Paper Mario's gameplay is a hybrid of traditional Japanese role-playing video games with Mario-esque platforming features; Mario has the ability to jump in both the overworld and in turn-based battles, and it remains Mario's most central action in the game. The player controls Mario and a party of followers through varied locations in the Mushroom Kingdom, exploring dungeons, managing profiles and battling enemies. The title refers to the game's arts and crafts aesthetic; large parts of the environment are renders as three-dimensional constructs of paper and cardboard while nearly every character in the game is drawn as a flat 2D sprite, revealing itself as paper-thin when turning around.
Paper Mario was initially in development for the Nintendo 64DD under the name Mario RPG 2 and intended as a sequel to Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. It later became the first installment of the Paper Mario series and would eventually receive several sequels; the first in the same style of gameplay, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, followed by several in different playstyles, Super Paper Mario, Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Paper Mario Color Splash.
The story opens with a place that lies far beyond the sky and far above the clouds, called Star Haven. Within the sanctuary of Star Haven lies the Star Rod, which can grant any and all wishes. The seven Star Spirits use this artifact to watch over and protect Mushroom Kingdom. Until one day, Bowser and Kammy Koopa appear in the sanctuary. Bowser shatters the protective seal over the Star Rod and grabs it in hopes of using its power to defeat Mario. The Star Spirits are then trapped inside cards by Kammy Koopa.
Prologue: A Plea from the Stars
The prologue begins with Mario and Luigi receiving an invitation to a party from Princess Peach. Upon arriving at the castle full of guests from all over the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario proceeds to meet the Princess. However, their meeting is interrupted by Bowser's Castle rising from the earth beneath Peach's Castle and lifting both buildings into space. Bowser and Kammy Koopa then appear to kidnap the princess. Mario attempts to fight off Bowser, but finds himself outmatched when Bowser takes out the Star Rod and uses it to make himself invincible. Mario is then cast out of a window and plummets back towards the ground, which allows Bowser to take a hold of the Princess and lock her up.
Back on the ground, the seven Star Spirits manifest over Mario, who has suffered severe injuries. They use a portion of their remaining power to save his life. Mario's unconscious body is then found by a family of friendly Goombas, who carry him back to their village. While knocked out, he receives a vision from Eldstar, urging him to go to Shooting Star Summit. After waking up, Mario meets the Goomba family who found him, including Goombario, the family's son. Before Mario can leave, Kammy Koopa appears, confirms that Mario is still alive, and blocks the gate out of Goomba Village with a yellow block. After a short venture that involves Mario saving the family's grandfather and a battle with a local troublemaker called Jr. Troopa, Mario breaks the block using Goompa's hammer. Goompa requests that Goombario join Mario on his quest and together they leave Goomba Village. While traveling Goomba Road, the connecting strip of land between Goomba Village and Toad Town, Mario and Goombario are confronted by the Goomba King and his two lackeys, the Goomba Bros.. The protagonists manage to defeat them and reach Toad Town, where they continue on towards Shooting Star Summit.
Atop the summit, Mario is greeted by manifestations of the Star Spirits, who tell Mario the story of how Bowser stole the Star Rod. They further explain that the cards in which they have been trapped are now divided among Bowser's forces, and that Mario must save and release them. In doing that, Mario will gain a power called the Star Beam, which can be used to break Bowser's invincibility and allows Mario to defeat him.
Meanwhile, in the sky, Princess Peach finds herself trapped in her room. Not knowing what to do, she wishes for someone to help her, which summons Twink, a Star Kid who only recently ascended to Star Haven. Though unable to help Peach deal with Bowser directly, he agrees to deliver the Lucky Star, Peach's magical pendant, to Mario and help in whichever way he can.
As Mario returns from Shooting Star Summit, Twink runs into him and delivers the Lucky Star which enables Mario to use Action Commands. Upon re-entering Toad Town, Mario learns that Merlon, the local fortune-teller, is looking for him. Merlon informs Mario that his search for the Star Spirits will lead him to the fortress east of Toad Town, where the Koopa Bros. are holding a Star Spirit captive. As Mario attempts to leave town, four black-garbed Toads block his way who turn out to be the Koopa Bros. in disguise. They flee once Merlon casts a spell to reveal their true identity.
Names in other languages
Chapter 1: Storming Koopa Bros. Fortress
After leaving town, Mario finds the way to the Koopa Bros. Fortress inaccessible to him, so he takes another path to Koopa Village. He arrives to see the local Koopa Troopas being harassed by Fuzzies, who are stealing their shells. One of the victims is Kooper, who asks Mario for assistance in getting his shell back. Mario then chases the thieving Fuzzies down and manages to retrieve the shell. Upon returning it, Kooper is so grateful that he joins Mario's group.
