Paper Mario: The Origami King's producer now says the series can no longer "graphically represent individual characteristics" in Toad NPCs

What a strange decision

A couple weeks back, Nintendo’s Kensuke Tanabe spoke to VGC about a design edict with Paper Mario games that was put in place since Paper Mario: Sticker Star. According to Tanabe, Paper Mario games can "no longer modify/create characters" tied to the Mario universe. While fans are still looking for an explanation as to why that is, Tanabe has been a bit more specific about the mandate.

In an interview with GamesRadar on the same subject, Tanabe had this to say.

"From the production of Paper Mario: Sticker Star onwards, we were no longer able to graphically represent individual characteristics, such as age, gender etc., in the Toad NPCs (non-playable characters), and so it has become that much more important to convey their personalities simply through text. Our writer, Mr Taro Kudo, has been grappling with this difficult challenge since Paper Mario: Sticker Star, but has managed to achieve giving all the texts a sense of humour. In this instalment, Paper Mario: The Origami King, we were able to include some Toads wearing an outfit to match their role, and also created original origami characters."

What we're really looking for from Nintendo is an explanation as to why this is. Fans know that the series used to allow for this kind of expression, and removing it seems like a rather odd decision. Even if we don't like the answer, hopefully Nintendo will explain themselves in a future interview.


This just confirms even more what most of the original game/TTYD feared...This is gonna cause a lot of uproar...and that sucks.

Wed Jul 29 20 04:25pm
Rating: 1 (Updated 1 time)

What so they couldn’t have a Toad wearing sunglasses for example?

I’m pretty sure Captain Toad and the Toad Brigade exist because they were allowed convey the characters personality and individuality compared to generic Toads.

I can understand restricting third parties when using IP, but restricting Nintendo themselves seems dumb and stifles creativity. I really want to know WHO is making this decision at Nintendo.

Technically it's not Nintendo themselves.

I'm confused since even in Color Splash there are individual toads. I'm at a part now with a pirate Toad.

Poor Toadsworth. They literally killed him off. He appeared in several games too.

But why are they no longer able to do that? That's what I want to know

Likely a mario bible was made in 2010 for the sale of merch purposes, making aspects of the brand incredibly strict. It was also noted that Super Paper Mario wayyyyyy overdid it on the OC Syndrome side of things by introducing a bunch of randos made up for the game that never need to reappear or show up again. The fact that game was deemed too confusing with it’s overly complicated convoluted story (for what’s meant to be a mario game) kinda did it in.

Could be... I just wish we had an official reason for it

Wed Jul 29 20 04:33pm
Rating: 2

I'm sure that around 2009 or 10 they started internally circulating some Mario bible or some other type of guideline putting limits on when and how much developers are able to deviate from The Brand

Wed Jul 29 20 05:05pm
Rating: 1

Interesting, unique characters and stories are at the core of the appeal of RPGs. I can see why the devs started moving the Paper Mario series away from being an RPG due to these restrictions. Still sucks though. These kind of corporate strangleholds kill a ton of creativity and appeal, and Nintendo really needs to reconsider them.

Wed Jul 29 20 05:07pm
Rating: 1

If I can speculate, I think it may be because of their expansion of the Mario brand, with a theme park and movie coming, I think the logic is to make it safer and therefore more mass appealing.

NSMB may also be the reason why they have been more strict with Mario in some projects, since the success of that series of game was really big, despite complaints of hardcore fans.

With all that said, they're making game with an arm tied to their backs. I know limitations stimulate creativity, but flat out cutting some of the best elements of the old games, seem atm like they can only aim to be the second best thing. At least until they eventually make a better combat system, which to be fair is a possibility.

Wed Jul 29 20 05:16pm
(Updated 1 time)

It’s funny how people first blamed Miayamoto for the creative shortcomings of modern Paper Mario, then the blame shifted to Tanabe for a while...but now it seems like Miyamoto may be responsible for a lot of it after all. I can’t say that it’s solely Miyamoto’s fault, but I would have a hard time believing anyone outranks him when it comes to the final say on the creative direction of Mario games.

Wed Jul 29 20 06:23pm
(Updated 2 times)

Tanabe is a terrible game designer and the perfect example of the Peter Principle. No matter who is ultimately at fault for the Mario brand becoming sterile, the fact still remains that Tanabe has been responsible for some of the most questionable systems ever seen in gaming (The roulette wheel choosing which level you go to in Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash, the Amiimal minigames in Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers and so on). These newer Paper Mario games would be less bitter of a pill to swallow if they had combat systems with a rewarding progression to them, but they don't.

And before any of you mention Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze or Luigi's Mansion 3, I will have to point out that these were Western studios that most definitely had more balls to challenge certain creative decisions by him. His initial role was to be a mediator between NCL and Western partners overseas, and in that regard he was doing a good enough job as he was originally suited for that. But as soon as he is back on home turf with other developers, his producer role suddenly magically lets him become a director. It boggles the mind really.

