Paper Mario: Color Splash

Where Sticker Star was the downfall, Color Splash is the fair shot at redemption: a game that tries to reconnect itself with what its prequel lost. However, it is visible its heart is not quite fully dedicated to that honorable quest. While it does, to an astounding degree, recover the spectacular funny writing over which the glory of Mario’s role-playing outings is constructed, it holds onto failed ideas that were introduced by Sticker Star and that ended up receiving the universal panning they deserved. Therefore, Color Splash is frustratingly ambivalent, as it shows Nintendo working at the peak of its creative powers, and at the lowest depths of its unshakable stubborn nature.

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Rainbows And Dark Clouds

If it were taken to court and placed on the defendant’s seat, Color Splash would not be able to summon a single alibi to escape the accusation of carrying those features: the verdict would be quick, and the game would be sent to the prison where all offenders of good game design rot for all eternity. However, differently from Sticker Star, an endless lifeless slog in the form of a game, Color Splash is actually fun. Undoubtedly, it does have its share of annoying vices – for example, specific Thing Cards are still a must to make boss battles manageable and to help Mario clear certain obstacles. Nonetheless, in the fixing, or in the minimal shifts in implementation, of many of Sticker Star’s dull mechanics, it finds a way to be successful and entertaining.

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Give the People What They Want

The path to the restoration, or to the maintenance, of a franchise is often not the one fans expect companies to take. In other words, it is possible that Nintendo has learned, through a negative experience, what the limits of the Paper Mario franchise are, and that Color Splash is an honest attempt to successfully integrate some failed elements of Sticker Star into the saga without bringing it down and leaving it devoid of personality. Or, of course, it could be the good old and stubborn Big N trying to prove, against all odds and feedback, that some of their obviously misguided ideas can actually work. The best one can do for now is hope that by not giving the people what they want, Nintendo will happen to actually give us what we have wanted all along.

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