Paper Mario: Color Splash
Paper Mario: Color Splash is an action-adventure, turn-based role-playing game for the Wii U developed by Intelligent Systems. It is the fifth installment in the Paper Mario series as well as the twentieth and final Mario game released for the Wii U. As a direct successor to the Nintendo 3DS game Paper Mario: Sticker Star, it expands on many gameplay elements introduced in that game. Its direct sequel, Paper Mario: The Origami King, was released for the Nintendo Switch on July 17, 2020.
The game follows Mario's adventure across Prism Island where, after he receives a color-drained Toad in the mail, he heads to Port Prisma to find out what is going on. Eventually, he meets up with Huey, who teams up with Mario to collect the six Big Paint Stars. After saving the first Big Paint Star, Princess Peach gets kidnapped by a possessed Bowser, and is taken to his castle high in the sky. While kidnapped, she sends Mario Holo-Peaches along his journey to inform him about Bowser's plans. After saving each Big Paint Star, a memory is shown, with each one detailing an event leading up to Bowser being possessed.
The gameplay is very similar to its predecessor and puts an even greater emphasis on the paper aspect. All characters now have white outlines around them and the battle system now requires Things for each boss fight. Things no longer need to be brought back to the main hub to be used; they become cards as soon as Mario collects them. Stickers have been replaced by Battle Cards, which share a similar function, but Battle Cards no longer take up multiple slots in Mario's inventory and can be painted to deal more damage. Many enemies from the predecessor return, while Dino Rhinos make their Paper Mario debut in this game, along with several new variants of Shy Guys, most notably Slurp Guys. Additionally, Paper Mario: Color Splash introduces a system where Mario can repaint colorless areas to collect Coins and Battle Cards.
On September 23, 2016, it was discovered that purchased Nintendo eShop pre-load data was actually the full game, granting players early access two weeks ahead of schedule in North America. Nintendo, however, removed the pre-order option within hours, and stated that this was inadvertent.
The events that caused Port Prisma to be damaged and the black paint's creation are explained through the Big Paint Stars' memories, told throughout the game. One day, a group of Toads were playing at the Prisma Fountain, where they were throwing buckets of paint at each other. Bowser observed the Toads playing from above, and jumped down into the fountain because he wanted to have a rainbow shell. However, while splashing in the Prisma Fountain, Bowser mixed the colors around, creating black paint which possessed him. Shortly after this, a swarm of Slurp Guys attack Port Prisma, with hundreds falling from airships to slurp the paint out of it. During this invasion, a specific Toad is drained of its colors, folded into an envelope, and sent to Princess Peach to lure her to Prism Island. When the Slurp Guys are done draining the area of its color, they leave on the airships.
One stormy night, Princess Peach and Toad meet Mario at his house to deliver a strange letter: a Toad drained of his colors. Mario, who is initially shocked by the revelation, then realizes that the stamp on the letter points to Prism Island, where the three then travel to. Upon arriving, they find Port Prisma deserted and full of spots drained of color. After some exploration of Port Prisma, They activate the fountain, which releases a 3D paint can. After Mario tries hammering the paint can, it wakes up and is revealed to be Huey, who is initially annoyed by Mario hitting him in his sleep. Huey calms down shortly after, but he, Mario, and Princess Peach are then startled by the sound of Toad screaming. The three head to the yellow district of Port Prisma, and find Toad being drained by a Slurp Guy. Toad, just before being fully drained, gives Mario a set of Battle Cards that they found. Mario and Huey then proceed to fight the Slurp Guy, but then realize that they do not have any paint. Realizing this, Huey asks Mario to wring him in order to gain paint to battle the Shy Guys. This results in Huey turning into paper. Mario later uses this paint throughout the entire game to repaint the colorless spots across Prism Island, including the local Toads. After defeating the Slurp Guy and repainting Toad, the group head back to the central district of Port Prisma, where Huey discovers that the Big Paint Stars at Prisma Fountain are gone. Huey, initially sad, then sees a Big Paint Star aat the top of Port Prisma. After climbing up there, and unwinding the roll blocking the Paint Star, it is revealed that the Paint Star was actually a Mini Paint Star, not a Big Paint Star. Mario and Huey then set off to find the actual Big Paint Stars.
