Paper Mario: Color Splash
Reviewed By Steve Polak
That problem solving plumber has arrived on our doorstep once again, but this is a Mario game with a difference. If you have only played the more conventional outings in the series get ready for something different as Color Splash is quite a step sideways.
The game is set in a world where all of the characters are 2D stickers or cut outs and Mario has arrived to try and save the once lovely Port Prisma from ruin. Bizarrely, the realm has been drained of its colour completely, leaving many citizens paralysed.
After being a bit confused at first you quickly learn that you must use your hammer to extract paint from various objects and having done this you can then recolour areas drained by the mischievious ‘Shy Guys’, a gang intent on stealing the colour and carting it away for some nefarious purposes.
The plot for this game might be a bit nutty, but Color Splash is certainly worth the price of admission, as there is a lot of cleverly designed fun on offer.
So, starting with the island’s hub, Port Prisma, you must repaint areas and defeat hostile characters. The game blends plenty of puzzle solving and combat with a smattering of dialogue.
Indeed there is a lot to like in the charm stakes, as each level is well populated by wisecracking characters, some essential to the core narrative, while others just seem to be there to amuse completists like myself who like to talk to every twerp they come across.
The minor and major players all add to the vibe of the gameworld and are often quite funny, if usually self involved.
You’ll need to talk to a magic paint can you team up with, as this odd object is often able to offer up helpful hints regarding your next challenge and how to progress.
Combat is a big part of the game too. There are repopulated random encounters, as well as battles that are critical to quest at hand. Color Splash tackles battles in an interesting fashion that fits in with the game's unusual premise. The combat system also makes good use of the often neglected WiiU controller too.
As a part of your exploration you will often come across 'battle cards'. These are stored in your deck and you can select them and even paint them with your spare paint by clicking on them using the WiiU remote. Painting them drains your often precious stores of spare paint, but makes the cards more powerful, so it is a strategic trade-off.
Once combat begins the screen on the controller is used as a deck management tool, with you picking the cards that suit you and will be most effectively used to battle the threat you face.
These cards are then used in battle and come to life in the gameworld. You will have an opportunity to maximise their effect by timing button presses to coincide with the card’s specific attacks too. Thus, the game combines an arcade element with the process of strategically selecting the right cards for the right foe.
There are also a number of great moments where the cardboard and paper construction of the world is exploited very creatively with dramatic transformations.
Again, using your WiiU’s touch pad you can sometimes cut out sections of scenery to reveal hidden locations or there will be sticker and tabs you can remove that release bits of scenery that were previously stuck together.
Nintendo have been doing some really imaginative work in this area recently with the recent Yoshi and Splatoon releases and the fine creative work is continued here.
Mario Splash has a lot going for it. The music is great and the animated style is really endearing. Some will find the combat is a little one paced, but here too there is variety with strategic use of cards being essential if you are going to survive the often taxing boss battles later in the game.
You will have to revisit some places as you look to rescue characters previously inaccessible or open areas previously beyond reach, but the game is for the most part full of fun and wonder.
There are even some pretty funny minigames like the paper rock scissors inspired ‘Roe Sham Bo’.
Review: Paper Mario: Color Splash
System: Nintendo WiiU