If you've been waiting on the edge of your seat for some kind of sign that Paper Mario: The Origami King has lots in common with the beloved Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, you have permission to settle back and relax a little. Kensuke Tanabe, Origami King's producer (and Super Mario RPG/Paper Mario veteran), says he always challenges himself to make something new with each game.
For The Origami King, that means Mario gets to trundle around "huge maps" for the first time, amongst other changes to traditions. “Because the game is laid out [with huge maps], we were careful during the design phase to make sure there is always something in the player’s field of vision to catch their attention," Tanabe tells Game Informer in a recent interview.
Jeff Cork, the author of the interview, also shares some of his hands-on impressions with the game. He notes massive streamers drift off over the horizon, giving players a hint of where they might want to go next. Otherwise, Mario can explore his surroundings as he pleases—and thankfully, he doesn't have toddle on his stubby little legs to get from Point A to B. He can ride vehicles and even access an airship.
This open world format is a big change for the Paper Mario series, which has traditionally been chapter-based and relatively linear. It might be enough to intrigue die-hard fans of The Thousand Year Door, some of whom aren't big on The Origami King's ring-based battle system. The latter doesn't appear to resemble The Thousand Year Door's more traditional RPG battle system, which is a bummer for critics of Paper Mario: Sticker Star for the Nintendo 3DS and Paper Mario: Color Splash for the Wii U.
Paper Mario drama is easy to ignite; just put the franchise near an open flame and it goes up in a flash. We'll find out who emerges happy and who turns to angry ashes when The Origami King comes to the Nintendo Switch on July 17.