Red Big Paint Star
After saving Port Prisma, Mario and Huey set out to find the red Big Paint Star. First, they pass through Ruddy Road and Cherry Lake, learning the Cutout ability and collecting 3D real-world objects called Things. They find out that Bowser has stolen the paint from the Crimson Tower, where Morton is keeping a Big Paint Star captive. To open the gate, they must find the three Chosen Toads: Justice Toad at Cherry Lake, Surfing Kinopio at Bloo Bay Beach, and the Mountain Sage at Daffodil Peak. Additionally, Mario learns about the Unfurl ability and assembles the green and purple Rescue Squads at Indigo Underground and Ruddy Road to help him reach more Mini Paint Stars. When all the Chosen Toads have been found, Mario defeats Morton at the Crimson Tower, painting in a large gate at Sunglow Ridge.
Yellow Big Paint Star
At Sunglow Ridge, Mario witnesses a black missile cover an area with black paint, which Huey cleans up while Mario's eyes are closed. Afterward, he searches for Prof. Kinopio at Château Chanterelle, and finds him at Mondo Woods. The professor gives Mario an Excavation Site Permit, which he uses to enter Marmalade Valley. Here, Mario finds the professor's pet Chain Chomp, Princess, and brings her back to Château Chanterelle. The professor is happy and gives him the Sharp Spike as thanks. The spike unlocks the door to Kiwano Temple, which Mario must pass through to reach the Golden Coliseum, where Iggy is holding the yellow Big Paint Star. Mario defeats Iggy in a stadium battle and the Big Paint Star repaints an oversized coin in Mondo Woods.
Blue Big Paint Star
Next, Mario investigates the mystery of ghosts haunting the Dark Bloo Inn, and explores the hotel's garden to find their Teapot to appease them. When he find their teapot and wrings it out, he realizes that Petea Piranha was inside it and now has to fight them. After this is done, he appeases the Toads and goes to Violet Passage, where he helps out the yellow Rescue Squad while on a pirate ship. The Rescue Squad goes to the shrunken Sacred Forest to unclog a pipe. Here, Mario pieces together a Mini Paint Star and gains access to Cobalt Base, where he participates in Snifit or Whiffit. After this, Mario infiltrates Fort Cobalt to defeat Ludwig in his Super Ludship and Super Ludsub. The recovered blue Big Paint Star repaints the ocean at Violet Passage.
Purple Big Paint Star
With the ocean restored, Mario has to join a ship crew and venture to Fortune Island to find the purple Big Paint Star. Using clues left behind by a legendary captain, they first pass through the Lost Sea. They stop at Vortex Island to calm down a whirlpool, then help out a lighthouse keeper on Lighthouse Island to light the way to Fortune Island. Mario makes use of parallel worlds on all three islands to find the treasure but is confronted by Wendy on Fortune Island before he can collect it. Defeating Wendy and collecting the Big Paint Star repaints a sinkhole at Mustard Café, which the café's owner falls into.
Orange Big Paint Star
After rescuing the café owner from the hole, including escaping a Snifit jail, Mario hears of the Sunset Express train stuck at Kiwano Temple. The blue Rescue Squad help fix the broken tracks, only for the train to be damaged by a Big Thwomp. The Toads push the train to Toad Trainworks, where Mario repairs it. Next, the train goes to Tangerino Grill, where Mario cooks pizza for the Toads, and serves steak to a VIP customer who is later revealed to be Larry. Larry hijacks the Sunset Express, but Mario defeats him with the help of the Toad train conductor. The train stops at Starlight Cape, where Huey makes a wish for the orange Big Paint Star; once it is granted, the Big Paint Star restores an unpainted Draggadon at Marmalade Valley.
