Forums - Nintendo Discussion - The spark of Paper Mario: The Origami King (Spoilers)

Massive spoilers for Origami King and the rest of Paper Mario series.

I’m mostly doing this for myself as a place to gather my thoughts on what I find to be a pretty special game.

Origami King reaches some of the highest highs of Paper Mario and Super Mario as a whole, all of this despite some of its corporate limitations in creativity. So I want to talk about that, in a very ramble like way. The first two sections will be very light on spoilers, just about covering the start of the game and the general structure of it and everything after will be nonstop spoilers in a sort of narration and opinions about most aspects of the game. I’m not here to put some galaxy brain take or stuff that you may not know about the game, this wall of text is mostly me appreciating most of the elements the game brings to the table.

  • Back to basics: Toad Town and the Mushroom Kingdom

The hub and different areas in how you approach narrative progress were perfected in Paper Mario 64, Toad Town had a clear structure and you can easily remember where every next area is going to take you, the world felt connected and tangible, the right amount of size and personality to feel big without it being confusing, a nicely done theme that would diversify in different variations depending on the place you were, it was simple and effective, what a good hub should be.

This was subsequently botched in just about every other entry, Rogueport in TTYD, while unique, is not clear in its structure, besides a handful of areas, everything else in mobility is broken up in a very frustrating sewer system where everything looks the same and makes the world feel too broken up in parts, it feels less cohesive than 64’s world despite being generally more interesting and It damages the overall game, because even when it is less organic, is not to the benefit of gameplay due to the sewer system. Flipside didn’t fare much better in Super, with different floors breaking up the pace of exploration, plus the 3D mechanic that breaks it up even more, but at least the world system while It doesn’t make it more connected with the rest of the levels, it at least serves the gameplay well by having all of them in a single space. Decalburg and Port Prisma in Sticker Star and Color Splash respectively were more serviceable in gameplay, they were small and got to the point and the rest of the world was broken up in a level selection screen like a more traditional Super Mario game, they have nothing special going for, but they aren’t annoying to navigate either.

Origami King, takes a good look back at the best hub and world of them all and brings back the quality of 64’s Toad Town, is just big enough to feel like a tangible place, the music has variations depending on the place you are, like the café, museum and port, on top of that the theme progresses the more you complete of the game, you have a clear road to move forward to,  the connects to the prologue, red, blue, and purple streamer efficiently and contains a fast travel system that remains in a single point, the fast travel itself doesn’t damage the fact that is a very well-constructed and organic world, thanks to a simple yet effective pointer.

In every area you’ll find the next objective in the distance, that is what helps the most with the world being connected, halfway through your first streamer, you’ll get a sight of the next one, so you know the more you advance, you’ll always find another streamer, while the general progress is more akin to a straight line, this little detail makes it still feel organic and one of the best representations of the Kingdom in the series.

  • The first hour of the game

First impressions are very important and Origami King makes some very sensible choices to make that feel special and prove itself as something far more unique than Sticker Star and Color Splash, and enough to also differentiate itself from the first 3 games.

The game opens up on the very unsettling conversation between Peach and Mario from the initial trailer, not only setting up a more different game tone, but also giving hints to one of the major motivations of our main villain, which I’ll ramble about later.

This throws Mario into the dungeons of the castle, in which we witness some unsettling in concept moments, like the shadows of the Bowser Minions being turned into basically zombie Origami beings. We also get to walk around with our new companion Olivia and Bowser, another very good idea, this is the first time in a while where Bowser takes a more companion like role in a Mario game, and the game makes that clear by allowing you to escape with him following you around, again a way to help Origami King set itself apart from the more basic stuff from SS and CS, after escaping the castle we meet King Olly and we get thrown off the castle and land into a forest.

Another of the most sensible parts of the opening act, the big takeaway from this is that we have a charming forest filled with talking trees with a bit of sass and get treated to one of the best sequences of the game, setting a trend within Origami King.

 

The lyrics, incredibly catchy music is all part of making this experience unique, the most important part of all that I have mentioned, is that none of this opening part of the game features a Toad in it, we do get a small section with some of them after the forest but everything previous to that doesn’t have a single Toad, Toad Town in the start of the game, is already a barren town, much like some of the later writing in the game that I’ll talk about, I feel this was intentional from the developers, that despite the fact we’ll still see plenty of Toads for the rest of the game, this is a quiet and more original way to open the game with nothing but Mario, new characters, Bowser and his minions.

Music is one of the key aspects of the game, is kind of obvious to say such a thing, but given the variety, quality, and quantity of this game far surpassing not only games within its series, but the media as a whole, is all the more important how much of a crucial part it plays into making Origami King as great as it is, already mentioned one of the lyrical tracks, but I want to put some attention in this section about 2 other tracks, the title theme and the first time we enter Toad Town.

Title themes are important, they also can set a first impression very well for the game you are about to play, within the Paper Mario series, I’ll argue that every title theme is pretty good, they are catchy and energetic enough to know that you may have a pretty fun time with them, what Origami King’s theme screams more than just a very uplifting sounding track, is that it oozes with a feel of adventure, is grandiose and gives you the sense that you’ll go in a grand journey, is a perfect theme to represent the entire experience.

The Toad Town theme at the start, once again showcases a tonal shift in the game, a very dramatic piece, especially when the violin starts to kick in, it elevates the moment, not only because is a great piece, but because is in a Mario game. Much like something akin to Kirby, it uses its surface level status of a E rated, happy franchise to be able to surprise newcomers and veterans alike with tonal shifts in narrative, visuals and music.

  • Paper aesthetic advantages and horror elements

From this section and on I’ll start to dive into major spoilers of various points of the game, so yea, horror in my Mario game.

Is pretty easy to dismiss most disturbing moments in fictional media as long as it has a more appealing and cartoony art style, a point which I’ll always defend about titles like this is that, no matter it looks, you can always tell a sensible story or delve into interesting points no matter the demographic or style, how subtle or in your face one makes it is up to how actually good the designers of the game are, and Origami King takes full advantage of that fact.

I already talked about one of these moments at the start of the game, the whole idea of pretty much making an army of brainwashed origami zombies working to destroy the fabric of the world at the orders of Olly in itself is rather disturbing, the idea in itself is rather tame compared to other moments.

The prime examples of these are the Punch Hole, Scissors and King Olly sequences across the game.

Punch Hole makes a hole in the sun, plus taking away the faces of the Toads, that is all gruesome despite the funny nature of the Disco sequence in the Pyramid, the fight itself revolves around the boss making holes across Mario’s body, weakening him to death essentially.

The Scissors are one of the peaks in this whole idea, they are essentially the most dangerous thing in the Paper Mario universe, it pretty much kills anything instantly, doing so against Bowser Jr., Kamek and most Bowser minions, is ruthless and sadistic, going as far as leaving pieces of the fallen companions across the halls and even mashing them up in a single Buzzy Beetle entity, while still being conscious about being cut up like that. In itself these moments are really looked into deeply by the game, but the notion sticks with you. The Scissors also act as the mad scientist of the story, with the Handaconda and the paper cutouts enemies being created by them, which are also a very unsettling enemy design. Plus, it has a very taunting personality, knowing full well how mortal its strikes can be against Mario in the boss fight.

 The other peak happens right at the final battle, when you reach the throne room of King Olly, you get to see that he went as far as stitching Peach’s body to the wall of the castle, again, you may not think about it because is just paper, but the idea in itself is terrifying, making Peach’s unconscious and at that point lifeless body part of the Origami Castle itself.

 

  • Bob-omb and betraying expectations

On the topic of good writing, I present to you, what is possibly the greatest partner in the series, this Bob-omb, which Olivia refers to as Bobby, or Bombi in my translation.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWNrFHEyPSg

Bombi is a Bob-omb with amnesia, he joins Mario and Olivia at the start second chapter/streamer of the game, he doesn’t have a fuse, so he can be clumsy in battle, being only able to headbutt enemies most of the time during combat, this is also a very fleshed out part of the game for a reason, Bombi gets to have input in most situations of the second chapter, you get to know him, appreciate him and fall in love with him with his antics, Chesnut Valley being a perfect example of how well the friendship goes along the way, after a  while Bombi gets thrown off the main path going into a particularly hilarious sequence chasing him around in the Valley, with a very Mario Kart/Super Mario Bros. 3 tune making a companion piece to the absurdity of it all, there is even a gag that achieves a similar punchline to the General White sequence in TTYD, but without being the worst joke ever designed gameplay wise. You get to spend more time with him as you complete the main part of the chapter, Shogun Studios, after completing the chapter we get a bit of foreshadowing that he may have recovered his memories, Olivia insists that Bombi accompanies them toward the next area, after reaching the starting point of it, they are attacked by Olly, blocking the path with a giant boulder in an attempt to kill off his sister for good, Bombi tells Mario of a way to save her but we need to go to the Eternal Ocean, after a nice section in The Princess Peach boat, we retrieve a special box and go back to the boulder.

At this point I figured since Bombi didn’t have a fuse, in a very humorous way the box would contain some dynamite or another similar gag to round up this trip, how wrong I was.

After explaining his entire story to Mario about the friends he lost at the boat we are treated to a shocking sequence, Bombi explains that the life of a Bob-omb in itself is quite short and that they try to make the best of their lives by making an impact, something important, in this case is sacrificing his life in order to save Olivia, he is gone for good. This is a moment both impactful for newcomers and veterans alike, some may want to argue that this moment is as impactful or as dark as something from TTYD, Super or Color Splash and I disagree entirely, is far more than that.

Death in itself is not something Mario is keen on touching, it plays around with those concepts in a more meta way in Super Paper Mario with the Underwhere and Overthere, as they call a literal game over among other details like that, it also delves on sacrifices but nothing is ever something definitive, besides Dimentio and the Shadow Queen, and that is more just for the sake of being the main villains.

