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Paper Mario

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Paper Mario
Developer(s)Intelligent Systems
Director(s)Ryota Kawade
Toshitaka Muramatsu
Takahiro Ogi
Hironobu Suzuki
Producer(s)Shigeru Miyamoto
Kenji Miki
Programmer(s)Kenji Nakajima
Kaoru Kita
Artist(s)Naohiko Aoyama
Writer(s)Kumiko Takeda
Kaori Aoki
Composer(s)Yuka Tsujiyoko
Taishi Senda
SeriesPaper Mario
Platform(s)Nintendo 64, iQue Player
ReleaseNintendo 64
  • JP: August 11, 2000
  • NA: February 5, 2001
  • WW: October 5, 2001
iQue Player
  • CHN: June 8, 2004

Paper Mario[a] is a role-playing video game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 home video game console. The first game in the Paper Mario series of Mario role-playing games, it was first released in Japan in 2000 and then internationally in 2001. Paper Mario was re-released for Nintendo's Wii Virtual Console in July 2007 as well as Wii U Virtual Console in 2015.

Paper Mario is set in the Mushroom Kingdom as the protagonist Mario tries to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser, who has imprisoned the seven "Star Spirits", lifted her castle into the sky and has defeated Mario after stealing the Star Rod from Star Haven and making himself invincible. To save the Mushroom Kingdom, rescue Peach, get the castle back, and defeat Bowser, Mario must locate the Star Spirits, who can negate the effects of the stolen Star Rod, by defeating Bowser's minions guarding the star spirits. The player controls Mario and a number of partners to solve puzzles in the game's overworld and defeat enemies in a turn-based battle system. The battles are unique in that the player can influence the effectiveness of attacks by performing required controller inputs known as "action commands".

Paper Mario received acclaim and was rated the 63rd best game made on a Nintendo system in Nintendo Power's "Top 200 Games" list in 2006.[1] It was followed by a series of sequels, starting with Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door for the GameCube in 2004.


Mario and one of his partners, Parakarry, walking through Toad Town. The game's visuals feature two-dimensional character cut-out designs contained within three-dimensional backgrounds.

Paper Mario combines traditional role-playing game (RPG) elements with concepts and features from the Mario series.[2][3] For the majority of the game, the player controls Mario, who can jump and use his hammer to overcome physical obstacles placed in the game's overworld. Many of the game's puzzles and boundaries are based upon the abilities of Mario's partners, who each have a specialized skill required for progression in the game.[4] The player accumulates partners as they advance into different locations; only one partner can accompany Mario in the overworld, although the player can interchange them at any time.

These characters also assist Mario in the game's turn-based battles, where damage inflicted against them results in temporary paralysis as the characters do not have individual HP statistics.[5] Attacks in the game are similar to those in traditional RPGs, although the player can influence the power of a move when attacking or defending by timing a button-press accurately or performing some other action command as required.[6] Mario and his partners have a finite capacity to perform special moves, with each of these consuming a particular number of flower points (FP) when performed. Such statistics can be increased by earning Star Points (experience points) in combat to level up.[3] There is also an on-screen gauge to display Star Energy, which is required to perform another type of move that accumulates in number as the player advances through the game. The player can locate hidden battle upgrades in the game's overworld, which promotes one partner character to a new rank at a time.[5]

Progression through Paper Mario depends upon interaction with the game's non-player characters (NPCs), who would often offer clues or detail the next event in the storyline. As in other RPGs, the player can find or purchase items from NPCs to help in and outside of combat.[3] Badges can also be obtained that yield bonuses ranging from added moves to gradual health restoration during combat; each consumes a set number of Badge Points (BP), meaning Mario can only equip a limited number of badges at a time.[6] Princess Peach is playable at particular points in the game as a recurring sidequest.[3] The objectives and actions of each transition to Peach vary, although most are stealth-based.