Green Big Paint Star
After taming him, Mario guides Draggadon through Redpepper Volcano and platforms his way through Redpepper Crater to its hot spring. After returning to Tangerino Grill to get the Magnifying Glass Thing, he battles Kamek in the Sacred Forest. This opens a path to the Green Energy Plant, where Mario ventures into a Super Mario Bros. 3-like world to find a Mini Paint Star. He assembles the last members of the red Rescue Squad at Mossrock Theater, and visits the Emerald Circus, at which he meets Lemmy. Mario defeats Lemmy atop the circus tent and saves the green Big Paint Star, which then flies somewhere unknown and paints Luigi's kart.
Black Bowser's Castle
Upon rescuing all six Big Paint Stars, they create a path to Black Bowser's Castle, which Mario and Huey head off to via a kart ride from Luigi. Inside they discover a factory producing Banzai Bills loaded with black paint, similar to the one dropped on Sunglow Ridge. After destroying the factory, they escape the flood of black paint and find Bowser with Princess Peach drained of her colors. As Mario battles Bowser, Huey has himself turned back into his 3D-self to absorb the black paint off and defeat Bowser, who has no memories of the incident. Black Bowser's Castle proceeds to collapse as Mario restores Peach's colors. Mario, Peach, and Luigi return to Port Prisma while Huey stays behind to contain the black paint and release it where it cannot do any more harm, to the skies. Later, while celebrating at Port Prisma, Peach comforts Mario when he laments Huey's disappearance. When all Super Flags are achieved, Huey can be seen falling back into the Prisma Fountain in the end screen.
Paper Mario: Color Splash is an action-adventure RPG that elaborates on the mechanics of Paper Mario: Sticker Star. It is based on Mario using the Paint Hammer to paint colorless elements, characters, and parts of the environment in order to progress in the game and collect both Mini and Big Paint Stars. When a course is completed, several new courses may become available at once, and the number-based course naming that was seen in Super Paper Mario and Paper Mario: Sticker Star is gone (the game features a world map like the latter, however). Super Flags return as well, this time found in the main square of Port Prisma.
At the beginning of a battle, Kamek can sometimes appear and either flip over or steal most of the player's cards. Once the battle is won, all the stolen cards are regained and additional coins are obtained as well. The number showing the HP of the enemies as well as the number showing the amount of damage dealt in HP are both missing, while the health of each enemy is shown in the form of color that is gradually drained starting from the bottom.
Both the use of the Paint Hammer and the painting of uncolored cards require paint, which is indicated by the three bars on the top-left of the screen. After winning a battle, defeated enemies can drop coins, paint, Battle Cards, and cardboard hammers called Hammer Scraps. Hammer Scraps exist in four different varieties and are worth either 1 point, 5 points, 10 points, or 20 points, depending on how shiny they are. Hammer Scraps are used to fill the EXP bar that increases the maximum amount of paint that can be carried by the hammer.
At the start of the game, Mario can only play one card per turn. During the course of the game, he unlocks the ability to use more cards per battle turn by collecting Card Max Ups from the Soggy Guy in Cherry Lake, helping the ghosts in Dark Bloo Inn, and the Kamek battle in Sacred Forest. Similarly, the maximum amount of Mario's HP is increased by collecting HP-Up Hearts that are obtained when the player saves a Big Paint Star. Each HP-Up Heart increases the maximum amount of HP by 25 and increases the power of the First Strike as well.
Furthermore, it is possible to use a move similar to paperization called "Cutout" in order to cut part of the courses. Likewise, the Flip technique from Super Paper Mario returns as well, in a course dedicated to Super Mario Bros. 3 found at the Green Energy Plant.
In order to gain additional coins, there are side quests and mini-games that can be played. One of them is finding Luigi who is hiding in some places, and another is playing Super Roshambo against several opponents at the Roshambo Temples. Defeating the Shy Bandit on the world map also rewards the player with extra coins.
