Aiming to paint the town red, Mario receives a visit from Princess Peach in the middle of a stormy night. Peach goes on to elaborate that she has received a letter from Prism Island. To the shock of Mario he realises this is no letter, but a lifeless Toad that has had its entire colour sucked away. Without haste our hero sets off to Prism Island with the Princess to investigate. Paper Mario: Color Splash (Yes still color not colour in Europe too) aims to resurge the series to the once great form it had. Bringing new paint mechanics to restore the drab island yet keeping similar mechanics introduced in Sticker Star, there is some hesitance around this release and rightly so. Can a splash of paint save the day?
Before we delve deep into the review, I would like a moment to explain my history with the series. The Paper Mario series is one I hold very close to my heart. Both the original Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door I revere with the latter being one of my favourite games of all time if not the. Super Paper Mario I still find very enjoyable and rank highly, despite that we then come to Sticker Star. Due to a number of reasons including the overwhelmingly negative response, I skipped the entry altogether. I did however research enough that I am fully aware of its flaws and basically understand it is a paper cut to all our hearts. Now Color Splash arrives in an attempt to regain its once former glory; Time to find out.
Placing the disc into my console, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Remarkably as soon as the title screen loaded and the cheery music crept in my fears slowly dripped away. Within the first twenty minutes, I had already chuckled multiple times at the tremendous comedic writing on show including witnessing a Toad have its colour drained away in an almighty horror sequence worthy of Alfred Hitchcock himself. The writing is above and beyond anything I could have imagined.
Straight in you meet Huey a magical paint can here to help you restore colour to the land. Huey is delightful and unexpectedly sassy at times deserving a companion spot. Saying this I do miss the days of variety where you would meet half a dozen or so different characters that all have their own back-story to help push the story forward. In truth this is where Color Splash falls flat most. Look the humour is superb, equally on par with The Thousand Year Door, the issue is think of every unique character introduced in TTYD and replace it with a Toad and you get Color Splash. Don’t get me wrong I like a Toad as much as the next guy, still having them at the forefront for every interaction wears out.
Battle has once again been altered most resembling the Sticker Star format. This time round you collect cards and combined them with paint you find to perform attacks. The more paint invested in the card, the stronger the attack. With this keeping an eye on your paint meter is a must for strategy, though truthfully never going to be struggling to locate some. Comedy is ever-present here as well however due to being forced to look at the GamePad whilst you make your choices; you’re bound to miss some terrific one liners from enemies. The GamePad controls itself are fine after adjusting. Off-TV play looks the best it ever has due to the art style. One note please do yourself a favour and go to advance settings from the beginning, it will save you so much time. Basically you start by dragging your card to the top. Adding how much colour you want, swiping upwards then confirming and reconfirming. Going to advance skips the reconfirm altogether. Considering how much time you spend in battle I’d recommend this to everyone.
Peering in the Paper aesthetic is absolutely stunning. The graphics look so lean making every single level feel special. I have to mention when enemies get wet too, I’ve never seen wet paper look so well wet. Then we have the extraordinary and inventive “Thing Cards”. Squeezing all the colourful juice out of 3D objects gives you a “Thing Card” that can perform crazy battle mechanics. Take the lemon for instance that will burn your opponents in an acidic sour shower. My favourite by far is the plunger for how downright bonkers it is. Oh my, that sensual music is both super funny and super awkward.
These cards are not just for dishing out left, right and centre. They play a vital part once you reach a boss battle…too much in fact. Yes the biggest disappointment is the emphasis on possessing a specific card in your deck. Depending whether you have it then determines how the fight will proceed. Owning the card; you win without breaking a sweat. You don’t own the card; its borderline impossible to win. The idea is convoluted and ruins any actual thought process from the player. Are Nintendo really against the idea of a HP system returning?
The other downside is the story. If you’ve played a Mario game then you’ve experienced this story. Predictable as always Peach gets kidnapped by you know who and for the bazilyionth time you must rescue her. Really is this the best we can do? A Toad even mocks the plot! So clearly they are aware this is overused so why do it? Barring this there are the occasional twists, still nothing out of the ordinary. Puzzles are enjoyable making best use of the paper theme to show off some tremendous creativity.
Additionally outside of the main quest you do have the art gallery. Here the owner (which really should be Pennington from TTYD but is again a Toad) asks you to collect one of every card so he can complete his collection. It’s a nice incentive providing replayabillity even after completion.
Onto the music and not for a while of have I listened to a soundtrack that reeks of so much exuberance. Walking through the open plains of ruddy road, I couldn’t help grinning; though it’s not all sunshine and lollipops as the music idolizes the situation perfectly in true Paper Mario fashion of course. Whether seeing Shy Guys suck away the colour from a defenceless toad or an enormous bucket of paint traversing the paper skies, music fits the tone perfectly never outstaying its welcome.
As the final stop for the Wii U locomotive, Paper Mario: Color Splash offers a drop-dead gorgeous world that has more laughs than any other game I’ve played this year. Though the story is nothing new and “Thing Cards” are emphasized way too much, the outstanding music and clever yet sometimes bonkers battle mechanics compensate more than enough. Color Splash is a terrific title offering sheer joy from start to finish and is a worthy swan song for the Wii U.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Wii U code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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