Paper Mario Devs Forbidden to Make Characters That Modify the 'Mario Universe'
Today's the day that Paper Mario: The Origami King releases (at the time of this writing). Fans of the Paper Mario series have been eagerly awaiting this title, hoping a new Paper Mario game on the Switch would fix the odd path the series has been heading down for the past couple of entries. Reviews are in, and people are finally getting their hands on it, with the impressions all turning out positively... even if it's not quite as close to its RPG roots as it used to be. The developers of the series, Intelligent Systems, have been working hard to make game fans of all ages could love, though it seems they've been working under newer, tighter restrictions these days. A recent interview with the team on videogameschronicle lays the whole situation out.
The team had a lot to say about the history of the series, especially in regards to how much it has changed with each title. This led to the devs revealing the new guidelines they've had to follow, all the way back since Sticker Star began (possibly the most disliked title of the series). "Since Paper Mario: Sticker Star, it's no longer possible to modify Mario characters or to create original characters that touch on the Mario universe," states Kensuke Tanabe, Paper Mario's producer. "That means that if we aren't using Mario characters for bosses, we need to create original characters with designs that don't involve the Mario universe at all, like we've done with Olly and the stationery bosses." Essentially, this means that major characters in Paper Mario games like villains or bosses must be made through original designs and character concepts, rather than something outright from the established Mario canon.
This is a pretty stark contrast to the early Paper Mario games like the N64 one and TTYD, where villains represented a wide range of Mario's Mushroom Kingdom baddies like Koopas and Spikes. This does explain some of the story-centric changes in the recent games, and why the team made a lot of Origami King's bosses amusing pieces of office supplies. Paper Mario fans have been clamoring for a return to the old days ever since Super Paper Mario on the Wii; it was a great game in its own right, but it marked the start of Nintendo ditching the stat-heavy turn-based RPG gameplay of the older titles. The dev team discusses this at length in the interview too, providing a fresh look into why specifically Nintendo has been pushing the series this way. When you boil it all down, it's simply due to accessibility. Nintendo wants the series to reach a wider variety of casual players, viewing the older games as something geared more towards a core audience.
Despite all of this, it seems as if Origami King is a step in the right direction. While we may not see a true 'return to form' for Paper Mario anytime soon, it hasn't stopped Intelligent Systems from doing what they can to appeal to every kind of Paper Mario fan there is. The series is well regarded as one of the more interesting Mario spinoffs, exploring the Mushroom Kingdom and Mario side characters in amusing, in-depth ways that other games really can't do. If you're interested in picking up Paper Mario: The Origami King, it's now out exclusively for Nintendo Switch, marking yet another major Nintendo property to head to the console. You can read the full interview on VGC; I highly recommend it if you're a fan of the series, as it's a real eye-opener for the creation process behind each title.