Paper Mario: Color Splash
The Paper Mario series has always relied on quirky humor, interesting gameplay twists, and thick layers of nostalgia, and with Paper Mario: Color Splash, Nintendo shows no signs of changing its course. I had the chance to play Paper Mario: Color Splash and came away excited to extend my time with the game.
The segment I played gave me a small open area to explore, a few enemies to battle, a battalion of Toads to find, and a boss to take on. The early moments played like a tutorial, teaching me all about the game's intuitive card and paint systems. As you explore the world and tackle enemies, you salvage cards, which can be used in the battle system. You also find red, blue, and yellow paint, which can be used for a couple of different things.
For instance, as I navigated through the small area in the demo, I could smash my hammer with some paint on it to color some areas that didn't have color before. Doing so either rewarded me with coins or cards, or opened up new areas. The paint can also be used in battle to power up your attack cards that you select.
When you enter battle, you attack based on the cards you choose. In my first battle, I select a double jump attack, and a three-hammer-swing attack. Once you select your cards, you can choose to channel paint into the cards; the more paint you spread across the cards, the more powerful the resulting attacks are. I started out layering on the paint to quickly vanquish the foes I encountered, but soon realized just how finite a resource paint can be. I learned my lesson as a low-level Koopa Troopa took me way longer to defeat than he should have. Thankfully, paint can be found in almost every aspect of the levels just by whacking things in the environment with Mario's hammer.
As I continued exploring, I stumbled upon a rescue crew of Toads that needed rescuing. I searched all throughout the area, finding one behind a house and one in a tree, but the third and final one eluded me. I walked to the front of the house that the one had been hiding behind and used my hammer to color in the door. Once the door was relieved of its monochrome scheme, I was granted access. I found the final Toad bound to a wardrobe with Bowser-branded crime-scene tape.
After I freed him, I entered the wardrobe and began a fun mini-game involving throwing paint around an area to find invisible objects. The more objects I found, the more coins I was rewarded with. Coins can be used to purchase powerful attack cards from another Toad in the world.
With the Toads all saved and the mini-game complete, I venture over to the objective. Unfortunately, as soon as I go to grab the red star, a massive Sledge Bro ambushes me. He has a much higher health bar, but he poses little threat to me. With all of the battles I've already progressed through, I immediately fall into the rhythm of attacking and blocking his myriad attacks. Each time I attack, he loses a little bit of color. I get him down to about half health and unleash my ultimate Lucky Cat card. The card is far from a normal attack; it folds in new Asian-themed environmental set-pieces and begins smashing the Sledge Bro with a giant Lucky Cat until he is defeated and my demo ends.
I like the exploration and the mini-game I played, and the battle system is a lot of fun in action. My only concern is how this system progresses as you get deeper into the game. If it remains as it is, it might get boring quickly, but if it adds too many elements into the mix, it could get weighted down by too many complicated gestures and decisions in the heat of battle. It will be both interesting and important to learn how things work as you get deeper into the main game of Paper Mario: Color Splash.
With the uncertainty of the NX looming, and the lineup looking scarce, the Wii U may be in its final months. However, if what I played of Paper Mario: Color Splash is any indication, Nintendo's current console may still have a little gas left in the tank.