Nintendo’s Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series are both rooted in the original Super Mario RPG. However, while the Mario & Luigi games have clung to traditional RPG mechanics like experience-based leveling and upgradable equipment, Paper Mario has strayed from that foundation. Color Splash is almost unrecognizable as an RPG, but it is still a delightfully humorous journey through the Mushroom Kingdom sure to appease series fans and newcomers.
Color Splash begins with Mario traveling to the exotic isle of Port Prisma, where he discovers that Bowser has mustered an army of Shy Guys with straws to suck the color out of this vibrant papercraft world. Mario partners with an anthropomorphic paint can who fills Mario’s iconic mallet with paint, and our hero begins hammering the paint back into the world. Throw in a princess kidnapping and several collectible stars and you have a classic Mario story. More than anything, Color Splash is a testament to the skill to Nintendo’s localization team, which has masterfully taken a series of bizarre situations and filled the game with clever, belly-laugh moments.
As Mario continues to explore Port Prisma’s island and brings color back to the world, he discovers several reasons to use his hammer for less artistic means: smashing fools over the head. Those who played Paper Mario: Sticker Star will already be intimately familiar with Color Splash’s combat system. However, Mario now collects cards instead of stickers, which allow him to jump on his enemies’ heads, hammer foes into each other, or even summon friendly minions into battle.
Mario’s attacks are as diverse as his foes, some of whom evade ground attacks or can’t be jumped on. I enjoyed the simple strategies of powering up my cards by painting them, and figuring out the right cards to use in each battle so I never exhausted my deck. Some players might be turned off by the fact that Mario’s attacks are a finite resource, but I found it easy to acquire new cards by painting the environment, and the few times I did run out of attack cards during a battle, I easily got a random new one for a paltry 10 coins.
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