Here's another great game from the nintendo team that will probably leave most players feeling pleasantly surprised instead of teeth grittingly frustrated.
To start off, I'll mention that this game is not what you'd call "impressively difficult" although it is still an impressive title. There is a tonne of varietty to each world and even some quirky puzzles and activites to keep the player busy for quite some time.
As far as level design goes, I'm sure most people here have seen some screenshots for this game and noticed things like, mario in space, mario in 8-bit land, or Mario in the sand. And although it doesn't sound like all that much fun in writing, it's a blast to play through as the challenges and puzzles are intuititive and fresh.
What makes the game shine in a unique way is it's use of things called pixls. They're like little fairy things with abilities which assist Mario on the way. Mario starts his quest with just one of these pixls and as you progress, you'll constantly find new pixls with abilities which help you in the level at hand.
While a couple of these pixls are just filler, some of them are cooler than Chuck Norris beating up a handicapped supervillain. (mental picture) My favourite pixl ability is being able to shrink down to tiny size and go into what looked like doll houses at first glance.
Although games like Zelda and Metriod are the kings of this formula, Mario makes some good use itself. (The formula being, new abilities open up secrets from much earlier in the game).
Most of this game is played out in the 2D sidescrolling platform fashion although what makes it different from past papermarios is it's flipping to 3D. At just about any point in the game you can flip your perspective from 2D to 3D and in addition to seeing a new perspective, often times open up areas you didn't know were there.
In all honesty, this flipping is absolutely required in some areas to progress. I spend most of the game in 2D however the treasure hunting part of me is always keen to flip around in suspicious areas to uncover what secrets might be hidden around me.
One of the most bitter sweet aspects of this game is the dialogue. Almost every review mentions a large amount of dialogue in the game. Some reviewers will say it's long but great, others would say it's a bore. I will say it's right in between that. There are some points in the game that are pretty amusing and will bring up a warm smile. Then there's other parts where you'll be sitting there and saying "Wtf was that?". Bitter sweet like I said, but certainly not something so bad that it ruins the game at all.
So how about the playtime, and just what kind of game is this?
To be honest, if you get into the game, it will probably last you a while. This is not a quickly tossed out project who's only goal is to grab some quick bucks off the Mario liscence. This is a full fledged Mario game and it suits the franchise's standard of quality with full merrits. Put simply, there's a lot to do and a lot of places to do it in.
Although some reviewers like to call this game an rpg platformer, I'd have to say it's far more a platformer than an rpg. You might find your Mario (and party) leveling up from time to time, but the progression is so subtle that it hardly makes a difference. In the end, you're just going through the levels and putting the smack down on any back talking baddies stupid enough to stand in your way.
There are items, and powerups to use, but there's no "Broadsword of death" or "Sheild of the weeping mother's tears" like items in the game to really give it that true "rpg" feel.
A nice addition to the game which tries to make up for the almost complete lack of motion controls is the arcade which you will unlock after some time playing. The arcade has a few games that are pretty enjoyable to play and thankfully they get progressively more difficult. The first few stages will be simple enough that a child could grasp and play, however soon enough it becomes obvious that the brains at Nintendo expected these arcade games to catch the eyes of the hardcore gamer turned father/mother as well.
While the controls for these games wont stun you with their brilliant novelty, they are easy to pick up and a little addictive. (picture duck hunt with boo ghosts) All the arcade games use the wiimote's eye or motion sensing technology... Like I said, it's an attempt to make up for the lack of motion sensing otherwise.
To summarize the review, I'll tell you that this new outting for Mario is a lot of fun to play and has that charming quality of opening up even more, just when you think it's nearing the end. There's lots to do and for the most part it's a lot of fun doing it. The 3D isn't revolutionary but it's like night is to day, without it, the 2D game just wouldn't have that same lustre.
The controls are simple, intuitive and very rarely frustrating.
Sound and music in the game is cheery and chirpy almost the whole time and aside from the low life notification,never annoying. (I hate the low life indicator sound...)
The graphics are really nice and implement a tonne of colours to make it more visually stimulating. What's great about this game is that the art style looks perfect for the feeling of the game so you probably wont find yourself criticising the poor graphical power on the Wii like a pissed off ps3 fan.
All in all, Super Paper Mario is a great game to sink your heart into for a bit and it should keep most gamers busy for a hell of a long time.