Developer Mobot studios released the first iteration of Paper Monsters back in 2012. In Recut, they have decided to repackage their kid-friendly platformer for its official console debut along with a new PC and iOS version. Initially, I was excited to try out this attractive looking platformer akin to a Paper-Based world, best described as a blend of Super Mario with LittleBigPlanet. It has great 3D graphics within a vibrant world, likeable characters, calm pace and harmonious music. Unfortunately, the stuff on the surface didn’t quite translate well into the gaming experience as a whole.
There are aspects of the game that are great such as the fully rendered environments that you can warp around by following large purple pipes. The joys of this mechanic, however, are overshadowed by annoying bugs that not only appear once, but throughout the duration of which you may play. This is a real shame because the art style is fantastic and the lighting effects give a calming atmosphere that just makes you feel right at home. It is as if you are sitting in a nice warm conservatory on a summer’s day reading a book.
Rock, Cardboard or Shredder?
You play as a character known only as “The Little Box Dude”, who is out to save your world from the generic big bad villain and his smaller minions. Throughout your journey you will collect a variety of buttons and the special golden paper clips. Controlling your hero is simple, yet irritating at times due to the nature of having to swipe left and right to move across the level. This can be tricky if you are pulling off large jumps or attempting to clear a gap. By getting a running jump, this is somewhat balanced out with the ability to double jump which can help with the higher platforming sections of the game. Some improvements could be made here.
There is no real combat between foes who inhabit the crinkly lands. A simple jump to the head is enough to dispatch them and in some cases, you may come across walking time bombs that will catch you out if can’t back away quick enough after detonating them. Apart from these, there is no variety in the antagonists. Models are reused and animations remain cannon throughout. Navigation through dimly lit areas can also prove quite annoying and may involve a few attempts to conquer that gap you’re trying to get across.
The main game takes place in a free roaming portal type scenario, as you are free to move around the main story environment and choose which level to play next. While the level upon levels are rendered in real time and present in the background, it became increasingly frustrating getting stuck in parts of the geometry after making a huge jump off a springy mushroom and becoming one with a cloud bridge or exploring a part of the environment and getting lodged between rocks. There is no fix or reset button, just a clean restart.
There are checkpoint in the form of wind wheels scattered through the levels, so if you’re lucky you may end up back at one of them should you take a fall or lose your 3 heart vitalities. You can also find plenty of +1 lives hidden in the skies and tucked away in the environments or you can earn them by collecting 100 buttons.
If Paper Monsters Recut could avoid these number of annoyances, it does have a potential to be a solid platformer geared towards a younger audience. There are some bright spots through borrowing from the SNES era of gaming with its classic platforming mechanic and an interesting usage of real time environment’s to expand the world you’re in. As a bonus, it also supports MFi controllers and hides a few secrets to search out and unlock.
It perhaps borrows a little too much, many will cry “it’s just a Paper Mario that looks like it got thrown around a kindergarten class on a rainy day”. The truth is that Mobot has made a great effort to bring the retro platformer back into the limelight for new and existing fans of the genre. Its attention to art style should not go unnoticed, but it may need to rely on its retro charm to woo the adults. I hope that the bugs can be ironed out and possibly see a few new foes or environment’s added in for good measure.