With the help of Kooper's special ability, Mario is able to reach the Koopa Bros. Fortress. During his assault on the fortress, he triggers a trapdoor which drops him into a prison cell full of Bob-ombs. One of them, Bombette, explains that they were working for the Koopa Bros. but then later got locked up for revolting against them. She helps Mario and his friends escape by blowing up a crack in the cell wall and decides to accompany him. The group travels to the top of the fortress where they confront the Koopa Bros.. They initially try to scare Mario off by hiding inside a fake Bowser suit, but their attempt fails and the suit is destroyed. They then decide to fight Mario and his friends in a direct battle, but are eventually defeated and knocked off the arena into the prison cell from earlier. With the Koopa Bros. defeated, Eldstar is released and adds his powers to Mario, teaching him the ability to use Focus, as well as the special move Refresh.
Meanwhile, Peach, still trapped in her castle in the sky, remembers the existence of a secret passage that leads out of her room. She and Twink use it to leave the room and move to another room in the castle, where they find Bowser's diary. By reading it, Peach and Twink learn that another Star Spirit is being held captive in Dry Dry Desert. At that moment, Bowser enters the room and catches the Princess reading his diary. Enraged, he summons two guardsmen to escort her back to her room, while Twink quietly leaves the scene undetected to inform Mario of the next Star Spirit's location.
Names in other languages
Chapter 2: The Mystery of Dry, Dry Ruins
The group takes the train to Mt. Rugged, a mountain beyond which the desert lies. On their way they run into Parakarry, a distressed mailman who has dropped letters all over Mt. Rugged and asks Mario for assistance. With no other leads to go on and no way to reach the desert on his own, Mario accepts to find the letters. Parakarry is grateful and joins Mario's group, and with his new ally's flying ability Mario can press on towards the other side of the mountain.
After crossing Dry Dry Desert, Mario enters a settlement called Dry Dry Outpost. After some information gathering, he meets with the town leader Moustafa, who hands him a Pulse Stone and tells him to let it guide him to the resting place of Dry Dry Ruins. Following the Pulse Stone's signal through the desert, Mario finds a stone pedestal to set the stone into. The entrance to Dry Dry Ruins rises out of the sand before Mario, and he enters the ruins.
Inside, a ghostly wail tries to warn Mario against continuing his descent. Mario keeps going until he finds Tutankoopa, the source of the voice and the guardian of the second Star Spirit. After battling Mario and losing, he is chased out by his Chomp, allowing Mario to free the Star Spirit Mamar.
In Peach's Castle, Bowser visits the Princess in her room. He tells her that, with Tutankoopa defeated, he now intends to stop Mario by using Tubba Blubba, who is allegedly invincible. However, Kammy Koopa rushes in to tell Bowser that the Star Spirit guarded by Tubba Blubba has escaped. Once they leave, Peach and Twink hypothesize that even an invincible person must have a weakness. After some investigating, their theory is confirmed by an overheard conversation between Bowser's men, though Peach never learns what the weakness is exactly.
After returning to Toad Town, Mario finds cowardly Toad guard who claims he saw a ghost vanish into Forever Forest. Mario investigates and meets Bootler, a servant of Lady Bow who requests Mario's presence in her mansion in the heart of the forest.
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Chapter 3: The "Invincible" Tubba Blubba
Mario follows the invitation through the maze-like forest and finds the mansion he was referred to. After overcoming the challenges inside, Mario meets Lady Bow. He is told about Tubba Blubba, the threat he poses, and the secret that may be related to his weakness. Bow then uses the Star Spirit Skolar the Boos found and captured as leverage to get Mario to defeat Tubba Blubba. She also joins Mario because she is tired of seeing her fellow Boos suffering, and because Mario will need her to get to Tubba Blubba's Castle.
The group leaves Forever Forest and heads towards Gusty Gulch. There, also witness Tubba Blubba attacking a ghost village and devouring a Boo. Mario and his friends follow Tubba Blubba to his castle and sneak their way up to the master bedroom. In a chest next to the bed, Mario finds Yakkey, a talkative key who tells them that Tubba Blubba's secret is located inside Windy Mill near the foot of the gulch, and that he is the literal key to that secret. Yakkey concludes that Mario must be a thief, so he alerts Tubba Blubba of them. With a furious Tubba Blubba chasing them, Mario and his friends escape the castle, run all the way down to Windy Mill, and unlock it with the key.
Inside Windy Mill they find Tubba Blubba's secret, which turns out to be his heart. The heart reveals that it has been controlling the body at the castle remotely the whole time. After Mario proves to be superior in battle, the heart escapes. The group chases the heart outside the mill, where Tubba Blubba's body has caught up with them. Heart and body re-unite and attempt to fight Mario again, but with the heart being back inside Tubba Blubba's body, he is vulnerable again. After his defeat, Tubba Blubba decides to release all the Boos he has eaten, and reveals he is really a sensitive guy who didn't like being scared by the Boos. Lady Bow, pleased with this outcome, holds up her part of the bargain and has Skolar freed. She also informs Mario of her intention to follow him for a while longer.
In Peach's Castle, Twink and the Princess decide to sneak out of the bedroom again. They immediately run into Bowser and Kammy Koopa, who are discussing how Mario's next target will be Shy Guy's Toy Box, and pondering what the best way to defeat him there would be. Bowser then tries to coax Peach into telling him about Mario's secret weaknesses, and sends Kammy Koopa to impede his progress using this information.