Sacrifices in Paper Mario aren’t permanent, anything from Super, including the destruction of the Sammer Kingdom, while poignant in the main story, is reduced in impact in the grand scheme of things due to the fact that it comes back anyways, even the fate of the likes of Blumiere and Timpani is that they left to another world, Huey in Color Splash is left with the hope that he may actually come back. One of the best moments of Super is the sacrifice of Luvbi to become one of the Pure Hearts, but she comes back anyways if you go back to the Overthere in the post-game, all nice moments but nothing feels like an actual tragic moment at the end of the day. Even TEC and Grodus from TTYD, survive.

Death can even be used as a gag in TTYD, with the father of Koops and the brother of Jolene coming back no problem, the only permanent death there and is not even something the player experiences by himself is the backstory to Admiral Bobbery.

The Bob-Ombs of previous Mario games also help build up the moment of betrayal of expectations for seasoned players, we have two of them, Bombette and Bobbery, both have the ability to explode to open new paths for Mario and these games trained us to always expect them to come back no matter the times we blow them up, It was a mechanic that is ingrained in our brains from playing these games, this is where Origami King flips that concept.

The aftermath of it is nothing short of excellence, I’ll go as far as to say that it would fit perfectly in a Mother 3 scenario, given how similar it can be to that game and how it handles its tragic moments so well.

After his death and Olivia realizing they lost Bombi, she runs away crying, another important aspect to all of this, is how Mario acts, Paper Mario isn’t particularly expressive, besides a handful of emotions like surprise and pain from attacks, he doesn’t show much even on very important moments, here we get to see Mario actually sad, putting his face down with the hat covering his eyes, is a simple yet effective way to show that yes, even Mario is feeling sad about all of this, the fact that Mario never has any dialogue in these games, can also elevate this, making him seem solemn about the whole deal, we even saw him running towards Bombi trying to stop his explosion.

In the way to Olivia we come across a more quirky moment, a tunnel full of Monty Moles going about their business, this is the Mother 3 part of it, we see characters acting normally in the middle of a heavy moment for the player, showing that the tragic event that happens to these characters happen only to them, the rest of the world moving forward, unaware of such events, is not a tone deaf moment, It elevates everything about it, between the funny dialogue the feeling of uncomfortableness and sadness hitting stronger, we have a small moment with Olivia explaining how she doesn’t feel like keep going in the adventure after losing their friend, Mario leaves again and now the Moles have piled up the rubble, when we go there we get a call from Bombi, at this point you may feel somewhat relieved and mad that you went through all of this for a gag, but no, is only his spirit talking with you one more time, at this point it finally sank good for me that I actually experienced such a moment in Mario, sadness hitting all over again, Bombi asks you to cheer up Olivia to keep going, repurposing a previous moment in the game to round up this moment, you make Olivia laugh with a Goomba prop you got in Shogun Studios that made her laugh the first time you used it back then, making an incredibly heartwarming moment after one of the boldest and saddest moments from Mario and one that was handled so brilliantly.

Even when you go back to the rubble, his spirit is no longer there, but there is another bittersweet detail, there is a photo booth in Shogun Studios, going back to it after the death of Bombi, whenever you take a picture, he will be there in spirit, showing that long after his passing, he will still stick with you, like a true friend and comrade till the very end.

Bombi is not amazing just because of his death, but because his concept, personality, development and execution of the idea of Bombi is so well done.

  • Vellumentals

If I can narrow down my favorite new element of Origami King, it may just be the Elemental Gods, besides their kickass theme and temples that may as well be Zelda dungeons, is such a bizarre, fitting and unfitting thing at the same time for Mario, they add a mystique to the world that while the devs didn’t need to do at all, they did anyways, more world building to the proceedings of the game and it leaves a healthy deal of speculation as to what these creatures are, besides controlling the elements, we can also see Koopas treating the elemental of earth as some sort of deity, again adding more flavor to the already great world the game presents. The real world textures of their arenas create a perfect contrast between the crafts world and their mystique, there are even some implications that these may not even be their actual forms, as they were made into origami as well, the actual elemental gods may even have a more realistic form to them, to accompany the textures but is not something the game will answer and that is a good thing.

 

  • The Legion of Stationary and its context

The Legion of Stationary while ridiculous in concept, its execution works too well for me to be mad at the absurdity of fighting office tools, while I think these could use more flair to their designs, they still work well within the context of the game, and playing with conventions and mechanics of the previous 2 games.

I’m not very fond of the Things in SS and CS, a lot of them only serve to create a more obtuse way of puzzle solving at worst with somewhat ingenious uses at best, but their general execution is not worth the hassle, and while they have cute animations in battle, they served no strategic purpose besides making boss fight more obtuse a lot of the times.

As such instead of being items to help Mario, they are repurposed as the major enemies of the game, bringing about some of the most interesting boss battles as well, despite being office tools, they actually get enough fleshing out and anticipation for their inevitable confrontation through some nice visual cues and their dialogue or lack thereof in the case of the Stapler. Their animations are also so good that they can express exactly what they are with just that, the Scissors taunting with its little dance, the animation of unsheathing its blade is satisfying to look at, you have Punch Hole as a disco dancer, Tape a motorcycle delinquent, Rubber Band a theater actor, the Stapler a doggo and the pencils an arrogant artist.

The Scissors prove to be the best repurposing of the Things from previous games, these were absent from Color Splash but were the first object you used against Bowser Jr. in Sticker Star it was funny in that game, but here is much more gruesome in its implication, which goes to show how a simple tonal shift can make the same idea work with completely different meanings depending how you execute them. Once again noting how much attention to ideas from previous games can make Origami King shine once it starts playing around with the conventions of them from previous games.

The context in which their existence comes into play is also something I like, in another of the most important scenes in the game, the Craft Master House in the Eternal Ocean.

You land in this island in the middle of the ocean for one of the continuous gags of the game and you come across a basement with a lot of Origami, in which we get the revelation that Olivia was actually born from being made with the Fold of Life a technique that brings origami creations to life, we also know Olly came from here and we meet what is essentially their father, the Toad Origami Craft master, this moment also foreshadows the Stapler fight if you stop to read some of the books in there, which contextualizes the Legion of Stationary as actual tools to make Origami, not only for the craft master but also for how Olly made his entire army, is a little touch that goes a long way to make the ridiculous concept all the more believable and to the narrative, they aren’t just tools for the sake of being there or bosses to be fought, they have a purpose in the story.

  • Variety and charm

Origami King is a game that shifts its setting into more incredible and/or downright hilarious situations with each chapter, all without feeling heavy handed or the need to backtrack to previous areas, is all well-paced and elevates itself quite nicely across the game, as a short summary of every main chapter.

The red streamer is the basic Paper Mario first chapter, getting used to a nice grass area with music that you would expect from a Mario game, this being the first time in quite a while that the first main area is not a rendition of 1-1 from Super Mario Bros. first time since Paper Mario 64, even this area throws some minor curve balls across the area, with the earth elemental and Koopas replacing the typical Koopa village and adding something different to the universe, the chapter ending on a commercial center tower on a climb towards the colored pencil, is charming just how much mileage one gets out of a simple commercial tower feeling like the base of a main boss fight.

After the warm up is where the blue streamer starts kicking things up a notch, first you are blasted with a fantastic oriental track accentuated by an Erhu in the main melody as we go to a new area, the Autumn Mountain, music and visuals come together to create something truly breathtaking for this area, we go through the water elemental temple with an even stronger atmosphere than that of the earth elemental, Chestnut Valley with Bombi, a rapids minigame till we get to the streamer area, Shogun Studios, a theme park of ninjas which is appreciated that a lot of the workers there have costumes that help them stand out, the Studio itself has a lot of nice distractions, minigames like the Shuriken one, the ninja house and even a photo booth, the boss area being in this case a theater in which you go through a variety of styles within such a small time frame, even more so taking into account how much different feeling areas you get within a chapter span to begin with; you go in the theater with a western style play, a thrill in the night, ending on a literal Swan Song rendition, and finally fighting the Rubber Band.

Yellow streamer kicks off with the sequence of the death of Bombi, with a well done tension filled area that is the Princess Peach Ship, after that the small Tunnel and we are treated to a more open desert area where we get to solve some puzzles in order to find the pyramid of an ancient civilization, very adventurous area perfectly fitting with Professor Toad as a companion, we go through the fire elemental temple and some curve balls in the form of Snif City, one of the most personality filled towns in the series and the disco show off in the middle of an ancient pyramid exploration with a fight against the Punch Hole.

Purple streamer makes the biggest change of exploration, turning the game into a lite Wind Waker, getting to chart unexplored islands all with challenges with each of them, finding treasure through logical spots and saving Toads to get more treasures marked like you got a treasure chart. The idea of adventuring as a pirate is not a new concept to Mario, it was touched on very briefly as the set-up of one of TTYD’s chapters and is explorer more in Color Splash, but the level structure didn’t let the idea really flourish, Origami King perfects the concept and gives a really nice sense of a denser, smaller adventure within the overall story.

The main story point is getting into an island with temples to solve puzzles related to courage, wisdom, and power, the Ice Elemental temple and culminating in Mario’s very own Tower of the Gods, with a thematic that can even go up against Zelda’s very own best dungeons.

The Sea Tower is one of my favorite locations in the game, is themed after the 4 Elemental gods, with different sections that belong to each elemental, changing the music variation as you go along and climb the tower, is a place with such a great atmosphere that feels very alien to Mario, but that is why the inclusion of such a place, makes it all the more special. Is a bit of a shame that is not longer, because while I was satisfied, the idea is so good that it would have been even cooler to have a handful more floors with more complex navigation and puzzles, ending on a fight with the Tape.

