Unfolding the combat

Paper Mario: Origami King remixes the battle system in a divisive way

Fans who hated the battle systems of Sticker Star and Color Splash will be happy to hear that Paper Mario: The Origami King has a new ring-based battle system

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Nintendo announced Paper Mario: The Origami King for Nintendo Switch on Thursday, and while the surprise-reveal trailer focuses mostly on the story and origami gimmick, it also overviews what might wind up being a controversial new combat system.

Paper Mario: The Origami King was surprise-revealed by Nintendo on Thursday morning, which is atypical for the publisher. The announcement confirms some previously leaked reports from March 2020 teasing the game's existence. Paper Mario: The Origami King will be released on July 17, 2020 — which is the same day Sony's Ghost of Tsushima lands on PS4.

In Paper Mario: The Origami King, the Mushroom Kingdom is taken over by King Olly of the Origami Kingdom during an origami-themed celebration. Mario is whisked away when the invasion begins and must work his way back to Peach's castle to save the day. It's a simple plot we've seen so many times before, but it still feels a bit more novel than the likes of Sticker Star and Color Splash.

The battle system, the most derided part of the past three Mario games, is getting quite the overhaul in The Origami King.

The mechanic fans love to hate: the battle system — The original Paper Mario games were more traditional turn-based RPGs that rewarding precise timing on button presses. It was an easy-to-understand battle system that still had a lot of depth. Once Super Paper Mario on the Wii rolled around though, the series abandoned that. Paper Mario Sticker Star for 3DS introduced an item- and sticker-based battle system that was much less interesting to use, and this was carried over with little variation into Paper Mario: Color Splash for the Wii U.

Paper Mario fans have grown to hate the battle mechanics of the later games in the series. Paper Mario: The Origami King adds a new battle system that mixes things up rather than return to the classic form.

"Paper Mario: The Origami King also introduces a new ring-based battle system that lets you flex your puzzle-solving skills to line up scattered enemies and maximize damage," a press release for the game reads. The trailer shows a "shiny boots" attack being used, but it remains to be seen if this is just the name of an ability or item.

While some fans may want the series to just go back to how it originally played, it's clear that Nintendo heard the complaints and decided to change up the battle system. Paper Mario: The Origami King looks just as quirky outside of battle too, with many interesting looking environments and puzzles to solve with a new skill called "1000-Fold Arms."

Paper Mario: The Origami King features a new ring-based battle system.

Companions will return, but will they fight? — The classic Paper Mario games are known for their quirky, original companions that Mario would adventure with. Mario usually travels with one or two new characters that are directly relevant to the game's plot, incorporating memorable companions is something that the series has strayed away from in recent entries. This trailer for The Origami King, however, confirms that Mario will be teaming up with some kooky characters during his adventure.

We mainly see Mario traveling with Oliva, King Olly's sister, and a paper version of Bowser, but the trailer also shows him working with a Shy Guy, a Bob-omb, a Toad, and a Magikoopa. The reveal trailer doesn't really explain how this characters apply to gameplay or the battle system, but it's clear that Paper Mario: The Origami King will have a more colorful cast than some older games in the series. If they do participate in battles, then this'll make for a compelling addition.

The Inverse Analysis — While this isn't the return to form or the Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door remaster or sequel some fans may have been hoping for, Nintendo seems to be taking player feedback into account when it comes to developing the Paper Mario series. It remains to be seen if all these changes are enough to win disgruntled fans back, but they are at least a step in the right direction. Giving us something new with such a prevalent mechanic like battles is a good choice, but how much will fans like the new combat system?

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

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