Stats after each Big Paint Star
Battle Cards are the main items in Color Splash and serve as Mario's attacks. The battles are based on these Battle Cards and can be painted to increase their attack power. Battle Cards can be found in colorless spots, ? Blocks, by defeating enemies or by buying them at Prisma Cardware. Once used, cards are discarded, but it is possible to buy them directly in battle by using the Battle Spin. There are three types of cards. Basic Cards are used for various purposes, including attacking, healing, and replenishing paint. Many attacks are similar to those featured in Paper Mario: Sticker Star, with the hammer attacks now having a charging sign indicating at which point an "Excellent" attack can be obtained. Thing Cards are used to summon Things, both in battle and in the overworld to solve puzzles. Such cards can be obtained by directly squeezing Things into Thing cards. There is a shop in Port Prisma allowing the player to directly buy Things to squeeze them into Thing Cards, and there are Replica versions of Thing Cards that can be found as well. The last card type, Enemy Cards, are used to summon an enemy into the battle as an ally. They can be found by defeating an enemy. Only one ally can be present at a time, and the ally attacks the enemies in the current battle. When the enemies attack, they will position themselves in front of Mario to protect him, and they stay in battle until defeated. If an Enemy Card is used in a boss battle, it runs away.
There are many versions of Battle Cards that Mario can use. Alongside Jumps and Hammers are several variants of the two, such as Spin Jumps and KO Hammers. Several types from Sticker Star return, such as Hopslippers, which let the player jump on an enemy 10 times; Iron Jumps, which let the player jump on spiky enemies; Eekhammers, which let the player hit an enemy five times; and Hurlhammers, which let the player throw a hammer into the air to damage enemies. Fire Flowers and Ice Flowers also appear, allowing the player to throw fireballs and Ice Balls at enemies respectively. Alongside attacks, Mario can also use POW Blocks to crumple enemies, Mushrooms to heal, 1-Up Mushrooms to recover paint, Tails to counter enemy attacks, Spike Helmets to counter jump attacks, and Frog Suits to dodge enemy attacks. There is also one enemy card for every enemy in the game, as well as enemy cards for the Koopalings which can be found by playing in the Roshambo Temples.
There are four different variants of basic Battle Cards: Worn-out, Normal, Big, and Huge. Huge cards deal the most damage and worn-out cards deal the least. The stronger variants are found later on in the game. Despite the names, bigger cards do not take up more space than the weaker variants.
The game is set on Prism Island, shaped like a paintbrush, and on nearby islands shaped like drops of paint, which have been drained of their color. The locations are organized according to the game's seven main colors, with the three primary colors (red, yellow and blue) and the three secondary colors (violet, orange, and green) having four courses and a course with a main boss each. Port Prisma is dedicated to the game's three primary colors and Bowser's Castle is dedicated to the game's tertiary color, black. The map is colored in as Mario collects Mini Paint Stars, though it is not possible to view it completely colorless, as the world map is only unlocked after Mario collects the red Mini Paint Star from Port Prisma.
Prisma Cardware is the only shop in the game where Mario can buy Battle Cards. As the player progresses, more cards can be bought. A red Toad outside the shop lets Mario know when a new card is available.
Prisma Café is a series of restaurants found throughout Prism Island. Here, Mario can buy Hearty Lattes and Prisma Juices, which restore HP and paint respectively. A few stores have extra things Mario can buy, such as the Magma Burgers in Fort Cobalt. A similar café, named the Mustard Café, also appears in the game.
The Know-it-All Toad is a Toad that appears near the entrance to the Red District in Port Prisma. If the player chooses to talk to him, he offers hints about the Thing Mario needs to progress now. For example, if Mario needs to find the Fire Extinguisher, the Know-it-All Toad says, "You must seek a red Thing on a red road... It cools that which is hot."
The Wringer is a shady Toad found in the Port District of Port Prisma. He runs a shop where Mario can purchase any Thing he found before if he does not have it on him currently. If Mario already has the Thing, it is marked as "Sold Out". If Mario did not find a specific Thing, its slot is marked as "Coming Soon".