After returning to Toad Town from his trip to Forever Forest, Mario finds the town overrun with Shy Guys stealing people's belongings. Mario and his friends are able to trace the source of the Shy Guy attacks to one of the vacant houses in the residential area. By hiding inside with Lady Bow's ability, Mario is able to observe one of the Shy Guys open a hidden door to a secret back room hiding the Shy Guy's Toy Box.
Names in other languages
Chapter 4: Trials in the Toy Box
Mario finds himself at Blue Station, one of four train stations within the toy box. While facing its challenges, Mario continuously runs into obstacles he cannot overcome by himself, such as the railway system missing a train, or a Gourmet Guy blocking the way. In these cases the Mario must fight Shy Guys, retrieve items that were stolen from Toad Town citizens, and returns them to their owners. At certain points, Kammy Koopa appears and attempts to execute Bowser's plan by summoning obstacles relating to the answers Peach gave as Mario's weaknesses.
Eventually, Mario reaches Red Station, where he encounters and battles the Big Lantern Ghost, who upon defeat drops his lantern and flees. A voice calls out to Mario from inside the lantern, who turns out to be Watt, a Li'l Sparky who was captured by the Shy Guys and used as a light source. Being grateful for being rescued, Watt joins Mario's group.
After that, Mario locates the Shy Guys' central base of operations, where he meets their leader, General Guy. He rallies his men and sends several waves of Shy Guy infantry against Mario and his friends, who dispatch them one after another, and eventually himself. After defeat, General Guy and his Shy Guys flee, leaving Mario able to rescue Muskular, the fourth Star Spirit.
In Peach's Castle, the Princess encounters Gourmet Guy during one of her secret trips outside of her room. Gourmet Guy tells Peach that he is technically obligated to let the guards know he saw her wandering around, but that he might look the other way if she went into the castle kitchen and baked him a cake. Peach complies and, with Twink's help, bakes a strawberry cake, which makes Gourmet Guy ecstatic. Once he regains his composure, he informs Peach that the next Star Spirit is being held on Lavalava Island, an island to the south. Twink then leaves to relay this information to Mario, while the Princess ends up being spotted by Kammy Koopa and escorted back to her room.
Right after Mario exits Shy Guy's Toy Box with Muskular, Twink arrives and informs Mario of what they have learned from Gourmet Guy. Mario heads to the Toad Town harbor where he meets Kolorado the archeologist and a whale. The whale offers to carry Mario and his friends over the ocean, but only if Mario enters its belly to cure a stomach ache it has been having. Inside, Mario finds an angry caterpillar called Fuzzipede who is irritating the whale's stomach. Mario resolves the problem and retrieves Fuzzipede. Mario's group and Kolorado then ride the whale to Lavalava Island, Mario to rescue the Star Spirit, and Kolorado to find treasure.
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Chapter 5: Hot, Hot Times on Lavalava Island
On the island, Mario and Kolorado head to the entrance of Mt. Lavalava, which is inaccessible due to a lava pit. Kolorado suggests visiting the nearby Yoshi's Village to ask the locals for information, but the village is in a state of panic because their kids went missing in Jade Jungle. Mario heads into the Jungle to search the missing children and finds their caretaker, Sushie, stuck in a tree. After being freed, she joins Mario to locate all of the missing Yoshis and bring them back to their parents. With the kids returned and the villagers pacified, Mario is able to talk to the Village Leader about reaching Mt. Lavalava. The Yoshi suggests seeking out Raphael the Raven in Jade Jungle and gives Mario a Jade Raven, the key to finding him. Mario finds Raphael the Raven on top of a large tree in an area accessible only with the Jade Raven. Raphael tells Mario that he has foreseen their meeting and offers his assistance by summoning his Raven followers and heads to the foot of Mt. Lavalava, where he has them construct a set of ropeways to help Mario across the lava river. Kolorado catches up with them, and him and Mario enter the volcano together.
Inside, Mario and Kolorado explore the caverns of Mt. Lavalava, with the former doing most of the work and the latter suffering various injuries while trying to be useful. Deep inside the mountain they meet Lava Piranha, warden of the Star Spirit, who identifies Mario as an enemy and attacks. Mario defeats it and releases Misstar, but at that moment the volcano starts to erupt. As they flee, Kolorado gets distracted by a treasure chest which he presumes contains the treasure he has been looking for. Before the lava reaches them, Misstar grabs him and Mario's group and escapes the volcano through the caldera. Behind them, the treasure chest gets blown out of the mountain and into Jade Jungle.
In the meantime, Peach encounters three of Bowser's minions setting up a quiz show. Since they are one player short, they ask Peach to participate. During the show, several of the questions reveal that there is a Star Spirit held captive in a place called Flower Fields. For her participation in the game she is handed a Sneaky Parasol, an item that can copy the appearance of whoever the holder is facing. But before she can make any use of it, Bowser enters the room, spots the Princess, and has her escorted back to her room.
