The way Nintendo is releasing information at the moment is intriguing; with, so far, no E3-time Nintendo Direct, we have instead been getting news gradually. It feels as though Nintendo is tiding us over until they are ready to show us their plans for a lot of the rest of the year. Today, this is in the form of a Nintendo Treehouse Live video where we got to see more of Paper Mario: The Origami King, and also a new announcement from WayForward. So, I thought I would write a few thoughts about what was shown and how it was presented!
Yes, I may have initially wondered if the WayForward game would be Metroid. One day, okay? Let me dream.
Paper Mario: The Origami King
The main focus of the Treehouse was Paper Mario: The Origami King! With the release of the game only 7 days away, and a relatively empty Switch release schedule for the rest of the year, that makes me wonder if there is going to be more announcements – maybe a full Direct? – very soon. Either way, Paper Mario is clearly the imminent focus. With the whole COVID-19 situation, this Treehouse was presented with 3 people talking about the game remotely through video chat: Riona, who led the presenting; Ethan, who played the game; and Sam, who also offered insight into the game. The way the Treehouse was arranged resulted in a few cases of people talking over each other or seeming unsure of who was speaking next, but this is totally reasonable to me considering the constraints right now. The people themselves spoke really well and seemed positive about the game!
One of the aspects setting this entry in the series apart is the Origami, which is visually different; the 3D character models stand out next to the paper style we have become used to, giving this game a new visual twist. The game opens with a conversation between Princess Peach – an Origami character – and Mario, where despite the familiar setting of Mushroom Castle, the tone is perhaps not what we are used to when these two converse. This is even more jarring when you are sent through a trapdoor! After meeting new Origami character Olivia, who helps you in the game, you run into Bowser in a fun new way where he is trapped in a folded-up form! He follows Mario back up the Castle until you meet the main antagonist, King Olly (the brother of Olivia), who steals away Mushroom Castle as Olivia and Mario are sent tumbling away, and are separated from Bowser – I wonder when he is next seen in the story?
After this initial story set-up, Treehouse then went on to show the area of the game initially after this. We see the new battle system, based around arranging circular rings around you to get enemies into the best position to attack them. This is an area I am not convinced about yet, as it seems as though it could get tiresome after a while if not used cleverly and with enough variety. The Paper Mario charm is evidently still there, from quirky side characters such as the Toads in the stands around the battle making comments to the way Mario has a flourish at the end of attacks. A sequence where you haggle with Monty Mole is hilarious!
Finally, we are shown a portion of a boss battle from later in the game – against a set of coloured pencils that operates as essentially a missile launcher and gatling gun! The enemy design is so creative, yet again I am concerned about the use of the circular rings for combat. You have to set up your route to get to the optimum place to attack, and visually, and especially juxtaposed against the spacious exploration areas, it seems very convoluted in terms of the options it presents to you. There are many icons thrown at you; however, this may be because of how the Treehouse jumped to this later point in the game, before we have played through the game and become used to the systems. I am really curious about how the gameplay will feel to play, especially the combat.
Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia
Okay, it isn’t Metroid. Even if it is not a series I am knowledgable about, Bakugan is a series that I am confident many people are excited to see on the way to Switch in the form of Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia. We were shown some gameplay of this new game, and as with Paper Mario: The Origami King, we got commentary to go with it – Sam was also in this section, joined by: Tyler of Nintendo; Steve Robert of Spin Master; and Tenny Goko of WayForward. We got to see the overworld, which had a similar aesthetic style to Pokémon Sword and Shield but with less polish, and then additionally the combat. There is a very Sword and Shield vibe to the way you enter battles with a sense of scale, too (Dynamax/Gigantamax!) – the Bakugan are much larger than your character when in battle. The idea of your character supporting your Bakugan by picking up Energy Cores around the area is a fun extra layer to the battling. However, overall, the game seemed to lack finesse, and I am not sure how much that shall be improved for the November 3rd 2020 release date. Hopefully it is a great game!
I expect a lot of people are disappointed by that being the new game reveal; however, we knew it would be a third-party game, and being a game revealed after the Paper Mario portion of a Treehouse video meant this was one to keep your expectations under control for. I am saddened to see such a ratio of Likes and Dislikes on the videos for this game on the Nintendo channel – currently they have around 3 or 4 Dislikes for every Like, and this is a very negative stance on games most or all of these people have not played. Maybe it is not a game you are excited for, but this is a series name with history, and we should give it a chance.
So, there are my thoughts on the Treehouse; have you seen it? In which case, do you agree/disagree with my opinions? You can let me know in the comments!