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The first game in the Paper Mario series, titled Paper Mario (but called Paper Mario 64 by fans for the sake of differentiation), released for the Nintendo 64 in 2000 in Japan and 2001 in North America and Europe.

The game starts when Mario and Luigi get an invitation from Princess Peach to attend a party at her castle. When Mario goes to have some alone time with Peach, the ground suddenly shakes and the castle suddenly rises into space with all of the guests still inside. It turns out that Bowser built his castle underneath Peach's and rose both of them up into space in a giant Koopa Clown Car. Bowser then appears and reveals he had stolen an artifact called the Star Rod from Star Haven, which he uses to effortlessly defeat Mario and throw him out the window to the world below.

Mario later wakes up in Goomba Village, where he receives a telepathic message from a star to go to Shooting Star Summit. Once there, the star, named Eldstar, tells Mario to find the seven star spirits, who have been kidnapped by Bowser's forces all over the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario then sets off, meeting a quirky cast of partners along the way.

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This game provides examples of:

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  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Toad Town Tunnels is rather large for a sewer area. There are three gigantic Bloopers, numerous deeper tunnels, and pipes to a lot of other areas in the game.
  • Absurdly Short Level: Star Way is a simple pass way that ascends upwards in a spiral from Shooting Star Summit to Star Heaven. It can be passed in one minute and features a total of two enemies, none of them required. There is nothing else here.
  • Action Commands: Nearly every action has one. Commands range from "press A with good timing" to "hold the Control Stick for a certain time" to "mash buttons".
  • Adult Fear: The Yoshis of Lavalava Island go into a panicked frenzy when their children get lost in the dangerous jungle. A letter from Watt's mother implies her family suffered from this too after she went missing.
  • Affably Evil: The minions of Bowser that are guarding Princess Peach are rather affable as they return Princess Peach to her room.
  • Always Night: Shooting Star Summit and Forever Forest. You can actually see the sky fade into darkness as you approach either area, and then back to daylight as you leave.
  • An Ice Person: The Crystal King appears to be made of ice. He's fought at the end of an ice palace.
  • Anti-Grinding: The game refuses to give you Star Points if you defeat enemies that are too weak. Additionally, grinding is a bit less useful than it is in other RPGs; Mario's attack stat only increases via story progression (and occasionally badges), not leveling up.
  • Astral Finale: The final battle takes place on a platform in the skies above Peach’s castle.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Kalmar's "Up and Away" power—the last of the special abilities you get from a rescued Star Spirit—summons him to cast a spell which has the chance to turn all of the enemies on the field into stars, which in turn fly...well, up and away. Unfortunately, using the move doesn't grant the player any Star Points, so they likely won't try it on higher-level enemies, while the Bump Attack Badge, which allows you to defeat weak enemies without even entering the battle screen, doesn't cost two bars of Star Power like Up and Away does. On the rare chance that you do want to get rid of some enemies quickly, it's just as easy to use one of the three partner moves that has the same affect (Bow and Lakilester have identical enemy removal moves, while Parakarry's only affects one enemy but has a higher chance to succeed). All told, it has very little application and probably won't be used at all.
    • The "Triple Dip" badge gives Mario the opportunity to use three items in one turn. While awesome in theory, it costs a hefty six FP, and by the time Mario finds this badge he has both access to curb-stomping abilities for a similar FP cost, as well as to items that boost both HP and FP sufficiently enough that you rarely need two in one turn, let alone three.
  • Badass Adorable:
    • Anti Guy is harder to beat than most of the bosses, and yet he says everything with hearts. However, give him Lemon Candy and he'll soften up instantly on your first encounter.
    • All eight of Mario's partners have super cute designs and are capable of kicking butt alongside Mario.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: The Koopa Bros. reappear at the very end of Bowser's Castle to fight you... before being curb stomped by the actual Recurring Boss, Jr. Troopa, causing the last Bowser Door to be perpetually confused.
  • Balcony Escape: Mario exits the second floor of the houses in certain towns to jump from one balcony to the next.
  • Beanstalk Parody: In the sixth chapter, Mario has to help the flowers in Flower Fields in order to get a Magical Bean, Fertile Soil, and Miracle Water. He then uses these three items to grow a giant beanstalk that takes him to Cloudy Climb high above Flower Fields, where the chapter boss resides.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: A somewhat meta example in Luigi's Secret Diary. One entry shows him noticing his growing popularity and hoping this could get him his own starring role in a game with his name in it. A few months after Paper Mario's release, Luigi's Mansion comes out...and pits Luigi against ghosts, which he establishes in his diary to be terrified of.