In Toad Town, Twink informs Mario that the sixth Star Spirit is hidden in Flower Fields. To get there, Mario must find the four Magical Seeds from the Bub-ulbs across the world. Kolorado has found one, which he trades for Mt. Lavalava's treasure in the chest, the Volcano Vase. Planting the Magical Seeds in Toad Town creates the doorway to Flower Fields.
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Chapter 6: Dark Days in Flower Fields
When Mario enters the Flower Fields, he sees it shrouded in clouds. The Wise Wisterwood tells Mario that the clouds are the result of the evil Huff N. Puff, who is using his Puff-Puff Machine to cover Flower Fields in clouds. Because of this, the Sun can't rise to the sky. Mario thus needs to destroy the Puff-Puff Machine to make the Sun rise to the sky, and help the local flowers to acquire a Magical Bean and Miracle Water. These will create a beanstalk up to the Cloudy Climb where Huff N. Puff is hiding with the Star Spirit. Mario also meets a strange Lakitu called Lakilester who insists his name is Spike. He fights Mario under the orders of Huff N. Puff, but after losing his girlfriend Lakilulu asks Mario to spare him. Lakilester decides to join Mario because he sees no reason in working for Huff N. Puff. When the beanstalk is grown, Mario heads to the Cloudy Climb and defeats Huff N. Puff for the sixth Star Spirit, Klevar.
Back at the castle, Peach uses the Sneaky Parasol she won at the quiz show to turn herself into one of the guards, allowing her to move around the castle without fear of getting caught. Peach then learns that Kammy Koopa has finished preparations for something to defeat Mario. Before she can find out what it is, however, Kammy notices a peculiar smell coming from her disguise and turns her back to normal with a spell. She is then taken back to her room yet again.
Back in Toad Town, Mario finds a Ninji waiting for him at Merlon's house. The Ninji informs that Merle of Starborn Valley has something important to tell Mario, and that he must go there. Mario finds an Warp Pipe to the Shiver City in Toad Town Tunnels.
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Chapter 7: A Star Spirit on Ice
In Shiver City, Mario finds out that he can't go to Starborn Valley unless the mayor gives permission. When Mario visits the mayor's house, though, he finds him knocked out on the floor and becomes a suspect for the mayor's murder. Following a clue, he finds a novelist called Herringway, who agrees to help with the investigation. As the situation gets complicated, the mayor suddenly wakes up. He explains he was knocked unconscious by a present for Herringway. The mayor then allows Mario to go to Starborn Valley.
Once Mario reaches the outskirts of Starborn Valley, amonster called Monstar appears. Mario defeats it and reveals it to actually be a bunch of very protective Star Kids. Mario then meets Merle who tells Mario to go to the Crystal Palace where the seventh Star Spirit is being held. He then gives Mario a scarf, telling him to use it on something special, then telling Mario to go and ask Mayor Penguin for the other special item, a bucket. Mario goes a line of snowmen on the path between Shiver City and Starborn Valley, one missing a scarf and the other missing a hat. Mario gives the items to the respective owners. The snowmen thank him and open the way to the Crystal Palace. Along the way to the palace, they meet Madam Merlar, who gives Mario the Star Stone, letting him reach the palace. Once they reach the Crystal King at the palace's back, Mario defeats him for the final Star Spirit, Kalmar.
In Peach's Castle, as Bowser tries to talk Peach to stop thinking that Mario will beat him, Kammy informs him that Mario now has all seven Star Spirits. Bowser orders the Koopa Troop to their battle stations and has the princess tied up to keep her out of mischief. Twink jumps out and tries attacking him, but Bowser simply swats him out of the window.
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Chapter 8: A Star-Powered Showdown!
After going through Bowser's Castle, falling for traps, solving puzzles and getting attacked by Jr. Troopa one last time in the process, Mario and his team find Princess Peach. Bowser fights Mario in the same room where they fought at the beginning, but the Star Beam now lets Mario stop Bowser's invincibility. Bowser takes Peach and flees, and the group follows him up to the castle roof. Kammy then uses her Power Platform to pump Bowser up in both power and size; when he powers up with the Star Rod, Mario finds that the Star Beam is now ineffective.
Meanwhile, Twink frees the Princess, and the two battle Kammy. Twink's attacks start out ineffective, but as Peach uses Focus, he becomes stronger to the point where Kammy's attacks don't harm him. Kammy remembers before her defeat that the Stars get their power from the wishes of ordinary people. Twink urges the Princess to make a wish for everyone in the Mushroom Kingdom while he goes to help Mario and the Star Spirits. Peach's wish fills the Star Spirits with more power, allowing them to create Peach Beam, which cuts through Bowser's enhanced power. After the final battle that leaves Bowser defeated, Mario recovers and returns the Star Rod to the Star Spirits. Bowser's Castle begins to self-destruct, but the Star Spirits protect Peach's Castle and restore it to its spot and the rest of the world to its former peace.
