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Super Paper Mario

2. RPG Lite - It's like playing the Paper RPGs without all them crazy stats

Fun as they were, the N64 and GC Paper Mario games were filled with RPG-heavy elements that probably scared away casual players. Even the Mario faitful, always ready to plop on a koopa shell, might have seen all the HP, ability points, badges, buddies, items and the like and thought, "Can I just jump on something please?"

Here, everything's focused on fast fun. Sure, you've got hit points and a small inventory of helpful items, but anything worth doing is accomplished with good ol' fashioned Mario shenanigans. As a small bonus, there's a way to gather info on enemies and your surroundings as in an RPG, but it's done in a most clever way - number three has the story.



Above: Pointing the remote at the screen reveals secret areas and info

3. The PIXLs - geometric buddies that give Mario new abilities

In Paper Mario 2, Mario gained the ability to fold himself into a paper airplane or sailboat. He could also slip in between bars by turning sideways. From what we've seen of the Wii game, his powers will come from the PIXL helpers that follow along behind him. We saw two at the ready, a butterfly and a bomb-like critter. The bomb was able to be summoned, dropped and detonated at any time, blasting the familiar Mario blocks into bits.

The other PIXL, near as we could tell, was behind the whole "information gathering" business. Simply point the remote at the screen at any time to activate a searchlight - if it hits anything of interest, you'll be briefed on its important points. This scanning method also reveals hidden passages that can be torn away like unwanted pages of an old book. Thing is, the graphics are perfect, you'll hate to see 'em ripped up.

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