Plot and setting[edit]

Set in the Mushroom Kingdom, the game begins when Mario and Luigi receive an invitation from Peach for a party at the castle. There, when Mario and Peach are alone, Bowser lifts her castle, overpowers Mario with his invincibilty that he gained by stealing the Star Rod and imprisoning the seven Star Spirits; Mario is thrown away from the castle in the sky and lands in Goomba Village, where he is aided by Goombario and his family. Mario and Goombario make their way to Shooting Star Summit, where the weakened seven Star Spirits' request Mario to find them in order to stop Bowser's invincibility. Mario and his friends go to the four Koopa Bros.' fortress where they save the first Star Spirit. and they find the second one in the Dry, Dry Desert inside a secret fortress ruled over by Tutankoopa. The third one is being kept by Tubba Bubba, a nemesis scaring the Boos and eating them when he is "invincible" (his heart is his true weak point). The fourth one is kept by the General Guy and his minions living in the Toy Box. Mario and his new friends travel to Lavalava Land, an island where its inhabitants are threatened by an upcoming volcanic eruption. After saving the fifth Spirit, they journey to Flower Fields retrieving the sixth one. Mario becomes a suspect of murder when he finds the Shiver City's mayor unconsious; after solving the mystery (which was a mayor's own accident), Mario got to the Crystal Palace where he saves the last Star Spirit from the Crystal King. As he saved every Star Spirit, Mario then departs to Peach's Castle.

Meanwhile, Peach tries in numerous attempts to escape the castle alongside Twink. The player controls Peach in a variety of minigames each time after Mario save a Star Spirit, such as baking a cake to a Shy Guy or even clone the appareance of Bowser's minions with a magic umbrella. Each ganeplay segment with Peach, she overhears Bowser speaking about the bosses Mario beats before being discovered and being transported to her room again.

Mario enters the castle and confronts Bowser; with the power of the seven Star Sprites, Mario manage to beat Bowser by stopping his invicibilty while Peach and Twink battles Bowser's sidekick Kammy Koopa. Mario and Peach alongsides their friends eventually win over Bowser and Kammy. The Star Spirits restore the castle to its spot. On another day, Mario and Luigi receives a letter for another party, which lead to a parade as the game's credits rolls.

Story and characters[edit]

The game's story centers on Mario as he tries to reclaim the seven Star Spirits, who have been sealed in playing cards by Bowser and his assistant, Kammy Koopa.[5] Their combined power is required to negate the effects of the Star Rod, which makes Bowser invincible. Once Mario rescues all of them, he uses their assistance to defeat Bowser and rescue Peach. The story is presented in the context of a novel, with each adventure involving the rescue of a Star Spirit denoted as a single chapter. Peach is playable between chapters, where she allies with a star kid named Twink in the castle to relay vital information to Mario regarding his quest.[3]

Mario allies with eight partners in total, each of whom represents a different type of enemy from the Mario franchise. These allies are:

  • Goombario, a Goomba who has the ability to tell the player about any character, environment, and enemy
  • Kooper, a Koopa Troopa with the ability to throw his shell at otherwise unreachable objects
  • Bombette, a Bob-omb with the ability to blow up weak parts of walls
  • Parakarry, a Paratroopa with the ability to help Mario cross gaps too large to jump across
  • Lady Bow, a Boo with the ability to make Mario become invisible and transparent
  • Watt, a Li'l Sparky with the ability to light up rooms and reveal hidden objects
  • Sushie, a Cheep-Cheep with the ability to allow Mario to swim
  • Lakilester, a Lakitu with the ability to allow Mario to traverse dangerous environments, such as spikes and lava.

After Peach's castle is sent back to the ground and Mario defeats Bowser, he recounts his tale to Luigi, who had remained at home while Mario went on the adventure. Peach throws a huge party to honor Mario and his allies for saving the entire kingdom, which is then followed by a parade during the credits.