Later, Mario and his partners receive invitations from Princess Peach for another party. When Mario arrives at the castle, Peach gives a speech where she thanks everyone for restoring the peace back to the Mushroom Kingdom. After the speech, the staff credits begin to roll as the scene switches to a parade in which the characters in the game participate. At the end, Mario and Peach walk to Mario's House and watch a fireworks display.
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For the majority of the game, the player controls Mario through various locations in the overworld. The game is divided into chapters, each of them generally being set in a new area. Other characters can frequently be found roaming these areas. Some of them are friendly and can be talked to or bartered with, some will join Mario's team, others are hostile and will start a battle if approached.
On his way, Mario and his friends can rely on several abilities that help them progress. Mario can jump to reach higher ground, traverse gaps, or reach blocks floating above his head. Early on he also gains a hammer that can be used to break larger blocks or other obstacles. At later points the player can find special items that upgrade Mario's jump and hammer and give him new abilities to work with.
At the end of each chapter, an interlude occurs in which the player controls Princess Peach instead of Mario. Peach does not have access to Mario's abilities, party members, or inventory. Items picked up as Peach can be deposited in the mysterious treasure chest in the castle storage room. The items can later be picked up by Mario from the chest's counterpart at Merluvlee's Place.
A list of reoccurring devices that Mario can encounter during his quest. Some of them are beneficial and help the player by making traveling easier, containing items, or making Mario and his friends stronger. Others serve as obstacles and require a specific ability, item, or party member to overcome.
An important part of Paper Mario is the partner system, which features characters who join Mario at certain points of his journey and assist him on his quest. Every partner character has an overworld ability that can be used by pressing and usually serves to aid in traversing the landscape in some way. Additionally they can aid Mario in battle by using various moves.
Ranking up partners
Each partner joins Mario at their most basic rank, able to choose from two moves in battle. If the player manages to locate a Super Block, they may upgrade one of their currently available partners to the next rank, which increases the damage output of all their attacks and lets them learn a new move.
The first time a partner is upgraded, they advance to Super Rank. To upgrade them even further, Mario needs to be in possession of the Ultra Stone, which allows partners to reach Ultra Rank. At Ultra Rank, each partner has four moves and cannot be upgraded further. There are 16 Super Blocks in the game in total, enough to advance every partner to their final rank.
List of partners
Paper Mario uses a turn-based side-view battle system. Enemies are visible on the overworld and initiate a battle if the player makes contact with them. The manner in which this happens also determines whether the battle starts in Mario's or the enemies' favor; Successfully attacking an enemy on the overworld nets Mario a preemptive hit on an enemy, whereas getting hit by an attack lets one enemy damage Mario before the fight starts proper.
On the battle screen itself, Mario and one partner of his choice find themselves on the left side of the screen, with the enemy group occupying the right side. What kind of enemies Mario faces is determined by which type of enemy initiated the battle on the overworld, with several different formations being possible.
To win a battle, the player must eliminate all enemies on the opposite side, either by defeating them or by making them run away. An enemy counts as defeated if their Heart Points (HP) are dropped to zero. Likewise, if Mario's HP drop to zero without a Life Shroom in his inventory, the battle is lost. The player can keep track of Mario's HP and various other stats with the battle statistic on the top side of the screen.
During battle, the player and the enemies take turns attacking. The damage an attack will do is determined by the attack's power minus the target's defense rating. During the player's turn, Mario and the currently active partner each get an action, the order being changeable by pressing .
Mario's main attack options all fall into the two categories of "hammer" and "jump". The condition of the targeted enemy may make one or both of these options either inaccessible or inadvisable. Hammer attacks have a limited range and can only attack the first ground-bound enemy of a group. Jump attacks on the other hand can reach past enemies standing in the way, or attack enemies flying out of reach, but jumping on a spiked or otherwise hazardous foe cancels the attack and makes Mario take 1 HP of damage.
Both hammer and jump attacks can be customized by outfitting Mario with certain badges. Custom hammer or jump attacks usually consume Flower Points (FP) and cannot be used if the required amount is not available.
Once unlocked by finding the correlating Star Spirits, Mario is also able to use special moves. These can have a wide variety of effects depending on the move used, but all of them consume a certain amount of Star Power (SP). Mario's SP is represented by a series of colored bars at the top of the screen, and each bar equals one unit. A small amount of SP is regained with each turn, but more may be restored by using the Focus command.
Aside from hammer and jump attacks or special moves, Mario can also use items from his inventory, do nothing, or attempt to run away. During an escape attempt, a bar appears that may be anywhere between empty and completely full, depending on the number and level of enemies. The player can slowly fill the bar by repeatedly tapping . While escaping is in progress, an indicator slides back and forth between the right and left side of the bar until it stops. If it stops on the filled portion of the bar, the escape attempt is successful and Mario returns to the overworld (while losing a few coins in the process). Otherwise Mario wastes his action and the battle continues.
The partner's options are more limited than Mario's, but can be increased by equipping badges. Under normal circumstances, a partner can either attack or do nothing, the latter of which skips their action. Depending on their level, a partner can have up to four attacks in their repertoire. At least one of these attacks is always free to use, whereas other, more potent attacks cost Flower Points.
