During E3, Nintendo gave Melanie and I the extremely rare privilege of meeting Risa Tabata, the producer of Paper Mario: Color Splash, who flew in all the way from Japan for E3. Apparently we were the only media in Canada to get this opportunity (wow!) and while we thought this was most likely a straight interview, it turned out to be much, much more.
After a brief verbal introduction to the game, Tabata-san gave us the exciting news: we were going hands-on with Color Splash. Only one of us could try, so I let Melanie play and took down notes. The game begins with a hilarious narrator who describes how Peach and Toad go to Mario’s house and convince him to travel to Prism Island where a disaster is currently affecting the land. As we discovered, baddies like Koopa Troopas and Shy Guys are busy sucking the colour out of the island (hilariously using straws in some cases), slowly turning the island black and white.
Fortunately, Mario runs into Huey, a friendly, floating paint bucket that will help our plumber on his latest adventure. Mario also obtains a paint hammer capable of bringing the vibrancy back to black and white objects by whacking them, which can also give you bonus Coins and Battle Cards to assist you in combat. The demo we played was built specifically for E3, and gave us a condensed level to sample many of the game’s features.
Paper Mario: Color Splash is divided up into 30 levels, each of which will present various challenges and obstacles for you to overcome. In our E3 demo level, Mario had to cross a gap and in order to do so, he had to locate Toads hidden throughout the area. Some were hidden in trees, others in pipes, and one was inside a grey house that we had to paint to restore it, allowing us to go inside. While in there, we hopped inside a special closet that warped us to a fun mini-game requiring you to memorize the objects in a panoramic view of a beach scene, and the paint the objects that have disappeared. It was a fun challenge that turned out to be more difficult than we originally thought!
Back on the main island, after rescuing the Toads, they stood on each other’s shoulder to form a bridge allowing us to pass. Once on the other side, we were confronted by a Sledge Bro that served as that level’s boss. We then switched into the turn-based combat portion of the demo that centres strategically playing the aforementioned Battle Cards you’ve acquired. Initially we only had one card slot, but later got a second one, allowing us to use two cards in a single turn. The base cards in our deck consisted of Hammer Cards, which makes Mario whack enemies on the noggin, and Jump Cards that allowed us to hop on a enemy’s head. The special “Thing Cards” however were the most fun to use–in one, a massive Maneki Neko falls from the sky and flattens your opponents, dealing seveve damage.
One other really interesting aspect of combat is that you can also paint cards to power their damage. The tricky part though is you have a finite amount of paint at your disposal, requiring you to manage this resource to decide where and when it’s best to paint cards. Painting is interactive too, you tap a card to select it, tap it again to paint it, and then when you’re ready to use the card, you need to swipe up on the Wii U GamePad touch screen to “flick” the card to your TV screen. Pretty cool!
There’s still a lot more we haven’t seen in Paper Mario: Color Splash, so I’m greatly looking forward to more time with the game when it launches on October 7. 2016!