The end of the tower gives us a portal into the final streamer and another nice area twist, we find a paradise that is ran as a business, Shangri-Spa is a literal spa paradise run by Toads, this is also our run into Bowser Jr. and Kamek that kick off both a nice sequence across the different hot springs trying to restore Jr., a game show and culminating on Bowser’s Castle which I’ll talk about in more detail later. One could also make a point about borderline slavery going on between the Toads and the Bowser Minions but that would be too political for this ramble.

The Game Show is fantastic, is a great challenge and it does all its mini games rely solely on repurposing the main mechanics of battle in the game, meaning that nothing really feels out of left field gameplay wise, but rather puts a twist in how you manage the same rings you have managed for the rest of the game, is also put into a great spot before the game kicks off the endgame, making sure the players are more familiar with the main mechanics before they reach this level.

Within every chapter after the first we also get very cute café sequences, these are locations separated from the main story, generally giving more interactions between Bowser’s Minions which go a long way of establishing more chemistry and personality through this seemingly out of place locations, is the little touches like these that don’t add or subtract anything substantial to the main game, but their inclusion makes the overall package all the more charming.

  • Other companions

Mostly referring to the least developed but still fun enough companions that come along the journey that aren’t Olivia, Bombi or the next section. That leaves us with Luigi, Professor Toad and the Toad badass enough to get his own name, Captain T. Ode.

Luigi’s main point of contribution are keys, after being saved at the start of the game, he sets on a journey to find Peach’s Castle key, very much a Luigi’s Mansion reference, is a running gag in each chapter as he fails to provide said key, but gives Mario other keys necessary for progress in the main adventure, is funny and paced well across the game.

Professor Toad serves a mostly mechanical purpose in the yellow streamer chapter, he can translate ancient writing and has a shovel to dig up shiny spots, he has enough personality to be entertaining even with lack of a major character arc, he is also very relatable for a teacher, since he wants to discover great things about the ancient civilization so more students sign up for his classes.

Captain T. Ode similarly serves a mostly gameplay purpose, you need him to navigate the Eternal Ocean and get his navigation chart, he has a cool demeanor and while it again doesn’t translate to an arc, he is entertaining enough in his introduction to be memorable and he is not a nuisance to the general gameplay flow.

  • Bowser’s Minions

Now is time for the good stuff, the most exciting takeaway from the initial trailers is that Bowser and company would get to interact with Mario to stop a bigger threat, because that would open more room for new and entertaining moments, Origami King doesn’t disappoint in that sense.

This incarnation of Kamek and Bowser Jr. are the best yet in the series. They accompany you across most of the green streamer, Kamek’s personality being of a more cynical, tired caretaker that no one listens to, that gets surprised every time Mario and Olivia follow his suggestions because how used he is to Bowser not listening to him, Bowser Jr. is adorable, being energetic and a worried son trying to save his dad from his situation at the castle, plus he also gets almost killed twice by scissors, cause attempted child murder.

The rest of the minions are excellent too, you get to talk to them around the Spa area and it culminates on an assault to take back Bowser’s Castle, again a situation only possible in such a set up that Origami King takes advantage of to the fullest extent. I’ll talk about Bowser himself in a later section.

Another element I love is that, just like the first 2 games, we have enemy species not being actual enemies this time around, the most prominent example of this being Snif City and the Earth Elemental Temple, we have Koopa and Sniffits just hanging around with Toads, no ulterior motives, more spark and magic of Paper Mario shining through.

  • Olivia

Super Paper Mario introduced the idea of having at least one main partner to flesh out over the course of the game in the form Tippi, it works well to form a deeper connection and give a partner that in terms of quality of writing, goes far beyond most of the cast, Huey was a great partner too in CS and Olivia is another excellent addition, up there with Tippi.

Olivia is a child, as previously established she was born in the Crafts Master house, she was actually made by Olly himself, it explains her lack of knowledge of the world, she hasn’t been here for a long time, the naiveté of her personality is cute and never overbearing, she experiences a lot of things across her adventure, including the loss of a friend, absolute fear like in the Handaconda fight, but also a lot of happiness and nice moments, all of this helps her resolution to stop his brother Olly all the more real and tangible.

Her character doesn’t go through a lot of twists and turns, but the joy of having her around with the great writing and all the situations that keep building on top of her makes her a companion that you want to see her journey all the way through the end, one of the best characters in the series.

  • Battle at Bowser’s Castle

After getting Bowser Jr. back to full strength, is time for the last sequence of the green streamer, a full on assault towards Bowser’s Castle, with the minions in toe, is a very epic set-up in which you can even take your time to help them out in their individual fights, we require the key to the Throne room, after a gag with Luigi for the key, we get into the paper cut-out enemies, which I mentioned previously and the Handaconda, an unsettling fight that also brings back an idea from Color Splash, the boss fight for the most part is pretty standard, the gimmick being that you can only hit it from at least 2 spaces afar within the rings, after recovering Olivia, the battle turns into a rock, paper scissor fight, which is a funny turn around for a creepy boss design, bringing back Roshambo from CS. What I love the most about this section is the whole tonal shift between an epic assault to a creepier, unsettling atmosphere by the end, being able to fight alongside what we usually have as Mario enemies also perfectly encapsulates the potential that spin offs have over the mainline titles.

After that all is left is the combat against the previously mentioned Scissors, its added gimmick is excellent, being scissors, if they manage to strike you is an instant game over, adds so much tension and the only way to survive its strikes is by actually evading it by jumping over it, instead of blocking like any other Paper Mario attack.

  • The Origami King

In this section I’ll talk about the endgame, Bowser, the final battle itself and the ending.

But first I want to say something before going into it. Bowser is one of my favorite characters in the Mario series and his potential is usually not fully realized across the Paper series. In 64 he worked perfectly to tell the eternal Mario vs. Bowser in the best context possible for a RPG, it did its job very well while also fleshing out Bowser’s personality more. TTYD, Sticker Star and Color Splash are the worst examples of his, TTYD treating him as a literal joke, just to be a gag for a boss fight after Grodus literally adding nothing to the story, lack of any sort of personality in Sticker Star, had some dialogue in CS but nothing to write home about while also being possessed by the a very big missed potential of a villain. Super did it nice enough to make him a permanent partner with some nice moments, both kicking off the events of Super and also being one of the 4 heroes. That being said, this endgame gives me what is possibly one of the best if not the best execution of Bowser across the entire franchise.

The endgame starts right after the green streamer removal, starting with Bowser giving some words of encouragement to Olivia about the fact that she doesn’t have to fight Olly alone, showing not only his sympathetic side, but his leadership abilities as well.

He brings Mario to his secret hangar where he has a giant ship ready to go, there is another nice moment here with some Bob-Ombs, surprising Olivia and thinking for a moment that it was Bombi, something that will also change the perspective of a moment coming up.

They all go board ready to take the fight directly to Peach’s Castle, ensuing a really epic shoot em up section (very Kirby guys, well done), in which you are actually firing Bob-Ombs at upcoming paper planes, contextualizing the fact that you are pretty much using the life of these Bob-Ombs to fulfill their impact on the world, bringing the whole experience closer together.

Mario, Olivia, Kamek, Bowser Jr. and Bowser all fall off the ship after a surprise attack from the paper planes, kicking off another part of the greatest build up to any final fight, Hotfoot Crater.

Channeling his Super Paper Mario, in this section we are running upwards a volcano with rising lava while we are chased around by the paper mache soldiers, another poignant scene elevated by the music, it has some real tear jerker moments, Kamek using some magic to try to stop the soldiers and failing, Bowser Jr. helping you keep going despite the fact that he is also staying behind, it does what most of Count Bleck Castle did in Super in this 5 minutes sequence and it just showcases how much you care about these characters after a chapter full of nice interactions, Bowser gets a nice reaction out of this, shouting for Jr. and helping out from afar with fireballs, after a nice dialogue related to his son, we shoot ourselves into the outside of Peach’s Castle, here we have the end of the Luigi key gag as he follows Mario, Bowser and Olivia into the castle, after being dispatched quickly of Luigi (he’ll be important later), the castle gets transformed into the Origami Castle, kicking off one of the greatest final levels in Mario with one of the best final level themes to any game ever.

Now this is channeling the spirit of the Kirby series, once again visuals and music you don’t expect to see in Mario come into play here, the music was already varied to hell and back, and even then the Origami Castle stands tall as one more slap to the players’ expectations. The origami fortune tellers are creepy and take 100 points of your health if they manage to hit you, the atmosphere with the purples on the floor, the lanterns adding a subtle light to the blue walls helps with the atmosphere for a castle that feels climatic as hell, the motif of the main theme and Olly's theme come together to create a theme that feels both triumphant and disturbing, the fact that no other theme overrides it, during the whole thing, not even a victory jingle during battles, gives it the push of excellence.

Origami Castle in itself is a really good endgame level in Paper Mario from a design standpoint, other ones had good music, but were always too short or dragged too much, in the case of something like TTYD, completely uninteresting right after the much better X-Naut Fortress. Origami Castle hits a sweet spot of challenge, interesting level layout, great pacing and length, amazing presentation, and the exceptional music.

After the castle we fight the last member of the Legion of Stationary and finally get Bowser back in shape, ready to take on the final boss alongside us, before this there another fantastic scene for Bowser with Olivia, cheering her on to keep going this last battle, and how much her brother doesn’t scare him because he has to take care of a child as a single parent, is just incredibly wholesome and showcases just how great of a character Bowser is.

Now is time for the final showdown and we get a really cool and at the same time absurd revelation of Olly’s intentions.

