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: The Original King is an action-adventure game with light role-playing elements exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.It's also the latest in the Paper Mario series. There's some animated violence, as Mario can smash paper enemies with his mallet or engage in battle sequences that including stomping and striking, too. But the entire game is cartoon-like and not realistic in any way. There's no blood or gore or implied pain inflicted on enemies, who disappear after losing a skirmish. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content included in the game.
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What's it about?
The world famous mustached plumber is back in PAPER MARIO: THE ORIGAMI KING, a new action-adventure hybrid with light role-playing elements for the Nintendo Switch platform. Similar to previous Paper Mario games in the franchise, this game stars a paper-thin Mario who sets out on a grand quest -- this time to investigate the disappearance of his brother Luigi and what happened with Princess Peach's mansion, which was whisked away and wrapped in a ribbon, imprisoning everyone inside. The story evolves from there, as players discover it's "Origami King" Olly responsible for these wrongdoings instead of Bowser and his minions. Mario visits various indoor and (mostly) outdoor areas from a third-person viewpoint, fights against Folder Soldiers and other enemies, and gets to the bottom of these shenanigans with the help of a fairy-like character Mario can summon named Olivia (King Olly's sister, in fact). Olivia can chime in by giving clues and other information on what's going on to help players make progress in the adventure. Along with picking up colorful paper pieces to patch holes in this world, meeting characters and performing missions for them, and solving environmental puzzles to reach new areas, Paper Mario: The Original King employs a battle system when facing off against adversaries. When you encounter a foe, the screen flips to a ring and you manipulate them in order to best line-up enemies, whether they're in a row or side by side. You must then choose the most ideal item to defeat these threats in as few moves as possible.
Is it any good?
This charming adventure is well worth the price of admission for its lengthy and gratifying gameplay, accessible controls, well-written dialogue, and high-quality presentation. Paper Mario: The Origami King offers many secret areas, collectible items, and other hallmarks of a triple-A Mario adventure. Along with the bright and colorful graphics, with Mario and others represented by paper thin characters, the first thing you'll notice is how good the game feels to play, Maneuvering your 1,000-Fold Arms ability relies on your Nintendo Switch's gyroscope, which takes a little getting used to, but its a welcome change to your regular arsenal of moves. Much of the strategy, though, is tied to the battle system, represented by a ring the enemies stand on, with you in the middle. You have a limited amount of time to manipulate the ring so that familiar enemies -- like Goombas, Koopa Troopas, and Shy Guys -- are lined up in a desired fashion, so that you can take them down with as few moves as possible (or else they'll have a turn to damage you, too). You can rotate the rings with your limited moves, or push and pull them across the board, which is where the tactics come in. You can also add extra power to your movies -- such as stomping on baddies for spiked boots -- by properly timing an extra button press when above their heads and getting into the rhythm of the sequence.
Especially earlier on in the game, the battle portions can get repetitive and tedious, but the combat does evolve once you start adding new items and abilities. Mixed feelings about the combat aside, Paper Mario: The Origami King is super fun, and those who love exploring every nook and cranny in a game will be rewarded with paper treasures, hidden characters, weapons, upgrades, and more. The game's also very funny, and you'll want to read every interaction with a character or object (like a sign) because it's so well written. There are platforming challenges and some mini-games, too, for those who enjoy those traditional Mario gameplay elements. Paper Mario: The Original King isn't "paper thin" but it does have some tears thanks to some of the combat issues. That said, it's still a super fun ride for fans of the franchise and newcomers to the series alike.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Paper Mario: The Origami King affected by the lack of blood and gore in the game? Is the violence acceptable because it's cartoonish and light, especially because the characters are made out of paper?
Is Paper Mario: The Origami King another "damsel in distress" storyline, like many other Mario tales, or are women given stronger roles here? Should Nintendo games have stronger and more independent lead characters who are women?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo of America
- Release date: July 17, 2020
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: E for Mild Cartoon Violence
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: October 21, 2020
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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.