Paper Mario: The Origami King - Nintendo Switch Review

paper_mario_origami_splash Paper Mario: The Origami King - Nintendo Switch Review

A colorful world full of lovable characters. Exploring it is fun; the battles... not so much.

  • System: Nintendo Switch
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Date: July 17, 2020

Paper Mario: The Origami King - Announcement Trailer - Nintendo Switch

Who it Caters to

paper_mario_origami_splash Paper Mario: The Origami King - Nintendo Switch Review
The Origami King is the latest entry in the Paper Mario saga, a spin-off series in which all the inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom are made of paper. As with any other Mario game, this is a never-ending story full of puzzles, secret collectibles, boss battles, minigames, and puns (lots of puns), but this new Paper Mario comes with a unique battle system that's based on puzzle-solving and timed attacks.

The Origami King has a lot in common with Color Splash, the previous Paper Mario, released in 2016 for the Wii U, but all Mario games share pretty much the same essence, so it's safe to assume that all fans of Nintendo's platforming will definitely enjoy this new adventure.

What to Expect

paper_mario_origami_splash Paper Mario: The Origami King - Nintendo Switch Review
In order to save Princess Peach and the rest of the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario needs to find and destroy the 5 streamers wrapping the castle. That means you're in for a formidable adventure that takes you to different places on the continent, all very different from each other, but equally charming and lively. Unlike other Mario games, though, here we have a turn-based battle system that activates every time an enemy touches you—well, not really, but more on that later in the Gameplay section.

If you enjoy a true Nintendo experience and you're ok with trying new mechanics, then you might enjoy The Origami King. On the other hand, if what makes you play a Mario game are the fast pacing and real-time encounters... well, the new battle system is not for you and you'll have a hard time trying to progress.


paper_mario_origami_splash Paper Mario: The Origami King - Nintendo Switch Review
Just like all Nintendo games in the Switch era, The Origami King is a work of art. We know a lot of people don't like this thinner, childish version of the Mustached Hero and that is reason enough for them to avoid this game without even giving it a chance, but once you embrace the paper-related puns and silliness of the whole artistic concept, there's a fabulous game waiting for you.

What we love about all Mario games is Nintendo's attention to detail, and this one is no exception. All areas are fun to explore and full of life in their own way, from the ocean to the desert, and all these places are also full of characters that really help with story-telling. The final touch is how real the origami enemies look and feel, almost encouraging you to grab a piece of paper and try to create them all... although this comes as no surprise given how they nailed the cardboard and wool aesthetics in the past.

Sound, Music

paper_mario_origami_splash Paper Mario: The Origami King - Nintendo Switch Review
If we're in love with the graphics, imagine how we feel about the amazing soundtrack and the perfect use of every song in the game. There are enough tracks and variations for you to never get tired of this OST, and that's great considering there's a lot of backtracking involved in the core gameplay mechanics.

Take Toad Town's theme, for example. Every time you visit this area, one of the first places you get to visit in the game but also one of the most important places in the Mushroom Kingdom, there's a chance the background music plays different, according to your game progress. This is not new, and it certainly has been done in several Mario games already, but that doesn't make it less fascinating.

Paper Mario: The Origami King is full of minigames, little cutscenes, and even some quite unexpected performing acts, which means a few background tracks played on a loop wouldn't be enough. A game like this needed a triple-A soundtrack too, and it has it!


paper_mario_origami_splash Paper Mario: The Origami King - Nintendo Switch Review
In this new Paper Mario game, our hero needs to save Peach and the whole Mushroom Kingdom again, but not from Bowser. The titular Origami King is Olly, a brand-new antagonist who dreams of transforming everyone in this world into their origami counterparts. Her sister, Olivia, is not powerful enough to stop Olly, so she joins forces with Mario in an attempt to stop her evil sibling, by fair means or foul.

This is how Paper Mario: The Origami King starts, and so you need to destroy the 5 streamers wrapping the castle. Every streamer is protected by a boss that's some kind of nemesis to paper, like scissors, rubber bands, a hole punch, etc. If we want to beat them, our regular attacks won't be enough, so we need to help Olivia conquer the abilities of the 4 Vellumentals, origami animals who control the 4 elements: water, fire, earth, and ice.

paper_mario_origami_splash Paper Mario: The Origami King - Nintendo Switch Review
All these boss battles are quite challenging and fun to play, but if you want to fight these bosses, you'll need to first defeat Olly's minions. All encounters involve a new puzzle-solving mechanic and some quick-time events. Once you jump on these enemies or hit them with your hammer, you'll be transported to a board-game-like stage consisting of 4 concentric circles and 12 radial zones, with several monsters scattered around. Now, if you want to defeat them, your objective is to perfectly align them before the time runs out; next, you can use your hammer to hit them in a 2x2 area or your boots to stomp them if they're in a straight line. It's not a bad mechanic per se, but it gets old really fast and what's even worse, it feels annoying because it breaks your own flow when exploring and doing quests.