The partners do not have their own FP and instead draw from the same pool as Mario does. Special care has to be taken with partners who use jump-type attacks, because they are susceptible to the same hazards as Mario's jump command, which means the partner can get injured by jumping on certain enemies.
Only one partner can be used during battle, but the currently active one can be swapped out for a different partner during battle. This wastes an action unless the Quick Change badge is equipped.
After both Mario and his partner have taken their actions, all able enemies will then attack one after another. In most cases, enemies will target Mario, but some attacks can hit the partner, either separately or additionally to Mario. Since Mario's partners do not have HP themselves, every time they get injured, it disables them for a set amount of turns, one turn for each point of damage.
Once all enemies have attacked, the current turn ends and the next one starts from the beginning again, with the player choosing Mario and his partners' actions.
Some items and attacks afflict their targets with conditions that affect their battle performance. In most cases, these status effects are temporary and the number of turns they will last is denoted along with an icon that indicates what the status effect is. Status effects only apply in battle and wear off once the player returns to the overworld.
After Mario receives the Lucky Star at the foot of Shooting Star Summit, the player is able to use action commands in battle. From then on, whenever Mario or his partner execute an attack, a prompt shows up and input from the player is required. If the action command is successful, attacks will do bonus damage or have other additional effects.
Likewise, if during an enemy's turn the player presses right before an attack connects, Mario will guard against it and the damage will be reduced by 1. Additionally, if an enemy attack would cause a status effect, successfully guarding against it cancels the effect.
End of battle
Once all enemies have been eliminated, Mario receives experience in form of Star Points. The amount of Star Points received depends on the levels of the defeated enemies as well as that of Mario himself, and may be anywhere between none and 100. Whenever Mario's Star Point count reaches 100, his level increases by one and the player gets to choose whether to increase Heart Points, Flower Points, or Badge Points.
After the battle ends, the game shifts back to the overworld. The enemy that triggered the battle disappears and leaves behind coins, hearts or flowers that restore HP and FP respectively, or items.
Items in Paper Mario come in two categories: Regular items and key items.
Regular items are helpful goodies with a variety of effects, like restoring HP or FP, or dealing damage to enemies. This type of item is commonly sold in shops. They also occasionally get dropped by defeated enemies, can be found in ? Blocks, or acquired by having Tayce T. cook.
Mario can carry up to ten of these items, and they can be used by pressing . If an eleventh item is picked up, one of the other 10 has to be discarded before it can be added to the inventory. Up to 32 regular items can be stored by using the check system in shops.
Key items are unique objects that are used to progress through the story, or for the completion of sidequests. They are listed separately from regular items and do not affect Mario's carrying capacity. If a situation requires a key item and Mario has said item in his possession, a prompt shows up and the item can be given away. Key items stay with Mario until they are needed; They cannot be dropped, sold, or stored.
Badges are helpful items that grant Mario and his friends a number of active or passive bonuses when he equips them. The effects can range from changing the way Mario's overworld abilities work, to affecting his stats or giving him new attacks, to increasing the versatility of his party members.
Mario has a stat called Badge Points (BP), which affects how many badges can be equipped at the same time. Every badge has also a BP rating, which tells the player how many free BP are needed to equip the badge in question. Equipping a badge will disable an amount of Mario's BP equal to the badge's BP rating, and unequipping it will free those BP up again. Mario starts the game with three BP and gains an additional three every time the player chooses to upgrade BP during a level up.
Badges can be found in red ? Blocks, in some treasure chests, or lying around in dungeons. They can also be purchased from Rowf's Badge Shop in central Toad Town, gotten as rewards from side quests, and traded in exchange for Star Pieces by Merlow at Merluvlee's Place.
List of Badges
Star Spirits and Special Moves
The seven Star Spirits live in Star Haven as the guardians of the Star Rod. The story of Paper Mario begins with their fall from power, when Bowser and Kammy Koopa attack Star Haven, steal the Star Rod, and capture the Star Spirits. Rescuing them is one of the main objectives of the game, as they are the only ones who can counter the Star Rod's power and help Mario triumph over Bowser.
The captured Star Spirits are kept separately and spread all over the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario rescues one Star Spirit at the end of every chapter, bar the final one, after defeating the chapter boss. With every Star Spirit returning to Star Haven, Mario's Star Power increases by one and he learns a new Special Move.
Once every Star Spirit has been rescued, Mario gains access to Star Haven, where he obtains the ultimate star power: the Star Beam. The spirits also permit him to use the Star Ship, a vessel able to reach Bowser's Castle in the sky.
Special Moves gained at the end of every chapter, except chapter 8.
Special case powers
Special Moves that cost no SP to use and serve a unique purpose.
Enemies and Bosses
The overworld of Paper Mario is filled with many characters that Mario can talk to. When approached, a speech bubble icon will appear above their head which signifies they can be spoken to.
List of named / notable NPCs in Paper Mario
Star Pieces are golden octahedral star fragments that can be found all over the Mushroom Kingdom. There are 160 in total. They can be collected and brought to Merlow at Shooting Star Summit in exchange for Badges.