The Prisma Museum is a museum hidden inside of the Action Command Dojo where the player can deposit Battle Cards to unlock concept art in the art gallery. Additionally, for every area that is fully repainted, the player unlocks music from that level in the sound gallery. When all types of cards are deposited, the museum lights up and Toads start visiting.
The Roshambo Temples are areas where Mario can play Super Roshambo for coins and Battle Cards. There are eight Roshambo Temples located throughout Prism Island. Roshambo Temples do not have any Cutouts, Things, colorless spots, Rescue Toads, or Mini Paint Stars. They are unlocked by collecting tokens after completing various levels. Additionally, the player can challenge the Rock Paper Wizard if they have beaten a chapter boss, who awards them an Enemy Card based on the Koopalings or Kamek for defeating him. If the boss has not been beaten, Mario competes against a generic enemy in the third match instead.
When Purp is repainted by the water wheel in Port Prisma, a sidequest initiates. Every time Mario finds one of Piper's friends, the tree in the yellow district grows a small amount. After Bloo is found, the tree begins to wither and the four friends set off to find the Rainbow Carnation. After Yella is found, he tells the gang that he knew Piper died, and the tree begins to wither even more before suddenly ejecting a seed that Piper sprouts out of. Mario begins to fight it, only for the five Toads to stop him and tell Mario that the Ptooie is Piper. After this, the six can be seen near the entrance to The Crimson Tower playing around.
The Spinning-Door is a three-segmented door appearing in some levels such as Daffodil Peak. When Mario hits it with his hammer, the segments begin rotating. He can then hammer it again to make the three segments have the same color. When all three segments match, the door becomes usable and leads Mario to a minigame depending on the color chosen; Blockstopper! for Red, Flippin' Cards! for Blue, Prize Pipe Paths for Yellow, and Paint Hunter! for rainbow.
Super Flags return from Paper Mario: Sticker Star. This time, there are only six flags to obtain instead of eight. When the player completes an achievement, its corresponding flag will unroll and be displayed in the credits parade. If the player manages to complete all six achievements, an alternate ending is unlocked after the end credits, with Huey falling from the sky into the Prisma Fountain.
Luigi can be found hiding in six locations across Prism Island. If the player uses the Cutout technique on these spots, Luigi will look around, face Mario, give the player 300 coins, and run off the screen. If the player finds all six Luigi spots, Luigi will appear at the start of the credits parade. Luigi can be found in the following areas:
Items and objects
Nintendo eShop description
A mystery is afoot on Prism Island and only Mario™ can solve it——by restoring the land's vanishing colors with his new Paint Hammer. Puzzling battles await, but never fear; there's always a clever way to dish out the powerful Battle Cards up his sleeve. These fresh layers of strategy make this one of the most action-packed Paper Mario™ adventures ever!
It all begins when Mario receives an odd letter in the mail and heads for the unknown in a small boat. What he finds is a series of hilariously mysterious moments, each a clue that inches him closer to answering the riddle of Prism Island. To restore its former glory, he must first rescue the Big Paint Stars. Luckily, Mario's new companion Huey has granted him the power of paint, which can be used to recolor the exotic locales he'll hit up on his journey. Examine environments for clues, revive color-drained Toads, and even participate in strange events like the game show "Whifit or Snifit." Whatever it takes to make a splash on Prism Island!
Notable mistakes and errors
Pre-release and unused content
The game features a concept art gallery where concept art is gradually unlocked by donating Battle Cards to the museum. The concept art allows players to see how the characters, objects, and settings were gradually changed during development. It also reveals two locations that were cut from the game.
The first location is the east side of Decalburg from the previous game, that would have featured new objects including postboxes, differently placed Coins and ? Blocks and, most importantly, a river with sewage pipes, that would have been possible to cross using a bridge to reach an area not present in Paper Mario: Sticker Star. The second one is an unused location similar to a temple in a mountainous area of a rocky desert, that would have featured blue torches and at least three buildings connected by staircases and bridges. Many warp pipes would have been present as well, as in the concept art five of them can be observed, of which four are in a row.