Paper Mario was developed by Intelligent Systems. Kumiko Takeda and Kaori Aoki wrote the game's script, while Naohiko Aoyama was the art director responsible for the game's distinctive graphical style.[7] The game was initially called Super Mario RPG 2, was slated for release on the 64DD,[8] and was first revealed at Nintendo Space World '97, a former video game trade show hosted by Nintendo. Critics compared the game's 2D character style to PaRappa the Rapper. Shigeru Miyamoto, who consulted on the project, stated that the game was being developed with amateur gamers in mind.[9] He had earlier revealed at E3 that around twenty developers were actively involved with the project.[10] Paper Mario was re-released on the Wii Virtual Console in 2007, and the Wii U Virtual Console in 2015.[11] The game was also released for the iQue Player in 2004.[12][13]


The game's soundtrack was first released in Japan on September 21, 2000, with the game's original title by Enterbrain, and distributed by the magazine Famitsu.[14][15] It was followed in the United States a few months later as a Nintendo Power exclusive with the illustration from the international game cover. It included both the original music to the game, as well as sound effects, in 78 tracks on two discs. All of the game's compositions were written by Yuka Tsujiyoko, with a reprised arrangement of previous Super Mario themes by Koji Kondo.[14] The game's other event and sound effects music were composed by Taishi Senda.[15] The game's music mostly received positive reviews, with Lucas M. Thomas of IGN describing it as "vividly appointed with catchy, expressive tunes and comical audio cues."[16]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Aggregate score
(15 reviews)[17]
Review scores
Next Generation5/5 stars[20]
Nintendo Life10/10[21]

Paper Mario received critical acclaim. IGN's Matt Casamassina praised the game's accessibility, commenting that "it serves as the perfect introductory game to any person hoping to explore the genre".[6] Nonetheless, other reviewers complained about the "brain-dead easy" puzzles and bosses requiring "basic strategy at best".[4] The game's nostalgic value was lauded, with reviewers noting the sense of familiarity with the Mario series present in the game's settings and characters.[3][6] The game has often been compared to the previous Mario RPG title, Super Mario RPG. Eurogamer's Tom Bramwell judged that "Paper Mario is a vastly superior game to SMRPG",[2] while IGN compared the game's simple plot unfavourably with the SNES game and RPGFan claimed that some of Paper Mario's story was copied from it.[6] RPGFan also questioned the name of Paper Mario, as there were, in their opinion, insufficient gameplay features or aspects which used the paper theme to justify the name.[5]

Critics lauded the game's blend of RPG and platforming aspects.[2][3] GameSpot noted the "exciting and somewhat strategic" battle system, which requires the player exploit the enemies' weak points.[3] The "refreshing" action command features was praised in particular for adding originality to a battle formula that was present in many games of the same genre.[6] IGN claimed the game was "the best RPG for Nintendo 64", calling it "fantastically deep, intuitively designed, and wonderfully rewarding".[6] Despite this, enemy design itself was bemoaned for being "corny and generic", with notable exceptions to some of the Paper Mario's original boss characters.[5] Eurogamer noted how "Of the various characters you meet, none is of less importance than any other", welcoming the partner characters and their relating puzzles.[2] GameSpot praised the game's use of humour and side quests, with references to the control of Peach in particular.[3]

The reaction to the game's visuals was generally positive. IGN noted some paper-based visual effects such as when Mario folds in a bed to sleep, but complained about character zoom-ins, which revealed "a pixelated mass of colors".[6] Although reviewers claimed that the novel graphical style was initially confusing, most welcomed the style eventually,[2] with GameSpot claiming that it was "extremely well done".[3] The audio was also mainly praised, although reviewers criticised the lack of voice acting and character-specific sound effects.[3][6] RPGFan were particularly critical of the game's "generic filler music", despite enjoying use of multiple songs simultaneously.[5]

Chester Barber reviewed the Nintendo 64 version of the game for Next Generation, rating it five stars out of five, and stated that "One of the best RPGs ever, and definitely the best RPG available for Nintendo 64. Even if you've only been buying games for newer systems, this is a must-buy."[20]

The game was also well received upon release for the Virtual Console, with IGN's Lucas M. Thomas stating "it's held up very well even placed into context against its GameCube and Wii era sequels, and it's an RPG for goodness sakes".[16] Paper Mario also proved popular on the Virtual Console, reaching a high of "second most downloaded game" in the US in August 2007.[22]

