With Paper Mario: The Origami King having been released on the Nintendo Switch for a few weeks now, we no longer have to speculate if Nintendo listened to its fans and brought back what we really loved about the Paper Mario series. Not wanting to take the chance and try it out for myself, I’ve gone through the reviews of others. Sure they added the occasional bland companion, with a solid enough story and interesting towns. However, the fact that items can break, and the completely frustrating and boring battle mechanics, tells me the classic Paper Mario series is dead.
Some claim that if you don’t compare Paper Mario: The Origami King to Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, it holds up on its own. Although, instead of a turn-based RPG system, you’d have to enjoy playing puzzles within a limited time or spend your hard-earned coins for help. Thankfully, we have these Games Inspired by the Classic Paper Mario Series!
Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling has recently caught a lot of people’s attention for basically being exactly what Paper Mario should be, with its own unique characters and lore! It’s developed by Moonsprout Games and published by DANGEN Entertainment, and is available on PC and all consoles. Below is my review of the PlayStation 4 version!
The Bug Characters
The only thing that was holding me back from playing this game sooner was the fact that everyone in the game are insects, and that’s gross. Bugs in real life creep me out but I quickly got past that with how charming their personalities were. After a while, I even forgot that the main characters Vi, Kabbu, and Leif were in fact bugs.
I would have liked to have more companions join the party to have more of a variety of action, attacks, and conversations, but each character does grow as the game goes on. They all have unique back-stories that you can explore through the main-game or side-quests that will have you falling in love with them. Vi is a young greedy but sweet little bee, Kabbu is a gentle leader beetle, and Lief is a quiet and mysterious moth.
The Land of Bugaria
Bugaria is a large continent, well for bugs anyway, comprised of your home The Ant Kingdom, The Bee Kingdom, The Wasp Kingdom, and the Termite Kingdom. There are many other areas you’ll get to explore ranging from caverns, deserts, mountains, and to grasslands!
For more insight into the other insects and why some are sentient and others are mindless enemies, you’ll have to collect all of the Lore Books as part of a side-quest. It does make checking every nook and cranny in every area worth the trouble.
As certified explorers, the trio are sent on the biggest one of all by The Ant Queen. You must obtain The Everlasting Sapling, a treasure that can grant immortality! There are a total of 7 Chapters, and the first few are all about finding the relics that unlock the location of this fabled tree.
The Battle System
Each character has unique abilities that you can use in battle and in the overworld. Vi has a boomerang (Beemerang) and can hit flying enemies in battle and can fly over chasms or flick switches in the levels. Kabbu uses his horn to flip over foes with high defense and also can chop up bushes while exploring to uncover health and items. Finally, Leif has Ice Magic and can freeze enemies both within and without battles, as well as form paths across bodies of water.
You have to keep track of what each team member can do and where to place them depending on enemy weaknesses as not all enemies can be affected by all characters. You can even give your turn to someone else, use special abilities, use items, or even just skip your turn.
Just like in the classic Paper Mario games, you’ll gain EXP from each battle and can level up. For every level gained, you can choose between raising your HP, TP (teamwork/abilities), or MP (medals/badges). Equipping medals can also make all the difference by boosting the stats above or other such boons. There are however many other medals that are there to just make your life more difficult. I suppose some players may enjoy the challenge, as there’s even one free medal called Hard Mode.
Cooking and Questing
One of my favorite things to do is to combine food items, or even attack items, to create something else. Example, the classic Fried Egg makes a comeback. Filling each empty slot in my recipe book with yummy treats and powerful bombs was definitely the highlight of my town shopping. All cooks in the game even have their own special cuisine that only they can make, which you can uncover in more quests!
I found the side-quests having enough variety from fetch quests to extra boss fights, with decent enough rewards, to keep me busy for hours. Battling extra enemies is worth the grind, but if you just want to get straight to the quests, there are a couple fast-travel methods, and a medal that instantly kills enemies that are of low-level. It’s also nice to see that NPCs will notice your good deeds.
Whether you’re a fan of the old Paper Mario Games or not, I think everyone will enjoy this RPG! Just make sure you’re attentive in battles because poorly timed action commands can really sting!
Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling$24.99 (PS4)
- Great level-up system with abilities and medals.
- Lovable and unique companions.
- Interesting mini-games, cooking, quests.
- More party members would have kept things fresher for longer.
- Would have liked more overall lore, not reliant on finding hidden books.
- Action commands for defense and offense can get quite exhausting.