In JRPG games, random encounters can be annoying too, but at least you can grind for better weapons or just experience points to make you stronger. In this game, the only thing you get from regular battles are coins, but poverty will never be a problem for you. In fact, you can earn lots of powerful boots and hammers—they will break, though—just by helping Toads and other people, so the only thing worth buying are collectibles.

paper_mario_origami_splash Paper Mario: The Origami King - Nintendo Switch Review
Speaking about collectibles, there are a lot of them. Halfway through the story, you can buy a treasure tracker to help you find them all, but there are also several Toads hidden in every stage, waiting for your help. Once you find them, they will help you in battle, so it's not just about 100 percent-ing the game but also about having a backup plan when in combat. If that's not enough for you, saving Toads also gives you points you can spend to buy collectible photos of the game to complete the museum... which won't be easy because you need to defeat every enemy, find every vinyl record, beat several minigame records, discover every treasure, etc. We love this because it's challenging enough to taunt the most hardcore players, but also because it means there's always something more to do. That being said, that's another reason to dislike the battle system, since there's a point it only wastes your time.

Another thing we have to mention is the use of confetti. Every tree, flower, grass, or enemy you defeat will give you confetti to fill your confetti bag. Once you have enough, you can use it to restore the world no normality and fix the not-bottomless holes you'll find all around the Mushroom Kingdom. Sometimes you need to fix the floor just to get to the other side of a platform, some other times you need to fix a door, but even if it's just a harmless hole, fixing them with confetti is one of your primary objectives if you're going for a 100% run. Oh, and every time you defeat a boss, your confetti bag gets bigger.

Having Olivia by your side comes in handy when you find shining magic circles on the ground since she can help Mario use some specific techniques. Other than the Vellumental ones, the most common technique is called 1.000-Fold Arms and it uses the Joy-Con's motion controls to smash things or peel things off the walls. As you can tell, there are a lot of gameplay mechanics involved in Paper Mario: The Origami King, so again, when we say we don't fancy the new battle system, it's because it doesn't match all the other fun stuff and not because it's actually bad.

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

paper_mario_origami_splash Paper Mario: The Origami King - Nintendo Switch Review
There are a ton of secrets and comedy involved, which is always a plus in a Nintendo game, so we loved every minute invested in Paper Mario: The Origami King. It's such a fun game for kids and adults alike, to the point that some minigames get easier the third time you fail them and you can even unlock a feature that helps you solve the alignment puzzles, but there are a lot of super-tough achievements for those willing to spend more time with the game.

Of course, it's not good enough to top Super Mario Odyssey, but it definitely proves to be one of the best Nintendo Switch exclusives, and arguably one of the best Mario spin-offs of the last few years. Sadly, it misses the mark when it comes to combining platforming and RPG elements, something that was a landmark of the Paper Mario saga.

Honey's Pros:

  • Amazing soundtrack that invites you to hum it as you play.
  • There's always a new minigame or unexpected cutscene to suprise you. We loved the Shy Guy TV game show!
  • A simple premise sparked a truly fascinating adventure full of charming characters, like our favorite, Bobby Bob-Omb.

Honey's Cons:

  • Boss battles are ok, but regular battles are rather boring and repetitive.
  • We miss the RPG elements or previous Paper Mario games.

Honey's Final Verdict:

paper_mario_origami_splash Paper Mario: The Origami King - Nintendo Switch Review
We have a lot of reasons to recommend this game to you all, and so we hope our objective review helps you understand the highs and lows of the latest Nintendo game. Paper Mario: The Origami King is not perfect, but it’s far from being unplayable. Maybe the problem is how good most Mario games are, and how difficult it is for them to top each other? Innovation is all about taking risks, too!

For the record, if you’re an origami fan, you’ll be amazed at how beautiful the designs are. Too bad we can’t even fold a crane, let alone a Vellumental!

paper_mario_origami_splash Paper Mario: The Origami King - Nintendo Switch Review

Author: Yaz L.

Hey, there! I'm a soon-to-be marine biologist who just happens to love video games, dream pop music, and BL/yaoi stuff. When I was a kid, I lived in Colombia for 3 years and now I'm a sucker for hot chocolate with cheese. My favorite treat while watching anime!

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