Nintendo, I needed to say something since I played through Paper Mario: Color Splash, late last year. The game was alright, it had great humor, the writing was on point, and the game certainly was colourful. No, the purpose of this letter is to talk about one feature that has been left out – and it was a big one. I’m talking about the RPG aspect.
Paper Mario has stagnated over the years, transitioning to more of an action/adventure series with battle cutscenes. I miss the years of Paper Mario 64 and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, where we would explore an oddly massive world, uncovering new abilities, levelling up Mario, and finding secrets throughout the game. You have tried to treat us to games like Paper Mario: Color Splash and Paper Mario: Sticker Star, but these games don’t have the same mechanics as your previous two hits. They’re not RPGs.
What made the original Paper Mario games exciting were the different skills and abilities obtained through normal gameplay and by doing simple side quests found throughout the game. This, combined with levelling your character up, and learning a wide variety of stupid moves, is what made these games great. Other titles, such as Ubisoft’s South Park: The Stick of Truth use the same type of principles in their game, and it is great, fun, and exciting. Albeit, there are some changes I would make to their titles that may be rolling out with the anticipated sequel South Park: The Fractured But Whole, but overall, this was the missing experience I have been yearning for since 2004’s Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
Traditional RPGs tend to focus itself on “Grinding” your character up to a specific level before you can tackle the next end-boss or area. The older Paper Mario titles didn’t have this problem, and once you got to an area, there were several options the player could take with defeating the enemy. Using Gombella’s “tattle” to uncover the enemy’s weaknesses, using items to heal and power Mario and his allies up, and finding different badges that have an effect on the battle mechanics were something that gave the game a personalized experience.
Another thing that was lost from the original Paper Mario titles was that sense of accomplishment after you beat a group of enemies in a battle scene. You were rewarded with a bunch of experience, sometimes items, and it gave you a feeling of victory. None of that is present in the current games, making the battles seemingly useless to include. I want to stress that we want the battle scenes to stay, but it doesn’t make sense if there is no RPG element to the game. In the end, you are combining old mechanics, and a system built with RPG elements in mind and stripping the core experiences that made it memorable and fun.
After The Thousand Year Door, I’ve felt that your Paper Mario titles have crashed and burned, which is super depressing for myself as a gamer. Other franchises, such as The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, Pokemon, and Fire Emblem have all taken risks and advances within their right, and it has paid off. But, the Paper Mario series feels like it has taken a step back from everything, been dumbed down and stripped of the many features that made it great in the first place. I’m not turning a blind eye to the Mario & Luigi franchise, but that series takes a different approach to the world around them. There was always that unique plane of the paper, where the developers of the game were told to get creative with making the levels feel like you are in a storybook, or making you feel like you are actually traversing through a universe completely designed by paper. It unlocks the potential for some great creativity, something not lost by the future games.
Your newest console, the Nintendo Switch, has now been released to the general public. I’ve been enjoying my console along with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and I am looking forward to the Switch’s potential in the foreseeable months. Paper Mario though, having a game like that in a portable field, especially is that game was one that could be enjoyed over tens of hours of gameplay… Oh please, sign me up right now Nintendo.
I get it, we are a small gaming website, with minimal viewership, so chances of us being taken seriously are minuscule, but I know plenty of people on social media platforms would agree with me. If you really want to captivate some of that old audience back, develop a new Paper Mario title for the Nintendo Switch. A portable RPG like Paper Mario could be what wins me, and a large chunk of the gaming community over, with the Nintendo Switch.
Oh, and before I finish — If you bring Super Smash Bros. to the Switch in some form, can we have Paper Mario as a character in the game? Pretty please?