Paper Mario and Petty Grudges

Almost 20 years after its original release, I finally played Paper Mario for the first time. Regarded by many as a classic, it slipped through the cracks for me due to the pettiest of reasons.

It wasn’t Super Mario RPG 2.

Nintendo’s collaboration with Squaresoft resides in a special place in my heart. From its clever writing to its blending of Super Mario and JRPG mechanics, Super Mario RPG was a clever recontextualisation of the classic Super Mario story. It was also my first real introduction to the JRP and loved every minute of it.

Years later – and with Squaresoft having jumped ship to make games for the PlayStation – Mario’s next RPG went in a different direction. Paper Mario was set in a 3D world comprised of paper-thin characters and objects. As an angsty teen, part of me resented Nintendo for going in a more kiddy direction. But really, I was upset that Nintendo didn’t make a true follow-up to Super Mario RPG.

While it wasn’t truly Paper Mario‘s fault for why Super Mario RPG 2 didn’t exist, I still laid the blame at its feet. Even though my brother bought it on day one and loves it to this day, I refused to even acknowledge its existence. Did it make me feel better in the moment? Maybe. Was my particular reasoning for protesting Paper Mario fair? Probably not. Had Nintendo and Squaresoft not had their falling out beforehand, maybe we would have gotten Super Mario RPG 2 instead. Did I miss out on a game that I would have enjoyed at the time? So far, I think the answer is yes.

Right off the bat, the cheeky writing of Super Mario RPG is intact. If anything, it’s only amplified by the game’s art style. The notion that Bowser somehow got his entire castle and airship under Princess Peach’s castle was laugh-out-loud hilarious to me! Also, the Kammy Koopa scene where she breaks the gate is just ludicrous. She has all the magic in the world and she breaks THAT?!

Still not very far into the game’s mechanics, but I like what I’m seeing with regards to traversal in the world and the combat. Being able to find hidden items in trees by hitting them with a hammer is a nice touch. Thank you Kris and Rachel from Double Jump for reminding me every time I missed a tree. Also like how you can get in the first hit (or the enemies can hit you first) depending on how you engage with them in the overworld.

I’m all for people taking a stand for things they believe in. However, I think I was personally a bit misguided on this one. I missed out on a great game at a time for reasons that had nothing to do with the game I was ostracizing. Maybe getting to enjoy Paper Mario now is the universe’s reward for me learning to not hold silly grudges. If so, thank you.

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