  • The Berserker: "The Power of Rage", an unused badge hidden in the game's code, turns Mario into one of these. He gets stronger, but at the cost of becoming uncontrollable.
  • Big Bad: Unlike most pre-Sticker Star Mario RPGs, Bowser holds on to his main antagonist role. He stole the Star Rod and imprisoned the Star Spirits, and all of the chapter bosses are working for him, contrasting the sequels where quite a few chapter bosses are Arc Villains.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: Bow's Mansion is a haunted house owned by Lady Bow. There are no enemies, but there are a lot of puzzles, a shop, and a few scares.
  • Big Fancy Castle:
    • Peach's Castle is several stories tall with many rooms on each floor, all decorated with expected regality.
    • Tubba Blubba's castle is quite impressive as well, with large corridors, marble floors, big wooden wall clocks and a monumental entry hall that is three stories high. However, it's slowly falling apart and is filled with tears in the walls and spider webs.
  • Big "NO!": The Goomba King says this after Mario defeats him and blows up his fort, as well as the Crystal King. This is more justified in the Crystal King's case because Mario now has access to the final Star Spirit.
  • Binary Suns: When in Dry Dry Desert, take a close look at the background during a battle: the Sun is crossing it slowly, but before it goes down on the right, another one is already rising of the left, meaning two suns can be seen in the sky simultaneously.
  • Blackout Basement: Any place where you need to use Watt's ability, but especially the huge cave underneath Bowser's Castle, as all attacks are rendered useless unless Watt is out.
  • Blatant Lies: When Buzzar asks who you are, you can claim to be Princess Peach. He immediately sees through it and concludes you must be Mario trying to pull a fast one. You can also avert the trope by admitting you're Mario, which also starts a fight, or claiming to be Luigi, which he finds plausible enough to accept and let you pass.
  • Bonus Boss:
    • The Master, as well as the other disciples of the dojo. As you progress through the game, you can keep coming back for new dojo fights, each getting progressively harder until you reach the Master at his full strength.
    • In Chapter 4, the Anti Guy guards a chest with a powerful badge; you can either beat him or bribe him with his Trademark Favorite Food (it must be cooked). He has no special abilities — just high HP and extremely high attack power.
    • The Anti Guy appears again in the final chapter. In the second room where you run into a Bowser head door, you take a seven question quiz, and getting 3 wrong answers before getting 5 right results in a brutal brawl with three Anti Guys at once. This fight isn't impossible, but it's hard to survive unless you have prepared for it in advance (meaning you've already anticipated the questions and answered wrong on purpose).
    • Kent C. Koopa appears in Pleasant Path after completing Chapter 5, blocking the path to Koopa Village and demanding a rather hefty toll of 100 coins for safe passage. You can pay him the money, beat him up, or take the quicker underground shortcut like you probably do. But if you choose to fight him, he does have a weakness: jump on him twice and he'll go over, making him susceptible to hammer attacks, which will strike his tail instead of his shell.
  • Bookends: The prologue and epilogue involve the Mario Bros. being invited to a get-together at Peach's Castle. The only difference is that you're walking around in the castle in the prologue, and around town in the epilogue.
  • Boring, but Practical: The first two Star Powers you get aren't flashy, but they are extremely useful, especially because they only cost bar of Star Energy each:
    • Eldstar's Refresh restores five Heart and Flower Points—but more importantly, it can cure Poison, making it incredibly helpful if you find yourself against a toxic enemy and don't have the items needed to heal the status effect. It's somewhat negated by the Feeling Fine Badge (which protects Mario from Poison and Dizzy effects), but until you have that item, you'll be using Refresh a lot.
    • Mamar's Lullaby has the chance to put every enemy on the field to sleep. Unlike most items, it can even be used against bosses; it's particularly useful against Kent C. Koopa, who has a weakness to sleep-inducing effects. The only other way to achieve that effect is the Sleepy Sheep; Mamar's power essentially gives you unlimited uses of that item and allows you to save space in your limited inventory for more powerful goodies.
    • The "Focus" power when paired with the Group Focus Badge. All it does is cause Mario to pray to the Star Spirits, which replenishes the Star Energy meter faster—and the Group Focus Badge allows all of his partners to use the same ability. If you find you have the wrong ally on the field (for example, Bow against anything with defense or Kooper against airborne enemies) and don't want to waste their turn with "Do Nothing," having them Focus can help restore the Star Energy meter faster and allow you to use more powerful attacks at a quicker pace. When paired with a few Deep Focus Badges—which cause more Star Energy to be restored with the Focus move AND can be stacked—your partner can replenish an entire bar of the meter in a single turn.
