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->''"Thinner Mario, Bigger Adventure!"''

''Paper Mario'' is a RolePlayingGame SpinOff series of ''SuperMarioBros'' developed by Intelligent Systems (who also develop the ''[[NintendoWars Wars]]'' series and ''FireEmblem'' series) following the general idea of ''VideoGame/SuperMarioRPG'' (its working title was ''Super Mario RPG 2''), but in a sort of Alternate Dimension where everyone is as thin and two-dimensional as paper (hence the name). [[VideoGame/PaperMario64 The original game]] debuted on the {{Nintendo 64}}, and it was one of only ten games released for the system in 2001, a year that saw twice as many Gamecube games released despite that system not debuting until November.

The game and its sequel on the Gamecube, ''[[VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door]]'', stand out among {{RPG}}s in a number of ways.

First of all, they break up the static turn-based encounters of many Eastern [=RPGs=] with ActionCommands and the ability to hit enemies ([[PreExistingEncounters which exist on the screen before the battle starts]] and are attacked in a manner similar to ''{{VideoGame/EarthBound}}'') on the field for a "First Strike". The sequel took it even further by putting battles onto a theater stage, complete with audience and backgrounds that occasionally fall down on the combatants.

Second of all, the battle system is significantly simpler than the norm for [=RPGs=]. For example, only two characters are present in battle at once: Mario and one of his various partners, whose abilities and options are more limited than Mario's, especially in the first game where they didn't even have health (they were simply stunned by the few attacks that could target them). The functions in the code used to calculate damage are also much simpler, using addition and subtraction as the main operations for this purpose; for example, if you have an attack stat of seven, and the enemy has a defense stat of five, the enemy sustains two points of damage.

Lastly, there's much less equipment to deal with than the typical RPG. Mario's weapons—his boots (for the jump attack) and hammer—are automatically upgraded at certain points in the game (also adding new abilities for the overworld) and his partners are upgraded at certain places (increasing their attack power and health and giving them an additional combat ability). That only leaves [[ThePinIsMightierThanTheSword Badges]], items that are equipped using Badge Points and have various effects on Mario (or his partners in the sequel, which had Partner Badges). Some of them give him new abilities, increase his offense or defense, give him an edge against certain enemies, change visuals or sound effects or even put him at a disadvantage ([[SelfImposedChallenge to make the game more challenging]]).

While the first three games in the series follow different plots, there are certain shared habits. The game is broken down into a prologue and eight chapters. In the first seven chapters, Mario and his gang of "partners" rescue seven mystical stars (much like those in ''VideoGame/SuperMarioRPG''), which have the power to stop the bad guys. In the first two games, these stars also give Mario unique powers that require star energy that slowly regenerates in battle (both games feature ways to speed up the process; the sequel ties it to the audience). Other long-term standbys include the ability to cook items, entertaining [[GoldfishPoopGang recurring bosses]] and giving Peach a role of more than just a DistressedDamsel: While she is taken captive by the bad guys in the first two games, she spies on them to help Mario. ''Sticker Star'' changes a lot of this, however; see its page for more details.

The series consists of:

[[index]]
* ''[[VideoGame/PaperMario64 Paper Mario]]'' (original)
* ''[[VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door]]''
* ''VideoGame/SuperPaperMario''
* ''VideoGame/PaperMarioStickerStar''
[[/index]]

