Super Paper Mario
Mario is a relatively flat fellow, but at the same time, he's a pretty deep guy. What else should we expect from a plumber who keeps saving the world? But in Super Paper Mario, the famous hero with the level-five mustache (yes, this game has a sense of humor, and a thing for mustaches) is facing a new evil: the overly loquacious Count Bleck. Bleck, a bad guy from another dimension, has set up a dimensional rift to destroy the universe's dimensions. Guess what? This is a game about dimensions. Super Paper Mario kicks platforming into 3D: Mario can switch from two dimensions to three whenever he wants, as long as his dimensional meter doesn't run out. Flipping into 3D makes hidden areas visible, treacherous passages easy to navigate, and giant spiky enemies as thin as pancakes.
The Super Paper Mario aesthetic—cutout characters and stylized, retro backgrounds—isn't new, but the gameplay is. Nintendo even incorporated the powers of the Wii-mote; pointing at the screen reveals secret doors. Also, in keeping with the Paper Mario series' origins as an RPG game, players can choose between characters in their "party": Mario, Princess Peach, and Bowser are all in it together against Count Bleck. Each character has different abilities, but only Mario can flip dimensions. Add to that all the special powers he gets along the way, and he's one useful plumber.
Beyond the game: Super Paper Mario definitely has a sense of humor, and it does a great job of making fun of itself. ("My name is not Maria, it's Mario!") Unfortunately, the dialogue would be more fun if there were less of it. Even the NPCs have way too much to say.
Worth playing for: That great feeling of exploring—and actually finding something—by switching to 3D.
Frustration sets in when: The game begins slowly. Plus, getting through the detailed explanation of a super-simple plot would be like wading through mud in any dimension.
Final judgment: The switch to 3D is dazzling. The rest of the game, not so much.