Olly hates Toads, after the origami craftsman wrote something on top of him, that is in the end revealed to be a nice message, while ridiculous, it makes sense on a lot of aspects, Olly is also a child, this is akin to throwing a tantrum, on the most extreme scenario that it makes genocidal against a species, he is pretty much blind with rage and arrogance as he believes as an origami being he should be superior, and not be touched by the hands of a paper character, like his creator.

Part of the dialogue of Olly is how he cannot see the differences between the Toads, they all look the same to him, if you see one you see all of them, this commentary can be taken into a very meta situation.

On one hand it could represent the fans of the older Paper Mario games, that have an attachment to the more diverse shapes and designs of characters from the original games and, despite Toads in the later games having more personalized dialogue to exude personality without the need of a unique design, still aren’t able to see that.

On another hand it could also be a cry from the developers, in a way to express that yes, they cannot do the things they could before with the established Mario universe, as both as complain to the more corporate decisions of Nintendo about it and partly a message of understanding from the players as they try to their best to give the characters enough personality on their own without a visual cue.

It could also just be racism to be honest.

Onto the actual battle.

Final battles sometimes can be challenging, other times flashy, sometimes both, Origami King lands more on creating a spectacle for the player, akin to what you would get from Kirby, including the repurposing of main mechanics in the most satisfying, over the top way possible.

The battle starts with a sort of boss rush of the Vellumentals, there is a cool added tension to the fight, as Olly controls the pure state of Origami itself, he can actually regain health while you are planning your moves, is a cool twist that makes sense within the fight. It also means that you can end the boss rush early if you are good and fast enough.

For the second phase is the turn of the 1000 fold arms technique to go over the top, with the absolute legend that is Bowser. This is another important point of Origami King, is the first Mario RPG title to not feature a fight against Bowser (is also the first Paper Mario since 64 where the established main villain isn’t usurped by another lesser villain or is just Bowser possessed), instead you get fight alongside him, marking the first time in a while I’m happy to see Mega Bowser, but now as an Origami craft, he will fight off Olly in a giant Origami Sumo match, while you help him get the advantage by pounding the ground with the fold arms tech, a really satisfying moment.

We have the boss battle ring, the fold arms, all that is left is putting the normal battle ring mechanic to it’s over the top conclusion. Giant Olly comes with lethal gas as you are on a timer to use Olivia’s Final Magic Circle, an ability given to her by the Craft Master, as you evade the attacks of Olly in the only time I’m happy to see QTEs in my Mario games, they are used only here and accentuate how epic the moment is, having Paper Mario actually dodge for the second time in his life, the fight ends on satisfying giant hammer smash.

The hammer hit Olly so hard he finally chilled, dying in Olivia’s arms as he leaves her his paper to complete the technique of the 1000 paper cranes and get a wish granted, Luigi comes in bringing Kamek, Bowser Jr. to safety and also bring the Craft Master, who teaches Olivia how to fold the paper crane to fulfill her wish, she gives one final look at Mario, before wishing to undo all the Origami creations from his brother, including herself, sacrificing her life to bring the kingdom back to shape, she experienced a lot and lived little, but was one of the best companions I could ask for.

The ending cut scene features the origami festival, free from any evil origami creature, you see the ensemble of the cast all celebrating, before one final look at the origami diorama the Craft Master made for the festival, Mario thinking about Olivia, the game ends on a nice paper lantern ceremony, thanking all paper and origami people alike, before letting them go and ending on fireworks and the credits start playing.

If you 100% the game you get one more cut scene with the Craft Master adding a figure of Olly and Olivia in the thrones of the diorama, lifeless but smiling, giving a bittersweet end to the death and sacrifice of these characters and closing the story of Paper Mario: The Origami King.

  • Gameplay and untapped potential.

The gameplay is for the most part is actually pretty good, I mentioned how the world is very well designed, every part of it feels organic and with a great flow to it, on the exploration aspect every part of it is also filled to brim with stuff to do, be it hidden pathways to treasure chest, finding Toads, filling patches with confetti, fishing at some points, some mini games, there is no shortage of stuff to do within any given moment, there is always something on the lookout to do, with its compact yet dense locations.

Exploration is rewarded with useful things for the sake of completion and progression, for example a lot of health upgrades can only be found through optional objectives, be it from specific Toads and the like, this conditions you to take the time to thoroughly scan the area worth it, the game is also good at keeping track of everything you do and give you a check-mark of 100% in every section, adding to the feeling of reward and accomplishment, further creating this condition of wanting to explore. I think a missed opportunity here to have more variety within characters, was to have some Bowser’s Minions being rescued alongside the Toads.

Another important aspect for progression are coins, which are also rewarded from exploration and in higher quantities from battles, it may seem somewhat excessive, the amount of coins you get from the initial hours, but is off set to an extent by the accessories and items to further upgrade yourself being expensive, among other uses of coins like in the battle system, it feels like a promising exchange from the traditional XP system, it just needs to tie the coins a lot more to elements like some basic stats and even more equipment, but also give them in less quantities for a higher sense of challenge and meaningful player choice in how to spend their coins, is a system that has a lot of potential, because XP isn’t the end all be all of how you can achieve tangible progression in an RPG, something akin to how Dark Souls ties Souls as both currency and progression, coins could play a similar role.

The battle system is a new take in turn based combat, essentially making every fight a puzzle, you spin a slide rings to align enemies either in a line or a 2x2 shape, this will give you extra attack power upon doing it successfully, the game is really good at easing you in this system with its initial fights where you would only get punished for failing the puzzle arrangement, if you succeed you basically won’t take any damage, this changes as the game introduces enemies with more health in the later parts of the first chapter. To attack you have a basic Jump and Hammer attack but can use stronger ones as you equip them as items, these items have a degradation system, you can buy plenty of them and some stronger ones can be found through the world, so is recommended that you use them as you please and maybe save the more powerful ones for tougher enemies and boss fights. There is also another items such as fire flowers and raccoon tails that are also very useful. The system itself is very engaging with more complicated set ups for lining up foes as you go along, part of what makes it so good is the timer, you have a time limit to line up your enemies, from the outside 30 to 60 seconds may seem like a lot, but once you are into the game and figuring out how to best line up opponents, it can get stressful, there is also some help to work around the timer and puzzle solving.

As a fan of capitalism this is a cool feature, you can spend coins to increase your timer and if you save enough toads, they actually help by throwing around stuff at enemies to damage them, heal you and make the puzzles easier depending on how much money you give them, another aspect that makes your money useful. Is a cool risk versus reward system that would be even more tight and exciting if the game would ask you for more money in order to get that help, an element that could be further explored if they stick to this battle system and mechanics.

The enemies themselves are pretty standard, the only real difference among them is the ones that are spiky or airborne that you need to think about who to line up for a hammer attack or a jump, with some interesting exceptions like the Boos, the combat in Bowser’s Castle, and the paper cut Scissors soldiers, that we don’t have enough of in the main game, there isn’t much in the way of status afflictions such as paralysis or sleep with the basic enemies, which is a shame given that some of these have had variations in the past that can inflict those properties, it doesn’t take much away from the engagement of the puzzle solving, but is a missed opportunity to create more interesting battle situations, they could have even included gimmicks such as how some bosses can change how you think about the puzzles and movement to the normal enemies, to create ever so more engaging and dynamic fights.

Another missed opportunity are the partners themselves, they auto-attack after your turn, while is not the worst thing in the world to do, it feels like they could have done more with them combat strategy wise.

Another problem is the use of the magic circles within normal battles, sometimes you’ll get wave of enemies and after Olivia gets the power of the elementals, there will be times where you can use their powers against normal enemies by defeating the one holding the magic circle, is basically a screen clearing move, but you cannot save it for another wave, you have to use it as soon as you get it, it limits strategies and it doesn’t feel like is adding much to the normal fights, given that the standard fight don’t cause a change within the rings to use them as a cleanup of hazards or effect changes.

Boss fights are a nice change of pace, given their bigger size, they take center stage and now your objective is to slide and spin a path for Mario to reach the boss, this gives a lot more interesting combat scenarios, such as fire attacks leaving leftovers on the ring that can burn Mario or ice patches that can freeze him, the type of stuff that would have been cool in the normal fights as well. The rings are now filled with arrows to move Mario around, power ups to double his attack power and even allow you to attack twice. They are a big improvement over the boss fights in SS and CS, because while they are puzzles, I don’t need outside items and can’t get stuck in a battle one can’t win because you used a special item at the wrong time, plus one can always pick up hints across the rings if help is needed from the game to solve the puzzle. There are also some contextual actions one can pull off in boss fights with the folded arms ability.

The folded arms are a new main mechanic for some puzzle solving and boss battles, giving Mario the ability to manipulate certain parts of the environment with over-sized arms and also laying the smack on a boss with a simple QTE like mechanic, is contextual and doesn’t overstay its welcome in its use, so is another good addition overall, it also had some more potential, given that the Origami Castle will have you using this mechanic with more thinking power in some of its puzzles.

Another element of combat is the paper mache enemies in the overworld, they are more of a real time deal, evade them by moving around, then whack them with a hammer, they were a pretty good change of pace from the turn based combat, makes me wish there were even more of them with trickier strategies, as it stand is another good addition that served the game well and leaves itself open to more potential.

Overall gameplay wise, Paper Mario finds its footing again, more important than anything, both the experience of the writing and presentation with the gameplay itself, feels even in terms of what is pushing you forward, an improvement from more awkward experiences of the last 2 games and to an extent Super in its extreme simplicity, where the writing and presentation felt like it was what is pushing me forward, not so much the gameplay.

