In recent years, the Paper Mario franchise has been in a bit of a state of flux. Because while the franchise started off amazingly with the original title on the N64, Thousand Year Door on Gamecube and Super Paper Mario on the Wii, it’s since fallen off the rails with titles like Sticker Star, Color Splash and now the soon-to-be-released Origami King. These last three titles have completely upended what the original three did in various ways and the fans aren’t happy for the most part. But to the dev team? That doesn’t seem to matter.
Paper Mario: The Origami King producer Kensuke Tanabe talked with VCG about the franchise and said some things that are frankly quite disheartening to those who want a return to The Thousand Year Door style of gameplay and story and characters.
“In Super Paper Mario, the elaborate story led the game away from the Mario universe, so since Paper Mario: Sticker Star I’ve refrained from using stories that are too complicated. Personally, though, I like games with stories. During the production of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, we made use of a system for character settings and real conversations in order to build the story, which was a first for a game in a series. (I also wrote the text for this game.)
To go back to Mario, in Paper Mario: Color Splash, I avoided having a complicated story so as not to veer too far away from the Mario universe, and instead aimed for a game with more memorable events. To create even more memorable experiences for players, in Paper Mario: The Origami King we’ve established some characters other than the partner character who will also journey with players through the game. In particular, I think that Bobby (Bob-omb) has turned out to be just as memorable a character as Olivia.”
Tanabe later noted this:
“Since Paper Mario: Sticker Star, it’s no longer possible to modify Mario characters or to create original characters that touch on the Mario universe. That means that if we aren’t using Mario characters for bosses, we need to create original characters with designs that don’t involve the Mario universe at all, like we’ve done with Olly and the stationery bosses.”
As stated before, this is rather disheartening for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is that Nintendo claims to want to listen to fans, yet this is a direct contrast to that. What’s more, Tanabe talks about Color Splash and Sticker Star as if they were the best games in the series, and yet they weren’t. Sticker Star did sell the best, but that was due to momentum the series had built up, and it remains the most hated of the series. As for Color Splash, it didn’t even sell a couple hundred thousand units, and that can’t all be blamed on the Wii U as other titles did sell millions.
This is the same kind of “logic” that led to the creation of games like Metroid: Federation Force, among others. Paper Mario fans need to unite to demand that we get the games we DESERVE in this franchise instead of just random gimmicks and concepts that they THINK we want and “need”.
But of course, a lot will ride on what The Origami King does in sales when it releases tomorrow.