Since moving to Illinois, as well as becoming an adult/parent, I’ve lost touch with a lot of the old friends I made when I was growing up. It happens to everybody right? If you are fortunate enough you have at least one old friendship that can withstand anything; time, distance, and just life in general. You just know that if you met up again with this person you’d be greeted with a hug, a smile and some hilarious stories.
Since gaming has been such a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember, I often find myself looking at certain games and feeling that “old friend” vibe. Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64 is one such game for me. The series as a whole honestly sends me into Good Vibe town, but the original Paper Mario is definitely the mayor.
I remember my parents bought me a big stack of used Nintendo 64 games as a Grading Day present one year and among them was that age old favorite. I still have that very cartridge in my collection.
Man, I was so impressed the first time I booted that game up. Everything was bright and colorful, adorably animated and the controls were solid… for a 64 game. The more I played the more impressed I became. The gameplay and story were both super fun and captivating. That little tweak of humor inserted into most of the dialogue was one of my favorite things. And I still feel that way about it today.
You can bet your patootie that every sequel that has been released since I’ve either bought on release day or pre ordered well in advance, once that became a thing.
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door for the GameCube was released when I was still in my penniless college days and I remember staring wistfully at the freshly filled display case in the local game store. I stood there attempting to use my newly developed college brain to work out how to turn the current $30 I had to my name into the required $60 needed to get the lady behind the counter to let me take a copy of this magnificent title home. Instead, another lady came to my rescue. It was my then girlfriend, and current wife, who uttered the sweet words, “If we pool our money together I think we could swing getting it.” And so I triumphantly walked out of the store that day, arm in arm with two of my greatest loves; my girlfriend wrapped in one arm and a shiny, new video game under the other.
As we noshed on top ramen for the rest of the week we discovered that this new Paper Mario was every bit as good as its predecessor. Heck, it even had some really fun improvements like Stylish moves and an audience during battle. Totally worth it!
Unfortunately, Super Paper Mario for the Wii, the third title in the series, is where the developers started to dovetail away from the traditional Paper Mario format and every sequel after has followed suit. The removal of some of the greatest elements like Badges and Battle Partners is a major bummer. Even the humor isn’t quite where it used to be.
Super Paper Mario, while still not a bad game by any stretch, was probably my least favorite in the series. Yes, even more than the oft downtrodden Sticker Star. I honestly liked the fourth Paper Mario and I didn’t at all mind that it was released for the 3DS. Though it was even less Paper Mario-ish than the last title, I feel that the addition of the sticker collection brought back some of the nostalgia for badge collecting.
Now, here we are in present day with the latest iteration, Color Splash for the Wii U. I saw the listing for this on Amazon last year and pre ordered the bejeezers out of it. Yes! That is totally a thing! Anyway, while there was still no sign of badges or battle partners this one was the closest to the first two Paper Marios…since well the first two Paper Marios….It was a great game and I could see myself revisiting time and time again in the future, unlike Sticker Star or even Super Paper Mario.
So, bend my ear! Do you have any “old friends” you just love pulling off the shelf time and time again?