"Paper Mario: The Origami King” is loaded with character and charm that makes exploring its papercraft rendition of the Mushroom Kingdom an absolute joy to explore only dragged down by monotonous battles.
It is the latest entry in the offshoot “Paper Mario” series that sets Mario and crew in a world made from, well, paper in a story-driven, roleplaying-lite adventure. Its arrival on the Nintendo Switch brings a fully realized world that you could almost reach out and touch.
In “Origami King,” the papercraft world has been invaded by, well, The Origami King who has warped the world by folding the Mushroom Kingdom’s denizens into mindless baddies and literally tearing holes in the world. As Mario, you’ll be teamed up with the Origami King’s sister Olivia to come to the world’s rescue and save Princess Peach once again.
There’s a great amount of creativity going on with “Origami King,” with a series of greatly detailed areas to explore that are colorful, detailed and filled with puzzles and secrets that reward you for creative thinking.
There’s a lot of wit and character that you won’t find in a traditional Mario game. There’s a lot of written dialog, particularly when you rescue one of the many hundred paper Toads who’ve been folded, tucked away or crumpled up, that’s surprisingly good — and often a little darkly humorous. Oh, and there’s several musical numbers and stage performances.
Nearly everything about “The Origami King” is simply a joy to play and explore. Nearly everything.
The biggest wrinkle for “The Origami King” is in its puzzle-based combat. In most encounters, Mario is situated in the center of four rings that you can shift and turn to align the enemies into rows of four or two-by-two clusters to make it easier to stomp with boots or smash with a hammer ... and that’s about it.
For a role-playing game, there’s not very much variety that you can bring to these encounters either. You’re mostly stuck to those two attacks with limited upgrades to dish out more damage or handle spiked enemies. The puzzle aspect can be somewhat challenging to figure out the precise order to shift and turn the rings and rows to line up the enemies, but it just awards you a slight increase to your damage that make pretty easy battles into very easy battles.
After beating the first boss in the game, I found myself largely trying to avoid the origami enemies to continue exploring the world and advancing the story.
Those boss battles, however, offer a more interesting challenge. They place the boss in the center of the board, and you must move the rings to create a course for Mario of moves, power-ups and attacks.
It takes a bit of trial-and-error to get the handle of it, but it’s a much-needed bit of challenge for the game. The boss designs — which are a nod to hobby-ing — are also great.
Still, there’s plenty more in “Origami King” that offers a challenge. There are tons of minigames, obstacle courses and puzzles that’ll test your skills throughout the game. I just wish there was more of it.
Matt Buxton is a freelance writer and gamer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
If You Play
Game: Paper Mario: The Origami King
Rating: 3 our of 5
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: July 17, 2020
ESRB Rating: Everyone