 

  • Music

The score of Origami King is as close as to what I can call perfection, there is a great sense of not giving a single fuck about how many songs they need to produce and use them for a single cut scene, it also goes back to the basics, of the grandfather of the excellent Paper Mario OSTs, 64, a soundtrack that is large and also doesn’t mind dropping tracks for single cut scenes that won’t be heard ever again, Origami King takes this idea and pushes it to the limit with an incredibly varied soundtrack in terms of genres and styles across the entire game, giving every area an even greater sense of individuality, that going also for single rooms.

Is also a soundtrack that feels like it celebrates the entire Paper Mario series, with songs very reminiscent of the style of instrumentation you would listen to in 64, Super, and even TTYD, but with actual memorable melodies in this case, and of course the jazzier and generally diverse styles from SS and CS respectively, plus its own share of tracks that make Origami King stand on its own style and identity, helped by a good number of motifs that play across the game, while also picking up and changing things from previous titles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNXrVOKuyCE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uY900jyFLfE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P3uUyLLeRM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUHf6L0cSF0

A highlight of this for me is Bowser’s theme, the initial assault on Bowser’s Castle is an amazing arrangement of the Giant Arises, his theme and motif across SS and CS, but once you rescue Bowser and he gives his encouragement speech, he is given an entirely new motif that will play in his Castle post-streamer and will continue to play in his key scenes at the Origami Castle.

Battle at Bowser Castle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4X2SyZwPKU

Bowser's Encouragement https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaHcN41rT5I

The amount of variations is a welcomed element as well, I already mentioned Bowser’s Castle, but every main area has a both pre and post-streamer theme, to create an even better sense of progression and the fact that you are piecing the world back to normal, little by little.

The main battle theme gets remixed with different instruments in each chapter, making it fit better with each main area.

Also one of my favorite moments of just not caring at all about how many pieces they created for this game comes from Snif City, you get into the city and get your main theme, you go inside the hotel and for the single room of a pool party, they get a completely different sounding theme, that still keeps the motif of the city, walk further and you into this calm piano rendition for the hotel room, so much care back to back in such a small amount of time, and yes, all these tracks are very memorable.

Snif City https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZxhlRLjlOY

Pool Party https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysbRJJsrBzg

Hotel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1snddrrsO0

Much like the more recent mainline Mario games, Origami King and Color Splash featured live instruments, but this doesn’t make them limit everything to that or just orchestral pieces, they still maintain a good amount of synth and different styles of music that fit well within every level and set piece, which is something I always commend to the sound team of Mario games.

Truly most of Three Houses’ budget went into paying for the soundtrack of Origami King.

  • Conclusion

On the whole, Paper Mario: The Origami King is one of the most interesting Mario games with a lot of untapped potential within its gameplay that still manages to deliver a solid experience while giving a spin to traditional combat, is the most impactful RPG from Mario I have played since Partners in Time and Super Paper Mario and I can only look forward to an even more crazy adventure if they decide to make another Paper entry with a similar level of passion and care that went into almost every aspect of the game. Its strong character moments and exciting gameplay set pieces are exactly what I like to see from the media, how much the game swaps between locales and music while always feeling cohesive even at its biggest twists is what makes this a very special game for me, if given more freedom to create new characters, include the least used species from other titles or even create new said species to add to the universe like the elemental gods, it would stand up to par with the likes of Odyssey in giving Mario that push of discovery and inventiveness, as it stand is still one of the greatest and most creative adventures of the series and what just may be my favorite Paper Mario.

7/10.



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You put a lot of work in this. Good read.

I had my fair share of major issues with the game, but when it succeeded, it was as brilliant as any game in the series.



I think the Origami King's successes are odd in that they are closely tied to a lot of it's misses.

The Hub: 

The hub area isn't as good as 64's. In that game, every area was directly connected to Toad Town, including the ice area which was accessible through gameplay via the town's sewers instead of through warp pipes. And the sewers did not just exist as window dressing either - but as an entire dungeon which you could slowly chip away at as you progressed through the game to find cool new upgrades, as well as warp point shortcuts for areas you had already accessed through Toad Town prior. By comparison Origami King just acts as the "set up" for most of the game, because most streamers don't really connect to it, and the pipe system in the museum is a simple fast-travel mechanism with no extra detail added onto it. There's also other problems with Origami King's rendition of Toad Town. For example, between the hub being bigger than 64's and the players movement also being significantly slower, along with the fact that there's generally less things that are integral to player's progression in Origami King, a lot of Toad Town ends up being dead space - areas you won't go to very often, nor will have a reason to care about. This not only means less depth to the area, but even simpler consequences - like rarely hearing renditions of it's theme (I may have heard the coffee shop theme a single time). You hear the museum rendition a lot, but that's cheating. Compare that to 64, where hearing renditions of Toad Town is much more natural - as they all occur around a variety of areas you'll want to go to often or need to go to. 

In fairness though, this is all in comparison to 64, which had one of the more impressive hubs I've seen in a video game, only countered by the likes of Dark Souls and Majora's Mask (this one is clearly the best). Origami King's hub is a very good compromise, it does enough to go beyond what I would expect in a lot of games. Firstly, because it feels necessary to go back to Toad Town at all. While it does diminish as the game goes on, stocking up on resources is a pretty common concern for the player in the first three streamers. Second, because of all the nice details. The theme evolving as the game goes on and Toads fill the town gives it a more natural sense of progression - and it's one of few things done better than the original. Seeing Toads be quirky is enough of an award for spending relatively little time trying to collect them. And while Toad town doesn't connect to every area directly, when including it's town port this kind of ends up making the world more believable since you aren't always moving forward linearly like you do for the first two streamers, and the backtracking ends up highlighting Toad town anyways with the Princess Peach excursion and the Purple streamer. 

The Tunes: 

Paper Mario: The Origami King's OST is pretty good. It's not one of my favorites, but in fairness it has a lot of songs that are decently memorable and land with a lot of Nintendo's best. I don't think the game does the best job of highlighting it's own music though, in all honesty. 

The Event Battle is a good example of what I'm talking about, I think. As great as the main song is, it's ~thinking~ variation ruins the excitement the track gives off. It maintains the flow, sure, and I can respect that they might have realized that repetition or annoyance might set in if the player had to listen to the regular edition of battle themes too much. But, overall I believe it tempered my possible love for the soundtrack a bit. 

Still, the battle themes are, pretty consistently, one of the main highlights of Origami King. I particularly love the Great Sea Battle Theme variation, and the Purple Theme Variation isn't far behind. 

I do think that a general problem with the OST is, a lot of songs for me lacked direction, felt a bit aimless at times or just had rather extensive sections that were a bit boring. It wasn't uncommon to have a track where, the beginning is amazing, the ending is amazing, and maybe a short section in the middle is amazing, but the bridges connecting these sections were a bit bland. 

That's probably why my favorite song in the OST was a short variation that played during the Sea Tower dungeon: 

This track just feels much more personal, to the point, and like a punch in the gut. 

A couple of other tracks standout as possible all-time classics as well: 

That's a lot of amazing themes! Though admittedly some of them don't always hit me right all the time (more so talking about the more energetic boss-themes). Still, a very very good OST overall. And that's not even including the Toad Town/Main Theme variations, which are one of the game's bigger accomplishments (especially the museum rendition!).

If I had to add one more complaint it would be that, while the music still sounds good and is of good quality, I don't think any of the area themes are really that great. They all fulfill their purpose, but they kind of come in one ear and out the other. 

I think I would say the consistent theme for me was that, "area" themes were usually nice but immemorable, whereas stuff like city themes were some of the best tracks in the game. So Autumn Mountain didn't do much for me even if it sounded pretty, but Shogun Studios was one of the earlier highlights of the OST. Scorching Sandpaper Desert sounded epic, but ultimately wasn't nearly as memorable as Snif City. This is something that could definitely be improved upon with the next game, because you actually spend a lot of time in the "overworld" areas. So for the music in them to be mostly immemorable, even if they sound nice, is a bit of a letdown. Between that and the ~thinking~ variations, as well as some songs lacking direction or feeling more like one-shot parodies of Hollywood archetypes, the OST felt a bit limp at times for me. Still, it's pretty good as a whole. 

The Paper Aesthetic: 

A lot of the love and praise around Origami King, and to an extent the newer Paper Mario games as a whole, seems to be centered around Intelligent Systems eye for aesthetic sensibilities and their attention to detail. But really, while I can't help but agree that Origami King's presentation is one of if not it's greatest accomplishment, I think this is also one of the most inconsistent aspects of the game. Around the midway mark, during the Scorching Sandpaper Desert section, I sort of came to the realization that - if you took away the multi-layered paper-rendering of the environments - most of the game, if not all of it would look unremarkable. Maybe even bland. That might be a weird complaint, after all if you take away any artistic intention in any work you could easily ruin the overarching point of it and make the result seem uninspired. But the issue here is that it gets to the point where it feels like Intelligent Systems put almost no effort in environmental design, putting all their eggs into the paper texture basket, something particularly strange given how good of an impression the initial areas make. How many times do we see the same looking stone Toads? The funny thing is, I can ask that question to someone who's played the game, and they'd have to reply back "at what streamer are you talking about?". Because it happens three separate times. In Scorching Sandpaper Desert, it's the monolithic Toad towers, which despite conceptually being weird and creepy all-seeing eyes of the desert end up just looking boring. I'd use the analogy of toys with their heads popping off the neck to describe them, but that sounds more intriguing then what we actually get from the Toad towers. The second time it happens, it's at the Purple Streamer and Green Streamer areas, which share the same statues. In fairness, the fact that they share the same statues is fine due to some really cool lore given at the beginning of the Shangri-spa resort. But that's the problem. If you're going to reuse assets, make the assets more cultured. Aside from some very basic design elements (the Toad statues having "wings" and the Toad towers being ... uhh ... tall?), there's nothing that makes these designs pop. And if you're not going to make the designs themselves more detailed, why not give each use of the design a unique spin? A crack on a Toad's forehead? A piece of stone having fallen out? Either making the actual model more interesting, or making each use of the model more individualistic would have sufficed. But instead we get neither. At first, seeing these giant Toad faces look at you from afar is one of the coolest visuals in the entire game, but once you actually get close to these towers, well, the illusion of coolness is gone. There's such a lack of intricacies that it feels more like a "cute Mario plaything", rather than a living world, despite one of the major themes in the game quite literally being making the world of Paper Mario seem more "three-dimensional" both in visuals and in complexities of it's characters and various factions. 