  • Boss Corridor: A handful of the chapter bosses have some sort of straight corridor before their rooms. The first example is the battlement in the Koopa Bros. fortress where they fire Bullet Bills at you. The second is the underground hallways in Gusty Gulch, which is three hallways with Hyper Goombas in them that lead to Tubba Blubba's heart. There's also the rock walkway to the Lava Piranha and the cloud pathway to Huff N. Puff, and at the end of Bowser's Castle, you enter a hall with Peach supposedly waiting for you (she's a fake; it's four Duplighost enemies you need to kill to get past this room). After this hall is the third and last Bowser head room in the castle, where Mario has the final encounter with Jr. Troopa after he takes care of the Koopa Bros. for you. Finally, the upper halls of Peach's Castle, which are explorable in the game's prologue, lead to Bowser himself.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Anti Guy, an optional encounter in Shy Guy's Toy Box; he's five times as strong as a normal Shy Guy and has over seven times the health despite being nothing more than a Shy Guy recolor. If defeating him seems a little daunting, you could always bribe him. There's another potential encounter with the type in Bowser's Castle: failing the gates' quizzes will prompt them to summon units of three Anti Guys at once.
  • Boss-Only Level: Unlike most boss' lairs, the only thing of note in Cloudy Climb is Huff N' Puff himself (plus one Super Jump Charge badge).
  • Boss Remix: Each Boss in the series uses a battle theme that is derived either from their personal Leitmotif or from their dungeon's music. Bowser's is mixed from the theme heard in Peach's castle just before the final fight.
  • Bowdlerise: In the Japanese version, one of the wrong answers in Chuck Quizmo's quiz, which asks about the relationship between Mario and Luigi, is "lovers". This was changed to "neighbors" in the English versions of the game.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • Goombario. Sometimes he catches himself doing it and apologizes.
    • During the fight against the Koopa Bros. inside the fake Bowser tank, one of their taunts towards Mario is that "the next game should be called Paper Bowser"
  • Broken Bridge: Across a valley on Mt. Rugged. When you first get there, Mario cannot cross until he has recruited Parakarry for his team, who will then be able to carry Mario across.
  • Build Like an Egyptian: Dry Dry Ruins; While it's not a pyramid but rather a temple, the design, the floating sand inside, some of the traps as well as the boss are rather stereotypically Egyptian.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Professor Kolorado. It's not apparent at first, but by the time Chapter 5 rolls around and he accompanies you to Lavalava Island, he's a walking slapstick comedy, getting minced by rolling spike Thwomps, falling 50 feet, and scorching himself in lava multiple times. Not to mention his wife who's usually annoyed that he's almost never at home and always doing expeditions, and eventually begins to send him letters demanding he return home immediately.
    • Fuzzipede gets accidentally swallowed by a friendly whale while the animal was sleeping with his mouth open. In fact, Fuzzipede admits that he is this trope and regrets fighting Mario.
  • Call-Back:
    • Quite a bit of the character sprites look like Super Mario World and Yoshi's Island Sprites.
    • The entirety of the Koopa Bros. Fortress is one to Super Mario Bros. 3. The music throughout the fortress is based on the fortress level theme, the airship theme plays during the part with the bullet bill blasters, the fake Bowser has Bowser's theme playing, and the Koopa Bros. themselves get a remix of the Hammer Bros. theme. The music that plays when you rescue is a Star Spirit is a cover of the theme when you rescue the Mushroom King.
    • The K64 train that travels between Toad Town and Dry Dry Desert is nearly identical to the N64 Express trains of Kalimari Desert and the BGM while travelling on it is an arrangement of the racetrack's theme; indeed, "Dry Dry Desert" is a Truer to the Text localization of "Kalamari Desert".
    • Chapter 5 is one giant Valentine to Yoshi's Island. Instead of a pack of Yoshis rescuing baby Mario, Mario rescues the babies of a local village of Yoshis; the BGM includes multiple arrangements of the Yoshi's Island title screen music; Raphael the Raven, formerly a Yoshi's Island boss, appears as an important NPC; and the Lava Piranha is a Contrasting Sequel Antagonist to the Naval Piranha, another old boss.
  • Canon Immigrant: The Koopa Bros. first appeared in Super Mario Bros. Manga Mania issue #2, several years before Paper Mario.
