Operation Backlog Completion 2024
May 152020

Yesterday, I was working out some details about my in-progress horror novel when what should pop up but a trailer… for a new Paper Mario game??

Paper Mario: The Origami King was announced yesterday, and not only that, but it isn’t far off. It will be out for the Nintendo Switch on July 17.

Despite all the Paper Mario rumors, I didn’t expect an announcement trailer to be dropped on us out of the blue, and I especially didn’t think it would be only two months away. As a huge fan of the first three Paper Mario games, I went into the trailer hopeful, yet also nervous. Would it be the return to form I was hoping for?

Let’s talk about the good, the bad, and the uncertainties of the Paper Mario: The Origami King trailer.

First, the thing that stood out to me the most as a good sign about this Paper Mario game: it seems to have a strong emphasis on story again. The start of the trailer is creepy and immediately sets up the antagonistic force. Everything points toward an adventure to stop a sinister threat, this apparent origami cult following the Origami King.

Compare this to the announcement trailer for Color Splash, which mentioned the story premise, but focused on the color-based gameplay mechanics above all else. Or this early Sticker Star trailer, which shows nothing story-related at all.

The trailer does show Mario using extendable origami arms to pull off a piece of the environment, but it’s a small clip rather than the main focus.

(With that said, why did they become so obsessed with the “paper” aspect of Paper Mario? The early games had the paper aesthetic and occasionally made use of it for things beyond the art style, but for the most part they could have had different graphics and stayed the same. The recent games act like the idea that the characters are paper should be at the core of everything.)

It’s possible that this cool set-up will only be the premise that will send Mario on a soulless journey through story-free worlds, but right now I have a good feeling about it.

In addition to the origami companion character Mario meets, the trailer also shows him talking to a Bob-omb, interacting with Bowser, Bowser Jr., and Kamek, and being seemingly accompanied by some other characters. We’ll get back to this soon. For now, it at least supports character interactions and story content.

Now let’s talk about the combat system. A brief combat snippet is shown at 1:32 in the trailer. Mario is standing on a circular platform and moves the platform’s concentric rings to line up a group of enemies, which multiples his attack power by 1.5. A second snippet at 1:39 shows Mario jumping on a line of enemies.

That second part made me worry at first, because an icon at the upper part of the screen says “Shiny Boots.” Is that a sign that Origami King uses consumable items for combat again? A Japanese video showcasing the combat with a longer clip sheds more light on this.

It gives another look at the ring system, but the most important part of this video is that we get to see the combat menu. When translated, it shows that Mario’s available attacks here are “Mario’s Boots” and “Mario’s Hammer.” This suggests you’ll have normal basic attacks, rather than consumable items. The “Shiny Boots” from the main trailer might be an upgrade or equipped item.

There are also two tabs in the menu, one for weapons and one for items, as well as a button you can press for equipment.

A Toad in the audience is shouting for Mario to use an Ice Flower. Another part of the video shows an option for Mario to “cheer.” It looks like we might be interacting with the audience during combat, which brings to mind the audience in The Thousand-Year Door.

According to the official eShop page, Paper Mario: The Origami King features “ring-based battles that challenge you to strategically line up enemies.” That could be fun, but I’m still hoping to see RPG elements. For me, the combat system is the biggest uncertainty.

The description also mentions repairing the damaged landscape and using Mario’s “1,000-Fold Arms ability” to pull and peel the landscape. It’s all paper, everyone!

Okay, let’s move on to another big question fans have about Origami King – will there be partners?

As I mentioned earlier, the trailer shows Mario interacting with a variety of characters, but it’s unclear if these will be actual partners during the journey or if Mario’s only consistent partner will be Olivia, the origami princess who joins him in his quest to stop King Olly.

The eShop page mentions “Mario, Olivia, and their companions,” and the official announcement says “you’ll enlist the help of characters old and new, including King Olly’s good-natured sister, Olivia, along with a range of unlikely allies, including Bowser himself.”

So… partners? Once again, it could go either way. These characters could accompany you, but they might only interact with you at specific moments.

Additional screenshots on the official website show Mario with more characters. The most promising hint toward partners is that the Bob-omb appears with Mario in multiple locations: sitting with him in some sort of vehicle, standing with him on a boat, walking through a forest, and running from gigantic enemies.

Assuming that is the same Bob-omb, and not that the game is filled with multiple generic Bob-ombs, he at least appears to be a consistent recurring character.

Meanwhile, the Toad from one of the screenshots appears in combat with Mario in the Chinese trailer, suggesting partners might join you in battle… although the scene in question is in the English and Japanese trailers without the Toad, which is bizarre.

I’m cautiously optimistic about Paper Mario: The Origami King. I want to believe it will have a strong story, a good cast of characters, a fun world to explore, and an interesting RPG combat system. I know there’s a chance it will use its story as an excuse plot for running around different levels solving paper-themed puzzles, with shallow character interactions and few RPG elements. Right now, it’s too soon to say which it will be.

What are you expecting from Paper Mario: The Origami King?

(And yes… I will play Color Splash before Origami King comes out!)

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  9 Responses to “Hopes and Fears for Paper Mario: The Origami King”

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZyerryUkoc

    Reminder that Color Splash had a launch trailer that was based around a creepy foreboding story, and I didn’t see you get excited over that!

    (Reminder that Color Splash had many self-contained stories and less of a developing multi-chapter narrative, but that was fine, too.)

  2. It actually is fun how the previous games didn’t make a big deal out of the “paper” part of paper Mario, at least in terms of the story not relying on it and having plenty of plot that had really nothing to do with the paper material.

    Though the second game did actually have different origami powers that Mario used to traverse around. I know they’re probably not gonna tie this into that, but it would be cool if they did…

    • Hey, wasn’t it a “curse” in that game? That would actually give them room to tie it to this villain in some way, although I doubt they will.

      Ever since Sticker Star, though, it feels like they’ve forgotten how minor it used to be and decided paper is the most important thing about the series.

      • I suppose I should get to work on writing up the canon, justified reason why Sticker Star and on has been all paper-y, shouldn’t I?

        Maybe around when Ms. Lienhard finishes playing Color Splash.

        • Haha, and then the ultimate goal will be to free Paper Mario from this curse and restore the world (and series) to its natural state? That would be up there with FFXIV including the original game’s shutdown and relaunch as part of its plot.

  3. […] we discussed the trailer for Paper Mario: The Origami King, I went over a lot of the little details from the trailer and […]

  4. […] the initial trailer left people cautiously optimistic, we were all waiting for a better look at the game to answer the numerous questions the reveal left […]

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