Let’s Rate the Paper Mario Games!

With the Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door remake coming out on Switch this month, I thought it would be fun to go back and rate all the games in the Paper Mario series.  We’ll do this from worst to best, and only games in the Paper series are going to be on this list.  Well, with one exception.  OK, let’s begin!

Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS)

When this was first announced, I was really excited for it.  This would be the first Paper Mario game on a handheld, and the ones before it were pretty good to excellent so far.  But unfortunately, it was a big disappointment.  To attack enemies in the battles, you have to use stickers.  You can buy them or find them in the levels, and the attack strength depends on the quality of the sticker.  But you end up using more stickers in battle than what you could find or buy.  So it was an exercise in item management, and not a very fun one.  Really the only game I ever played that made item management fun was Odin Sphere.  But the worst part was you didn’t get experience points from battles, so there was no reason to fight.  You only found HP upgrades hidden in the stages.  All these problems plus no storyline at all made this the worst Paper Mario game for me, and I lost interest pretty quickly.  Heck, I’d go as far to say that not only is this the worst Paper Mario game, I’d say it’s also one of the worst Nintendo games ever made period.  Right on up there with Donkey Kong Barrel Blast and Star Fox Zero (Yeah I went there).

Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U)

This came out after Sticker Star, so people were a bit wary about it.  It was a step in the right direction, but not enough for me to beat it.  Battles were a little more important here, as you refilled your colors with them. But the battles themselves were not fun as you must fill up the attack cards with paint in the Wii U controller screen, and then flip them up to the main screen to use them.  It was just too fiddly.  This one kept my interest a little longer than Sticker Star did, but not by much.

Paper Mario: The Origami King (Switch)

This was the last new Paper Mario game, and it was another step in the right direction.  This time the battles took place in a circle, and you must line up the rings in the circle with enemies so you could attack them all at once before they could get you.  It wasn’t the best idea ever, and there were a couple of times that I almost rage quit.  But I still stuck it through to the end and beat it.  Which is the first time I beat a Paper Mario game in a long while!

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam (3DS)

OK so technically this isn’t a Paper Mario game, more of a crossover title.  But I put it on the list anyway because I wanted to.  It’s my list so nanny nanny poo poo!  But even if this was a list of Mario & Luigi games, or a list of all the Mario RPGs total, Paper Jam would sit squarely in the middle.  It’s not great, but not bad either.  I at least beat it, anyway.  Adding Paper Mario to the Mario & Luigi style battles didn’t add much, but didn’t hurt either.  I did like how in the story, the Paper Mario series comes from a picture book in the Mushroom Kingdom.  And I also liked how when Bowser Jr. met Paper Bowser Jr., they became fast friends.  One of the only times I actually liked Bowser Jr. in a game!

Super Paper Mario (Wii)

A lot of people are divided on this game, but I really liked it.  It combines the RPG aspects of the series mixed with a action filled traditional Mario 2D platformer.  And you can do neat things like change it to 3D temporarily for solving puzzles and bypassing obstacles.  I only have two problems with this one.  First is that the game is hilariously broken, but usually in a good way that benefits the player.  For instance, if you play as Bowser and equip certain items, you can beat the last boss in like, 3 hits.  The other problem I had was that this was originally meant to be a GameCube title, but they held it over to the Wii and tacked on some useless motion controls.  But that’s not the only game that did that.  At least it fared better than Donkey Kong: Barrel Blast, which was another Wii game that was meant to be on the GameCube and use the bongo controllers.

Paper Mario (N64)

This was originally meant to be a sequel to Super Mario RPG, but the paper style let it be its own thing, which was pretty new at the time.  The action time based battle system was improved and the game felt more “Mario” than Square’s effort.  I think you can play it if you have Nintendo’ Switch Online extended service, so if you have that I highly recommend playing it.

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GameCube, Switch)

They took everything great about the first Paper Mario game and just expanded on it.  The battles are pretty much the same, but they added an audience feature that makes fighting even more fun.  And they really do some creative stuff with the audience way later in the game, too!  They tried to bring the audience feature back in The Origami King, but missed the mark.  The other thing I really liked about The Thousand Year Door was the script.  This game had some of the best dialogue and writing that I’ve ever seen in a video game.  I really can’t wait to play the remake to see if the text holds up (I bet it does).  So yeah, I’d have to say that The Thousand Year Door is not only the best Paper Mario game, it’s also the best Mario RPG period and the best GameCube RPG, too (sorry Tales of Symphonia fans).  Like I said, I really can’t wait to play the Switch remake later this month.  In the comments section, let me know what you think of my rankings and tell me your favorite Paper Mario games!  Later!  –Cary

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