Paper Mario: Color Splash
|Paper Mario: Color Splash|
Packaging artwork, depicting Mario using his paint hammer
Paper Mario: Color Splash[a] is a 2016 action-adventure role-playing video game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the Wii U. It is the fifth game in the Paper Mario series, the sequel to Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and the final Wii U game developed by Intelligent Systems. The story follows the protagonist, Mario, on his quest to retrieve the Big Paint Stars and rescue Princess Peach.
The idea for a paint-themed game came from Atsushi Isano, the director of production for Intelligent Systems. The game was developed to take advantage of the Wii U hardware, including the GamePad, touchscreen and high-definition capabilities. The developing team implemented a card-based battle system because they thought it would be fun to use the GamePad to sort and flick cards. The artists heavily focused on making the in-game paper look as realistic as possible. The game was released in all regions in October 2016.
Color Splash received generally positive reception from critics, with many praising the game's graphics, soundtrack and improved dialogue. However, the combat system and lack of character variety were criticized.
Color Splash has elements of both action-adventure and role-playing genres. The game uses flat three-dimensional models, as in previous Paper Mario games, and a world made of craft materials and fabrics similar to Sticker Star. The game is controlled with the Wii U GamePad.
The majority of the game is split into two segments: exploration and combat. While exploring, players are free to collect cards, talk to non-player characters, consult Huey for assistance, solve puzzles, complete platforming challenges, save the game at certain points, and paint colorless spots.
Players traverse levels through a world map. The goal of each level is to reach the Mini Paint Star. Upon reaching a Mini Paint Star for the first time, the player unlocks a path, allowing them to access new stages. There are multiple Mini Paint Stars in some levels.
On occasion, the player must race a gray Shy Guy called the Shy Bandit around the map to a specific level. The Shy Bandit will attempt to drain color from the level. If successful, any spots in the level revert to their colorless state. If the player reaches the level before the Shy Bandit, the player is rewarded with 300 coins. If the player reaches the level after the Shy Bandit but before it drains all color from the level, they enter a normal battle with the Shy Bandit.
New to Color Splash is the paint hammer, which can fill in colorless spots found throughout the world. It requires paint to use. Paint comes in red, blue, and yellow varieties, and can be obtained by striking objects with the hammer. The type of area the player is filling in determines the color and amount of paint used. The player can increase their paint capacity by collecting hammer scraps.
Players can use a new ability called "cutout" to reach otherwise inaccessible areas in levels. To use the ability, the player traces a dotted line on the GamePad's touchscreen, causing part of the environment to peel off.
Combat and cards
If the player collides with an enemy while exploring, the player will fight them. Depending on how the player collided with the enemy, the player or the enemy may be able to attack immediately. The combat system in Color Splash is a turn-based role-playing game battle system. The player's possible attacks are represented by cards the player can either collect from levels or defeated enemies, or purchase from shops with the in-game currency of coins. Players can hold a maximum of 99 cards. Cards can be used to attack enemies, prevent damage or heal Mario, and can be painted to increase their strength. Cards range from basic jump and hammer attacks to 'Thing' cards which resemble real-world objects such as a fire extinguisher. The type of card determines the amount and color of paint to use. Players choose, paint and sort cards with the GamePad's touchscreen. Enemy attacks cause the player to take damage. If the player loses all their HP, it will result in a game over. If the player defeats all active enemies, the player returns to the level and rewarded with a random assortment of coins, cards, paint, and hammer scraps.
On random occasions, Kamek will appear and restrict the player during a battle, with an increased reward if the player completes the challenge. In these challenges, the player cannot flee the battle and the player's cards will be negatively affected.
Mario and Princess Peach receive a letter from Prism Island, which they discover is a color-drained Toad. They sail to Prism Island with another Toad to investigate. Upon arriving at Port Prisma, the three travelers find the town deserted and notice colorless spots and objects. The central fountain is dry and missing its famed Big Paint Stars. A vault appears in the fountain, containing a paint can. After Mario tries to open it, the can is revealed to be Huey, Prisma Fountain's guardian. Huey explains the fountain is usually powered by six Big Paint Stars, which supply the island with infinite paint. He asks Mario to help recover them. While Mario is scouting the island, Peach is kidnapped by Bowser.
Mario traverses six areas to retrieve the Big Paint Stars while helping the local Toads and fighting various enemies, including the Koopalings, who serve as bosses. As Mario collects the Big Paint Stars, they incrementally reveal their memories of the attack on Port Prisma. Once Mario recovers all six Big Paint Stars, they reveal Bowser attempted to dye his shell using the Prisma Fountain, but inadvertently created black paint, a toxic substance which possessed him and transformed him into Black Bowser. He proceeded to steal the Big Paint Stars and drain the color from Prism Island.
