Best Of 2020: The Complete History Of Paper Mario – Nintendo Life

My first RPG was Super Mario RPG on the SNES. It's a game largely responsible for carving out my tastes in gaming. As the article mentions, Paper Mario was originally a follow-up to this classic. Despite not knowing this at the time, it was something I felt in its game design: the self-involved world, silly humor, cultural commentary—qualities that gave life to a believable Mario universe in a lighthearted and engaging fashion.

When TTYD dropped, I screamed like a schoolgirl upon first playing it. I immediately recognized the changes to the combat. They were so fresh and satisfying. I remember the eager desire I had to learn everything I could about the new wacky companions accompanying you this time around. There was Goombella, the witty university student; Koops, the timid Koopa hellbent on avenging the death of his father; a wind spirit, a Yoshi, a villain-turned-hero, and more.

Then there was Admiral Bobbery, the forlorn naval ship captain. He was a sailor whose love for the sea was only matched by the love he had for his woman, Scarlette. Every time he was shipped off, she loyally awaited his return. One day, she grew devastatingly ill while Bobbery was out at sea, and, when he returned, she was dead. Bobbery, unable to cope with the reality of her passing, receded into hiding. This particular segment is notably memorable because the player is forced to spend a somewhat frustrating time tracking him down, but it's easy to see why this was done.

These moving narratives complimented by a compelling and entertaining gameplay loop made the series for me. Some years later, Super Paper Mario dropped. As expected, I hotly anticipated the latest Paper Mario adventure. This was during a time before game boards were as sexy as they are now, mind you. I went in blind, and disappointment washed over me like a tsunami. This was no longer the Mario RPG I came to love.

As @MajinSoul so eloquently put, this was the turning point. Everyone refers to Sticker Star as "the one that changed everything", but it all began with Super Paper Mario taking the coveted RPG experience and nerfing it into oblivion; leaving what's better described as a standard-fare Mario game ... but with storytelling and hit points.

I haven't returned to the series since. I didn't leave Paper Mario. It left me, and that's what a lot of these newer fans don't seem to understand. The shift in the core gameplay dynamic was so radical it was disorienting. I could hardly believe this was Paper Mario now, and that same sentiment can be used to sticker, paint, or throw confetti over the rest of the later entries.

With The Origami King painfully confirming there won't ever be a return to what originally brought me to love the series, I can move on, at least and fondly remember Paper Mario for what it once was.

Author: Gamer/ Source