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Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U)

The Paper Mario series transitioned from RPG over platformer/RPG hybrid to action-adventure that couldn't get itself to drop turn-based battles. Sticker Star was a major letdown and Color Splash was going to follow in the same footsteps. It was clear right off the bat that Color Splash couldn't live up to the quality standards of the original Paper Mario and The Thousand Year Door, but let's give it a fair shake and see how it stacks up against Sticker Star.

One of the few positives of this new Paper Mario formula was the world map that allowed to select areas directly instead of having to go through pipes repeatedly. Color Splash expands on this by featuring more "secret" exits and a less linear structure. You are still confined by roadblocks in each chapter, but the order of events in most chapters is up to the player.

Sticker Star introduced a battle system that limited your actions to the stickers you had on hand. Color Splash continues this, but allows you to carry up to 99 cards right from the start. The attack power of these cards can be improved by adding color before usage, the color capacity is the only stat aside from health that can be improved over time; enemies drop sort of experience points for your color gauge, so now there's at least some reason to engage in battles. Thingies were a dreadful element in Sticker Star, but Color Splash does not only reduce the amount of them, but also adds hints for which thingies you need and therefore eliminates a lot of annoying backtracking. Money is easy to come by, so players can load up on good cards in the game's central town.

The sad thing about Color Splash is that almost all ingredients for a worthy Paper Mario game are present, but without a proper foundation of gameplay systems the whole thing falls kinda flat. Unlike Sticker Star, this is an enjoyable game that is also notably longer. Completionists can fill out a museum with all battle cards and music tracks. The drop rates for enemy cards increase dramatically after beating the final boss, so that part is best left for the post-game.

Controls 10 Being forced to look on the Gamepad screen in order to
select attacks is annoying and unnecessary.
Gameplay   An RPG-like turn-based battle system without experience
points defeats the point of having such a battle system.
Story   Witty writing on the plus side, but there is a lack of
memorable characters.
Single-player   Level design is varied and filled with cool ideas, so it manages
to make up at least partly for the flawed gameplay systems.
Multiplayer   Not
Graphics   Color Splash looks fantastic. The animations of
thingies can be hilarious. Coolest pig ever.
Sound   The overall presentation of the game doesn't leave
much room for criticism, the music is no exception.
Value   About 25 hours for an action-adventure title is nothing to
scoff at. This is not an RPG despite the series' roots.
Replay Value   The absence of more engaging RPG elements like in the first
two Paper Mario games makes it quite boring on a second go.
Score 6 Notable improvements over Sticker Star, but still lots of potential
wasted by the stubbornness to stay clear of proper RPG gameplay.

Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes / Switch Gamers Club