Name: Paper Mario (Mario Story in Japan)
Publisher/Release: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems
ESRB rating: E, for everyone
Genre: RPG (Role-Playing Game)
Players: One
Rumble Pak-compatible's rating: 9.5/10
Released February 5, 2001

This game is so similar to Super Mario RPG, it's sort of sad. Sad that Nintendo has had to stoop to overdoing the Mario franchise because Dreamcast and Playstation are getting all the cool sponsors. I'm not saying this game is horrible, bad, or even slightly un-good. On the contrary, it's quite a good game. Regardless of that, here's the story in a nutshell.

Paper Mario is the follow-up RPG to Super Mario RPG, which is not a bad game in its own right. Paper Mario, then, is a nostalgic game. Even though the game world is 3D, the character of Mario is 2D, or 2 1/2D, which sounds at the outset like a stupid idea, but it helps add to that nostalgic feel.

The storyline is remarkable in its simplicity, and will be very familiar to any Mario fan: Bowser invades, takes Princess, takes power weapon, becomes powerful, and it's up to the plumber to set things right.

Gameplay is similar to a lot of RPGs, in that there is a field screen, where he wanders around, interacts with character, items, etc. Then, there's the battle screen, where Mario vanquishes foes.

It doesn't take too long to get the simple feel of this game; those of you who've delved long and deep into the Final Fantasy worlds'll know the score. And just because it's rated "Everyone" by the ESRB doesn't necessarily mean it's a game for five-year-olds. It's fun, curiously addictive (think Nethack, when comparing the strange addiction level), and quite large in scope. It's got at least twenty hours of good gameplay, if not more, depending on the player's familiarity with role playing games, and how fast they whip through the game.

Throughout the game, as in any RPG, Mario meets allies along the way, and they will aid him in his quest to find the Star Spirits and defeat Bowser. The game is very simple, levelling up is very simple, battle is simple. But this doesn't take away from the gameplay, either. It's just not as broad in scope as Final Fantasy VII, or even Final Fantasy III (Six, in Japan).

All in all, the game was very fun for me, though I preferred games like Chrono Trigger for the SNES, and even Super Mario RPG. But, to give it its due, it is very deserving of the Gamespot rating, and is, in all respects, superior to Chrono Cross. The background music is the only downside - very, very repetitive, despite how well it's done.

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