Paper Mario Color Splash further continues the trend away from the traditional RPG gameplay seen in past installments for more focus on the gimmicks, yet still produces a fun experience. With a new combat system, gameplay mechanics, and extremely realistic 3d objects Color Splash stands out from previous Paper Mario games. Does Color Splash return to consoles paint the perfect picture to be worth the purchase?
Color Splash follows a paper-thin Mario and intelligent paint can named Huey to restore the stolen color to Prism Island. To do so they must stop the straw wielding Shy Guys, and who they’re working for (keeping it spoiler-free) and reclaim the sacred Six Paint Stars. The concept of the story, while bland and similar to past Paper Mario games, does have numerous redeeming factors that make the story worth playing. The characters are hilarious with the Shy Guys running around with straws slurping the paint out of everything, various Toads with different attributes that help them stand out *cough* Justice Toad *cough*, and just overall humorous scenarios.
Mario is given a “paint hammer” that is used to paint in the colorless Prism Island. The use of the hammer is used quite a bit throughout the game whether you’re restoring color to a waterfall to resume the flow of water, or re-coloring a mail toad, the hammer is key. When running low on paint Mario can restore his colors by bashing in trees and plants so expect to hammer just about everything; which does end up getting quite tiresome, but nevertheless fun. When it comes to combat, Color Splash pulls many mechanics from Sticker Star; this time trading in stickers for cards.
If you’re like us, you probably asked why cards, and what they have to do with paint. The cards naturally come colorless, and when painted become more powerful. Cards come in three different forms battle cards (your standard attacks such as head stomps and hammer strikes), enemy cards (which summons enemies to fight by your side as an ally), and my personal favorite Thing Cards (summons giant, and extremely realistic, objects to attack with). While the combat is fun and comical, many of the battles can be won with colorless battle cards with ease.
As we stated before, Color Splash further moves the Paper Mario games from the RPG gameplay that fans loved to more of an adventure/ platformer; so expect to traverse the environment more than battle. Thanks to beautifully designed levels, and a high level of detail in the appearance of the environment, and the platforming becomes more of a joy instead of a task. One of the key tools to overcoming many of the obstacles is the new cutout feature which allows you to cut out parts of the environment to move across. While this feature is funny, and a new interesting idea, you’ll find yourself running around mashing x looking for a cutout location a lot.
Paper Mario Color Splash provides a hilarious and fun experience that further looks to change the series’ image. While the story is rather paper-thin and combat (while fun) needs some further enhancements, the humor and vibrant environments will keep you coloring until the very end.
*Complementary copy of the game was provided by the developer for review purposes.