And that might sound like a nitpick. But that's two examples, and those examples extend to almost every part of the game. Another example is the Princess Peach. A part of the game which is purposefully supposed to be "horror-esque", but relies entirely on it's music to convey that feeling. Once you get on the ship all you see is some ... mild destruction? Mild destruction that, for the most part, does not even really convey some horrifying evil at play in the area, given that the entire game's world is mildly destroyed. In any other game, a decently-sized-but-still-modest hole in the rear of a ship is a sign of danger, in Origami King it's another hole to fill, so why not at least punctuate the idea you're going for? In the ship everything is fine as well, except for Toad's being "scared to unconsciousness", which is kind of lame especially when a similar concept is done much better in the Holepuncher dungeon. The most you get is a black oil leak in a single room, and foreshadowing akin to Nightmare's in Fusion, only much worse because it's done right before the attack and not done consistently throughout. It gets annoying having to let the music pick up the slack for a lot of the game's intent with it's environmental design. Holepuncher's dungeon is also fairly generic, with vaguely egyptian murals and coffins that are used constantly with almost no variation, but it's a bit more acceptable there because of the spider webs (and the no-faced Toads help, which are separate from the environmental design). And yet another example: Shogun Studios feels like such a fun theme-park that is fully realized (aside from some minor nitpicks, like how some of it's main attractions aren't very eye-catching outside of their sections of the park) ... except it's layout is completely unrealistic and stupid. And you don't even need to be a theme-park aficionado to understand this. Who makes their info center some random house on the left side of the entrance, with no eye-catching visual que to guide visitors there? Who makes about 35% of their theme parks allocated space into rooms with seemingly no purpose, other than to maybe act as a hotel? And if that's the case, who puts the hotel service in the middle of a park, obstructing the way to various attractions? This isn't even a small detail, the game went out of the way to make this park feel like a real place, why was no attention put to this? This is what makes Origami King so weird. It's visual design looks great. It's paper aesthetic is amazing. It's environmental design, is anything but, and relies on the origami and paper side of things as a crutch, which leads to "boring levels" that just happen to also be "pretty". A contradiction, one might say. 

The character design is a contentious issue and really it's been maybe one of the more overplayed. But in fairness, I think it's overplayed because it's such a ridiculous thing for Nintendo to get caught up on, and honestly no matter how much the game references it whether as a joke or a subtle nod it doesn't excuse how silly the whole ordeal comes off as. I think it's especially egregious because art design is often one of the most beloved and defended tools in Nintendo's war-chest, and part of a great art design is memorable character designs. Whether people want to admit it or not, writing doesn't just impact a character's memorability or likeability, and it's silly to act like better writing addresses the criticisms older fans have. 

A bigger problem though, honestly, is just the times where the Origami shtick just doesn't quite land. A surprising amount of enemies just look odd and silly, and I don't think that was the intent. Boo's, Spikes, and the various non-Koopa bro's just look bad, because whereas all the other enemy types have an interesting mixture of latent creepiness and minion-disposibility, those enemy types just look stupid and inbred. Another example is the Cutout soldiers, which look disturbing from an overhead view, but just bland and awkward outside of combat. I can't imagine that any of these reactions were really what the developer wanted, there's definitely self-aware moments that are supposed to make the origami creations seem absurd and out-there, but for certain creatures to look bad or boring constantly is just an unintended consequence of making fairly literal adaptations of ideas into origami. None of this is even to mention the construction supplies, which is such a big can of worms and so self-aware that it's just too hard to touch, and I'm still not sure what my opinion on them really is, so I'll leave it be (luckily for any readers). 

It's worth mentioning that, having a thick white border outline for any paper character is a huge eyesore that takes you out of the world all of the time, and man is it a disappointment when Intelligent Systems clearly put so much work into making most of the game's aesthetic blend into the environments to be more organic. 

At the same time, separating the enemies from the allies using the paper and origami as "factions" has to be one of the most brilliant decisions I've seen made in a game's aesthetic. Not only does it instantly contextualize every paper or origami-being as story-centric just through the theme of their contrast alone, consistently reminding you of the divide between the world's inhabitants, but it also easily explains why species which would normally fight Mario working under Bowser are not direct enemies in this game. You can't do the "us versus them" subject matter much better, it's a perfect melding of story and aesthetic and it makes it believable that all of Bowser's minions would not only be non-violent, but downright peaceful and friendly as well, since during such an apocalyptic time the foreseeable future would look doomed to be tainted with Origami attackers. Thinking about it now, it's kind of funny how getting rid of one type of violence may end begetting another type of violence; just a more familiar, well-known older violence. Of course we're not supposed to look at those simpler times as bad necessarily, given that the concerns brought up by the Mushroom Kingdom's inhabitants and their depressed attitudes are generally not reflected during normal faction vs faction scenarios, but it's still a neat concept to chew on. 

The Paper-Thin Story: 

The overarching plotlines of Origami King are the worst written I've experienced in any video game, hands down. The games plot was cool as a catalyst for some quirky and more mellow storylines. The more serious moments are mostly a letdown from a writing quality standpoint. I'm going to be honest, it actually makes me kind of infuriated how much I've heard praise go on and on about Intelligent Systems writing capabilities (not just on VGChartz but all over the internet, including analysis videos) only for nearly every serious moment in the actual game to be ruined in one way or another. I feel like that was always one of the major defenses for the newer games, the fact that Intelligent Systems writing had gotten better with the likes of Super, and then had improved from Sticker Star with Color Splash. But if this is the best the team can produce, if Origami King is the peak of the franchises writing capabilities, then a lot of that praise just seems fraudulent. 

I don't think Bobby's arc is very well written, honestly, aside from his death which is a very well done piece of emotional manipulation, something I can commend as that's very hard to do. But otherwise, so many elements just were not thought through. The most blatantly obvious is how hard it can be for people to connect to characters who are not only essentially useless, but actively obstruct the player from continuing the game. Bobby was annoying. He was a little shit that almost never helped in battle, or worse would be actively sleeping whilst Mario was in danger - even in moments where it's established in cutscenes before battle that Bobby knows the dangers and is scared of them. It just made his character look insensitive and obnoxious, and I realize it's partially the point but it went too far. Especially given how Bobby pulls you all over Autumn Mountain against your will just to obstruct the plot, not even just in Chestnut valley (where it's fine because it feels like the point of the sequence) but even just dragging you all around Autumn mountain without letting you explore at your own pace. He doesn't even go into the temple with you. Again, I realize this is sort of the point, I think they were trying to make Bobby essentially a kid that Mario and Olivia were his caretakers, like parental figures or at least guardians. But it's done in the most obnoxious way and even despite all of this, it never feels like that theme is quite driven home, it's something you are thinking about but it's never really delivered on fully. 

But that's ... all something I can forgive, if the death scene was done good enough. What I can't forgive is the ramifications that are brought after it. Mario being forced to make Olivia go on is possibly one of the most insensitive scenes I've ever experienced in game history, and I think what I dislike about it so much is that it talks down to the player so hard. Like "Ok, this is Paper Mario, now it's time to be happy and fun again!" This is after, mind you, a 25 minute tangent just to get a single item and progress the game. You literally backtrack to get to an entirely new area, go through a mini-dungeon and fight a unique boss just to even get to this scene, but Mario can't be bothered to continue on his adventure without Olivia for a few minutes? It's not like Olivia is herself on the brink of suicide, she is just grieving, but nope we have to rush her as fast as possible to get back to the main game. Mario is a fucking douchebag. I'm not even actively advocating for extensive gameplay without Olivia as the only solution (though that would probably further strengthen the theme that everyone is important in their own way and that partners need each other, a good idea after Bobby's self-sacrifice), but the solution sure as hell isn't to remind the audience that this is a Paper Mario game, so we can't make it to depressing. We can't make something actually daring, we have to make sure Bobby comes back as a ghost so that everything's alright in the end, we have to make a joke so everything is fine in the end. And keep in mind, this is all after we're not only forgiving Bobby being an annoying piece of shit, but we're also forgiving the game for rushing his backstory right before. Which is something I'm fine with being lenient on .. but why does the after math suck so hard? I think the worst part is, it's not like Olivia really rethinks and reflects on these events. Her character doesn't change at all from this. In the end, what opens up with Bobby's death, is closed because of a joke about a Goomba mask looking funny. Almost literally equating the value of Bobby's suicide to a joke. 

Later on, the point is further ruined in a rather tasteless joke about how Olivia sees all Bob-ombs as the same, because other Bob-ombs look like Bobby so obviously she's happy to see Bobby again. Another example of making Bobby's death into a giant joke. Origami King's use of character model retreading in general isn't done to great effect when it comes to actual thematic relevance, it's sometimes funny as a joke but the few lines Ollie has that hint at some sort of racism theme aren't really explored substantially. That's at least more interesting than a few throwaway lines made to excuse a mini-game in which we see Bobby's kind mercilessly killed (meta-textually for nothing but the player's enjoyment). The sad thing is, the idea of throwing away the lives of a short-lived species for the sake of "making an impact" isn't even a bad theme, sacrifice has been done before and done much better. But this scene is just a significantly worse version of Final Fantasy IX's ending, where after an entire game of Vivi having an existential crisis his death is lightened up because .... he had children. I guess. At least in that game, the sad final monologue is delivered by Vivi, and his death isn't really forgotten (and is a recurring theme even during his life). More importantly, Square didn't look at Vivi's kids and think "You know what's a good idea? If we make killing each of them quickly and successfully into a mini-game after making an entire character based on their species centered around the frailty of life and the sadness of death!" 

