Though the combat is fun, I miss the RPG mechanics from earlier Paper Mario games. Color Splash never has you sorting through an inventory or managing character stats. Since Mario also doesn’t gain experience in battle, the only meaningful combat rewards are collectable hammers that increase your paint reserves, allowing you to paint more objects in the environment. The lack of character growth made combat feel more simplistic, and I felt aimless with few far-reaching character goals.
This lack of growth means battles can feel superfluous. More than once, I was tempted to run from combat. However, most random encounters are over quickly, so this isn’t a big problem. I also found it easy to avoid battles by dodging onscreen enemies, and Mario can instantly destroy weaker foes, which allowed me to skip some battles entirely.
The one thing in Color Splash that I never skipped was the dialogue, which is consistently funny. Each level has Mario embarking on a new comical adventure that lets players explore everything from resort beaches to giant-filled forests. I laughed heartily as Mario helped a group of ghosts throw a tea party. I giggled immaturely as Mario assisted a superheroic Toad in finding his underpants. I cackled maniacally as Mario laid waste to an entire army of Shy Guys with a star during a Coliseum battle royale. These memorable moments are scattered throughout, and easily make this one of the funniest Mario games to date.
Color Splash’s RPG elements might be paper thin, but fans of the series won’t be disappointed with this latest adventure. While the game’s combat isn’t much deeper than Mario’s paper-thin body, this plumber’s antics and colorful world are worth the price of admission.
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