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!!The ''Paper Mario'' series provides examples of:
* ActionCommands: Integral to dealing as much damage as possible to enemies or getting the most benefits from status-buffing special moves.
* ActuallyFourMooks: Careful, that single Koopatrol you just First Strike'd may turn out to be 3 Koopatrols...with a Magikoopa, for good measure.
* AntiGrinding: The first game prevented you from getting star points (experience) from defeating enemies that are too weak for your level. The second game did the same, but always awarded at least one star point in any battle (it takes one-hundred to level up).
** The fourth game doesn't even have a level up system, completely playing this straight toward its logical conclusion.
* BetterThanABareBulb: Much of the humor derives from poking fun at Mario series and other video game conventions.
* BlockingStopsAllDamage: You can Super Guard against almost anything that causes damage in battle, regardless of whether that means physical attacks, projectiles, lightning strikes, falling walls, fire or explosions. All with no harm done to Mario.
** Of course, Super Guards have much smaller windows than normal guards (which usually just reduce damage by one), so a successful Super Guard is basically a mechanics-based Crowning Moment of Awesome.
* CallAHitPointASmeerp: Heart Points instead of Hit Points, Flower Points instead of Magic Points, and Star Points instead of Experience Points.
* CastOfSnowflakes: Even npcs that look identical have completely different descriptions for Goombario/Goombella's Tattle ability.
* CharacterDevelopment: Surprising for a Mario game, but both Twink in 64 and TEC in TTYD grow as characters during (and because of) their experiences with Peach.
* DarkerAndEdgier: The second and third games have both been darker than their respective predecessors. ''Sticker Star'' reverses this trend.
* DerivativeDifferentiation: These games are decidedly less similar to ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' than their Square-produced predecessor, ''VideoGame/SuperMarioRPG''.
* DropTheHammer: One of Mario's two main attacks in the series, the other being jumping.
* DroughtLevelOfDoom: Some portions of ''Paper Mario'' can delve into this because of the importance of certain items and the limited carrying capacity, particularly in longer dungeons.
** Averted by the game's "Pit of 100 Trials." One of the games looks like it's going to be a chore. No resurfacing to restock on items for 100 levels... until you start in and realize [[RandomlyDrops enemy drops]] practically fall out of trees and you can pretty much subsist on what they drop, saving all your items for the boss at the end.
** Even in the Gamecube one, you can trade Star Pieces for badges that let you increase enemy drops.
** However, battle items tend to drop when you are in need of healing items.
* EasterEgg: Each world in ''Sticker Star'' has Luigi hidden in one level. Paperizing allows you to remove him, but this doesn't seem to affect anything except a count given just before the finishing credits.
* FlippingHelpless: Several enemies can be flipped on their backs, which reduces their defense to zero. The most common are the Koopas and their extended family, but other enemy trees include Clefts, Spinies, and Buzzy Beetles, some of which require a Pow Block or Quake Smash to flip.
** Shady Koopas are actually a subversion, since they're known to be dangerous even after they've been flipped.
* GoingThroughTheMotions: It soon becomes obvious that everyone's animations are rather limited. For example, every time Mario strikes up a conversation, he thrusts his arm out as if saluting the person he's addressing.
* GoombaStomp: One of Mario's two main attacks in the series, the other being a hammer.
* GroundPound: An unlockable ability in each game, though in the first and second games, it's called a Spin Jump.
* GroundPunch: The Quake Hammer move consists of Mario smashing the ground with his hammer [[DishingOutDirt hard enough to shake the entire stage.]]
* HubWorld: All games except the fourth have one that connects to each world in each game. ''Sticker Star'' uses a world map instead.
* ItemAmplifier: In ''VideoGame/PaperMario'' and its sequels, the Badges "Double Dip" and "Triple Dip" allow Mario to use 2 items or 3 items per turn, respectively.
* LimitBreak: The first and second games give Mario these kinds of moves called "special moves" which are powered by Star Power and are unlocked over the course of the game.
* MagneticHero: Mario, who attracts many partners over the course of each game.
* ManaPotion: Syrups restore Flower Points.
* NoFourthWall: Listing the number of ways the fourth wall is broken would take to long.
* NoHeroDiscount: In this game and all the sequels. You're a worldwide hero needed to save the world/multiverse and you still need to pay for inns, items, and fortunetelling. At least you don't pay for inns in the first game, but considering Mario's more famous in the Mushroom Kingdom than in Rogueport or Flipside, it's not quite enough slack.
* NonStandardGameOver: Every game has some way of saying that the game ended early. The original game has the first Bowser fight, the second had the diary on the train and [[spoiler:a DealWithTheDevil, if you accept the Shadow Queen's offer]], and the third has the beginning dialogue options ''before you even start the game'' (just say you don't feel like saving the world). The fourth is the first to break the tradition.
* ThePinIsMightierThanTheSword: Badges.
* PowersAsPrograms: The badge system, which allows equippable jump and hammer moves as well as status buffs.
* RagtagBunchOfMisfits: Mario puts one together in the first two games, accepting a bunch of complete strangers of all races during his travels. The third game has him gather Peach, Bowser, Luigi, and a group of connected beings who somewhat qualify as this. The fourth game averts this; it's just Mario and Kersti all the way through.
* RecurringElement: Parakarry, a partner in the first game, shows up or is referenced in all Paper Mario games.
* RecurringBoss: Every single game has had AT LEAST one boss fight with a Blooper.
* RuleOfSeven: The number of {{Plot Coupon}}s in the first and second games. In ''SuperPaperMario'' there are eight, but you get the first one before gaining control and have to track down the other seven. In ''Sticker Star'', there are only six, except [[spoiler:the seventh one is Kersti, and you get to wear her for the final fight]].
* SceneryPorn: Each game has it, getting better as the series progresses.
* SequelEscalation: The first game involved saving the Mushroom Kingdom. The second game had Mario saving the entire world from a secret society [[spoiler:on the moon]]. The third game involved saving TheMultiverse from a FiveBadBand and their ArtifactOfDoom. The fourth game, however, brought it back to saving the Mushroom Kingdom.
* SomethingCompletelyDifferent: Chapter 6 seems to stand out from the others in some way. The first game had it take place in a world that is separated from the Mushroom Kingdom. The second games' Chapter 6 took place on a [[LocomotiveLevel train]] where various mysteries had to be solved. The third game's Chapter 6 took place in a world where you have to fight through 100 opponents one at a time to complete it. [[spoiler:But that was cut short by [[ApocalypseWow the end of the world]].]] In the fourth game, the sixth world is actually the final world and is also the shortest.
* StorybookOpening: All four games so far have opened this way, each of them telling the {{Backstory}} of important places or objects in the game. ''Sticker Star'' takes it UpToEleven, where the storybook continues after each boss. Interestingly enough, [[spoiler: the section after the fourth boss is narrated by the boss posthumously. It's unknown whether or not he narrated the rest of the book, though.]]
* WeCannotGoOnWithoutYou: If Mario falls in battle, the game ends. If any of the partners fall, it doesn't, and they can be revived afterwards or during battle.