A lot of Star Pieces can be found lying around in the overworld, usually hidden behind objects. Some Star Pieces are buried beneath hidden floor panels that require either the Spin Jump or the Ultra Hammer to collect. Star Pieces are also often given away as rewards or sold as wares by NPCs.
Chuck Quizmo's quizzes
Chuck Quizmo is a character who can randomly be encountered in one of the game's many towns. Upon finding him, the player has the opportunity to partake in a quiz show. Chuck Quizmo will ask the player a trivia question about the game and present them with three possible answers. If the correct choice is selected, the player receives a Star Piece. Otherwise Chuck Quizmo has to be found again for another try. There are 64 questions in total the player can answer.
Toad Town Dojo
After Mario talks to the Star Spirits on Shooting Star Summit and obtains the Lucky Star, the Toad Town Dojo opens. The dojo is located on the second story of the Shroom Grocery building. Here Mario can fight against Chan and Lee, as well as the dojo's Master himself.
Fighting in the dojo does not give Mario Star Points, but with each win the player receives a degree and unlocks the next fight. Defeating the Master's third form earns Mario the Diploma for besting the strongest enemy in Paper Mario.
Koopa Koot's favors
When speaking to Koopa Koot after resolving Koopa Village's Fuzzy problem, he will ask Mario for a favor, which usually entails obtaining a specific item and bringing it to him. Upon completion of the favor, Koopa Koot will usually reward Mario with a single coin. In some cases however, the reward will be three Star Pieces in a bulk, or an item that unlocks new minigames in the Toad Town Playroom.
Tayce T.'s recipes
Tayce T. is an elderly Toad woman who lives in Toad Town. She is initially inaccessible due to debris blocking the road to her house, but can be talked to after the Koopa Bros. have been defeated.
Mario can give Tayce T. ingredients which she will turn into new items by cooking them. At first only one item can be given to her at a time, but after bringing her the Cookbook from Shy Guy's Toy Box in chapter 4, the player unlocks the ability to have her use two ingredients. The blackboard in Mario's house is keeping track of how many recipes have been found and can be checked at any time.
In various locations of the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario can find letters that have been dropped by Parakarry. Once Parakarry has joined Mario's group, Mario can deliver these lost letters to their intended recipients by talking to them while Parakarry is the active partner. Doing so rewards the player with Star Pieces, or other items.
A lot of different vendors, establishments, and merchants can be found all over the Mushroom Kingdom. Most of them offer their services for coins which can be found inside ?-Blocks or earned from battling enemies.
Toad Houses are establishments that can be found in all major towns featured in Paper Mario. They can be recognized by their signs which show a picture of a Toad's head. Toad Houses serve as hotels and Mario and his friends can rest in them to restore Heart Points, Flower Points, and Star Power. Unlike inns in traditional RPGs, they do not charge money for this service.
Almost all Toad Houses are managed by Toads, the sole exception being the one in Star Haven which is owned by a Star instead.
Scattered across the Mushroom Kingdom are various common goods stores, identifiable by their Fire Flower sign. Here the player can take their coins to buy items that cause different effects in and out of battles. Additionally, they may get a coin refund by selling items they do not want.
Most items can be sold to the shopkeepers for a set price at every shop, however, some items will sell at a higher price depending on the location of the shop and the item itself. Mario can make a profit by purchasing an item at a low price from one store and selling it to another that will buy it at a higher price.
Item Shops also offer a check system that allows the player to store and withdraw items. This storage space is shared by all stores, which means the player can store an item in one shop and then later withdraw it from another. Up to 32 items can be stored that way.
Merlon is Toad Town's local fortune-teller. His services become available after Mario has visited Shooting Star Summit and gotten the Lucky Star. For a fee of five coins, Merlon will foresee Mario's future and give the player a hint about the next game objective.
Merluvlee is another fortune-teller who lives at the foot of Shooting Star Summit. She will divine the locations of Star Pieces, Badges, and Super Blocks. She charges 5 coins, 20 coins, and 30 coins for each of them respectively.
Her house also contains the counterpart to the mysterious treasure chest in Peach's castle. Any items that Princess Peach puts into the chest on her end can be retrieved by Mario here.
Merluvlee's brother Merlow can be found on the second floor of the house. He informs Mario that he collects Star Pieces and is willing to trade Badges for them. Getting Badges from Merlow is the main purpose of collecting Star Pieces.
Toad Town post office
The Post Office is a building located in central Toad Town, across the street from Merlon's house. Over the course of the game, letters addressed at Mario's partners arrive there, written by different characters Mario met on his journey. The player can visit the post office at any time and talk to the postal worker in charge to view the letters. There is no benefit to reading the letters, but the service is free and reveals what became of the sender after their encounter with Mario.
Mario himself also receives letters during the game. These letters are not stored at the post office and can be found in the bedroom of Mario's house.
The Toad Town badge shop is an open-air store located in the central part of Toad Town, across the street from the gate to Flower Fields. It opens for business after the Koopa Bros. have been defeated in chapter 1. The player can purchase badges in exchange for coins.