Frankly, I'm not really sure how Bobby actually being dead really makes his story much different from the other not-so-dead characters in the OP when, him having characters just like him is used as a joke to alleviate his death and make the audience more comfortable with the slaughtering of his people. 

It's a good example of the "It's Mario!" trap, it's easy to say it's great writing because we don't expect much from a Mario game. I honestly don't think anyone who could analyze the scene knowing what was already going to happen and taking into account the writing quality before and after the event could walk away thinking the overall plot succeeded in this regard, it's based completely off the initial shock value. And I can't get upset at people for being emotionally attached to such a well done moment, but it's just a single moment in a larger thread; and that thread is trash. That's what frustrates me about the praise of this scene. Paper Mario wants to have it's cake and eat it too, and that's what's so egregious about it. 

King Ollie is the worst villain I've seen in a video game, and that's saying a lot because his presence isn't experienced throughout most of the game. He's not even particularly irritating, he does make the scenes he's in worse but he's not in a lot of scenes to begin with so it doesn't effect my enjoyment of most of the game. But his motivation is the stupidest thing in the world. He is racist against paper people because a paper person scribbled on him ... but all he had to do to not be a racist genocidal maniac is ... look at what was written on him. Ok. *sigh* I can't believe something as basic as a villain's motivation is ruined because Intelligent Systems is so stupid. This doesn't even make sense. If we're supposed to see Ollie as a child, then who's first reaction after being born is to instantly assume malice of their creator, to instantly assume that the person who gave them life, who allowed them to experience the world wished ill on them? Even if that's just a nitpick, it just further reveals how fucking dumb this whole idea is. Are there no mirrors in the world? Couldn't Ollie just find a way to fold himself in half and see what the scribbling said? Or why not just hang around and ask his creator? Jesus.

And for them to ask the audience to feel sad for Ollie ... a guy who tried to kill his sister with no remorse and for little real motivation is so dumb. God, I'm mad just thinking about how much this main plot is a failure. 

Speaking of Olivia, every time they try to do some serious touching moment with her character I just felt like rolling my eyes. I love her character, she's cute, charming and has funny things to say. Originally I was a little worried that being a little too on-the-nose for a comedic relief character might make a lot of her commentary not land, and there are certainly parts where it misses. But by the end of the game, when a lot of serious things were happening and Olivia kept inserting small-monologues into the dialogue, I was just frustrated. It's like, it's bad enough that Ollie is the most generic racist anime villain ever, but that Olivia has to insert the "..all the things I've experienced" and "I don't know if I can do this without help..." is so generic. It's bad anime writing, except it's worse here because we never really get the sense that Olivia actually learned anything from this journey. Her character didn't change at all, so why do we constantly need to be reminded of how much she's overcome or how much friends she's made along the way. The game throws away most of the friends when they aren't convenient anyways. It's all so undercooked, like it was taken from a different game and inserted into Olivia. I guess thinking about it now, you can maybe stretch it and say that Olivia learned the meaning of sacrifice through Bobby, I never got that impression though and literally didn't think about that till writing this paragraph, it's never addressed by the developers and never subtly hinted at and by that time Bobby's death was made into a joke anyways. 

By the way, Bowser shoving aside his kid and saying he'll be fine in a moment intentionally meant to be creepy and a little scary is such a huge tone clash and one of the, again, more egregious parts of the games writing. In general, Bowser was mostly very cool when he was in the game, but I wish he was in it more, I think he could have been done even more justice. I found it a bit jarring that the partners we had spent so much time with were kind of tossed aside for Bowser. Still, I think the scene at the crater was mostly very well done, and I absolutely love Bowser in the Ollie sequence. 

The craftmaster was, for me, one of the parts in the game where I wasn't really annoyed or bothered by the sequence itself, but inversely I couldn't help but think of the implications it had on Origami King's storytelling approach as whole. "This is something that Paper Mario 64 would have made fun of" is a thought that I couldn't escape from, in that game the useless and boring backstory conveyed through a long-winded monologue is used as a prop for a joke about how unnecessary most JRPG exposition sequences are. Even back in 2000, when the genre was still at it's peak, and it's conventions were considered the gold standard for video game storytelling, that game had already figured out how meaningless exposition dumps don't really provide the player with any emotions or motivation. Paper Mario 64 had a lot of faults, but I couldn't help but think of the irony that a valuable lesson that game had taught fell on deaf ears within the same franchise. None of that is to say that it's a hardfast rule that every game, or even every Paper Mario, has to stick to. It's not like either method of storytelling in regards to exposition dumps is inherently better. But in this specific example, I think the craftmaster is the exactly the kind of thing 64 would have made fun of mercilessly. 

The cooler parts of the story were when it delivered something interesting to chew on, whilst not also presenting large gaping holes by taking itself too seriously. The Green Streamer's backstory has to be one of the most memorable pieces of Mario history I've ever experienced. You quite literally have an entire faction enslaved under indentured servitude because they caused property damage to a heavenly spa. It's hilarious, kind of dark, and makes a lot of sense. You basically get a worker's uprising as one of the most memorable scenes in the game ... and it's done from the perspective of minions you usually see as evil! Bowser must be a pretty good boss if working as simple maintenance employees at a spa is worse! The feeling of oppression is unironically done justice, and this is a good example of how the game being cartoony and silly can make a serious theme still land whilst also giving it enough room to breath so that it can be funny as well. 

The Gameplay:

Origami King's gameplay is by enlarge great. It makes use of player feedback to make even the least important mechanics feel satisfying. Of course, the nitpicker in me wants to complain that filling holes, finding Toads and doing battles don't really lead to great awards or mechanical depth. And I do think these are legitimate problems, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't fine with it for the most part. The visual feedback of filling holes is great, along with the satisfaction of trying to get the coins right as they come pouring out by pressing the jump button at exactly the right time. Battles are usually hard to miss and admittedly I don't think this was the right call for the developers to make, to essentially say instead of making battles more rewarding we'll just make Mario so slow that he has a hard time dodging enemies. From what I understand this is something that's been consistent since The Thousand Year Door, given that Mario only had his dash in 64, although even in 64 some paths were so linear that dodging enemies, especially whilst backtracking, could be legitimately hard (fuck you Yoshi's Island level). Still, the battle system especially in the first two-thirds of the game at least feels a lot faster than 64, and dodging enemies at least isn't an issue while backtracking this time, both of which I believe make the problems of Origami King's battle system less of a nuisance than 64's, even if the overall battle system is less developed 

Collecting Toads takes the ideas represented in games like Breath of the Wild or Super Mario Odyssey and adds a lot more to these games respective collect-a-thon elements by making a quirky affair out of every collection. With so many Toads in the game, it would be hard to make each one rescued have some kind of intrinsic value to the player, and that's certainly not what was accomplished here. But that's ok, because the extrinsic value is more than enough. Seeing all the new lines of dialogue and some of the wacky things the Toads are up to always put a smile on my face (ok not always but you get it). 

I will say this though. In Okami, one of the things that is consistently rewarded for the player is to help propagate nature by restoring it to it's former glory. This rewards the player not only mechanically, but also visually: as the environments always become more lively and beautiful the more you fix them. In contrast, rescuing Toads, though it may be doing a good service, often makes the environments of Origami King more bland. Because any "Origami creatures" end up just becoming another Toad on the side of the Road. I think Intelligent Systems should have put more consideration behind this, because a lot of environments feel less natural and it's sad to see that some developers made specific designs for every region only for those designs to transform into a basic Toad. 

The battle system in Origami King is, generally, great. At least to me. The biggest problem is just that there's not enough latent progression throughout the game. It's actually surprising just how little there is, as the mechanical depth given to the player is mostly the same from about 5 hours in to the end credits. 64 had it's fair share of problems with this as well actually, a lot of partners ended up having overlapping abilities or abilities so similar in concept that your partner list could have used some serious streamlining. But it wasn't as much of an issue there given the fact that you'd get new upgrades for your weapons at separate times, which would produce interesting scenarios where the player would want to find ways to use the boot or hammer and ignore the other weapon depending on whichever technique was stronger at any given time. Every level upgrade was also a pretty big deal given how tight the damage and health point numbers were, so even if the player wasn't learning new mechanics they still were progressing a lot more than in Origami King. You'd also get new partner abilities in the overworld. Still, it was a problem to an extent in 64 as well, just less so. 

What I think saves it though is that, as previously mentioned for most of the game the battle system comes off as a lot faster than 64's, and because the speed of battle is mostly dictated by the player's own skill-level since most of your time is spent solving the ring puzzles, it never feels like a waste of time that battles are taking so long. Timing button presses is a form of skill too but, it doesn't feel fresh or new after a while, whereas in Origami King losing a puzzle ring is almost always due to a new set up that you don't get or a puzzle set up that you don't remember, and you actually have to remember them because they're not telegraphed to you. It's an even purer form of skill, and that makes some of the longer battles more acceptable. The bosses are about as good, maybe a little bit better, at introducing new concepts as well: which is to say that like 64, some bosses are more or less retreads of prior concepts with one or two unique spins, whereas others feel entirely new. I wish some of the concepts didn't come off as retreads but, there's a lot of variety and considering there's basically three separate boss types in Origami King (with two of them more or less being mini-bosses, Vellumentals and Paper Machos), it's hard to complain. 

