In defence of modern Paper Mario

What’s going on with all you Paper Mario dickheads, eh? Every time a new game shows up, looking even more fun and creative than the last, you all kick off because it’s not Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door exactly. Then you all moan and complain about Sticker Star and Colour Splash for also not being The Thousand-Year Door. Bloody well stop it. Thousand-Year Door wasn’t even that good. Ooh, what about that amazing chapter where it’s all wrestling, Stu? What about it!? It was just a repetitive sequence of fights! With a character called Rawk Hawk, whose name was annoying to read!

Look, I’ve gone overboard, and I’m sorry. I liked The Thousand-Year Door. It would be pretty stupid to call it a bad game, or even a lacking game, really. It was a host of memorable sequences and gags, interesting boss battles and amazing visual effects that made your Gamecube cry “Please, no, stop, I can’t keep this up, put something like Die Hard Vendetta in so I can have a breather.” It’s obviously good and it would be insane to suggest otherwise. I’m just fed up, Nauties. I’m fed up with Sticker Splash (my clever portmanteau of the last two games in the series) getting such a raw deal.

Yes, I’ll happily admit it. I’ll shout it from the rooftops even. THEY DIDN’T HAVE GOOD COMBAT. This is not something I will challenge. But they weren’t about combat. They were about exploration. Lateral thinking. Puzzle solving. I played Sticker Star again recently and got stuck on a puzzle for absolutely ages until I realised the solution was so simple but so brilliantly obfuscated that I shed an actual tear at its genius. Nah, not really. I just went ooh, that’s a bit good, isn’t it? I didn’t cry at a video game like some sort of maladjusted tragedy of human life. (This seems harsh. – Ed)

Sorry. Sorry again. I just find the Paper Mario fans frustrating because they don’t like the same thing I like, and that’s not okay. Colour Star reminded me so strongly of the Sierra adventure games I hold in such high regard, with the way they prioritise paying attention, that’s it’s almost as though they made the games for me personally. I want to reiterate that I understand the frustration with them, and their perceived lack of character. Yes, there are a lot of Toads in them. But what the games lack in that particular kind of aesthetic creativity, they make up for in the depth of their design. The “dungeons”, such as they are, offer more than just a host of difficult enemies to defeat. You’ve got to comb the environments for the way forward, using all your abilities as well as your intelligence and lateral thinking skills.

I cherish Sticker Star and Colour Splash for what they offer rather than what they don’t, and when a game or games I enjoy as much as them get so routinely slagged off, it’s difficult not to take it personally. It’s my problem, I’ll deal with it.

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