Paper Mario: Color Splash may not be innovative or as good as early games in the series but it still has plenty to offer. To be fair, it would be extremely difficult to match up with Thousand Year Door but Color Splash isn’t far off. With bright colorful graphics, almost non-stop humor and the usual Paper Mario wonkiness it is a worthy sequel for fans of the series. Unfortunately, Color Splash is dragged down by its predictable nature and the combat system it inherited from Sticker Star, as many fans of the series feared. While Color Splash seems large at first glance it is a lot smaller than it actually looks with stages being used multiple times. Not only that but it is horribly padded out, wasting time searching for Toads stuck in ridiculous situations. Most of whom tend to be right along the main path, if not crammed 10 to a space. Color Splash has plenty of weaknesses but it is still the best new Nintendo game of 2016 and worthy of the series name.
The story is the usual plot, something bad happens, a princess gets kidnapped and Mario has to go out and collect so many objects to beat the bad guy. There are some minor twist, like Princess Peach waiting about 20 minutes before getting kidnapped. Instead of the usual grass world, fire world, water world stages Color Splash actually offers a wide variety of stages in an almost seemingly random order. Haunted mansion, pirate ships and island fortresses, Color Splash takes a lot from Thousand Year Door in the sense that they both provide a very diverse and interesting world to explore. The issue is that not only are Color Splash stages smaller but they offer a lot less. While Thousand Year Door had a huge cast of memorable and unique characters Color Splash is primarily made up of different colored Toads and Shy Guys. It attempts to diversify things with odd cameos and one time use enemies (Birdo Nintendo? Really?), ultimately it doesn’t amount to much except disappointment for what could have been.
Combat is the real tragedy that drags down Color Splash, inheriting the same curse that dragged down Sticker Star. While still far superior to Sticker Star it is hard to remove the taint. Instead of the RPG style that made the series a fan favorite in the first place, Nintendo continued to use the broken sticker version. While buying combat stickers isn’t such a pain since enemies and mini-games basically bleed coins getting the right ones is still a hassle. Not only that but now power levels depend on how much paint players can shove into them and they are still restricted even after that. Combat isn’t entirely broken, players can hold a ton of cards now and it is easily possible to identify what Thing is needed for certain situations. It is also much easier to get Things but a little warning that replicas don’t effect bosses would have been nice. Otherwise combat isn’t entirely terrible anymore, except one point where I had to fight a steak in the most frustrating bid to pad out time I have ever seen.
Color Splash looks exceptional with impressive graphics for a game that is mostly 2D. The bright and vibrant colors really bring the games to life, which is good because in a game on colors it would be weird not to. It’s just too bad the game doesn’t have more to use them for, with most the game being made of the same half dozen character types. It also really puts the Wii Pad to use for once since most functions have to be used on the touch screen. Unfortunately it isn’t possible to play the game entirely on the Wii Pad, which I thought was the point, because it is required for so many things. Color Splash does offer a couple of minor side games as well. Roshambo being the main one and yes my first thought at hearing the name was South Park, an easy way to make quick coin. Repainting everything is also big but offers little reward beyond adding things to a museum you already have to provide everything for.
As soon as I started playing Color Splash I found it very difficult to put down. Not for the story, because I guessed that in the first 10 minutes; or the gameplay because that’s not going to happen. In the end I continued to play for the bright colors, cheery nature and hilarious dialogue. While it calls attention to itself multiple times it is still consistently light hearted and great to play. While predictable as a whole Color Splash offers almost non-stop surprises; the dance numbers after finding each Big Paint Star were also entertaining. I welcome the return of the Koopalings but can’t help but notice they never mention that Bowser is their father at any point. As a whole Color Splash has a ton of untapped potential, as well as dead weight to drag along, but is still a great game to play and should be on any gamers list of must plays. Not the best in the Paper Mario series by a long shot, it still ranks up with Super Paper Mario, which is still far superior to Sticker Star.