As great as Tropical Freeze is. Im still salty Tanabe/Miyamoto told Retro to cut out the Kremlings in both Returns/Tropical Freeze. Its not a major gripe as the games are still fantastic but it still sucks as a long time DKC/K.Rool fan.

Tanabe, Kojima, Miyamoto, Sakamoto, Nomura, Swery, Itagaki, Goro, etc.

It's easy just having a name to put blame on, it's not like other member of the staff could have decided to make any changes to his ideas.

While not on my top creators, he certainly makes solid experiences. Lukewarm at worse.

If I had to point an issue, is that he doesn't pander as much to fans.

Wed Jul 29 20 06:01pm
Rating: 2

It's kind of odd that the Mario franchise can have weird shovel like Baby Doctor Peach but an old Toad in Paper Mario is apparently off limits. I don't get it.

Because we must keep that super marketable character Toad pure...

But what, Toadette is okay? Feh. Dumb.

Wed Jul 29 20 07:14pm
(Updated 1 time)

How about you start making more original characters for the paper mario games instead of using Toads everywhere then?

Also most importantly, focus on the actual gameplay please

Wed Jul 29 20 07:32pm
Rating: 1

Also most importantly, focus on the actual gameplay please

They do, if anything that's what has been new everytime.

All they do is change the combat really and they are still failing at making a half decent combat system. The metagame systems have barely changed since sticker stars. I am not saying the game absolutely needs a leveling system, but it definitely needs something to be more engaging on a metagame level.

Maybe continuing the approach of Super Paper Mario and improving on that.

How about you start making more original characters for the paper mario games instead of using Toads everywhere then?

They can't do that either going by the first interview on this subject.

Thu Jul 30 20 03:52am
(Updated 1 time)

They definitely can. In the original interview they mentioned that they can't make new characters that touch on the mario universe, not that they can't make new characters at all. Even origami king has a few of them, but for whatever reason it seems that they have an obsession with using toads all over the place regardless.

This is either a bad translation that is missing some crucial info, or it's the Japanese equivalent of "the dog ate my homework".

I blame the bowsette trend for this....

Wed Jul 29 20 09:08pm
(Updated 1 time)

Y'know, that might actually be a plausible reason.

So was Mario & Luigi immune to this? I'm pretty sure they had new characters after 2010?

If I had to guess, it may have started production shortly after BiS, meaning it may have had some wiggle room as it would have started just before 2010 and Nintendo wasn't going to make them scrap the whole thing. Also, outside of already established characters like the Elite Trio and Kylie Koopa, I don't think it have any original takes of any existing SMB species. I don't think it even had any original Toads.

It's also worth considering that Paper Jam, which definitely started after 2010 had no original characters in it at all, and that the remakes removed a number of original characters (Mecha Chomps for example), or replaced them with more generic designs (the Toads as a whole. That said, the remakes probably had a bit more freedom overall since they were remakes and could only deviate so much from the originals.

Either way it's hard to say for sure, but ultimately I think this is a poor choice on Nintendo's part. I'd assume this is to protect the brand, but being overprotective of a series can lead to it becoming bland.

Blaming the producers behind those games isn't going to make anything better other than you wanting to find someone to point it out to.

Paper Mario was to give a different kind of Mario than the one we're used to. And the first three games gave such engaging stories and characters that made it feel like this was a worthy attempt.

But then as soon as Sticker Star came out, people blamed it on the tops for no reason simply because that one line that asked "Do we really need a story?" is what caused the fans to blame Shigeru Miyamoto who still has less involvement with games and didn't say anything about stories but instead has said that the game should be based on the Mario universe like the first two Paper Mario games.

But no people will blame on creators because it feels nice to blame them despite having no proof and the fact that a writer from Vanpool was hired instead of Intelligent Systems staff writer and this matters because Vanpool didn't have much of a massive library let alone RPGs.

Looking at the Iwata asks, Shigeru Miyamoto simply made suggestions and often asks the devs questions as for the devs to decide on them in the end instead of the other way around. Its been like that since and the idea of this is so that he could lead the devs to take over a series when he's retired so that they could do what they think works while still following the basic types of policies.

But it went the other way around for us instead. I just wonder what you folks would do if anything bad were to happen to either one of them and then you'd probably take back what you say now. Because like I said earlier, blaming won't fix anything and while it sucks that Paper Mario is in this limbo now, its at the same time..a spinoff series of its own so if that doesn't work out, you atleast have the mainline games that keep you company.

Yeah, it denotes insecurity looking to confront individuals just for not liking their work.

If anything that has been discussed is that people should buy something else. Since in the end as a business the decisions will be made towards the reception of that work and whether they look to change based on the reception or try something different.


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