The Mezunian

Die Positivität ist das Opium des Volkes, aber der Spott ist das Opium der Verrückten

A Look at RPGs: Super Paper Mario’s Story

This will just be a quick comment on the writing of Super Paper Mario with no judgment on its gameplay or overall quality (I’ve never actually played it, just watched it, though its gameplay does look interesting).

My overall assessment of Super Paper Mario’s writing is that they saw the success of The Thousand Year Door’s use of both some minor seriousness and its wit and then tried too hard to implement them in this game, making it forced. This is especially noticeable in its attempt at drama, which is mostly lackluster.

The main problem I have with Super Paper Mario’s story is that I do not like Count Bleck as a villain, mainly because his motivations are stupid. Essentially, he’s butthurt his girlfriend’s dead so he wants to destroy the world. However, he’s not some crazy psychopath who just goes around fucking shit up out of pure grief, which would be understandable, but spends at least a year concocting a detailed plan to do so. With this kind of sanity and this long a wait he should have been sane enough to get over his grief. More importantly, why does he have such close henchmen that help him do this? What do they gain by destroying the world—and thus themselves, too?

You might be surprised to learn that he eventually learns the error of his ways, only to be surpassed by another evil. Luckily he’s able to save the day because of he and his girlfriend’s love. Yeah. No, it isn’t explained how this works and, yes, it’s an utter deus ex machina.

Super Paper Mario does actually succeed in a legitimately touching and surprising scene in which some young heart lady needs to essentially kill herself to save the world, but this is completely ruined at the end of the game when she is magically revived. And then the writers had the gall to have her mother say, “We don’t know how she came back to life, but who cares?” as if the writers themselves were just throwing their arms up in the air and saying, “I don’t fucking know.”

The humor is also forced. The Thousand Year Door had a good balance between the original Paper Mario, which barely tried to be funny much, and this, which tried too hard. Whereas The Thousand Year Door had a lot of wit and some subtle silliness, Super Paper Mario just tried to throw silliness at your face to the point that it sometimes becomes annoying. There is still some wit, such as most of chapters two and three, but a lot of other parts are just annoying. Pixls, who are much less memorable than the partners from the first two games, merely have pointless gimmicks or strange speech patterns like a bad standup comic rather than actually witty dialogue. And then there’s O’Chunks, who’s just full or the stupidest of random humor. At one point he literally yells, “Broccoli!” or something else inane. The Thousand Year Door was able to be funny without relying on such lazy crutches. For instance, in that game Goombella would sometimes make short comments during her tattles or scenery comments that made them more entertaining; but she did not speak in silly accents. I mean, she did say “like” sometimes, but she wasn’t all “Yo, yo, Daddy-o! Yooz got the stache with the plan, my man!” like one of those insipid Pixls might. Shit, even the Yoshi partner, who came close to that line, wasn’t that bad.

This is not to say that Super Paper Mario’s story isn’t entertaining (and it’s still much more interesting than the average RPG story, which I could never even talk about since I would fall asleep during any of them and forget any details about them); but it did have quite a few awkward moments, which The Thousand Year Door seemed to avoid.

Posted in A Look at RPGs, Video Games