Fans of the beloved Paper Mario series hoping that the much-maligned Paper Mario: Sticker Star would be the last instalment of its kind in the franchise have had their hopes dashed today, as Nintendo have revealed that the latest addition, Color Splash, coming for Wii U in 2016, looks to be following in its footsteps.
Set in the new locale Prism Island – which makes a nice change from the omnipresent Mushroom Kingdom – the title will follow the ever-plucky (yet curiously silent; Charles Martinet clearly draws the line at voicing a sheet of A4) Paper Mario as he attempts to return color to the bleached landscape of this once-lurid paradise. Accompanying him, as always, is Princess Peach, so it’s a fairly safe bet she’ll be being kidnapped at some point. A few of Bowser’s henchmen, including Shy Guys and Koopa Troopas, also show up in the trailer, so it’s almost a given that the King himself will play a role too.
Classic series elements such as the hammer attack return, only this time, it’s got a new lick of paint – literally. Smacking the weapon down onto a black-and-white bit of scenery will spruce it up in technicolor (anyone else getting some serious Epic Mickey vibes from this?) and trigger contextual events, such as Paper Toads being freed or new environmental paths being revealed.
The game borrows a lot of elements from Sticker Star, and as such many devotees are likely on the proverbial fence about it. Primarily returning is the divisive battle system, which revolves around the use of consumable stickers; as with Sticker Star, each one represents a single-use attack. The big gimmick this time around, though, is that you can use the GamePad to slap a few coats of Dark Sienna or Cadmium Yellow onto the stickers, enhancing their abilities. It’ll be interesting to see how Intelligent Systems have fleshed this whole structure out, especially since the comically dramatic Thing Sticker attacks, such as a planet-sized fan, also look to be returning.
The world map layout is back too, more akin to the New Super Mario Bros. series than Paper’s open-world Gamecube heyday, with a couple of stage names being immediately noticeable; Prism City and Ruddy Road are the opening areas, as far as can be seen.
The most enticing prospect, however, is quite possibly the graphics which, while eye-searing in their gratuitous use of primary colors, really seem to pop. Paper Mario has never looked quite so at home in his bizarre universe as he does here, with some gorgeous lighting effects accentuating his, erm, folds. The Wii U is more than capable of pulling off an artstyle like this, as Splatoon proves, so we’re expecting great things.
According to the Nintendo Direct announcement, Color Splash is due out later this year. Looking past the clear similarities to the decidedly subpar 3DS entry, hopefully the Wii U’s greater processing heft and graphical might will provide a solid, not to mention aesthetically pleasing, experience.