  • Cap: Level 27. You're likely to be around level 23 by the time you fight the final boss, and can gain those last few levels in a matter of minutes by fighting Amayzee Dayzees.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: You'll quickly notice that this game is a lot lighter than the sequels are. Even then, Bowser's more of a threat than usual since he's managed to get his hands on the Star Rod, which he can use to make himself invincible.
  • Chain of Deals: The letter quest, which had you shuttling all over the Mushroom Kingdom delivering everybody's mail, although it's worth it for a badge that dramatically boosts your evasion stat. It's much simpler if you have unlocked the pipes in the sewers, but if you haven't, get ready for lots of walking.
  • The Chanteuse: In Club 64 by the Toad Town docks, there's an NPC called Chanterelle who is a clear reference to this trope. A lengthy sidequest involves helping her recover her voice so she can sing again.
  • Character Development: Twink and Peach, a nervous Star Kid and a damsel in distress respectively, graudally get more confident and defiant as they explore the castle and transport advice about the Star Spirits' whereabouts to Mario. It culminates in them tag-teaming Kammy to stop her from empowering Bowser, letting Mario defeat him with the help of the Peach Beam.
  • Chimney Entry: In Shiver City, Mario needs to find Herringway for part of a quest at the start of Chapter 7. Entering his house reveals a seemingly empty room, but if he goes onto the roof of the house and falls down the chimney, he enters Herringway's secret home area where he can speak with him. Poor Mario also ends up coated in soot.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: In the final battle, Bowser turns out to have majorly swerved the Villain Ball by having Kammy prepare a backup plan while Mario was rescuing the Star Spirits, having long presumed he'd succeed: create an arena that takes the quite-literally-infinite power of the Star Rod and make it even stronger. It's at this point that victory is, put simply, impossible. After all, the one hard counter to the Reality Warper MacGuffin has just been rendered useless. However, it's by the very principles the Star Spirits work on that this changes — the power to grant wishes, which Peach has just been bolstering within Twink all this time in the background while he protects her from Kammy. Channeling the wishes of everyone in the Mushroom Kingdom to be saved through herself and into Twink, the Star Beam is empowered even beyond the enhanced might of the Star Rod, robbing Bowser of his double-invincibility and turning the tides.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The entire penguin population of Shiver City, with the exception of Herringway, has a loose grip on reality and a really excitable nature. Mix this in with a serious penchant for gossip, and the slightest rumor can make them all go completely nuts.
  • Cognizant Limbs: The Lava Piranha is accompanied by two Lava Buds, limb-like Piranha Plants that give it more attacks. They stay wilted when they lose all their HP in the first phase; in phase two, they revive after a few turns, but get stunned by water/ice attacks and take longer to attack (they start making Petit Piranhas instead of directly spitting fire).
  • Collection Sidequest: Star Pieces, yellow crystal objects, are hidden throughout the world in the open and under floor panels, or gotten by answering Chuck Quizmo questions and returning letters with Parakarry's help. Star Pieces can be exchanged with Merlow for badges, with his stock containing some of the strongest in the game.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Enemies tend to share their species with non-enemies in this game, so all enemy Koopa Troopas are red-orange while all friendly ones sans the Green Ninjakoopa are green. Bob-omb enemies are indigo in color, while friendly Bob-ombs come in blue, green, red, and pink.
    • Enemies are color-coded to show which abilities they have. The Magikoopas most notably come in 6 colors: red (can raise their comrades' attack), yellow (can electrify their comrades), green (can raise comrades' defense), gray (can make their comrades invisible), white (can replenish their comrades' health), and blue (can perform any of the aforementioned assists).
    • Enemies are color-coded to show how strong they are. Regular Fuzzies are black, the more powerful Forest Fuzzies are green, and the most powerful Jungle Fuzzies are yellow. Dark Koopas are more powerful than regular Koopa Troopas and are purple, White Clubbas are more powerful than the regular green Clubbas, and the more powerful Monty Moles in Flower Fields are green while their weaker Mt. Rugged counterparts are brown.
  • Combined Energy Attack: The Star Beam, which is used at the end of the game. It functions as a Status-Buff Dispel, making it useful against some of the minor enemies in Bowser’s Castle (most notably the Magikoopas) and downright essential against Bowser himself... during the penultimate battle. In the final battle, he actually shrugs it off until Peach and Twink upgrade it into the Peach Beam.
  • Continuity Nod: There are several that sometimes double with Call-Back. This game inherits several features from its original predecessor Super Mario RPG:
    • This game's very premise is a development of an idea introduced by Geno, who claims that Star Road was responsible for granting wishes. Shooting Star Summit is a location in both games.
