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Every 'Paper Mario' Game, Ranked Best To Worst

Debuting on the N64 in 2001, the first Paper Mario picked up where the SNES classic Super Mario RPG left off. Combining classic role-playing elements with adorable 2D graphics that featured everyone's favorite Italian plumber and his colorful cadre of recurring charactersPaper Mario became an instant hit. In fact, the original game was so successful that it spawned numerous sequels over virtually every Nintendo console over the years. While each game is notable for having a dedicated fanbase, we want to get down to the nitty-gritty by ranking all the best Paper Mario games, with the help of your votes. 

The quintessential 2D characters and the 3D worlds are something we've all come to expect from Paper Mario games, and while each new release expands on the gameplay and graphics in ways only modern consoles can, it doesn't always mean these games are better than their predecessors. In fact, for many gamers, none of the recent games have managed to capture the original's unique style and charm, though the abundance of extremely high review scores may beg to differ.

Sure, everyone has their own favorite Paper Mario game, but which ones are often considered the best of the bunch? Perhaps more importantly, which ones are the worst? Vote up all your favorite games from the series to see which release is considered the definitive best of the bunch.

 

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  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
    Photo: Intelligent Systems

    Arguably one of the most popular GameCube games ever released, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door racked up rave reviews upon its release, solidifying a 9.1 out of 10 on IGN and a reputable 87% on Metacritic. The game takes a lot of its cues from its predecessor, Mario Story, and features the same type of turn-based battles with a hearty emphasis on action. 

    The Thousand-Year Door is notable for mixing the series' traditional 2D characters with 3D environments, and the ongoing series of subplots and a colorful cast of character help it exude that quintessential Nintendo charm. Hardcore RPG fans may have been a bit miffed by the simplistic style, but everyone else was in Mario heaven. That said, the game is fairly large, with 10 different key locations to explore.

    • Released: 2004
    • Developer: Intelligent Systems
    • Platform: GameCube
    46 votes
  • Paper Mario: The Origami King
    Photo: Intelligent Systems

    Like most Mario games, The Origami King starts off with the two plumbers heading to Princess Peach's pad for an origami party. Naturally, havoc ensues as the maniacal King Olly shows up and takes control of Bowser's army while turning Peach into — you guessed it — origami.

    True to its roots, the Switch exclusive mixes gorgeous 3D animation with those tried-and-true 2D characters and also utilizes a ring battle system. The Origami King also features an abundance of side-quests and has enough in-game versatility to give simulation games like Animal Crossing a run for their money.

    • Released: 2020
    • Developer: Intelligent Systems
    • Platform: Nintendo Switch
    50 votes
  • 3
    47 VOTES
    Paper Mario
    Photo: Intelligent Systems

    Super Mario RPG made a huge splash when it debuted in the SNES in 1996, and as its spiritual successor, there was a lot of hype leading up to the release of Paper Mario. The style, gameplay, and design may look deceptively simple, but this is easily one of the deepest games of the bunch. 

    Like Mario RPG, Paper Mario is a traditional turn-based RPG where that lets players team up with different allies as they progress through the game. While more modern games have shied away from some of the more role-playing elements in terms of more side-scrolling adventure mechanics, as a traditional RPG the OG still excels in all the right spots.

    • Released: 2000
    • Developer: Intelligent Systems
    • Platform: Nintendo 64, Nintendo DS, Wii, iQue Player
    47 votes
  • Super Paper Mario
    Photo: Intelligent Systems

    Released on the Wii, Super Paper Mario is the third installment in the series, following the super successful Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Originally designed as a GameCube release, Super Paper Mario was retooled and reworked to match the Wii's controls. The game mixes side-scrolling platformer elements with traditional RPG gameplay, focusing more on controls and puzzles rather than leveling up.

    One of the biggest elements that makes Super Paper Mario such an original take is how the game fluidly switches from a typical 2D side-scroller to the 3D world and back. And like the previous games, the combat is fun, fluid, and always enjoyable.

    • Released: 2007
    • Developer: Intelligent Systems
    • Platform: Wii
    45 votes
  • Paper Mario: Color Splash
    Photo: Intelligent Systems

    As the fifth entry in the series, Paper Mario: Color Splash already had a lot to live up to, and when it was released in 2016 gamers were eager to get their grips on either Mario RPG. That said, Paper Mario: Color Splash is probably one of the more controversial Paper Mario games: while some fans adored it, others abhorred it.

    For starters, the game takes advantage of the Wii U's touchscreen gamepad while adding a new layer to the series, giving gamers the ability to use their own paint hammer to color in all the empty spots found throughout the game. The game also features a unique card battle system, with players able to hold up to 99 cards. 

    • Released: 2016
    • Developer: Intelligent Systems
    • Platform: Wii U
    37 votes
  • 6
    37 VOTES

    Paper Mario: Sticker Star

    Paper Mario: Sticker Star
    Photo: Intelligent Systems

    Harking back to the turn-based battles found in the earlier games, Paper Mario: Sticker Star features all the same gameplay tropes you've come to know and love, while offering a few new themes thrown in for good measure. For starters, Sticker Star features coddles of collectible stickers strewn throughout the game that can be used as one-time resources, whether you use them as power-ups or items.

    As a 3DS release, the game features some seriously amazing 3D papercraft worlds. The cardboard pyramids, for instance, look great on the handheld screen, and the tongue-in-cheek dialogue is still on full display. That said, the traditional party system is absent from this game; instead, Sticker Star focuses more on collecting and solving puzzles.

    • Released: 2012
    • Developer: Intelligent Systems
    • Platform: Nintendo 3DS
    37 votes