Title: Paper Mario
Console: Nintendo 64
Genre: RPG, Adventure
This is an RPG that mostly characterizes itself by its simplicity. And the simplicity is really the strength of this game, but perhaps also its weakness.
It's pretty clear that this game is mostly aimed at children who do not have much experience with big RPG's yet. There is no complicated plot-line, no big dungeons, no complex characters, low damage and HP/FP numbers and in battle there are only five options (of which only two types of attacks). There is also no big equipment and statistics system, a low amount of status effects and most items simply heal Mario or attack the enemy.
The story is basically that Bowser (who else?) has stolen the Star Rod, a legendary rod with unlimited power, and imprisoned all the star spirits. With the power of the Star Rod, he kidnapped Princess Peach and lifted her castle up to space. In order to save the princess, Mario has to free the star spirits that are held imprisoned all across the land. There are seven star spirits in total and finding them is a pretty standard procedure: You got to a new area on the world map, solve a problem there to get access to the dungeon, solve the puzzles there, fight the boss and free the star spirit. Simple. I personally always like this set-up since it's clear at what point you are in a game and what lies ahead of you.
Usually the puzzles and problems that you have to solve along the way are quite simple and obvious. You see a crack in a wall, you know you have to blow it up etc. At one point you have to use buttons to elevate platforms in order to get across a gap, but it doesn't get more difficult than that. Personally I would not have minded a bit more difficulty, but since it's aimed at children I could forgive that. Not having to use a walkthrough on an RPG was also nice for a change.
Which brings me to another point, one of the biggest pluses of this game in my opinion. Like I already said, there isn't much of an equipment system in this game. All you have is a hammer which can be upgraded, boots which can be upgraded and you can collect badges that do favorable stuff like raising your HP/FP/Attack/Defense and such. Every other RPG that I've played so far had miss-able items and equipment in them and I HATE THAT. Honestly. It simply forces you to have a walkthrough next to you in order to get the maximum out of the game. Paper Mario on the other hand doesn't have any miss-able items in it as far as I know. So I could finally play through an RPG without having to worry about such things.
The levels and statistic systems in this game are also quite simply as I already mentioned. As in most RPG's there is a level system based on experience that you get from battles. After you gained 100 so called "star points", you gain a level. Once you gained a level, you get to pick an upgrade which can be upgrading your HP, FP (Flower points = MP) or BP (Badge Points allowing you to wear more badges). These numbers don't go up that high, by the end of the game I was level 23 with 55 HP, 50 FP and 30 BP. This was another nice thing in my opinion. No worries about whether to upgrade Attack, Speed, Magic, Stamina, Luck. Just three simple stats that can easily be balanced.
The battle system in this game might be one of the best in an RPG I've ever seen. Unlike most turn-based RPG's, you actually do have some extra influence over the amount of damage you deal during an attack. What you gotta do in order to do that differences with every attack you use. For example, in a jump attack you gotta press A just before hitting your enemy to do double damage. For Mario you can only do a Jump and a Hammer attack, but in the course of the game you get several 'partners' who all have different and more complicated attacks. You can only have one partner on your side during battle though. Anyway, these partners can be upgraded in the game using 'upgrade blocks' which you can find in every dungeon and major areas. By doing this, the partner becomes more powerful and learns new moves. It's nice that they did this, because I think otherwise the battle system would be a little too simple.
Technically this game was also good. I didn't really liked the 2D-characters in a 3D-world thing, but everything looked very bright and colorful and the special effects were alright. The soundtrack of this game annoyed me a lot in the beginning. Mostly simple tunes that really got on my nerves. But I had a feeling it got better later on. Especially the theme played during the battle against the Ice King was great in my opinion.
But as I said in the beginning, the simplicity might also be its weak point. The game had a very low difficulty level example. I never had any trouble with any of the bosses and I died only once at the hardest enemy of the game (Kent Koopa) because I came unprepared. Even at the final boss battle I wasn't even close to dying, even though the battle lasted quite long. Also, you can rush through this game and have it completed within 20 hours which is not long for an RPG.
Overall I think if you're a hardcore FPS player than you shouldn't play this. However, if you're not too bothered with the low difficulty and feel like wasting some time, than I think might get a lot of enjoyment out of this game. I certainly did at least.