A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Paper Mario Color Splash is an imaginative action-adventure game with role-playing game-style turn-based combat. Mario can restore color to objects by hitting them with a paint-filled hammer. He can also attack cartoonish enemies by jumping on them and hitting them with his hammer, causing them to crumple up and disappear in a cloud of stars and paint. Puzzle-solving elements require some lateral thinking, forcing players to look at the game world a bit differently from how they might normally to figure out what to do.
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What's it about?
PAPER MARIO COLOR SPLASH is set in a paper world filled with paper versions of characters from Nintendo's iconic Mario universe. One day, Paper Mario receives a letter from a place called Prisma Island, which turns out to be a paper Toad whose color has been erased. He travels to the island where he discovers that Slurp Guys are sucking up colors from both townsfolk and the world itself. He quickly meets a talking paint can who explains what he needs to do to restore color to the world and all the blank pieces of paper that were once living Toads, then sets out on an adventure to save the island. Play involves exploring the world and returning color to white areas by hitting them with Mario's hammer. Some areas are actually paper-themed puzzles where players must draw along a dashed line on the Gamepad screen to "cut out" a piece of the world, letting Mario bypass obstacles in imaginative ways. Fights are short turn-based battles in which the player attacks by choosing cards collected while adventuring. The game is broken into multiple courses accessed from a traditional Mario-style world map, with players able to travel freely between levels and return to unfinished tasks as they like.
Is it any good?
These role-playing games strive to give players a fresh perspective on a world and characters they know well. Paper Mario Color Splash’s initial appeal is simply its visual style -- and the characters’ awareness of their two-dimensional nature. Mario and his friends are completely at home with the notion that Toads can be folded and mailed, and Slurp Guys talk about "stacking up" in groups in order to be stronger fighters. This, combined with some pretty original paper-themed scenarios -- like a stretch of road being rolled up as Mario runs away, or a piece of tape holding down a paper object blowing in the wind -- help to create a sense of wonder in players as they delight in the game's creative design.
By the time this novelty wears off, assuming it ever does, most players will be thoroughly hooked on the game's fun -- if not entirely original -- mechanics. Coloring in blank spots in the environment to completely restore a stage and achieve a 100 percent rating is weirdly compelling. And the turn-based combat, while simple and eventually a bit tedious, should still give players some satisfaction as they attempt to dispatch their often too-easy enemies as quickly as possible by selecting the most efficient attacks. Contextual puzzles solved by using the stylus like a pair of scissors can be a bit more challenging, but only because it's not always immediately clear when this needs to be done. The main reason kids -- and maybe grown-ups -- will keep playing, though, is simply because of the inventive world and humorous writing. There's a reason why generations of players have grown up loving Mario games, and Paper Mario Color Splash serves as an eloquent explanation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. Paper Mario Color Splash is broken into courses that can be accessed from a world map, with each one generally taking well under an hour to complete, but how many of these courses do you think make a satisfying play session?
Families can also talk about art in games. Paper Mario Color Splash stands out because of its textile world and paper characters, but do you like how the paper theme informs some of the play mechanics? Do you think it would be hard to come up with a new and interesting art style for a game?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii U
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading, reading comprehension
Arts: drawing, painting
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: solving puzzles, strategy
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo of America
- Release date: October 7, 2016
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures
- ESRB rating: E for Mild Cartoon Violence
- Last updated: April 5, 2021
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.