Nintendo announced Paper Mario: The Origami King out of nowhere today, and its reveal trailer is chock-full of combat pointers, plot points, and references to other Nintendo characters both within and beyond the Paper Mario universe. We've picked out 11 noteworthy details from today's reveal that you can mull over while you wait for the game's release on July 17.
1. Bowser is apparently your partner this time
The trailer opens with either a brainwashed or perhaps origami doppelganger Peach kicking Mario out of the castle. In his escape, Mario comes across a folded-up Bowser locked away in the dungeon. It seems that whatever evil force got to Peach also got Bowser, and we later see the scaly antagonist making a quick getaway with Mario. Bowser appears throughout the rest of the trailer too, which leads us to believe that he'll be helping Mario thwart whatever villain's behind all this in a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" kind of way.
2. You have several partners, actually
In addition to Bowser, Mario will also be joined by series icons like Bob-omb, Koopas, and various types of Toads. Bob-omb seems to be a permanent battle partner like Shy Guy and Magikoopa@sl, but Mario's main ally in this adventure is the yellow (star?) fairy Olivia, who's described as the friendly sister to the evil king behind the shenanigans at the start of the trailer. With Bowser in the mix as well, Origami King seems to have a lively and colorful cast.
3. This may be a "Find the Magic McGuffins in the corners of the world" situation
As Mario escapes from Peach, five strips of differently colored paper rush in from beyond the horizon and surround the castle. We've played some Nintendo games in our day, and every bone in our bodies is telling us that these five strips of paper will form the basis of Origami King's plot. This is just a guess, and we don't know the specifics, but it looks like Mario and the gang will be journeying to five different lands in order to release or destroy the five strips paper shrouding Peach's castle so that they can re-enter it and fight the evil king. This theory also lines up with the colored warp pipes shown later in the trailer, suggesting this area may be a hub for accessing each region.
4. Origami King has open-world sections
Paper Mario games have always sat somewhere between 2D and 3D, and Origami King goes all-in on 3D at some points with areas of open-world exploration. We see Mario carting around a giant desert and sailing through a vast ocean at different points in the trailer, to say nothing of smaller but equally open environments at other sections. The planes and warships shown in the trailer may be tied to open-world skyfairing bits as well, which sounds quite cool.
5. Is that Paper Giga Bowser?
There's no doubt that Bowser plays a big role in Origami King, and based on a brief snippet shown at 1:47, he may become a big part of your fighting force at some point. Perhaps Bowser sheds his folded-up form and regains his draconic strength to become some sort of paper mecha paper-fighting machine? Whatever this is, it looks like a Paper Mario version of Giga Bowser, and we're here for it.
6. That Metroid teaser wasn't exactly subtle was it?
OK, you probably didn't miss this one, but we had to call it out anyway. Nintendo slipped a huge Metroid reference into the end of the Origami King trailer, and we're holding out hope that this is just the prelude to an update on Metroid Prime 4. We aren't expecting it to be released this year, but with the Switch's first-party lineup looking fairly thin for the rest of 2020 - rumors of a 3D Mario HD trilogy notwithstanding - now would be a good time for Nintendo to update players on one of the console's most-demanded games.
7. Ancient Toads were giants, apparently
There's an unassuming but essential shot of ancient Toad artwork around 1:20. It depicts what I can only assume are Toad ancestors, and the striking thing is that they're fully formed humanoids with long legs and arms, not to mention proportional heads. Who are these titans, and how did Toads become the squat, big-headed helpers we know and love? Hopefully Origami King holds answers.
8. Mario's got stretchy arms and extendo-fingers
With origami being the theme for the next Paper Mario, I suppose it's no surprise that Mario can fold himself in order to manipulate the environment. As it happens, Mario can extend his arms accordion-style to reach, break, or move certain elements in levels. The trailer shows him destroying a wall to clear a path and stripping another wall to make a platform, so expect to see more environmental puzzle solving throughout Origami King.
9. Combat is turn-based and uses a ring combo system
Nintendo uploaded a separate, shorter video focusing on Origami King's 360-degree battle system to its Japanese channel, and we can read just enough Japanese to pluck some handy insights from it. Like other Mario RPGs, Origami King uses turn-based combat, but there's a big twist this time: you can move enemies around by rotating the rings that make up combat arenas. Lining up multiple enemies will let you hit them all at once and deal more damage to each one, and as fights get more complex, you'll need to decide which enemies to line up and when in order to take down priority targets. It looks like a fun and intuitive little system, and it's got some other exciting wrinkles too.
10. You can time your attacks to deal more damage and earn coins
This short combat trailer also confirms that you can time individual attacks - likely with the A button, based on previous Mario RPGs - to increase your damage and earn bonus coins. The attacks in the trailer earn an "Excellent" grade, which means there are other grades to be earned, and that can only mean there's some sort of extra input at play here. It's nice to see this aspect of turn-based Mario combat returning alongside the new ring system, especially given the criticism that recent Paper Mario games faced for over-simplifying battles.
11. Combat may have a Thousand Year Door-style audience
Speaking of returning aspects: it looks like Origami King uses the same audience support system popularized in Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. Along with hint and flee options, the battle HUD includes a button for "Assistance" or "Aid," or perhaps "Cheering," depending on how you read it. This button lines up with a text bubble from the crowd which loosely reads, "I'm cheering for you!" All of this suggests that you can use your battle tactics to hype up the crowd in Origami King, and in turn they may reward you with items or other boons, just like they did in The Thousand Year Door. We could use some confirmation on that, but the foundation is there, and it looks promising.