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Paper Mario: Origami King reviews praise charming sequel with 1 fatal flaw

Early reviews for Paper Mario: The Origami King are here, and there are a few key issues.

Paper Mario: The Origami King is the latest entry in a once-great series that has lost favor with its fans over the years. Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Color Splash drifted away from elements like compansions or meaningful battles that made the original and The Thousand-Year Door so enthralling, but The Origami King gave Nintendo a chance to return to form on Nintendo Switch.

If you found yourself in this camp, you're probably wondering if picking up Paper Mario: The Origami King is worth it. Is the story interesting? Are the writing and characters funny? Does the battle system feel tacked on or is it more meaningful? The review embargo lifted for the game earlier this week, and we got some insight into all of those burning Paper Mario: The Origami King questions.

IGN gave Paper Mario: The Origami King a 7/10. That isn't a fantastic score but is generally positive. That mentality applies to the general consensus towards the game, which currently has an average score of 81 on OpenCritic and Metacritic.

The Origami King's writing is funny and charming

"Its characters are winsome, its visual design is gorgeous, its world is fun to explore, and its storytelling is outside the box and playful," a more positive part of IGN's review by Cam Shea reads. Even people who take issue with other parts of the game seem to accept that its at least extremely well written and humorous. For GamesRadar's Sam Loveridge, this was enough to earn the game a 4.5/5 as it is "a joy to exist in" and "something special that should be celebrated."

The Verge's Andrew Webster's review of the game points out some of the game's best bits, This includes calling fast travel "fax travel" and having Mario fax himself across the Mushroom Kingdom as well as "firewood chanting 'light me!' and 'we must burn!'" as Mario passes by them. Generally, it appears that Nintendo Treehouse did an excellent job with the localization, and if you mainly like Paper Mario games for their writing and story you'll find a lot to love about Paper Mario: The Origami King.

The battle system is original but gets old fast

Unfortunately, the reviews make it clear that Paper Mario: The Origami King does fix one of Sticker Star and Color Splash's biggest mistakes: a lack of meaningful progression from battles. Your only reward for completing battels is coins, and as a result, Video Games Chronicle (3/5 stars) says that "the ring system never significantly evolves in complexity, either in terms of the enemies you face or the attacks at your disposal."

"It’s here where the lightness of the game’s RPG elements, namely the removal of experience points and leveling, really do hurt its decision to stick with only part of the genre formula." It is unfortunate that a near-unanimously requested feature was not added to Paper Mario: The Origami King, but even the system's critics see its potential.

Game Informer's review by Ben Reeves also criticized the game's battle mechanics and gave it a 7.75/10, but still admitted that players can "appreciate the challenge of lining up these baddies before wiping an entire row off the board with one strong attack" and that "the boss battles add an extra layer of complexity that I missed during basic battles."

If you can get over the gameplay's shortcomings though, you'll experience a hilarious game that takes some interesting risks with its combat system.

Paper Mario: The Origami King will be released for Nintendo Switch on July 17, 2020.

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