    • Paper Mario's Creative Closing Credits includes an all-cast parade, just like RPG. Luigi even marshals both.
    • The Minister from Super Mario RPG also appears, though since the English version of that game called him "The Chancellor", the reference is Lost in Translation.
    • In Luigi's first diary entry, he complains about not being able to go adventuring with Mario and that he prefers the peaceful times when they play golf and tennis and have parties.
    • Twink is an Expy of Geno, or, rather, Geno's true form; he's sent down from Star Haven and ends up being a big help to the heroes.
    • K64, the train that travels between Toad Town and Mt. Rugged, looks a lot like the train from Kalimari Desert in Mario Kart 64. The music that plays during the train ride is a remix of the Kalimari Desert theme.
    • The first floor of Peach's Castle looks vaguely similar to its Super Mario 64 incarnation, while Bow's mansion looks like and has the same rough layout as Big Boo's Haunt.
    • Before starting Chapter 5, Mario has to help a whale with digestive issues. When he succeeds, the whale suggests that people ought to call him Dr. Mario.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: The end credits brings back nearly every character of importance, including bosses and other villains, for a big parade down a street near Toad Town. Where appropriate, characters good and bad will put on a show as they pass by the screen, such as Chanterelle's singing and a comedy routine between Tubba Blubba and his heart.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Mt. Lavalava. Reaches its logical conclusion when Misstar flies Mario and Kolorado out of it when it begins to erupt, and Kolorado's head is just grazing the surface of the lava as it shoots towards them.
  • Cosmetic Award: The Diploma for beating The Master. Other than just changing three conversations in the whole game, it's Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Cowardly Boss: Tubba Blubba's heart runs away when it has less than 10 HP left.
  • Cowardly Mooks:
    • One item and Lady Bow's Spook attack causes all but the most defiant of enemies (mostly bosses) to flee the battle immediately.
    • Medi Guys and all Kameks except the blue one flee the battle automatically when they are the last opponent left.
    • Crazee Dayzees will often flee. Not a bad thing, though, as their lullaby attack can be a pain to defend against.
    • During chapter 4, Mario eventually comes accross a squad of Shy Guys that will scream their lungs off and retreat once he breaks their barricade (their Girly Scream is also their Battle Cry, oddly enough). Some enemies are also prone to running away mid-battle, like the Crazee Dayzees from chapter 6.
  • Critical Failure: The "Power Bounce" badge gives Mario the opportunity to repeatedly hit an enemy with jumps as long he doesn't fail the action command - in theory. In reality, almost every enemy has a power bounce cap that causes the subsequent jump to fail automatically. When precisely it is going to happen is partly up to RNG.
  • Critical Status Buff: There are a number of Badges that boost Mario's attack power, defense, or evasiveness when he has Danger levels of HP (5 points or less). "Peril Mario" is one Self-Imposed Challenge that exploits this by combining as many of these badges as possible and keeping Mario at 1 HP for as long as possible.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Bowser against Mario in the opening, once he fires up the Star Rod. Trying to use hacks to defeat him will just crash the game, so there's absolutely no way around it.
  • Cumulonemesis: This game introduces the Ruff Puffs and their leader Huff N'Puff. Their most notable ability is to charge up with electricity to zap Mario when he tries to jump on them and to release powerful lightning attacks.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!:
    • The first Jump upgrade changes the timing of Mario's Jump action command, because it includes a Ground Pound. The second Jump upgrade changes the timing of the action command back, because it replaces the Ground Pound with a Spin Jump. This makes getting down the timing for Power Bounce tedious, to say the least.
    • If you're coming into this game from its sequel, sometimes you will be prompted to Superguard at any given enemy attack opportunity even though you should know full well that such a feature doesn't exist in this game. The timing for jumping attacks is also slightly different, which will likely result in many a failed action command until you get used to it.
    • You may be tempted to try doing Action Commands in general before you get the item that gives you the ability.
  • Dark Is Evil: Big Lantern Ghost and Anti Guy(s). Subverted with the Anti Guy in Shy Guy's Toy Box if Mario talks to him with Lemon Candy in his inventory.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Lady Bow (succeeded by the Yoshi Kid in the second game) specializes in doing a lot of damage in a flurry of attacks that do one damage each. Because of this, she can't do any damage to monsters with defense. She gets an upgraded attack later that deals two damage per hit for a grand total of ten — higher damage than any of your other partners can pull off in a turn.
  • Decoy Damsel: Late in Bowser's Castle, you come across Princess Peach standing in a hallway, who attempts to get you to just turn and leave with her. It's actually a Duplighost, but you'll only see their true form if you turn around after "she" goes offscreen, after which point you can beat them up.