Paper Mario was the top selling game in Japan on the week of its release, selling more than 276,000 copies,[23] and the top-selling game for two weeks in other regions.[24] It was ranked #141 on Electronic Gaming Monthly's "Greatest 200 Videogames of their Time" in February 2006,[25] the 63rd best game made on a Nintendo system in Nintendo Power's "Top 200 Games" list,[1] and the 13th greatest Nintendo 64 game of all time by the same magazine.[26] It currently ranks as the sixth-highest scoring Nintendo 64 game on Metacritic,[27] the ninth highest rated video game of 2001,[28] and the highest-scoring Nintendo 64 game released that year.[29]


  1. ^ a b Michaud, Pete (January 2006). "NP Top 200". Nintendo Power. 199: 42–43.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Bramwell, Tom (2001-02-05). "Eurogamer: Paper Mario review". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2008-10-18.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Stahl, Ben (2001-02-05). "GameSpot: Paper Mario review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2013-08-19. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
  4. ^ a b Tidwell, Mikel. "RPGamer—Paper Mario". RPGamer. Archived from the original on 2017-08-31. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "RPGFan—Paper Mario". RPGFan. Archived from the original on 2008-09-07. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Casamassina, Matt (2001-02-05). "Paper Mario review". IGN. Archived from the original on 2009-09-08. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
  7. ^ "Game Credits for Paper Mario". MobyGames. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2006-03-18.
  8. ^ "In Development". Next Generation. No. 29. Imagine Media. May 1997. p. 58. Archived from the original on 2019-02-16. Retrieved 2018-08-23. The original Super NES game was programmed by Square, but the Nintendo 64 version will be handled, amid some controversy, by Nintendo in-house.
  9. ^ "Mario RPG is for the Kids". IGN. 1997-11-21. Archived from the original on 2012-08-05. Retrieved 2006-03-18.
  10. ^ Imamura, Takao; Miyamoto, Shigeru (1997). Nintendo Power August 1997 - Pak Watch E3 Report "The Game Masters". Nintendo. pp. 104–105.
  11. ^ "VC Monday: 07/16/07". IGN. 2007-07-17. Archived from the original on 2009-09-08. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
  12. ^ "Paper Mario". IGN. Archived from the original on 2007-12-12. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
  13. ^ "iQue Ltd". Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2015-10-30.
  14. ^ a b "Paper Mario, album info". Square Enix Music Online. Archived from the original on 2012-04-09. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
  15. ^ a b "Paper Mario, Album Stats". Video Game Music Database. Archived from the original on 2012-06-17. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
  16. ^ a b Thomas, Lucas M. (2007-07-20). "Paper Mario (Virtual Console) review". IGN. Archived from the original on 2009-03-17. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
  17. ^ "Metacritic—Paper Mario". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 2010-11-25. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
  18. ^ "Game Rankings: Paper Mario". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 2008-09-07. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
  19. ^ ニンテンドウ64 - マリオストーリー. Weekly Famitsu. No.915 Pt.2. Pg.30. June 30, 2006.
  20. ^ a b Barber, Chester (May 2001). "Finals". Next Generation. Vol. 4 no. 5. Imagine Media. p. 85.
  21. ^ "Paper Mario N64 review". 13 July 2007. Archived from the original on 2 May 2015. Retrieved July 13, 2007.
  22. ^ "Popular Virtual Console games". Wii Fanboy. 2007-08-08. Archived from the original on 2008-09-13. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
  23. ^ "Nintendo Dominates Japanese Charts". IGN. 2000-08-18. Archived from the original on 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2006-03-14.
  24. ^ "Mario stays on top". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2017-12-25. Retrieved 2015-10-30.
  25. ^ "The Greatest 200 Videogames of Their Time". Archived from the original on 2015-06-29. Retrieved 2015-10-30.
  26. ^ "Best of the Best". Nintendo Power. 231: 70–78. August 2008.
  27. ^ "Advanced Search at Metacritic - Metacritic". Retrieved 2015-10-30.
  28. ^ "Advanced Search at Metacritic - Metacritic". Retrieved 2015-10-30.
  29. ^ "Advanced Search at Metacritic - Metacritic". Retrieved 2015-10-30.


  1. ^ Known in Japan as Mario Story (Japanese: マリオストーリー, Hepburn: Mario Sutōrī)

External links[edit]