With the help of Luigi and the Big Paint Stars, Mario and Huey reach Black Bowser's Castle. They discover he is mass-producing weaponized black paint, aiming to paint the world black. Mario and Huey halt the factory's operations, defeat Black Bowser, and rescue Peach. The factory's destruction causes the castle to fall apart. Peach, Mario and Luigi escape, but Huey stays to stop the black paint and absorbs the castle. Huey flies into space, taking the black paint far away from Prism Island. In a post-credits scene, if the player has filled certain requirements, Huey falls back into Prisma Fountain.
In an interview with Game Informer, producer Kensuke Tanabe explained that the idea of repainting the world originally came from director of production Atsushi Ikuno in 2012. Ikuno was inspired by his children having fun while coloring. According to Tanabe, a lot of trial and error was required before coloring with a hammer felt comfortable. The game's art style was achieved by using different types and textures of paper for different environments. The artists investigated different types and textures of paper to create appropriate visuals. Tanabe believed the artists had created a high-quality representation of a beach. Tanabe stated the game did not use a typical role-playing game system (focused on combat) but instead focused on puzzle-solving, although noted paint capacity changed over time as the player collected hammer scraps and was thus a form of 'leveling'. The combat system was developed to create controls only possible on the Wii U. Responding to criticism of the lack of character variety, Tanabe explained that Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, asked the developers to make the game with only Mario characters. Tanabe explained that many expressions and jokes differed depending on the language (for example, a joke referencing Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels was changed for the Japanese script).
Co-producer Risa Tabata was interviewed by USGamer and explained that because the Wii U hardware was more powerful than previous Nintendo consoles such as the Nintendo 3DS, the artists were able to make realistic in-game paper. The GamePad's larger touchscreen allowed the developers to implement the card-based battle system so it could be controlled directly from the screen; this was not possible in Sticker Star, as the 3DS's touchscreen was too small. Another new feature introduced in Color Splash was a camera that followed the player in 3D, although the developers eschewed multiplayer and Miiverse capabilities in favour of a good single-player experience. Tabata also explained that cards were limited to make players think strategically.
The game was available for pre-purchase on the Nintendo eShop on September 22, 2016. However, it was quickly discovered Nintendo of America had accidentally made the full game available, two weeks before its intended launch date. Nintendo later pulled the pre-load option from the North American eShop, but people who downloaded the game were able to keep their copies.
Upon its reveal, Color Splash received negative reception from some fans of the series, who criticized the game for its similarity to Sticker Star. Soon after the announcement of Color Splash, a petition on Change.org was created calling for the game's cancellation. Nick Pino of TechRadar called the petition, "a frightening example of how quickly, and harshly, we judge games we know next to nothing about." Kate Gray, also from TechRadar, thought the game seemed focused on collectibles rather than plot. Stephen Totilo of Kotaku said that "the Paper Mario series is in the midst of an identity crisis" and that it "faced redundancy" because it was one of two Mario role-playing series (the other being Mario & Luigi). When questioned about Color Splash's genre at E3 2016, Tabata indicated that it was an action-adventure game.
Upon release, Color Splash received "generally positive" reception, according to review aggregator Metacritic. Reviewers praised the art style and soundtrack. Nintendo Life’s Conor McMahon said “Prism Island was always a joy to explore, with diverse environments and an endless amount of catchy tunes to keep you engaged from start to finish”, while Ben Reeves of Game Informer commented “Every inch of these environments looks as if they tumbled out of an art supply store”. Eurogamer’s Alex Dale said that scenes had “a dioramic quality that makes you want to pick them up like a snowglobe and look at them from every angle”.
Reviewers criticised the combat system and the removal of levelling systems that appeared in previous Paper Mario games. Dan Ryckert of Giant Bomb disliked the circular nature of the combat, commenting “You fight by playing single-use cards. If you win, you’re rewarded with coins. You use coins to...buy more cards. With that system in place, why would anyone ever want to encounter an enemy in the field?”. Other critics described the system as slow and simplistic: Polygon’s Caty McCarthy said it “felt like a chore” while Alex Jones of GamesRadar singled out the GamePad interface as cumbersome. Alex Dale commented that Kamek’s random interference in battles was irritating. Several reviewers disliked the lack of levelling systems. Reeves said that combat was aimless without them. Kotaku’s Keza MacDonald said Thing cards were a cool gameplay feature, but IGN’s Terri Schwartz described them as bad when used as a “win button” for boss battles. McCarthy and McMahon agreed that Roshambo temples were essentially money farms. The new Cutout ability was criticised as poorly implemented and annoying.
Color Splash was IGN's 2016 Wii U Game of the Year.
- Paper Mario: Color Splash (ペーパーマリオ カラースプラッシュ Pēpā Mario: Karā Supurasshu)
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