The unused location on the inside would have featured blue torches, cacti, sandfalls, broken walls allowing light to enter, drawings of a Coin, a mushroom, and a star on the walls, very high pillars, bridges made of sand blocks, and spiked pits, thus making it similar to Kiwano Temple, suggesting, along with the rocky desert setting, that this unused location might have been a preliminary version of said location.
To promote the game, a series of videos about the Rescue Squad was produced called Rescue V: Fearless Color Defenders. The series revolves around the Rescue Squad trying to convince the listeners that the Rescue Squad were the real protagonists of the game, as according to them, they did all the hard work. The series has seven episodes total and each episode shows the parts of the game involving each color of the Rescue Squad. At the end of the last episode, the Chief fires the Rescue Squad leaders.
Upon being shown at the March 3, 2016 Nintendo Direct, Paper Mario: Color Splash received negative reception from some fans, the main complaint focusing around the game's similarities to Paper Mario: Sticker Star. Within hours of the game's reveal, a petition on Change.org ordered the game to be canceled, which TechRadar described as "a frightening example of how quickly, and harshly, we judge games we know next to nothing about."
Despite this, the game received generally positive reviews at release. Most critics praised the game's art direction and humorous writing, though the lack of original characters and still-simplistic storyline were points of contention. In addition, while several reviewers noted gameplay improvements from Paper Mario: Sticker Star, some elements still drew criticism, such as the battle system and linear level design.
Terri Schwartz from IGN gave the game a 7.3/10, praising the game for balancing the battles and paint demands while also admitting it "could have benefited from more than one card shop (at the main hub of Port Prisma) and more readily available save blocks throughout the levels." Ben Reeves from GameInformer gave it an 8.5/10, praising the game for its beautiful visuals and funny dialogue. He, however, said that the battle system was overly simple and that it "felt aimless with few far-reaching character goals." Matt West from NintendoWorldReport gave the game a 9/10, praising the combat system for being strategic with the paint supply, while also praising the game's soundtrack and visuals. While he did say that the overabundance of Toads made the NPCs feel "same-y," he noted that those were "minor complaints in an otherwise excellent package."
Miguel Concepcion from GameSpot gave the game a 7/10, praising the game's visuals and that its dialogue is a vast improvement over the previous Mario RPGs. However, they criticized the Cutout ability for being difficult to know when to use, and that it "can leave one stumped, disrupting the game's pacing and enjoyment of levels considerably." Alex Jones from GamesRadar+ also gave it a 7/10, saying that while backtracking was a recurring theme and that the battle system was cumbersome, he also said the dialogue was superb and the presentation was carefully crafted. He ended by saying it is one of "one of the most heartwarming games you’ll play this year." CJ Andriessen from Destructoid gave the game a higher rating, at 8.5/10. They praised the game for its rich storytelling, varied soundtrack, and beautiful visuals. Additionally, they noted that while the world map and battle system made the game feel slow at times, they said "the rewards you receive for stomping and smashing the familiar crop of Mario baddies are actually useful."
Conversely, Dan Ryckert from Giant Bomb gave the game a 40/100, criticizing the game for having a tedious battle system that ruined the game's otherwise enjoyable gameplay. He noted that the fights made it easy to waste cards on almost defeated enemies, that strong cards can often be taken from the player without warning, and that he "never once felt like any of the standard fights were doing anything to progress the story or my character’s abilities."
In its opening week - October 10 through 16, 2016 - Paper Mario: Color Splash sold 20,894 copies in Japan. It left the top 20 after the week of October 31 with 37,093 copies sold. Famitsu reported the game as selling a total of 65,316 copies over its entire lifetime in Japan, making it one of the lowest-selling retail Mario games in the country.
Similarities to the other Paper Mario games
Differences from the other Paper Mario games
References to other games
References in later games
Names in other languages