Paper Mario: The Origami King
My rating: 9/10 stars
“I am no longer your brother Olly. I am KING OLLY! By the time I am done, all of those miserable Toads will be folded… The flimsy paper minions of Bowser reborn as loyal Folded Soldiers – serving me! And I shall fold, crease, and bend the entire paper world to my whim… The birth of a new origami kingdom!”
Well, this has been a trip. I thought I’d do something a little different this time around and review Paper Mario: The Origami King in a similar way to my book reviews. I just finished this game and figured it deserved a proper review.
Before I get into the gameplay and the story, let’s summarize the main plot.
When the story opens, Mario finds that Princess Peach has been folded into an origami figure and that Toad Town (where her castle is located) is completely deserted. When Origami Peach sends him down to the castle dungeon, Mario meets Olivia, an origami girl. Together, they discover that Olivia’s brother – King Olly – intends to destroy the Mushroom Kingdom and recreate it in his own image, destroying all Toads in the process. Will Mario and Olivia be able to stop him before it’s too late?
Okay, there’s a lot to cover here and I’ve never actually done a review like this, so please bear with me. I want to start off with the gameplay before diving into my thoughts on the story.
This game is divided into several different sections based on the different colored streamers that Olly uses to isolate Mario and Olivia from Peach’s castle.
Each section has a final boss from Olly’s army (called the Legion of Stationery) with smaller battles against Olly’s Folded Soldiers spread throughout each section.
There are also boss battles for element-based monsters (known as vellumentals) where you gain the powers of each one after defeating them.
The combat system used in the game is pretty easy to get behind. Basically, Mario is placed in the center of the arena and is tasked with lining up enemies in such a way that they can be attacked in either lines or groups.
This system was easy to understand while still being challenging, and it made the battles enjoyable for me, especially when I knew I’d solved a harder puzzle.
The boss battles were a little bit different and, admittedly, it took me a few battles before I fully understood how to use the system.
It’s similar to the earlier battles, but this time the player has to plot a path for Mario to reach and attack the boss. I was frustrated with the system early on in the game, but I did eventually get the hang of it.
I will say that I think the first explanation of the system could have been handled better because I was lost for quite a bit after the first battle, affecting my performance in the later ones to an extent.
Now that I’ve gotten the battle systems out of the way, let’s move on to the actual story.
Like I said in the plot summary, the game’s main objective is to stop Olly from taking over the Mushroom Kingdom. The first thing I want to talk about is the world in the game.
I love the entire world this game embraces! It’s vast and very fun to explore, even while the enemies encountered in the world can get to be a bit much because they’re always attacking.
I love how each streamer has its own areas to explore, such as the red streamer covering Toad Town and Picnic Road, or the blue streamer covering Autumn Mountain and Shogun Studios. All these areas are unique and beautiful, making exploring them all the more enjoyable.
Now I think it’s best to tackle the characters in the story. Since there are so many of them, I’ll focus mainly on the ones that left an impact on me.
Let’s start with Olivia.
It’s pretty much a trope at this point for Mario to have a guide and partner in his adventures, but Olivia did not disappoint! She was bright, colorful, funny, sweet, and I loved seeing her grow to genuinely like Mario.
I also like that she was given a tragic side. It’s obvious throughout the story that, while she wants to stop Olly, she’s distraught over the fact that her own brother betrayed her. Seeing her struggle with this knowledge – especially right before the game’s climax – is heartbreaking because she worries that he’ll never come to his senses. I’ll comment more on their relationship in a bit.
Before I discuss King Olly, I want to talk a bit about some of Mario’s other companions, particularly the Bowsers and Kamek.
Bowser, Bowser Jr., and Kamek
Given that Mario games usually have these guys as the main villains, it was pretty refreshing to see them actually be in Mario’s corner this time around. Bowser having a personal vendetta against Olly actually made me feel sympathy for him, which genuinely surprised and delighted me!
I really like the idea of a previous villain deciding to put aside their differences with the hero to work toward a common cause. Kamek, Bowser Jr., and Bowser himself are genuinely likable in this game and it’s fun watching them all work together to help Mario and Olivia.
Bobby the Bob-omb
As for the other companions we meet along the way, I found myself liking Bobby Bob-omb the most.
It’s funny, because I hadn’t realized how much I liked him until his last scene with Mario. Seeing him grow to like Mario and Olivia was awesome and it made the Autumn Mountain sequence very enjoyable!
Bobby was really great as a comic relief character. He was constantly getting into trouble and Mario always had to rescue him! His comedic timing, along with Olivia’s acknowledgement that he gets into trouble way too often, made for some genuinely funny moments and I was really sad to see Bobby say goodbye to Mario.
Finally, let’s discuss King Olly.
