probably not as much as Captain Toad Treasure Tracker or Sunshine 2, mostly because it’s a little slower and requires a bit more thought and they’re both still under 10. As it stands though, it’s a must buy on the Wii U and another of the best looking games you could hope for.