Sixteen different badges can be purchased from the badge store, although only three will be available at a time. The selection changes randomly over time until all badges have been bought.
Once the Koopa Bros. have been defeated and the road to the southern part of Toad Town has been cleared of debris, Mario can visit Oink-Oink Farm. For 10 coins the player can purchase an egg that will hatch into a Li'l Oink and move into the nearby pigpen.
The pen can hold a maximum of 10 animals. If an additional egg is bought while the pen is full, the oldest Li'l Oink will escape and leave behind an item correlating to its color. The player can use this to obtain various items, including ones that are hard to obtain otherwise.
Merlee is a wizard who set up her shop in the back alley of Dry Dry Outpost. For a fee of either 5, 20, or 50 coins she can cast a magic spell on Mario that has a variety of positive effects. The amount of coins paid determines how long the spell is going to last; The more coins were paid, the longer the spell remains.
From the moment it is cast until it runs out, the spell will randomly take effect before or after certain actions, mostly during battles.
Once the spell has ran out, the player has to return to Merlee and pay her again if they wish to keep the beneficial effects.
Chet Rippo is a pudgy bird-like creature located in the residential area of Toad Town. When talked to, he informs Mario that he is able to increase one of his stats for 39 coins. If the player decides to use Chet Rippo's services, the stat they selected will increase by two stages, while the two stats that weren't selected each drop by one stage. This service can be used to re-adjust Mario's stats in case the player does not feel content with their past level up choices.
Rip Cheato is a merchant living underneath the blue house next to Tayce T.'s. Initially the front door to his domicile is locked and thus it has to be accessed through Toad Town Tunnels by having Bombette destroy a wall. After Rip Cheato has been found, his house can be unlocked from the inside for easier access.
The merchant's services are similar to that of a regular item shop, offering wares in exchange for coins. However, Rip Cheato only sells one item at a time, all of his goods cost 64 coins, and the player does not know in advance what is being offered. Rip Cheato's offers follow a certain order and once his stock is exhausted after ten purchases, he only sells Dried Shrooms from then on.
Virtual Console differences
The Wii Virtual Console version has more framerate drops than the Nintendo 64 version, but also loads more quickly when moving between areas. Special effect attributes have been altered to reduce the risk of seizure: fire/explosion effects are solid colors, magic/transformation wave effects no longer have flashing colors of white and yellow and are waves of purple and pink, and the brightness of light effects from Super Blocks have been reduced.
The Wii U Virtual Console version is darker, but has a smoother framerate not unlike the Nintendo 64 version. Fire/explosion effects match that of the original version (albeit darker), but the magic/transformation wave effects are still altered. Loading is as fast as the Wii version.
Wii Shop Description
Paper Mario is a graphically innovative game that breaks the confines of the RPG genre. Now slimmed down, everyone's favorite plumber flips, spins, jumps, and hammers his way through scads of exotic worlds that teem with a huge and hugely entertaining supporting cast. Players control numerous characters, both old and new, in a complex, nonlinear story that follows different scenarios depending on player choices. A dizzying collection of spells, attacks, skills, and special items can be collected by players willing to thoroughly explore the lush 3-D environments!
Wii U eShop DescriptionAfter Bowser™ steals the Star Rod and kidnaps Princess Peach™, Mario™ plots to rescue the seven Star Spirits and free the Mushroom Kingdom from the Koopa's rule. As Mario travels from the tropical jungles of Lavlava Island to the frosty heights of Shiver Mountain, he'll need all the help he can get.
Master the abilities of the seven Star Spirits and the other allies joining the adventure to aid our hero on the battlefield. There are over 50 Badges to locate that, when equipped, will grant special abilities and powerful attacks. The turn-based battle system will make fighting Bowser's baddies equal parts strategy and timing. Discover over 100 items, mix them together, and cook up fantastic creations that will send your enemies' spinning and fleeing.Close the book on Bowser's story before his evil deeds turn the world upside down and only his wishes come true!
Relation to other games
Similarities with Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Paper Mario shares many elements with its spiritual predecessor Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. These similarities include:
References to other games
In addition to the many elements it lifts from Super Mario RPG, Paper Mario has elements that reference the following games:
References in later games
Trophy information from the Super Smash Bros. series
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Chief director game design
Art director character design
Pre-release and unused content
Early screenshots of this game showed that Poochy was going to play some sort of role in the game, and another screenshot showed that Nep-Enuts were going to be in this game also (indicating that Lavalava Island was going to be more like Yoshi's Island). Also, the early version of Forever Forest showed that it would be much smaller, with all the forest's trees having sinister faces.
Herringway can be morphed into a normal Bumpty or become invisible if the player pauses the game right after Mario and Herringway go into the mayor's room and right before initiating the conversation with the detective during Chapter 7. If invisible, he will reappear when the room is left. If Herringway becomes a normal Bumpty, the game will freeze when the mayor gives him the present. Upon freezing, a debug screen will appear.
Names in other languages