Vellumentals are probably the lesser of the three, but aside from the abysmal awful one-of-the-worst-boss-fights-ever fire vellumental boss ........ they're still pretty good. The real takeaway, even better than the Legion of Stationary, is the real-time action Paper Machos. Holy shit these boss fights are so good. I'll admit that, visually, I only really thought the Goomba and Koopa-Troopas were interesting as Paper Machos. Probably because the Goomba already have weird proportions, and the Koopa Troopas looked kind of cute as giant soccerball players. Once the concept of what were essentially giant freak mechs became used over and over again, it did feel less special and it made me wish Intelligent Systems would get more creative with their designs. Still, the quality of the Paper Macho battles is amazing (except the Blooper). The highlights are the Giant Pokey and Buzzy Beetle. At first the Giant Pokey fight was a bit lame because the Bootcar controls aren't very response and don't give much feedback. But seeing all the ways that Intelligent Systems added layers upon layers to the battle, and even the ways they accounted for unique ways the player might fail (like the Car being able to be blown away in non-scripted scenarios, or the Pokey coming out of the ground and hurting Mario if he doesn't get up in time). Mario having to blow a whistle to someone his car out of a tornado is one of the strangest-yet-coolest things ever, it's a bit unfortunate that the menu pauses the game and that the car has to load out of shot, at least if I'm remembering correctly. The buzzy beetle is definitely the fight with the most depth to it, and it's magical spell is so cool. 

I will say that, the Paper Macho boss fights really make me wish that the game had a dash mechanic. When I started the game and realized it didn't have a dash mechanic I was worried that the boss fights wouldn't use the slow mobility to great effect, and they actually do, it's easy to get hit during a lot of the more action oriented moments in this game without being precise. Still, I would have preferred if they just made the bosses faster and more aggressive, while giving the player more movement options. It doesn't add too much depth, but having to time your button presses to cancel out of the dash-buffer like in 64, in the midst of a Buzzy Beetles big-ass magic spell being shot at you would be awesome. You could even make the magic spells recharge faster! 

In general Origami's King ability to use multiple different types of gameplay styles is one of it's biggest advantages, it's so refreshing to see a developer that realizes not everything can be crammed into the same narrow vision of a game. That, not every square concept has to be fit into a circular hole. 

I will say, the controls in this game for the vehicles are .... pretty bad? Ok, not bad. They're functional, but very mediocre. The car has too much delay between the boost, the boost doesn't even give the player good feedback, and moving around feels weightless with little delay between turns. The boat is better, but not acceptable until the upgrade you get for it. Which probably should have been installed to begin with. Even the turret section isn't great to control. 

Last but certainly not least in terms of importance. I think the sequel to this game really needs to focus on making sure coins and health points are a lot tighter. This is something 64 did well and it's really a shame it wasn't done nearly as well here. It's weird because in the first few hours of the game the health system, while a little inflated, was actually adjusted pretty well for how often you'd fight enemies and how much damage they'd do. Part of the problem might be more so the upgrades, they raise your health quite a bit and that's on top of optional +10 health upgrades that you can find and are super easy to get. Still, whether it has to do with the initial amount of health, or the upgrades given out throughout the game, going back to a simpler number system, one that focuses on numbers in the tens instead of in the hundreds, is something I hope returns with the next game. It gives more impact and weight to each piece of damage taken or dished out. Coins on the other hand have the issue of being way too plentiful. Not only is there too many coins, but the hint system is completely broken. I don't mind too much because luckily I didn't start using it till random battles later on in the game stared feeling a bit pace-breaking, and for that exact reason I think it's conceptually a great system, but I wish the coins were a lot tighter. Especially because right before the game's finale, you get a shit ton of weapons very easily. If both the coins and inventory were tighter, Origami King would be better off. Particularly because, there's already a brilliant system in place to stop you from losing too much of your inventory too fast, since you get a huge damage bonus from solving puzzles correctly (this is one of the game's very best mechanics, though I do find it a bit odd that "great" and "perfect" puzzle-solving rankings are not awarded different multipliers). And the pace at which your inventory is degraded is, for most of the game, pretty on point. Enough to where you have to go back to Toad Town every once in a while and experience the changes, but also not so often that the degradation puts a serious damper on the game. I find it frustrating that special items you find also don't have unique properties. I get that they're not really that "special", but really for the sake of variety, I think making flowers and tails harder to find, but also making them more useful would have added some much needed diversity to the battle system. The first thing I think of when I think of flowers in Mario is the ability to not just shoot projectiles, but to be able to do so for a decent amount of time. Why not make it a two term move? Why not make tails able to hit 6 tiles horizontally instead of just 4? It's just so weird that disposable items are practically the same, with very small differences, as equipment, and a bit of a disappointment. 

Other Musings: 

One of the things that kind of bothered me but ultimately wasn't important is that when you collect "Toad forms", like the various ways they inhabit the world, you don't get to see the way in which they were folded. It's super lame because that's one of the more unique ways collectibles could have been approached in a game entirely centered around Origami. 

The Vellumentals looking so boring is kind of a mixed bag because the idea of only truly completing a character design when you add the "Olivia component" onto it is fascinating. I don't feel too strongly one way or another; really the developers probably could have found a way to make base Vellumentals more striking without making them too detailed, but at the very least I was presented with a cool concept I haven't seen elsewhere. 

This game is very annoying about wasting the players time. Between there being a lot of unnecessary prompts in sections like the Toad's notes (where not only do you have to select yes after specifically pressing a button centered around the Notes themselves, but you can't even pick what notes you have to see and wait through a selection of other notes to get to the notes you want) and a strangely high amount of small fade-to-black transitions/large loading screens I have yet to see on another Switch game, the players time isn't respected very well. 

The final area is a mixed bag. The actual dungeon design of Ollie's castle is pretty bad, and not even in the usual way. It's short and not dragged out like a lot of RPGs/action adventure games, yet it also isn't as clever in places as it's contemporaries. Instead, you just go down mostly linear corridors and constantly have to use magic circles to use the 1000x arm fold move. It's as if the developers thought that abusing the move would somehow serve as a valuable crutch for interesting level design but .... it doesn't, especially since the move isn't that intriguing by itself, it's basically just used to contextualize otherwise cinematic events. Why overuse it so much? It's funny, I think in an effort to make a fairly short dungeon that is easy and linear, Intelligent Systems actually highlighted just how obvious it was that the dungeon was padding to get to the main meat and potatoes (the ending). It's pretty subpar all around, even if unfolding pieces of paper to make a new bridge path is a great concept that should have been used more in the game. 

Luckily, the final boss battle is pretty amazing. The Bowser section is one of the most creative things I've seen. It strikes a good balance of being a little challenging so the player can feel tension, whilst being cinematic enough that the player can experience most of the ending in one shot (fuck that final phase though). 

Something I really like about Origami King is that, because it kind of pulls in both an RPG and action adventure direction, the dungeon designs tend to favor a more action-adventure approach, but with an ever-evolving context for the situations the players are in, more similar to an RPG, but without grinding pacing to a halt. This makes the more, easy and streamlined approach of the games dungeon designs a lot more tolerable. In the best dungeon in the game, for example, you solve a puzzle thanks to the general aloofness of your partner, find the defaced bodies of Toads, unlock a path to the boss, and then have to almost literally "raise the dead" through music to get a large enough crowd for the boss to come out. That amount of new ideas per dungeon isn't necessarily the norm, but it is a good example of how Paper Mario's easiness can be alleviated from boredom by engaging in new ideas, whether gameplay-oriented or story oriented, pretty consistently. 

The actual stories for the individual streamers, are pretty nice. Ok, the setups are almost always generic. But they're basically excuses to get some funny dialogue and skits, and that's always cool. Nothing is mindblowing about them but, they lead to a lot of memorable moments. I especially like what is essentially just a huge bro-sess with the green streamer, where we get to learn more about Kamek and Bowser Jr. Kamek not being a female is a shock to me, especially as he basically acts as a mother figure to Bowser Jr. Now that's how you do a plot twist. Olivia is also a really fun companion. A lot of genuinely funny moments come out of her. 

In Conclusion: 

If you want a plot where none of the questions or themes brought up by the game are answered in a satisfying way, Origami King is your game. If you want a pretty fun adventure title that gets a lot of things right most games don't ... Origami King is also your game. This is what makes the game so weird. It's like a walking contradiction. 

A lot of people have games that they really enjoy and don't give a second thought to how the mechanics work together. I generally don't, especially when mechanics that don't serve an express function waste my time or don't gel well with other parts of the game. Origami King is sort of an exception, though. It has a lot of design philosophies that I admire a lot. It's too bad that it has a lot of flaws, some being mild while others are bigger still. But I believe the best way to describe it is, Origami King is a low skill medium reward game. You aren't usually going to get the highest highs of gaming out of it, but it's never dull or boring either. It's always charming. And when you do get a super high high, it's almost certainly because it has some of the coolest scripted sequences in gaming, and the kind of boss battles Nintendo really needs to learn from in their mainline Mario games. Seriously, don't let Intelligent Systems outshine you here! It's a nice, relaxing game that is always at the very least fun. And sometimes it's nice to have those. If you improved the story for the next one, tightened up the mechanics a bit, and made more unique environmental/character designs, you could seriously have one of the best games ever here. Let's be real, that probably won't happen though, because they'll just throw everything out and start from scratch with the next one. 

Oh yea ... and I'm not sure why they butchered the aftermath of Bobby's death so bad when, they already had a permanent painful send-off with that ending. Is it a little contrived? Sure. But damn .... ouch. OUCH. I felt that. 

8.8/10 



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Best game in the series for me. Yes better than thousand year door.