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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Paper Mario Color Splash.

TranscriptEdit

I found myself wondering if Paper Mario: Sticker Star did alright - not by my standards, and I know sometimes I give the impression that the game would have to escape from Colditz and fall to its knees at my door to commence a blowjob marathon that makes my feet recede into my legs to impress me, but Sticker Star was a particular thorn in my suppository because the older Paper Mario games had humor and life and creativity whereas Sticker Star has ... well, it has stickers. Nope, there it is on Wikipedia; Sticker Star - mixed reviews, and the lowest scores of any Paper Mario game.

Well, that clears it up. Now I understand perfectly why Nintendo thought "Yes! This is the one we need to bring to Wii U. This is exactly what our ailing brand needs: a good hard shot of mediocrity that will pull out bootstraps about halfway up before getting bored and wandering off.' You know, I seem to remember being a bit down on Super Paper Mario when it first came out on the Wii, now I'm counting the days till the NX comes out and Nintendo does the usual thing where they stop supporting the previous console but one, and thinking of all the things I should've said to Super Paper Mario before I pressed down on the pillow.

Paper Mario: Color Splash opens with Mario and the princess arriving at a mysterious port town to find answers to a mystery, which made a single cobweb fall off my long-dormant stiffy because that's how Thousand-Year Door started. But nope, it's just the usual thing: monsters have stolen the local 6 or 7 important and inevitably star-shaped artifacts of power and the person behind it all begins with B and rhymes with something Inspector Gadget used to say a lot. And after restoring the first of the inevitably star-shaped things, it's parked its pointy bum down for less than a second before Princess Peach gets kidnapped, which I wouldn't have minded. But then a nearby toad comments 'Oh no! Bowser kidnapped Princess Peach! What a totally unexpected happenstance!' And you know what? Fuck you, Paper Mario: Color Splash. There's a difference between clever, subversive self-parody and just doing the same thing you always do but sarcastically rolling your eyes at it. Don't kick me in the bollocks and say 'Gosh, wouldn't it be funny if I were really kicking you in the bollocks?'.

What bothers me the most about these last 2 Paper Marios is that there's such a brazen lack of effort on display. And this isn't fucking Wii Fit Trainer's quest for the perfect bleached asshole. This is Mario, Nintendo's fucking A-grade intellectual property. Yeah, Pokémon might be the money maker now but Mario is the pimp daddy; it has to pay at the end of the night. If they were going to crowbar the wallet open to create new content for any game, you'd think it'd be for Mario but nope, still using the same flea-bitten paper cutout sprites Paper Mario has been using for over a decade. And I assume some of them have gotten more flea-bitten than others over the years because every non-hostile NPC in this game is a generic toadstool man - every single one, some palette-swapped. And they all have the same role in life: throwing out glib, sarcastic remarks on the utterly pedestrian things that surround them in half-arsed acknowledgement of the obligation for funny dialogue.

This might sound like an odd thing to harp on, but what the fuck happened to Toadsworth? You know, the scholarly advisor toadstool man with the 'stache who used to hang around Princess Peach like he was trying to wipe his arse on the toilet paper stuck to her shoe. I ask, 'coz there's a character filling that role, but - you guessed it - it's a generic, indistinct toadstool man. And Toadsworth's been in previous Mario games. What happened, Nintendo? Did the dog knock over the bin with all your old sprites in it?

By now, I'm sure the Nintendo fans are nervously chewing on their Triforce-shaped asthma inhalers trying to get a word in edgeways. 'Oh, Yahtzee, stop giving us the same old shit about Nintendo not giving us the same old shit. So it isn't like the Paper Marios YOU used to like. So what? It's Nintendo's property and they could do what they like with it.' Alright, granted. I might point out they keep slapping the Paper Mario name on it, but then this is the eternal paradox of Nintendo, isn't it? Exclusively makes games catered to the nostalgia crowd and yet goes out of their way to annoy them at the same time.

But play it your way. I shall now stick this red-hot wire coat hanger down my ear until I've forgotten about good Paper Marios. *hmph* There we go.

Now, flurble blurble recidivist Mario cunt. The gameplay of Color Splash revolves around paint. You're questing for the 6 magic paint stars and have the ability to smash paint onto white things with your hammer to restore them. I think I understand the wheeze now. Nintendo are going through every substance and object one could possibly associate with paper crafting. Last time it was adhesive, now it's paint. Next time it will probably be rescuing the 6 magic sheets of blank printer paper from the clutches of king Hole Punch.

The plot establishes that the villains are draining paint from characters to make them lifeless which creates a 'paint as blood' metaphor that gets more fucked up the more you think about it as Mario gaily romps through the world pouring blood on things as well as smashing objects with a hammer to recover blood from them, and using blood to infuse his combat cards with power like a deranged Satanic ritualist playing Yu-Gi-Oh!.

On that note, the combat system is not dissimilar to Sticker Star's. As you explore, you constantly pick up cards representing single forms of attack and in each round of combat you choose what cards to inflict upon the enemy. I find this combat style to be the proverbial Styrofoam packing material in the gnocchi and now I shall explain why. In a normal RPG, annoying as it is when the game stops you every 10 steps to blow the random encounter trumpet, we take the consolation that every fight gives us a little experience and makes us a little bit stronger. In the Color Splash and Sticker Star system, however, getting caught by a random battle is totally disadvantageous. Cards are single-use, so you might have to waste a phwoar crikey death spooge on two one-legged special needs Goombas and a soggy biscuit. The only benefit you can get is money and expanded blood capacity but virtually everything in the environment disgorges money and blood like a pole dancer with the Ebola virus.

If Nintendo were hoping to move Sticker Star to a non-handheld console, then the joke's on them, 'coz I ended up playing in controller-only mode just so I wouldn't have to be constantly looking up and down like I was lying on my side at a tennis match. Even then the basic combat was arduous. How many button presses does it take to jump on a Goomba in Super Mario Bros.? One if it is already moving towards you. Meanwhile, in Color Splash, first you gotta drag the shoe icon onto the card slot, then fill it with paint by awkwardly fingering it like you're navigating thick pubes and aren't sure if you found the clitoris or a forgotten sultana, then confirm your selection, and then they make you flick it off the touchscreen for no particular reason, unless Nintendo thinks there's mileage in a bogey disposal simulator.

So now that we've established that fun and original storytelling isn't part of Paper Mario's appeal, shplurgle shplurgle fuck mother hairy pipes then fun gameplay is the only thing left you could possibly stand up on, but the combat is both disadvantageous to get into and not fun, which is not my idea of core gameplay, except in the sense of "Cor, this gameplay is shite!"

AddendaEdit

  • Damn those coloureds: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • One day the Wii Fit Trainer will discover that the perfect bleached asshole was inside her all along
  • Turns out generic toadstool men have a really good union
Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells

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