Format reviewed: Nintendo 64
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Submitted by: alex glaister
Paper Mario combines traditional role-playing game (RPG) elements with concepts and features from the Mario series. The player controls Mario for the majority of the game, who can jump and use his hammer to overcome physical obstacles placed in the game's overworld. Many of the game's puzzles and boundaries are based upon the abilities of Mario's partners, who each have a specialised skill required for progression in the game. The player accumulates partners as they advance into different locations; only one partner can accompany Mario in the overworld, although the player can interchange between them at any time. These characters also assist Mario in the game's turn-based battles, where damage inflicted against them results in temporary paralysis as the characters do not have individual HP statistics. Attacks in the game are similar to those in traditional RPGs, although the player can influence the power of a move when attacking or defending by timing a button-press accurately or performing some other action command. The player can locate hidden battle upgrades in the game's overworld, which promotes one partner character to a new rank at a time.
Progression through Paper Mario depends upon interaction with the game's non-player characters, who will often offer clues or detail the next event in the storyline. As in other RPG games, the player can find or purchase items from NPCs to help in and outside of combat. Badges can also be obtained that yield bonuses ranging from added moves to gradual health restoration during combat; each consumes a set number of Badge Points (BP), meaning Mario can only equip a limited number of badges at a time. Princess Peach is playable at particular points in the game as a recurring side quest. The objectives and actions of each transition to Peach vary, although most are stealth-based.