Paper Mario, known in Japanese as Mario Story and originally known as Super Mario RPG 2, is a role-playing video game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 game console. It was first released in Japan on August 11, 2000, in North America on February 5, 2001, and in Europe and Australia on October 5, 2001. Paper Mario was re-released for Nintendo's Wii Virtual Console in July 2007 as well as Wii U Virtual Console in 2015.
Paper Mario is set in the Mushroom Kingdom as the protagonist Mario tries to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser, who has imprisoned the seven 'Star Spirits', lifted her castle into the sky and has successfully defeated his foe after stealing the Star Rod from Star Haven and making himself invulnerable to any attacks. To save Mushroom Kingdom, rescue Peach, get the castle back, and defeat Bowser, Mario must locate the Star Spirits, who can negate the effects of the stolen Star Rod, by defeating Bowser's minions guarding the star spirits. The player controls Mario and a number of partners to solve puzzles in the game's overworld and defeat enemies in a turn-based battle system. The battles are unique in that the player can influence the effectiveness of attacks by performing required controller inputs known as 'action commands'.
Paper Mario is the second Mario role-playing game to be released (following Super Mario RPG) and is the first installment for the Paper Mario series. Paper Mario is the predecessor to the GameCube game Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the Wii game Super Paper Mario, the 3DS game Paper Mario: Sticker Star and the Wii U game Paper Mario: Color Splash. The game received a positive reaction from the media, attaining an aggregate score of 88% from GameRankings and 93% from Metacritic. It was rated the 63rd best game made on a Nintendo system in Nintendo Power's 'Top 200 Games' list in 2006.
Paper Mario combines traditional role-playing game (RPG) elements with concepts and features from the Mario series. For the majority of the game, the player controls Mario, who can jump and use his hammer to overcome physical obstacles placed in the game's overworld. Many of the game's puzzles and boundaries are based upon the abilities of Mario's partners, who each have a specialised skill required for progression in the game. The player accumulates partners as they advance into different locations; only one partner can accompany Mario in the overworld, although the player can interchange them at any time.
These characters also assist Mario in the game's turn-based battles, where damage inflicted against them results in temporary paralysis as the characters do not have individual HP statistics. Attacks in the game are similar to those in traditional RPGs, although the player can influence the power of a move when attacking or defending by timing a button-press accurately or performing some other action command as required. Mario and his partners have a finite capacity to perform special moves, with each of these consuming a particular number of flower points (FP) when performed. Such statistics can be increased by earning Star Points (experience points) in combat to level up. There is also an on-screen gauge to display Star Energy, which is required to perform another type of move that accumulate in number as the player advances through the game. The player can locate hidden battle upgrades in the game's overworld, which promotes one partner character to a new rank at a time.
Progression through Paper Mario depends upon interaction with the game's non-player characters (NPCs), who will often offer clues or detail the next event in the storyline. As in other RPGs, the player can find or purchase items from NPCs to help in and outside of combat. Badges can also be obtained that yield bonuses ranging from added moves to gradual health restoration during combat; each consumes a set number of Badge Points (BP), meaning Mario can only equip a limited number of badges at a time. Princess Peach is playable at particular points in the game as a recurring sidequest. The objectives and actions of each transition to Peach vary, although most are stealth-based.
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