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YSB: Paper Mario: The Origami King

Content of the article: "YSB: Paper Mario: The Origami King"

I think this is a controversial one—there’s people who like this one, people who don’t. It’s a pretty polarizing game, but I’d like to make a case for it. As a short intro, I’m the kind of player who loves Earthbound, the Mario and Luigi RPG series, and Persona. Atmosphere, writing, and music are my priorities in games, especially RPGs.

The Origami King is built on charm. Throughout the colorful world, exploration rewards you with a Luigi’s Mansion 3-esque feeling of satisfaction in collecting everything around you. Each Toad you save will give you unique dialogue—some of their lines seriously crack me up. They (and other characters) make jokes on insurance, point out inconsistencies in the Mario franchise, and subvert your expectations. The game generally does not take itself seriously—and yet the execution on the game experience is incredible. Each area is fleshed out and builds up in variety and change—no two areas feel the same, and each gets better than the last. I’ve never played an RPG on the Switch that made me want to finish organically (rather than to say I finished it, or get it over with, or get to the next game in my backlog), and actually see what happens the next corner—it’s the type of game that had me telling myself “Okay. 30 more minutes then I have to go to bed” only to see the sun rise hours later. The soundtrack is AMAZING, and powers the charm that keeps you smiling—the hub world (Toad Town) has multiple versions of the same theme, depending on how far you are in the story. It’s clear that effort has been placed in creating a dynamic, breathing world while championing player experience and charm. It keeps up with itself, knowing when its own gameplay starts to feel repetitive or tiring and consistently provides new twists to maintain that smile on your face.

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Yet I also know the game isn’t for everyone.

Origami King starts very slow, introducing a generic narrative with an initially interesting but eventually tiring puzzle-based combat system. The thing about the combat is that non-scripted fights can be avoided, and as the game progresses trivial enemies can be killed in the overworld a lá Earthbound’s combat mechanics. Moreover, not all fights are through the ring puzzle system—there were plenty of memorable combat experiences that only happened in the overworld. The boss fights were also unique and incredibly engaging to play through—the puzzle system works a bit differently there, and feels MUCH more satisfying and tense than the non-boss combat (which even the most patient players would probably tire of halfway through).

If you want a difficult game, this is NOT for you. If you want an amazing plot to end all plots, DON’T buy this game. If you hate puzzles and turn based combat, this game probably won’t change your mind. I see this game described constantly as “braindead” and “baby easy.” That’s not necessarily an incorrect remark, a braindead baby may very much be able to finish the game. But if you want charm, or a game that cares for player experience start to finish, a game that only gets better the further you progress, a game that doesn’t care about being judged or critique reviews more than putting a smile on your face—give this game a go. I’ve played and enjoyed BoTW, Xenoblades 1/2, Octopath, Animal Crossing, Odyssey… but this game is the one that I feel has made buying a Switch for its exclusives worth it.

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TL;DR: This game is fantastic if you can appreciate charm and writing over difficulty and combat. Do things like: Recruit a toad army to get groovy with you. Help toads barbecue by burning talking trees. Go whitewater rafting with your bffs.


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