Let’s Nostalgia: Paper Mario

Nostalgia

    – a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

    – something done or presented in order to evoke feelings of nostalgia.

Paper Mario Pic 3

Paper Mario, the game that sold 10-year-old Joseph on the RPG genre. Simplistic and smooth in terms of gameplay. Built around all the game play elements that I would come to love and encourage me to go back and play games like Final Fantasy VII and VIII, centered in a world of paper cutouts.

The story, while similar to the Super Mario RPG before it (“Go collect seven MacGuffins and save the day”), was more than sufficient. Each individual story arc on the way to save the Star Spirits had its own wacky characters and nifty little puzzles.

Every section of the Mushroom Kingdom introduced a partner, each with their own motivations for helping Mario attain his goals. Some want to become heroes, others simply want to save their people from an unstoppable soul-devouring monster.

Soul-devouring monster? Yeah, that’s a thing.

Paper Mario Pic 1[Tangent start!]

Can we talk about Tubba Blubba for a second?

This guy, encountered in chapter 3, sparked an irrational fear in ten-year-old Joseph.

How?

Well he devours ghosts… whole.

HE LITERALLY FEASTS ON THE SOULS OF THE DEAD!

And nothing really happens to them… but they’re trapped within the confines of his stomach until such time as Mario and Lady Bow force him to release them.

But my overactive childhood imagination couldn’t properly process the thought—the thought of being cramped in such place with dozens if not HUNDREDS of others in some kind of special afterlife hell where my soul’s only purpose was to provide nourishment for some odd turtle beast. Then there’s the whole thing where he has Bowser rip out his heart and hide it beneath a windmill so he can be invincible. Cause… magic?

Don’t even get me started on when you have to enter his castle to steal a key… and then there’s the whole thing where he chases you down the hall way and the screen was shaking and he kept making comments about how he could smell a delicious ghost and 10-year-old Joseph was legitimately afraid for Lady Bow.

Paper Mario Pic 2Let me make this clear. He made me afraid for a fictional, ghostly, paper cutout (though look at her, she is quite adorable.) If that isn’t effective storytelling for children, I don’t know what is.

Going back and playing it now, at 25 years-old, I can see how that was achieved. But even though I know it was a completely silly thing for me to be afraid of, it still fills me with nostalgic joy to see these scenes.

But that’s neither here nor there.

[Tangent end]

Paper Mario was the start of a pretty successful series of games, with each new instalment selling solidly in the millions; Super Paper Mario (for the Wii) reached over four million.

Nintendo has since transferred the Paper Mario series over to handheld consoles. Even in this market, Paper Mario has proven successful; Paper Mario Sticker Star sold over 2 million!

If you want to get someone interested in RPG’s, I recommend that you start them off with Paper Mario. It’s accessible, it’s built around characters everyone knows (while introducing new ones), and with a decent story and side quests, it’ll keep them interested in the plot.

If you enjoyed story time with Joseph, then I suggest retrieving a copy of Paper Mario for yourself. It’s only $9.99 on the Wii U Virtual Console! Definitely a worthwhile investment.

 

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