  • Defeat Means Friendship:
    • Lakilester. After you beat him, he asks what you're fighting for. No matter what answer you give, he digs it and decides to join you.
    • The Red and Blue Goomba Bros ask to be Goombario's friend through a letter after they are defeated.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Dry Dry Desert, Dry Dry Outpost, and Dry Dry Ruins were the first regions to be localized with the naming convention of using the same word twice still intactnote  . Other regions in Paper Mario that use this convention are Gusty Gulch (Pyuupyuu — "Woosh Woosh" — Hill) and Shiver City (Samuisamui-mura — "Cold Cold Village"). Interestingly, Lavalava Island did not use this convention in the original Japanese; it's original name in the Japanese is "Janboru" ("Jumbor"?) Island (the volcano did, however, under the name Gutsugutsu Kazan, or "Simmering Volcano").
  • Detective Drama: The start of Chapter 7 shifts into this, as Mario arrives just in time to witness the supposed corpse of Shiver City's mayor, and has to track down the culprit to clear his name. It turns out that the mayor was actually just unconscious from an accident while he was getting a gift for Herringway, the other suspect (which is why he was holding a piece of paper with Herringway's name on it).
  • Determinator: Jr. Troopa traverses through a mazelike forest, swims across the ocean twice, travels to barren icy lands, and follows you into space to fight you. Just because you stepped foot in his playground once.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • Downplayed with the partners, who all have unique dialog for almost every scene that will only appear if they happen to be the ones out in the field when those events occur.
    • Monstar is immune to the powers of the Star Spirits and the Shooting Star item. He's actually an amalgamation of Star Kids.
    • One of your party members is recruited when you break open a lantern she is being held hostage inside. Most players just whack the lantern with the hammer, but if you break the lantern by blowing it up with Bombette, she complains that it wasn't necessary to use that much force.
    • To meet Moustafa in Dry Dry Outpost, you have to buy a Dried Shroom and Dusty Hammer in the shop. You're supposed to learn this by giving a Lemon to Sheek, but if you buy the items beforehand, the shopkeeper lampshades how "lucky" you are to have stumbled into the correct solution. Moustafa will also raise an eyebrow at your mysterious knowledge.
    • The Boo painting in the mansion has unique dialog if you bring him the relevant quest item without having spoken to him.
    • You can get two different Badges that reduce an enemy's Defense to 0 for the attack, D-Down Pound (Rowf's shop after Chapter 1) and D-Down Jump (early in Tubba Blubba's castle), prior to the point where you have to sneak past Tubba Blubba in one hallway. However, Tubba's invincibility has no relation to any Defense stat, so even these attacks don't work on him.
    • In the scene following the Fuzzipede battle, your partner mentions remembering Twink saying where the next Star Spirit is. Since the battle takes place in darkness, you normally can't damage Fuzzipede without having Watt out, but if you wear the Zap Tap badge or use a Volt Shroom at the right time, you can end the battle with a different partner out, and all of the partners actually have unique dialogue for this scene.
    • In Chapter Five, the five Yoshi Kids go missing, leading to mass panic in the village. Each time you rescue one child, you can go back to the village and discover that their parent (which has the same color) has calmed down and now has unique dialogue with you.
    • If you visit Mario's House throughout the game, you can find Luigi on some kind of obstacle that can only be destroyed by the partner or quest item you got from the previous chapter (for example, sitting on a rock that Bombette can blow up). However, if you go to the House before entering the Forever Forest, you can see music notes fluttering up from the floor, hinting at Luigi's secret basement and diary. Should you so choose, you can get the Super Boots (which are needed to open the passage to the basement) in Boo's Mansion, trek all the way back through the Forest, and enter the hidden room early...leading to a small cutscene where Luigi turns, sees you, and panics by running away. There is absolutely NO indication to do any of this in the game.
  • Disadvantageous Disintegration: Bow's Spook, Parakarry's Air Lift, and the last Star Spirit power, Up & Away, have a chance of removing enemies from the battlefield, though you don't get Star Points for anyone removed.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • If you try hard enough to scavenge the world for Star Pieces, you can buy such things as the Power Plus badge early on in the game. Once you get the Super Boots, you've got Ultra Boots' attack power a few chapters early. On that note, a subtler example in that you can go and get the Ultra Boots as soon as Lakilester joins you and use them against Huff N. Puff.
