It has been over a year since the release of Paper Mario: The Origami King. While the game was not without its faults and continued to move away from the traditional RPG roots that made Paper Mario so popular to begin with, overall many feel it was an enjoyable experience. Still, many more were excited to learn the original Paper Mario is coming to Nintendo Switch Online when it adds N64 and Sega Genesis libraries.
Intelligent Systems’ classic title will not be part of the first wave of N64 titles on Switch; it is planned to release sometime down the line alongside Pokemon Snap, Banjo-Kazooie, and others. Regardless it will likely rekindle ferver to port Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, its GameCube follow-up, or create a new game in that style. Even if Intelligent Systems doesn’t want to move back in that direction with Mario, it could still acquiesce to fans by taking on new Nintendo franchises in the wake of indie projects such as Bug Fables.
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A Traditional Paper Mario is Unlikely to Return
Even if Paper Mario becomes one of the most-played games in the Switch Online service upon release, it’s not feasible to expect Intelligent Systems will drop everything and start a new project in that style. Series producer Kensuke Tanabe said the team isn’t opposed to fan opinions prior to the release of The Origami King, but it will still keep experimenting with different battle systems to keep things fresh. Tanabe has also said Nintendo implements strict rules for how much Paper Mario games can mess with traditional Super Mario character designs as they did in the past.
Something like Bug Fables suggests the original Paper Mario formula works and would sell to a certain modern audience, however there is still something to be said for the idea of innovation. Ubisoft’s recently released Far Cry 6 has been lauded for its world design, yet decried by some for retaining the same design crux as its open-world predecessors. Still, if Paper Mario will continue to reinvent itself, perhaps Intelligent Systems could keep the fan-favorite older design fresh by using different characters and settings entirely.
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Other Paper Nintendo Game Could Be a Fun Loophole
Paper Mario has teased the idea of other craft-style Nintendo games, with The Origami King including Metroid and Donkey Kong references in the form of paper mache helmets. The series’ spiritual predecessor, Square’s Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, even has characters like Samus Aran making cameos. If Paper Mario does drum up a lot of interest with Nintendo Switch Online, maybe another spin-off could be one way to appease old-school fans.
Probably the easiest contendor for a paper-themed RPG is The Legend of Zelda, and fans have created their own “Paper Zelda” concepts in the past. As Breath of the Wild 2 continues moving the franchise in the direction of open-world exploration and freedom, a paper spin-off Zelda game could be a good excuse to bring back its more linear dungeon-driven approach. With projects like Cadence of Hyrule or Age of Calamity releasing, Nintendo obviously isn’t afraid of letting other teams handle the Zelda IP.
Meanwhile, something like Metroid would be a perfect canvas for Intelligent Systems to let its imagination run wild, as Samus could go anywhere in the galaxy and encounter unique characters. Intelligent Systems was even considered to make a Metroid game in the past. There’s undoubtedly hundreds more stories the bounty hunter could tell, and with Metroid Dread as well as Metroid Prime 4 hitting shelves, there must be interest in doing more with the character.
The Yoshi subseries by Good-Feel was an off-shoot from the developer’s previous venture Kirby’s Epic Yarn. Something like “Paper Zelda” or “Paper Metroid” could fit a similar niche, giving Paper Mario fans more of what they love set in an entirely different context. Whether the idea is feasible remains to be seen, but there is certainly a lot of potential for more paper-based Nintendo RPGs to crop up.
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