i finally finished playing through super mario RPG recently so i finally felt i could tackle some of the other mario RPGs at long last. i’ve had a copy of super paper mario ever since i’d first gotten my wii but had only played through the first chapter. i’d already played its immediate predecessor, the thousand-year door, and at that time i’d been intrigued by super paper mario‘s increased emphasis on platforming, so even though i wasn’t all that into the thousand-year door i decided to find out how the two games compared.
i think my tolerance for slow games has steadily decreased. i still find it extremely hard to understand how SPM got such rapturous reviews because there was very, very little i found i could like about it. although there is an increase in the platforming elements, the game really doesn’t work as a platformer. the characters’ movements are all slow and the challenges are minimal, especially since you can pretty much always just flip into 3D and completely avoid enemies. speaking of which, the flipping mechanic, in which you go from 2D to 3D and back, gets boring fast. the hold-overs from the RPG days, such as hit points and items, also serve to make the game mind-numbingly easy, and the reams and reams of text, while admirably translated by NOA, get to be incredibly tedious. the three characters that accompany mario are only occasionally useful (and since only mario can flip you’ll end up using him the vast majority of the time anyway), and his completely personality-less pixl companions similarly only provide added skills in the most obvious and basic ways. the art style is stylized and well done in general, but they also get to feel very same-y, with the main exception of the whole last section which is completely and utterly drab and lifeless. having to wander around the town hub after every chapter is annoying, especially since instead of platforming challenges the game’s main levels are full of endless mazes you’ll have to slog through with way too much backtracking. the town itself is rife with one of my biggest pet peeves in RPGs, namely completely useless NPCs who have a seemingly endless supply of gab but serve absolutely no purpose other than to provide a smidge of increased atmosphere. the sidequests, particularly cooking, are even more painfully pointless than the average, and the motion controls are just an added chore. on top of all this, even within the main quest there are way too many sections that are just flat out obnoxious, like having to jump and hit the same block 100 times.
ugh! i really had to force myself to finish this, and in the end this was one of the few games that i was eager to sell, even if it meant having a gap in my mario collection. i find myself hard-pressed to think of anything i really loved about this game. the only thing that comes to mind is francis, the otaku chameleon, and the usual small pleasure that comes from getting to play as other characters of the mario universe even in a dull game. disappointing, but i’m still hoping that paper mario and the mario and luigi games will prove that there are mario RPGs that i can actually like.
a paper chain of super paper mario links:
– entry at wikipedia
– a lot of good info at mariowiki.com including official art and the complete list of sammer guys
– official site, which doesn’t contain much other than a few videos
– funny comic at 2pstart.com (and oh so true)