    • The Star Storm power edges pretty close to this; you get it at the beginning of the fourth chapter in a game with eight total, and it deals 7 unblockable damage to all enemies on the field (in comparison, your regular attacks will never do more than 6 damage without any power-boosting badges). It costs two units of Star Power, which makes it just a bit too costly, but it still shreds through Mooks for most of the game - especially the following chapter, where all mooks have exactly 7HP.
  • Distressed Damsel: Played with. While Peach is being held captive, some sections have you take control of her as she sneaks around in the villain's lair trying to find information for Mario.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Tutankoopa's pet Chain Chomp, Chompy, turns on him when Mario defeats him in battle, probably because Tutankoopa would repeatedly summon Chompy to battle after Mario defeated it without letting it rest. Chompy is even seen chasing its master at the end of the game.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Spike does not approve of being called Lakilester.
  • Dowsing Device: The "I Spy" badge, when equipped, alerts Mario if he entered an area with a hidden trapdoor, containing a Star Piece.
  • The Dragon: Kammy Koopa is Bowser's second-in-command, informing him of Mario's progress throughout the game and building a machine to enhance her master's powers. Too bad you don't have a real fight with her until the sequel.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Peach gets an umbrella that lets her take the form of others as a game show prize from a Koopatrol. She uses this to her advantage, although she doesn't find much out aside from Kammy apparently working on something special for Mario.
  • Drop the Hammer: Several enemies use hammers, but the Hammer Bros. do it best. Mario also uses a hammer for one of his basic attacks, the other being the classic Goomba Stomp.
  • Dub Name Change: This is the game that standardized the use of "Toads" for the species previously translated as "Mushroom People" or "Mushrooms". The name "Toad" in prior games was used only for the individual by that name, not as a generic name for the whole species.
  • Dungeon Shop: In Bowser's castle, there is a secret storehouse that was turned into a shop operated by a bored Spiked Goomba. Goombario questions what would happen to the shopowner if someone found out that he sold stuff to Mario, concluding he might not even know who Mario is.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • You can fight an enemy, Bzzap!, in Chapter 3. It isn't formally introduced to you until Chapter 6.
    • Fighting a Koopatrol and Hammer Bro. in Shy Guy's Toy Box is also possible, and doing so nets you some decent experience.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Partners don't have HP or their own badges, instead being knocked out for a certain amount of turns when damaged.
    • Action Commands are not available from the start; Mario has to get the Lucky Star before they can be used. The Special Moves don't use Action Commands either.
    • Compared to later Paper Mario games, the paper mechanic is almost purely aesthetical in this game, with no gameplay relevance and very few puns on paper.
    • This is the only Paper Mario game that does not use Voice Grunting.
    • Unlike future Paper Mario games, this one has no Playable Epilogue. Technically it does, but it's considered the Point of No Return and the game instead ends with an Unending End Card.
  • Easily Overheard Conversation: After the defeat of the Goomba King, he talks with the Goomba Bros. about the location of the secret switch that is crucial for progression. Naturally, Mario overhears everything.
  • Easter Egg: In one room in Boo's Mansion, you can transform Mario into his 8-bit form, complete with the classic tune.
  • Eggshell Clothing: Jr. Troopa uses an egg shell as a shield during his earlier boss battles.
  • Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors: Used to a relatively small degree. Ice and water attacks do extra damage to fire enemies, and fire attacks the same for ice and bony enemies. But there are only a handful of elemental enemies and even fewer elemental attacks, and these enemies are almost completely contained to a single chapter each (fire in Chapter Five, ice in Chapter Seven, bony in Chapter Eight). Instead, there's a larger emphasis on Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors.
  • Eleventh Hour Super Power: Even the Star Beam gets cancelled out by Bowser's final-stage buff. Cue the Peach Beam, which can cancel Bowser's stage buff.
  • Elite Mooks: The Koopatrols are the strongest normal enemies in the game.
  • Encounter Repellant: The Bump Attack and First Attack badges allow you to skip combat with enemies who are too weak to give you Star Points, defeating them on the overworld. Once you hit the level cap, enemies no longer award any Star Points, so you're free to ignore everything save for boss battles.
  • End of an Age: This was the final Mario game released on the Nintendo 64 in Australia. It was one of the last ones everywhere else in the world.
  • Enemy Scan: The Tattle ability reveals enemy stats and a unique description, and also displays an HP bar for each instance of that enemy you encounter from then on. The Peekaboo badge will let you see enemy HP all the time if you are too lazy to Tattle every baddie you come across.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Goomba Bros. in the prologue care about each other. Regardless of who is defeated first, the other brother will be distraught and swear to avenge his fallen brother.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Bowser confines Peach to her room for most of the game, though the princess frequently escapes through a secret door to eavesdrop on him. On all occasions, she overhears the Mooks talking about the precise location of the next Star Spirit, an information which she then relays to Mario with Twink's assistance.
