Super Paper Mario

Friday 18 August 2006
Poor GameCube. All we heard of it at E3 back in May was the odd muffled squeak as it struggled, bound and gagged, in Nintendo's boot - Wii had to have every last lumen of spotlight for itself, after all. As a result, one of the best looking games we've ever seen almost passed by unnoticed.

Super Paper Mario isn't, despite first impressions, a 'Super' version of Paper Mario. It's a paper version of Super Mario. See? It's a stubbornly retro 2D Mazza platformer, where you're bumping bricks and crushing Koopas just like in The Olden Days - except in a world created with the same magic 2D pastel paintbrush that gave Paper Mario its delicious wafer-thin look.

In fact, Super Paper Mario seems even more misty-eyed than this month's DS gem New Super Mario Bros. Levels are stylised to the point of surreality and the Mega Mushroom transforms playable characters Mario, Peach and Bowser into TV-tall versions of their pixelated '80s selves.

Above: To defeat one dragon boss, Mario has to switch to this view to be able to hop on the creature's back

And here's the exciting bit: as Mario, you can twist the level 90 degrees to look along your path, giving those traditional brick roads a spine-tingling 3D twist. And reveal that background hills are actually platforms. Excite!

This isn't just New Super Mario Bros through a kaleidoscope, though. Look carefully and you'll see the Fairens - little fairy-winged shapes that will give you useful information about the level, toss you across gaps, or smash enemies into a pixelated pulp. Plus, we've seen Mr Moustache happily strolling on walls and ceilings, as well as - Super Mario Galaxy nod, here - floating through space with a shiny raygun. This is seriously exciting stuff.