Paper Mario: The Origami King is a role playing game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo. It is the sixth instalment in the Paper Mario series.
Throughout the early months of 2020, there were several rumors and leaks that Nintendo would be unveiling a new game in the Paper Mario series exclusively for the Switch.
Rumors persisted right up until the game’s eventual announcement, with some reports stating that Nintendo had originally planned to reveal the game at E3 2020 as part of their celebration for Mario’s 35th anniversary (allegedly alongside remasters of several mainline 3D Super Mario games), but that those plans got scrapped when E3 was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nintendo officially unveiled Paper Mario: The Origami King in May 2020 with an announcement trailer. As opposed to most of Nintendo’s announcements, Paper Mario: The Origami King wasn’t revealed in a Direct presentation, nor did Nintendo build up to its reveal.
Reports emerged soon afterward that Nintendo had adapted to the work-from-home requirements imposed by worldwide lockdowns during the pandemic, and that Direct presentations had suffered as a result, and might continue to do so for some months. As such, Nintendo reportedly announced the game with an isolated trailer.
During development, Intelligent Systems’ goal with Paper Mario: The Origami King was to ensure that they were creating a new experience built on fresh ideas, rather than one that largely just built upon what they had done with Paper Mario: Color Splash (or other previous games in the series).
The game’s producer, Kensuke Tanabe, worked with Naohiko Aoyama, the director of Paper Mario: Color Splash, to come up with the new ring-based battle system.
Intelligent Systems also decided during development not to have any permanent party members in the game, as opposed to the first three entries in the series.
The developers felt that having a unique party member in each area would lead to more memorable moments.
Each party member – except for Bowser Jr, who was chosen early on due to his role in the story – was decided based on the design requirements of the locations, and they would be chosen on the basis of how good a fit Intelligent system thought they would be in that part of the game.
The first parter character that the team created for the game was the Bob-omb named Bobby.
Princess Peach’s castle after receiving an invitation for an origami festival.
When they arrive at the castle, however, they realize that the evil King Olly has seized Princess Peach’s castle and the princess herself by turning things into paper and origamim, setting a plan into motion to do the same to the entire world and “re-fold” it.
He also uses his powers to take control of Bowser’s army.
With the help of various companions – including the likes of Bowser, Bowser Jr, and King Olly’s sister, Olivia, Mario sets out on a journey across Mushroom Kingdom to defeat King Olly and put a stop to his plans.
Unlike the previous three entries in the series – Super Paper Mario, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and Paper Mario: Color Splash – which were segmented into chapters or particular sections, Paper Mario: The Origami King features a freely explorable open world setting, similar to the first two games in the series.
There are several areas in the world with unique theming and aesthetics, and many locations come with unique mechanics or companion characters.
Locations include Princess Peach’s Castle, Toad Town, a mountaintop theme park called Shogun Studios, a misty jungle called Shangri-Spa, The Great Sea (which can be explored using a boat), a forest in the mountains called Whispering Woods, a desert covered in darkness called the Scorching Sandpaper Desert, and more.
While exploring the world, Mario can undertake platforming challenges, encounter puzzles, speak with NPCs, collect items and coins, and more.
New abilities allow Mario to interact with various aspects of the world and solve the game’s paper-themed puzzles.
One of these abilities is 1000-Fold Arms, using which Mario can reach out and tear out parts of the paper environment in order to reveal various secrets. Mario can also equip Accessories for various advantages both in and out of combat.
Enemies are found in the open world, and initiating encounters takes players to a separate battle screen. If Mario strikes enemies in the open world first, he enters battles with an extra attack. In the open world, Mario can also use his hammer to strike trees, enemies, and grass. Doing so yields confetti, which can be used to fill holes torn into the paper-esque environments, which in turn reveals Toads or coins.
Mario can also come across various Toads while exploring the game’s world. Toads can be found folded up into various shapes, and Mario can choose to seek them out in the environments to rescue them. Toads that have been rescued go back to Toad Town, where some open up shops. Rescued Toads can help out during puzzles, and can also be called upon during combat by spending coins to aid Mario, such as by healing him, giving him items, or attacking his enemies.
Paper Mario: The Origami King also sees the return of RPG battles after the more straightforward combat style of its predecessor. The game features a ring-based combat system. In the battle arena, Mario is placed at the axis of several concentric rings, with enemies on the rings around Mario. Mario can rotate and slide the rings, and by lining up several enemies together, he can deal consecutive attacks, though every battle has limited ring moves and allotted time.
Lining up enemies for attacks also increases Mario’s attack power. Coins collected in the world can be spent in battle to call for the aid of Toads or extend time limits. In combat, Mario attacks enemies using his hammer or his boots. He can also use more powerful variants of both, but these break after a certain amount of use. Timing button presses properly can also make attacks more powerful.
Boss battles functioning a little differently. In these combat encounters, it is the bosses who are placed at the axis of the battle arena, while players will be manipulating the rings to build a path through them to the boss for Mario. One Mario is close to the boss, players must attack weak points.