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Backlog Twosome | Paper Mario: The Origami King

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Today we unfold the truth in this Backlog Twosome for the latest and greatest, often replicated but never duplicated edition to the anything but stationary franchise, Paper Mario: The Origami King from Nintendo! Here’s what we thought, uncut and fresh off the press!

Ah, Paper Mario! One of those franchises that will forever have the fandom of yore singing its praises and criticizing its more modern releases. For most fans it will never get any better than The Thousand Year Door, while others will argue that Super Paper Mario is where it’s at! Either way Paper Mario is a series that has seen its share of ups and downs. But where among the scale of holy grail releases and murky franchise cash grabs does the latest edition of Paper Mario: The Origami King lie? Well here at the Backlog Odyssey we played it start to finish and back again with a shiny 100% completion to round it all out. These games have long been our paper jam so let’s see what unfolds in this latest Backlog Twosome!

I was given a second hand Nintendo 64 as a gift when I was but a wee highschool youngin’. It came bundled with about 7 cartridges and one of those was Paper Mario. I had zero knowledge of the game prior and not being a huge Mario franchise fan girl I was definitely skeptical. I popped the cart in anyway and very quickly found my teenage brain suspended in a land of colorful, adorable, not just another Mario platformer, bliss! I’ve held that game in high esteem ever since. The franchise has departed from its much beloved roots over the years, but honestly I can’t say I’ve ever really played a “bad” Paper Mario game.

I can proudly say that I have a storied and rich history with the Paper Mario franchise! By that I mean I’ve played them all! And for the most part, I’ve loved every single one of them. Short of maybe Sticker Star, the Paper Mario series has always delivered fun and engaging experiences that were filled with humor, light hearted and silly dialog and exciting gameplay that was perfect for Mario fans of all ages, even if you weren’t the biggest fan of RPGs.

However, since Nintendo decided that Paper Mario needed to be a hot bed of innovations, I’ve been waiting for the franchise to grab hold of me like it used to. And that was my primary hope for The Origami King!

You know what? Even though Origami King is still missing some of the mechanics that we’ve all grown to love from the Paper Mario franchise, like light RPG progression, partners and badges, I think that The Origami King is a fantastic example of capturing what made the Paper Mario games special. The dialog is wonderful and probably the funniest the series has been. The exploration is super satisfying especially when you’re trying to find all of the hidden Toads. I do still miss the standard RPG battle system from the earlier titles, but the latest edition is engaging and unique!

Fans have been repeatedly asking for the return of experience gain and battle partners since Super Paper Mario and while The Origami King didn’t have either of those, per se, we did get to see vestiges at least. Certain areas during the game you got to have a temporary partner who occasionally helped in battles. And while there was no experience gain during the game, you did receive an increase in stats whenever you found a max HP up heart. Maybe just maybe we’ll see a Paper Mario in the future that will live up to the initial entries into the series, but for now the new mechanics in each new game are still exciting to see.

I think The Origami King was a solid entry into the franchise and while EXP and partners would be nice of course, I really do miss all the fun badges and having lots of different ways to attack and defend. Also cooking with Tayce T. and Zess. T was one of my favorite things. It added the extra charm of discovering new ingredients and dishes every time you went to a new area. I would absolutely love to see both of those things make a comeback. 

Upon starting The Origami King I worried that the puzzle based battle style would get old and frustrating really fast but I was surprised to see it ended up keeping things interesting. Lining up the enemies in a particular order to gain a damage boost added some extra complexity to a system that can often get stale in the later game. I would love to see something in the same vein in future games.

That being said, if I could change one thing it probably would be the battle system. Although I enjoyed the puzzle solving nature of it’s setup, I found that the more and more you played it, the more tedious it became. Using the ring system, and having to solve its puzzle by aligning the enemies in groups meant you couldn’t just mash your way through. I think a great compromise would have been to just implement these battle types to the bosses, and left a more standard turn based RPG system for the moment to moment battles.

On the flip side, I really did love the exploration of The Origami King and would love to see it expanded upon in future titles. Finding the Toads, Hidden Blocks and Treasure was so rewarding and inspired me to 100% all of the collectibles once we beat the game! I think it could only be made better with the addition of more environmental puzzles!

This is probably the easiest question to answer, because I 100% recommend you check out Paper Mario The Origami King! Especially if you’re a fan of the Paper Mario franchise in general! Origami King may not be a classical Paper Mario, but it more than makes up for that with charm, unique mechanics, hilarious dialog and a world you just can’t help but smile about! That and it’s a wonderful experience that’s perfect for all ages.

I would definitely recommend Paper Mario: The Origami King, especially to someone who is looking for something that is closer to the earlier games. The Paper Mario games have always been great games for all-ages and even my own son had a great time playing this with us. He did find the puzzle/battle system a little intimidating which definitely held him back from playing when it was his turn, but once mom or dad helped him out it was all fun again! So, for a younger audience I would say the difficulty has increased with this new mechanic, but it’s still a great game to play together!

We’ve always loved playing these games as a family and although we’ve encountered some less than stellar editions in our beloved franchise, it’s been fun seeing what new things each one brings to the table. It’s also been a lot of fun seeing these series again for the first time through our son’s eyes. The Origami King will be no exception here. We all very much enjoyed our time with this game and I can certainly see us revisiting it sometime in the near future. 

So, I think it’s safe to say that according to these two long time fans, Paper Mario: The Origami King gets high recommendations. And even a great big thumbs up from the littlest backlogger! You can’t ask for a better endorsement than that!