The first thing to take into consideration when you decide to play Super Paper Mario for Wii is that the gameplay has been altered from the previous Paper Mario titles. Super Paper Mario scraps the 'classic RPG with a touch of Mario' style found in Paper Mario 64 and The Thousand Year Door. Super Paper Mario opts for a more adventure styled game with a few role-playing elements.
Although the method of playing the game has changed slightly, your purpose and goals are very similar to the other two games. Once again you are called upon to save the world. To do so, you must collect a handful of strange yet vital objects. This time they are eight 'Pure Hearts' - each one you get lets you progress to a new world in order to find another. Super Paper Mario is also different in that it is mostly a 2D game. Most of the time you will be playing in a NES Mario fashion: running along the screen, jumping on enemies to kill and smacking your head on blocks for coins and mushrooms.
Not far into the game, Mario gains the power to 'flip' to a 3D rendition of the world. This ability helps you move around objects that were in your way in 2D, find hidden items, discover new areas and help you progress through the game. The ability, however, has its limits. When you enter the 3D world you are greeted with a small bar used to indicate the amount of time you can spend in 3D. When the bar hits '0' you lose health and the bar starts again. Flipping back to 2D builds the bar back up about as fast as it disappears. This adds a little bit of challenge to puzzles, although constantly flicking back and forward becomes annoying when you want to spend more time in 3D.
With the new adventure styled gameplay, a few beloved things from the last two games are missing. No longer do you collect badges to power up and customise Mario. What this means is that the game now lacks some replay value as you can't experiment with different badges and setups. Mario and his heroes still level up but this time when you gain a level you are not given the choice of what you would like to upgrade. Instead, your attributes are evenly increased as you gain levels. Again this means you have less customisation.
Another minor problem is that despite a small amount of backtracking, Super Paper Mario can become Quite linear. Compared to the previous titles there isn't as much free roaming you can do, except for in the hub level. Chapters are broken down into smaller doses with 'finishing' blocks at the end of each phase, in similar fashion to the old side scrolling Mario games. This is a pity considering how well the 2D and 3D worlds interact.
Mario receives help with his task from two different groups of characters. First off, Mario meets with a strange being called a 'pixl'. This pixl, named Tippi, is Mario's guide, much like the fairies from the Legend of Zelda series. By pointing the Wii remote at the screen, Tippi can help you find hidden objects, tell you about objects, give information about enemies and hint to where you should go next. Throughout the adventure Mario is partnered up with more pixls. Each pixl has its own unique field ability which Mario uses to access different areas and help him overcome obstacles.
In addition to the pixls, Mario is also accompanied by three other heroes, again, each with his own unique abilities. For instance, Peach is able to use her parasol to float through the air allowing her to reach areas that the other characters can not. Bowser is able to breathe fire on his enemies to cause ranged damage, he also has a higher attack because of his weight but is easier to hit because of his size. Choosing the correct hero and partner for the situation is key to survival.
The game is presented in 'paper', i.e., every object, person and background is made to look like thin paper, and this is a great presentation method. It gives the game a storybook feel and brings the player into the game as convincingly as any game with 'trying to be as realistic as possible' graphics. Having everything made of paper not only means the 2D effect is very easy to pull off but when things change to 3D it provides many new ways to interact that couldn't work if the game were a stock standard 3D adventure. Abilities such as turning your thin body to slip through gaps or become invisible to the enemies, all make good use of your paper form.
As this is still a role playing game, the story is told using a fair amount of text. Some players find that there is too much but those who have played and enjoyed the previous titles know it is to be expected. As with other Paper Marios, Super Paper Mario has a humorous side to it. The wall between character and player is broken down well. In a few instances, something is being explained to Mario by another character. When Mario doesn't understand, the character assures Mario it will be fine, “as long as the person watching us understands.”
In all, this is a great game that fits in well with the other Paper Mario games. Despite its altered form, Super Paper Mario still provides the player with a well told story, smooth gameplay, challenging but not too hard puzzles and an overall good feeling of enjoyment.