While not the first games I played in the series (that honor goes to Super Paper Mario and Sticker Star) the original Paper Mario is the game that really got me into RPGs and holds a special place near and dear to my heart.

I love the presentation of this game, perhaps it's the ultimate "comfort game" for me. The soundtrack might be the most comforting thing about the game, with the pleasant sounds of the N64 really showing themselves throughout many of the game's tunes. The polyganal style of the Mushroom Kingdom coupled with the pixilated character sprites also make for a game that oozes graphical charm. This of course extends to the combat system, with it allowing for animation and timed inputs that make for some of the most expressive battles I've seen in an RPG. Management is also something that surprisingly makes the game more engaging, with HP, FP, AND BP all needing to be carefully managed to make the tide of battle flow smoothly as the game progresses, with leveling up allowing for upgrades to only one of the stats.

However, on this particular playthough I found myself more critical of the game, but this may be because I have already played though it so many times. For one, while the simple storybook nature of the game's story is wonderfully comforting, it is perhaps a bit too simple? With the other Mario RPGs (or hell even some of the other Paper Marios) the locations are a bit more fantastical with much more imposing threats, while in this original game Mario is still exploring the basic lands of the Mushroom Kingdom (with a few exceptions) with Bowser as the main villian. Despite that it wouldn't really be fair to call the game "basic" with how much wit and charm the characters that inhabit this kingdom are able to convey in their dialouge. Though the games more laid back nature does lead into my second point that this game can sometimes be broken in half in a way that I don't really find fun. This playthough, I decided to go full on into BP, allowing me to do some insanely high damage that melted most enemies and bosses towards the end, which I didn't really find that fun or engaging sometimes.

Though the game's more easygoing attitude did prevent me from fully enjoying the game on this revisit as I have in the past, the original Paper Mario still has tons of charm and personality that makes for such a comforting game that I'm sure I will revisit in the future.

Reviewed on May 21, 2024