Whenever we get involved in debating console wars, I find more and more frequently that Nintendo gets left to the wayside. The Wii U doesn’t have as much power as a PS4 or Xbox One (don’t get me started on PC). They don’t have as many 3rd party games on their platform. The company seems to make decisions that come from left field (no voice chat? Seriously?!). But a few things are for certain: Nintendo knows its fan base, they also know how to make the most of the hardware they’ve got, and they know how to make good games. Even when they seem to be on the tail end of a console cycle, they produce a game with polish and detail that makes you fall back in love with what they do all over again. Paper Mario: Color Splash is nothing revolutionary, but it’s a solid game with enough surprises to make you smile.

Smackin the color out of flowers. Paper Mario: Color Splash screen shot.

Smackin the color back into flowers. Paper Mario: Color Splash screenshot. (source)

Painting Between The Lines

Prism Island is in trouble! Paint that brings life to the land is disappearing. Paper Mario is tasked once again to save the day. He enlists the cute paint can Huey to help him restore color back into the island, its inhabitants and get to the bottom of what has been sucking the lifeforce out of the area. The game plays like a cross between a platformer and a RPG and will feel very familiar to those who have played Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam or Mario & Luigi: Dream Team on 3DS. The game’s strength lies in a combination of creative writing, amazing use of art direction and simple yet solid battle mechanics.

Where'd all the color go?! Paper Mario: Color Splash screen shot.

Where’d all the color go?! Paper Mario: Color Splash screenshot. (source)

Much LOL. Very Giggles.

We know that Nintendo games often targets a younger demo, but they always seem to toss in a little something something for us more mature gamers much in the same way as animated movies like Shrek and Finding Nemo. So when kids play this game for hours on end, parents will get a little laugh out of the semi-inside jokes on screen. There are some pretty awesome WTF moments as well where you think “Was someone high when scripting this game?!”, and then you remember, “Oh yeah. This is a Nintendo game.” LOL!

New Battle Card woot! Paper Mario: Color Splash screen shot.

New Battle Card! Woot! Paper Mario: Color Splash screen shot. (source)

It’s All in The Details

You have to give it to Nintendo: when they come up with a concept, they go All. The. Way. Everything in this game goes back to the idea of paper, painting and crafting. There are little details like using different kinds of paper with different finishes. For example, sparkly paper that you would use for scrapbooking is used as foam in water as it rolls on shore has that metallic-flake look and feel. Cardboard looks like cardboard. Coated card stock has depth and is manipulated to form objects that resemble real life counterparts… that is if you were to make them out of paper. Even the animations have the feel of paper and how it reacts to movement. The animation team must have had to think real hard about how to replicate water with paper and all the different scenarios in the game that involve fluid movement, it works. I have played many Nintendo 3DS games with paper aesthetic, and the power of the Wii U is definitely in play here, displaying the beauty of Nintendo’s creativity.

Sparkle craft paper from pointandpoem on etsy.

An example of sparkly crafting paper. (source)

Paper Mario: Color Splash Water. Screenshot by Leah Jewer

All that glitters is water! Paper Mario: Color Splash Water. (Screenshot by Leah Jewer)

Into The Fray

Beyond the platformer style gameplay you encounter as you traverse the world, Paper Mario: Color Splash brings in some RPG elements through their battle system. To bring some creativity to the table, the traditional turn based battle system has been given an extra colorful mechanic through the use of Battle Cards. Using the Wii U Game Pad, sort through Mario’s deck of Battle Cards and select the attack you would like to perform. Some of these cards require you to add a drop of color to power them up. Then flick ’em to the main TV screen where you will use them to perform timed attacks. I really prefer this system to the traditional turn based style because it makes me feel more active in battle than just choosing an attack.

Nintendo doesn’t keep the card mechanics restricted to battles. Keep an eye out for other places where you will be choosing, coloring and flicking cards into play.

Coloring in a Battle Card on the Game Pad. Paper Mario: Color Splash game pad screen shot.

Coloring in a Battle Card on the Game Pad. Paper Mario: Color Splash game pad screen shot. (source)

Tips for You Artists

I always like passing on a little bit of knowledge to give you the leg up when you start a game. Like you have grown accustom to when playing the LEGO games, hit EVERYTHING with your hammer. Plants will give you paint based on their colors. See a green tree? It gives you green paint, which, as we learned from art class, is made up of yellow and blue. Use that paint to fill in white spaces around the world. Certain objects can give you rainbow paint! Umbrellas have been known to spew rainbows at you, and trashcans (go figure) give up the multi colored pigments as well.

Here’s another goodie: when battling, be very methodical in choosing which cards you throw into battle. Though you may have multiple slots open to use more than one card, remember that if you put a card in battle and it is not used, it’s gone from your deck. So think smart!

Squeeze a fan into a Battle Card and this happens! Paper Mario: Color Splash game pad screen shot.

Squeeze a fan into a Battle Card and this happens! Paper Mario: Color Splash game pad screen shot. (source)

Nintendo’s Got a Thing for Crafting!

Think about it. Yoshi’s Woolly World, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Paper Mario: Color Splash… all signs point to the folks at Nintendo really enjoying creating cool things with their hands. Creators like NerdEcrafter must be in their glee when Nintendo announces games like this, and we here at Girls on Games have been known to build a craft or two. Check out our Yarn Yoshi Egg tutorial or Mario & Luigi Paper Jam Trio Attack Hammer pattern as examples of taking Nintendo’s digital ideas and bringing them into real life objects you can make yourself.

Paper Mario: Color Splash Map.

Paper Mario: Color Splash Map. (source)

Folding in on The Next Chapter

Any day now, we are going to get a big announcement about the Nintendo NX, the successor to the Wii U, and I really hope that backward compatibility will be wrapped into that press release. People always complain that there are no games on Wii U and I often beg to differ. Paper Mario: Color Splash is another example that Nintendo knows where it’s at with their consoles, gamers and the creative gaming community. If you have a Wii U, give this game a go. For all those waiting for the NX, I really hope Paper Mario: Color Splash makes its way over so that more gamers get their hands on this fun, colorful and creative game.


DISCLAIMER: Paper Mario: Color Splash review copy provided by Nintendo of Canada. The opinions expressed in the article above have not be affected by, dictated or edited in any way by Nintendo of Canada. For more information please see Girls on Games’ Code of Journalistic Ethics.