King Olly, the Origami King
To me, Olly is an amazing antagonist and I love the convoluted nature of his plan! I like how the game makes it obvious that, although he’s hiding behind several boss fights in the story, he is the one pulling the strings. It makes it all the more satisfying for the player to finally reach him at the end of the game.
The final boss fight with him is actually really well designed. I wasn’t a huge fan of the second phase of the fight because the controls were kind of annoying but – other than that – the sequence did a great job bringing the earlier elements of the game together into one final clash.
The final magic circle with Olivia actually got me choked up… seeing it all come together with her design on the circle and Olly hovering over it was breathtaking!
As for Olivia’s relationship with him, my heart broke for both of them.
One of the things that really stands out to me is how Olly wanted Olivia by his side the whole time, as seen throughout the story. During the climax, he even asks her why she is fighting him and saying how they should be working on his plan together!
I honestly did not expect something so heavy to be in a kids’ game, but I’m really glad the writers added these elements, because they worked wonders for keeping me invested in the story.
The Legion of Stationery
I think I should talk a bit about the Legion of Stationery, given that it’s such a big part of Olly’s entire plan. Each individual boss guarding the streamers had personality, wit, and were fun to fight.
My personal favorite is probably Hole Punch, simply because I love the idea of a battle being set during a dance party. Granted, Hole Punch had taken the faces of all the Toads you had to rescue by that point, so it was pretty creepy, too, but I liked that it was a little bit of both, because it made the sequence all the more memorable.
Now, there were a few things that I didn’t really like about the game (although they’re honestly few and far between) but I should cover them.
Negatives to this game
First off, there are the motion controls the game utilizes. I’m honestly really glad these can be turned off, because I found them annoying from the first time I encountered them.
Having to tilt the Switch at certain points and certain ways was not easy and – while I’m glad the game allows you to decide whether you want to use them or not – I hate motion controls and they honestly would have lowered my enjoyment of the game had we not been given the option to turn them off.
Second, the frequency of the Folded Soldiers’ appearances.
I understand that part of the game is them being spread out all over the world but, as I said earlier, there were times where they appeared too often. I would finish a battle with one set and – literally a minute later – I’d run into another set to fight.
I eventually learned how to evade them when I could, but it was irritating at first having the game’s main objectives interrupted like that.
My message here is that you should learn how to avoid them when you can if you don’t want to fight them too often. There will be times you have to, but don’t drag out the game by constantly running into them. The game does allow you to run away as long as you know how.
Finally, there’s just one more gripe I have to cover, and it’s a small one. The world the game allows you to explore is beautiful, but the desert sequence during the yellow streamer kind of drags a bit.
When I finally got to the Temple of Shrooms, I was thinking, “Great! The desert section is long enough! Now I have to go in here, too?”
I enjoyed the temple section significantly more than the desert section, but I honestly feel like destroying the yellow streamer took too long because of all the objectives that were in the desert.
It took forever to get out of there, and I was glad when I finally finished the temple section because of that, even though I did enjoy it more. I think part of the problem was that wandering the area felt aimless to an extent. It was so vast it was overwhelming.
Besides what I just outlined, I don’t have any other complaints, so let’s move on.
I want to talk about the music in the game for a bit.
Since the soundtrack is literally seven and a half hours long, I’m just going to focus on a couple of tracks that stood out to me. Overall, I feel that the soundtrack is amazing and works really well with the story being told!
One track that really stuck with me is “Origami Castle.” It plays right before the big finale and it’s an amazing track! I love the rock guitar solo the song has, and I feel like it fits the theme of the castle really well, being both creepy and badass!
Another track that impacted me was “Olivia’s Last Bench.” This song broke my heart, but it was also one of the most beautiful tracks in the game. It complimented the scene it was in perfectly and I adored every second of it.
Finally, I need to give mention to “Olivia’s Final Magic Circle” because it is easily one of the most epic tracks in the entire game! Similarly to “Origami Castle,” the rock guitar works wonders and the drumbeat is really catchy, too. It fits its respective scene perfectly!
I can’t forget to mention this game’s humor. One of the reasons I enjoyed the game so much was the delightful jokes the characters throw out.
One of my favorite examples of this is when – during the Shangri Spa sequence – one of the spa employees gets angry at Kamek because Bowser’s airship crashed into their main banquet hall, and the employee charges him a million fees for the incident and Kamek just pretends not to hear him!
This is one of those games where you’re prompted to try and complete the story 100%.
I admit, I just finished the main story to write this review, but I am trying to complete the rest now and I’m really enjoying it. I love finding all the collectible treasures and music tracks. There’s so much to explore that you don’t just want to stop after completing the main story.
All in all, I’ve really enjoyed this game. It’s a delightful change of pace for me, with a ton of fun challenges presented to the player.
While this game has received some flak for not being like some of the earlier Paper Mario games, I’d urge anyone to give it a try before you judge it.
In my personal opinion, this game is a real gem in the Mario lineup and is worth giving a chance in the end.