Wii U Review: Paper Mario: Color Splash

Paper Mario is back, but can he impress after Sticker Star?

It feels like an eternity since a console version of Paper Mario. The last entry for 3DS felt like a step backwards with it’s sticker collecting combat system and it didn’t help that the story wasn’t anywhere near as memorable as Super Paper Mario or The Thousand Year Door. Last year’s Mario and Luigi/Paper Mario 3DS cross-over was a step back in the right direction for both franchises, but it still made me long for a real console Paper Mario…which we finally have. But is it too little too late?
We are, after all…very late in the Wii U’s life here, especially with NX (Whatever it is, we need to know soon!) coming out next year. But still, I’m pleased that we’ve got what is probably one of the last great Wii U games from Nintendo. Is it better than Sticker Star? Without a doubt.

The story unfolds as Mario receives a letter that actually turns out to be one of the Toads drained of all his colour and posted to him. Mario and Peach set off for the return address, Prism Island which has had it’s colour stars stolen and residents left colourless after Shy Guys and other enemies have been sucking them dry with straws. It’s classic Paper Mario madness and it’s just as funny as the past console versions.

It does retain some of Sticker Star’s gameplay however, such as areas being divided into levels instead of free-roaming, while combat comes from using cards you collect either from shops or by colouring in areas that lack colour. Mario can hit these areas with his hammer to repaint them or other colourless characters and restore them to life, while you can also use the hammer to bash objects that will leak paint to refill your supply.
Combat itself can be a little cumbersome as you do get colourless cards to use in battle, but you can use paint to colour them in and use them for extra damage. You have to confirm you are ready to use the selected card, then either colour it in or not and then flick the card on the Gamepad to use it in combat. You still have to tap A at the right time to do more damage and block attacks, but the card process does make battles drag out a lot more than it would in past games.

It’s actually my only gripe about the game, the rest I absolutely love. It looks stunning, the world actually looks like it’s made of paper, as do all the characters. They have that papery look to them in a 3D world that also is made of paper. Colouring in all the areas is also vibrant and naturally beautiful to watch…add in classic Mario music and the typical sounds, not to mention the typical humour of the series and you have one hell of a game.

The Verdict

Paper Mario: Color Splash is the best entry in the series since Super Paper Mario. It would have been nice to have the combat system from TTYD or the original N64 entry, but it’s only a small issue in the grand scheme of things. Paper Mario is back and that’s all that matters…now we just have to convince Nintendo to bring The Thousand Year Door to NX’s Virtual Console (if it will have one…)

Score: 8.5