The Paper Mario series is one that is in a bit of a sticky wicket for reasons not having to do with fans. You see, recent titles like Color Splash and The Origami King have gone almost out of their way to go and be “unique” compared to fan-beloved titles like The Thousand-Year Door. Which at first was ok via Super Paper Mario, but eventually became something much worse via Sticker Star and Color Splash.
Yet, instead of course correcting, the producer of the series, Kensuke Tanabe has said multiple times that he wants to “make every game fresh” in terms of the battle system and the RPG elements, or lack thereof. To the extent that in an interview translated by Nintendo Everything, he said this:
“The game development philosophy I’ve adopted from Mr. Miyamoto is developing innovative and unique gameplay systems. I’m not opposed to the fans’ opinions. However, I view my game development philosophy as separate from that. If we used the same gameplay system wanted by the fans again and again, we wouldn’t be able to surprise them or deliver new gameplay experiences. We always try our best to exceed expectations in surprising ways. At the same time, there’s no guarantee that we’ll always succeed in doing that – so it’s a real challenge.”
While that may sound like a nice sentiment in order to “make players happy”, that’s a direct contradiction with ANOTHER franchise in Nintendo…Pokemon! Pokemon at its core is still the same RPG in Red and Blue as it is in Sword and Shield. Each generation is famous for adding small twists on the gameplay, sure, but it’s still at its core the same. Fans have NEVER asked for it to radically change.
But for Tanabe, he seems keen to move away from the RPG elements in Paper Mario for a rather odd reason:
“When developing Paper Mario: Sticker Star, one of our goals was to move away a bit from the traditional RPG style. Nintendo has another RPG series starring Mario and we wanted to distance ourselves from it by making an adventure game with a focus on solving puzzles. Even though we’ve stuck to that decision so far, we haven’t decided yet whether or not we will keep doing so in the future. Personally speaking, I want to keep developing Paper Mario games that are both innovative and unique.”
The “RPG series starring Mario” that he’s referring to is Mario & Luigi, which by the way hasn’t had a new title out (not counting the remakes for 3DS) since Paper Jam, which by the way, was panned AND sold horribly. To the extent that developer AlphaDream filed for bankruptcy!
So with no real competition on that front, gamers begging for it to go back to The Thousand-Year Door RPG style, and more…why is he so hesitant to do that?
And if you don’t believe me, read our review of Paper Mario The Origami King where our reviewer notes that while the world and dialogue are great, the battle system is very much lacking.