Let’s Deconstruct Super Paper Mario – Part 4
Let’s get back on SPM, it was a nice break from the topic but now it’s time to look at even more of this decidedly strange game.
We’ve obtained a 3rd Pure Heart, and the villains look pretty silly now. Dimentio is sent by Count Bleck to deal with Mario and co., and we find out that O’Chunks had to write 1000 pages about his failure. Now THAT’S villainous, torture by forced writing! Mimi isn’t around to apologize for failing, maybe she died. Bleck postures about how strong he is for a bit, and how good it will be to destroy the world, and says something about his heart suffering. His sadness isn’t explained yet.
We go to Luigi, who appears to be in the same place Peach was last chapter. He meets two Goombas, and expresses concern for their well-being, even though he regularly squashes them flat. Also these particular Goombas are jerks.
Luigi actually starts to get in character, he’s scared of their location and afraid to leave. The Goombas build up his ego, and together they leave and meet up with Nastasha immediately. Luigi doesn’t get a deus ex machina rescue like Peach, so I guess we’ll be fighting brainwashed Luigi later.
And then we are treated to another episode of the two unknown people saying things on a black screen. The male is the Twilight person, and he had to sneak out of his dad’s castle to come see the human girl. They profess to being in love with each other, and we learn their names, Blumiere and Timpani. I call foul on this reveal, right now, but I will get into why later. We also see the void growing larger, and Merlon says that he found out that Luigi is the determining factor in which book, the LP or the DP, will predict the true future. Luigi? How? Why? Why not Mario, why not all four of the heroes at once?
I forgot to mention that in the last chapter I picked up a couple new Pixls. Their names were Boomer and Slim, and I’ll let you guess what they do (hint, they are things we could do in TTYD). I have to use them to find the new Heart Pillar, and on the way I also discover the Pit of 100 Trials. I’m going to skip that subject for now, it’s a post for some other time. Something more interesting about this trip is a bar I stumbled in to at the bottom of the Flipside, the Underwhere. A stupid, childish name, but the bartender is a fountain of exposition. He tells us about how Pure Hearts are made from love between people, and how the Ancients made them because their passions burned so hot when they were in love. I maintain that this makes it sound like the Ancients were sex fiends, given how often their passionate love is mentioned. There’s also a secret passage in this bar that leads to hidden casino of mini-games.
The mini-games are fun, there’s a memory match one, a light-gun fps sort of one, and a tilting/balance game. You can play these to win tokens to buy some decent prizes, but I didn’t spend enough time there. I wanted to get on with this chapter, because it’s usually the most popular one among the fans. This is chapter 3 – “When Geeks Attack”. As usual, the chapter opens with everything being draw in like an Etch-a-Sketch, complete with the noise. This time, it’s a graph paper/large pixels theme to the art. Anyway, immediately upon entering, Tippi is kidnapped by a giant, nerdy chameleon.
This is Francis, the single most inappropriate character in this entire game. He definitely doesn’t feel like a Mario character; he’s a nerdy fanboy who obsesses over TV shows and video games, even more than me! I may be a sad sort, but at least I don’t say “Hi-technical” every other sentence. This character is both the embodiment of every negative nerd stereotype AND the reason people like this chapter. Maybe it’s because his over-the-top waste of a life makes us all feel better? I think he’s fun to watch, but his character leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. This is what Nintendo thinks of us; we’re lazy shut-ins who can’t talk to women and watch anime all day. Also sometimes we kidnap talking butterflies. I don’t know why, but I feel kind of sad now.
A Pixl pops out of the bushes and tells us about Francis, and how to get to his Fort. He doesn’t join us until after this chapter, because he’s scared of being captured. The advice he gives us is unnecessary, because everything he tells us will be obvious and apparent once we reach the right spots. Case in point, when we reach a castle in the road, there is a giant red X on it. So you bomb it, causing the whole thing to explode. I didn’t need a hint for that, and I’m pretty sure even a child wouldn’t.
Bowser falls out of the castle, and doesn’t immediately recognize Mario. I don’t have a picture, but he says something like “I recognize that mustache from somewhere”, and it’s just silly. This man is your mortal enemy and is very visually distinctive, show some respect! I know Luigi doesn’t get any in this game, but at the very least Mario should! So Bowser states his intent to end you once and for all and take Peach, and declares that there will be no more sequels, THIS is the final battle. That line made me chuckle. This game breaks the 4th wall a lot to varying effectiveness, but I definitely laughed at that.
