Reviews - Updated on April 15, 2022

Relevant for the platform: Wii U

The Wii U life cycle ended quickly – with a 99.9% chance, Paper Mario: Color Splash will be the console’s last major exclusive. And there is some symbolism in the fact that Nintendo’s home console, gray in terms of popularity and library, ends with such a bright and beautiful game.Paper Mario: Color Splash game review

Islands of Blossom will last thirty to forty hours of colorful (in every sense) adventure.

paper world

Those for whom the visual part is above all can throw caps into the air: you have received an amazing generator of beautiful screenshots for the Miiverse social network and, perhaps, the most stylish picture in the history of the platform. Only a few exclusives have passed me by, but neither Bayonetta 2, nor Super Mario 3D World, nor even Xenoblade Chronicles X create a constant desire to replenish the album of screenshots. Here, every landscape is a ready-made scene for wallpaper on your desktop.

Although the action takes place on an island, it is large enough to accommodate the rusty Wild West, tropical beaches in shades of yellow and blue, and dark purple caves with gloomy castles. And everything seems to be made of thin paper or thick multi-layered cardboard and even hand-painted. The paper world tells a story that is not a book story at all – rather, at the level of fairy tales-dioramas for the smallest.

On the island of Blossoming, someone is sucking paint out of the natives, and the magic stars that give this paint have been stolen. Mario, in company with assistant Vederkin, must find them, and at some point, Princess Peach as well. Original? Doubly not, because exactly the same structure was already in Paper Mario: Sticker Star – with the search for artifacts, a princess and a companion. Fortunately, the dialogues are no longer written for kids, they are translated into Russian and will make those who know the history of the series smile.

Scenes of island life

I started with dialogues as part of the gameplay for a reason. Because Color Splash is quite a bit of a platformer, only a role-playing game in some places, and most of all an adventure game. And let the global map be divided into levels, where sometimes you will have to jump and break bricks, and battles with opponents are conducted in turn-based mode and allow you to develop the abilities of a flat hero. But this is not the main thing.

The main thing is history. On the levels, Mario meets local residents – Toads. Basically, they are drawn in the same way and differ only in colors and individual elements of the costumes. This is a hack, because even in the twelve-year-old Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door, third-rate heroes looked different. Be that as it may, the population of Blossom is mired in problems, and it is up to the player to deal with them. The puzzles are simple and usually require you to talk to the right character or find an item that solves a riddle.

Paper Mario: Color Splash game review

In addition to bright and cheerful places, there are dull and gloomy ones. But they can be colored!

But often simplicity, as the saying goes, turns into its bad side. For example, when it is not clear where the thing or character is located, which are key to promotion. So, already at one of the starting stages, you need to collect several items of clothing for a naked mushroom man. And if the shoes and pants hang in prominent places and contrast well with the background, then the thin leaf of the vest is barely noticeable – I spent thirty to forty minutes trying to find it. And without an outfit, you can’t pick up one of the paint stars and move to another location. And even at the already completed stage, someone may appear, allowing you to go further.

But here’s how to find this Mr. Incognito – we’re not always told. For those who don’t want to run around looking for a needle in a haystack, the starting town of Tsvetomorsk has a toad in a cafe that gives clues, a feeble attempt to salvage the illogical plot lines. And while the scenes of island life themselves are well done, calling Color Splash a great representative of the adventure genre is a lie.

Application lessons

Also inconspicuous passages on the levels are angry. Want to jump to the star, but can’t get on a series of platforms? Yes, here is a narrow path between two hills! Or is the entrance to the cave blocked? In fact, you need to go inside the descending platform, which – how can you miss it! – there is no one wall. Both cases show that here we must look carefully and take our time.

Sometimes the problem of navigation is solved more gracefully, using the controller’s touch screen. In specially designated places, a piece of scenery can be cut out to guide Mario to the goal. The decision is funny, because these places must be sought. But usually a simple rule applies: if you don’t know where to go, look for an opportunity to cut.

Sometimes, instead of a plumber, a special item card is inserted into the removed parts of the Blossom. Everything here is standard for adventure games: someone is stuck in the pipe – we insert a plunger, you need to drive away the boat that has run aground – we use a fan. And special cards are obtained from large and voluminous items that occasionally appear on the stages.

Paper Mario: Color Splash game review

Twin Toads: laziness, haste, or an artistic device?

Hammer Guy

Other cards are more interesting. Those that are much more in the hero’s arsenal and are used in battle. From the very beginning, the plumber will receive a painting hammer, and over time, the arsenal will expand. Having met the enemy, we go into a turn-based mode, just like in a JRPG. A whole deck pops out on the bottom screen, where each card is responsible for its attack or the summoned partner. And any leaf can be painted, making the reception stronger.

The choice is wide, there is scope for tactics (although it is not really needed in ordinary battles), but everything is implemented not very conveniently. You need to scroll the deck, confirm actions several times, use “swipe” – all for one or two attacks. The system inherited from Sticker Star, of course, justifies the presence of a second screen, but it makes little sense.

To make it even more interesting, the evil wizard Kamek periodically intervenes in the matter, turning all Mario’s abilities into “Ragged Shoes”, that is, the weakest jumping attacks, or even taking away ninety percent of the accumulated. Fortunately, the arsenal returns to its normal state immediately after the victory, and replenishing it at normal times is a breeze: cards drop directly from enemies and filled white spots.

Last drop of paint

Still defeated opponents leave behind coins, drops of paint and small cardboard hammers. With the first and second, everything is clear: money is spent on combat techniques, paint is needed to restore the island and strengthen attacks. But the hammers increase the supply of paint, even if they need to be collected fairly. There is no level system familiar to role-playing games here: health increases along with progress when you find key stars.

There are not very many battles, you can escape from most of the coupes and modest ones, there are almost no serious enemies at all – the role-playing component is clearly behind the adventure. This is good for the general mood – if there were a little more RPG here, it would interfere with the leisurely pace. Plus, nothing distracts from the beautiful picture on the screen.

Paper Mario: Color Splash game review

In battle, it is important to press the block or attack boost buttons in time.

***

A little more symbolism: the last big Wii U exclusive can be described with the same words as the console on which it came out. Both the Color Splash and the outdated console seem to be made with high quality, but without much zest and, in addition, with a bunch of oddities and minor problems. As a result, neither one nor the other became great, they will not occupy the most important place on the fan shelf and they will no longer be able to attract new people to Nintendo products. Because they are intended for the nostalgic – those who still remember the adventure genre and are ready for a leisurely pace with role-playing splashes.

Pros: phenomenal graphics, stylized paper; funny situations and good humor; an interesting combination of adventure, role-playing game and platformer.
Cons: illogical construction of the plot and levels sometimes makes you not think, but just get lost; the touch screen in combat is not very convenient.

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