The Paper Mario franchise is one that is both beloved and hated at the same time. Because in the beginnings of the franchise, with the N64 and the Gamecube, the franchise was pure RPG bliss. Super Paper Mario on the Wii was more platforming but still had RPG elements and a grand story. Then, with Sticker Star, everything went off the rails. It was more about gimmicks and “rewriting the rules” than anything else. And now, the impending Paper Mario The Origami King is following along that same path.
This has caused great frustration with fans, who have noted for YEARS that they want a return to form via Thousand Year Door and the original versus what they did with Sticker Star, the Paper Jam collaboration, and then Color Splash (which was a colossal failure). Yet the team at Intelligent Systems seems to have a…unique feeling on this.
Speaking with Game Informer, Nintendo producer Kensuke Tanabe talked about how he personally wants to bring in new idea for the franchise rather than relying on what came before:
“When continuing a game series, it’s much easier to carry over the basics from an existing game system rather than building new systems for each new installment. But that’s not how you create new experiences or unexpected surprises. As a game designer, I want to deliver new experiences and surprises to our fans, so I always challenge myself to create something new. To be sure, I will sometimes use the same system in a subsequent game to further develop that system until I feel it has reached its full potential. But my goal is to continue to tackle new challenges as much as possible.”
Tanabe later added:
“We never considered whether or not we should implement a party-based system like some other games. As we worked on Paper Mario: The Origami King, we decided we could create more memorable moments if Olivia and the other characters team up with Mario along the way. In other words, we first determine what elements are needed in a game and then figure out how to implement and program them. Bobby, the Bob-omb, was the first character we decided to include, and from there we chose the characters that would be the best fit for the events in each stage of the game. Bowser Jr. was an exception. The director, Mr. Masahiko Nagaya, personally had strong feelings about including a storyline where a son sets out to save his father, so in this case, we decided to include the character before deciding exactly what we would have him do.”
While some of these sentiments are understandable, and even admirable, there’s a difference between wanting to “expand the gameplay” and just straight making something new and thus making the game not as fun as previous incarnations. Sticker Star only sold well because of the momentum form past franchises. By the time Color Splash came around (with again, a new battle system), fans weren’t interested. And despite the shock reveal for Paper Mario The Origami King, fans aren’t as excited as Nintendo and Intelligent Systems likely thinks they are.
We’ll find out for sure who is right when Paper Mario The Origami King arrives on July 17th.