Peach asks Bowser to help you stop all dimensions from imploding, but Bowser is proud and stubborn. He says he’s final boss material, not a sidekick! And Bowser, you know that would be true…outside of Mario RPGs. I mean, look at your track record! You were the first boss in Super Mario RPG and then later a party member, a mind-controlled puppet (also not the final boss) in Superstar Saga, you were barely IN Partners in Time, you were the main character in Inside Story, a comic relief character in TTYD, and only in the original Paper Mario were you the final boss! Suck it up and accept it, you’re a party member again. Peach appeals to his desire to keep both his minions and the world intact, and it’s a lot like the scene in SMRPG where you recruit him, only 10x as many words, and dumber. I started playing as Bowser from here on. He does twice as much damage as Mario or Peach.
Bowser declares his intention to beat Count Bleck now, because anyone with a monocle and cape is just begging for a beating. I’m inclined to agree with you, Bowser. So we head off down the path, fighting a ton of soccer koopas along the way. They are painted like a soccer ball, and kick shells at you. This can lead to a lot of shells converging on you at once, but they also hurt each other, so the AI may not be too smart here. This is when I first learned that being at 25% or less health starts the obnoxious beeping noise that you normally would only hear in a Legend of Zelda game. Hey Nintendo, it was a bad idea there, and IT’S A BAD ONE HERE TOO. I didn’t want to waste a healing item while I still had 10 hp, so I just muted the game and kept going. Great design!
There’s a room that’s an homage to the original world 1-2, and while it was fun, it only served to remind me that this game has no original merit on its own, because the only fun parts are the ones stolen from other games. The new ideas are almost always bad. Take for instance, the part of this chapter when we reach the ocean. It is yet another narrow corridor, only blue this time. In TTYD and Paper Mario, we had huge open rooms all the time.
I wonder if, at any point, the devs for this game might have thought “hey, TTYD is better than this game in every way!”, but just kept going with making it? Did they not realize that they were making a dull, sterile world with elementary-school level writing? This leads me to make a horrible comparison. Super Paper Mario is to TTYD as the Star Wars Prequels are to the originals. Yes, I said it, this game was poorly conceived and released to make money by virtue of being set in a recognizable mythos. This may feel like a tangent, but I have a lot of time to think while playing this game.
Where was I? I feel like I just blacked out and raged for a bit. Not a great sign. Anyways, we meet a new Pixl, Thudley. He lets you ground pound! Also when you meet him, you don’t tell him you’re the hero, and he never asks or cares. He only cares about how cool you are. It’s fine though, because he never speaks again, and indeed, none of the Pixls besides Tippi speak after they join you. Characters, who needs ’em? So you fight a Giant Blooper, his weak point is his red tentacle. Why he has just one red tentacle, and its his weak point, who knows. I’m not a marine biologist, or a scientist of any kind. All I know is that he begs you to stop hitting it, but doesn’t stop attacking you, which seems unfair. After winning, you exit the ocean, and end up in the shade of an enormous tree. This tree is freaking huge! So huge, that Peach mistakes its shade for nightfall.
So you climb it, and at the top is Dimentio, who puts up barely any fight, and then spews a lot of incomprehensible nonsense. Bowser tells him it’s nonsense, and I was once again grateful to be playing as him. We leave, and we are treated to Dimentio plotting, and trying to decide if we’re strong enough to beat count Bleck yet. Maybe he’s on our side? We reach Francis’ Fort shortly after this.
Francis’ Fort has a lot of robot cat maids, and his rooms are full of posters, comics, manga, anime, computers, and dolls. There’s actually a ton of references to other Paper Mario games in these rooms, such as the TV show “The Grodus Chronicles”. We find a Pixl named Carrie, who can carry you over spikes and let you move faster. We also learn more things about Francis, like how he won’t go into the sun, he’s a furry, he complains both about shows he’s never seen and shows he likes, and when he sees Peach, he freezes up. He pulls out a laptop and boots up a program to talk to girls for him, and while it’s very strange, it’s still pretty funny and is a good satire of dating sims.
You choose Peach’s responses, but no matter what you choose, she ends up yelling at you (the player) and blowing up the laptop with Boomer. I’d say the 4th wall was dead, but this game never even gave it a chance. He then fights you, which is actually a lot braver than a lot of nerds I know. He goes down, you rescue Tippi, and she is so grateful and filled with happiness that a Pure Heart appears out of nowhere! She comments that she feels different somehow, like Mario and co. changed her. I’m wondering if we could get the other Pure Hearts just as easily? Also, the Hearts were already supposed to be exist, right? Not be made by us? This game isn’t following its own internal logic, but who cares. That’s the nerd chapter, and while it doesn’t hit very close to home with me, I was offended anyway.