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear: Tutankoopa is chased off by his own Chomps after Mario defeats him.
  • Explaining Your Power to the Enemy: Upon meeting Tubba Blubba's heart for the first time, it outright tells you that it is the main source of Tubba Blubba's invincibility and controls it from its hideout.
  • Expy: The Master is a substitute for Jinx from Super Mario RPG, who was off-limits due to Square owning him. He fills the same role here, being a martial arts dojo Bonus Boss who can be challenged three times.
  • Fake Mystery: A variation occurs in Chapter 7 in that the fake murder mystery is staged completely by accident. Mario and friends arrive in Shiver City to find that the mayor has apparently been murdered, and because he was the first one on the scene of the "crime," Mario ends up becoming suspect number one. It turns out that the mayor wasn't even dead in the first place, and that he'd simply slipped and knocked himself unconscious, causing the overly excitable residents of Shiver City to assume he'd been murdered, in part due to the popularity of the city's resident novelist's mystery books.
  • Fake Weakness: You can have Peach tell Bowser that Mario is vulnerable to healing items; Kammy will then scatter them throughout the next game area. He will believe that Mario hates mushrooms after decades of rivalry. Gets lampshaded by Kammy when she wonders if the healing items and power-ups are really things Mario fears after she conjures them up.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Dryites and Nomadimice are quite obviously based on Middle Eastern/North African cultures.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Kent C. Koopa acts cheerful when collecting toll fees of 100 coins from those who want to go through Pleasant Path. He becomes sincere if Mario chooses to fight him, though, even warning him that's he's very, very, very strong.
  • Final Boss Preview: The very first fight in the game is in Peach's Castle against Bowser. The second-to-last battle is a rematch in the exact same place.
  • Final Dungeon Preview: After each Star Spirit chapter ends, you play through a brief segment where you control Peach and sneak through her occupied Castle to find out more about Bowser's plans. By the time Mario gets there at the very end, the only area you wouldn't have already been able to explore as Peach is the final boss arena.
  • Fixed Damage Attack: Most Non-Elemental offensive items like the Dusty Hammer, the POW block or the Shooting Star deal a fixed amount of damage that is not affected by the defense stat of the enemy or Mario's stat buffs.
  • Forgot About His Powers: Humorously, Jr. Troopa swims all the way to Lavalava Island (and back!) in order to fight Mario. Once he finally catches up with the plumber, his hp is depleted from exhaustion. After the battle, the dazed Jr. Troopa realizes that he has wings and could've simply flew to the island and wouldn't have exhausted his health.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul:
    • Kammy Koopa, Bowser's second-in-command, is an old Magikoopa with glasses covering her eyes, and spends most of the game inconveniencing Mario and preventing Peach from escaping.
    • Kent C. Koopa wears swirly Nerd Glasses and looks goofy, but he's a greedy Koopa who sets up a ludicrous toll on Pleasant Path and tries to fight anyone that doesn't want to pay it.
  • Flunky Boss:
    • The Goomba King is fought alongside the Red and Blue Goombas from earlier.
    • Tutankoopa occasionally summons his pet Chain Chomp, named Chompy, to fight alongside him.
    • General Guy sends a few waves of Shy Guy troops before you can fight him directly.
    • Lava Piranha has two Lava Buds next to it.
    • Huff n' Puff splits into Ruff Puffs whenever you attack him.
    • Crystal King creates Crystal Bits, which can either attack you or heal him.
  • Foreshadowing: Luigi mentions in his diary that he really hates ghosts.
  • Fridge Logic: In-Universe example. Right when Mario leaves Lavalava Island, Jr. Troopa shows up, having swam all the way there. He misses Mario and has to swim all the way BACK to Toad Town. When Mario fights Jr. Troopa at Toad Town Harbor, his HP will be halved at the start of the battle. After Mario beats him, Jr. Troopa will realize he could've just flown to Lavalava Island and back since he has wings.
  • Funny Background Event: There’s a scene in Chapter 3’s interlude. Just as Bowser is being told by Kammy Koopa about Tubba Blubba’s defeat, Peach enters into Bowser’s room through a secret passage. Upon realizing Bowser is there, she looks around nervously and just stands there listening until the two notice her.

    G-N 
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: At the end of Chapter 5, Jr. Troopa finally catches up to you... only when you leave the island. When he fights you back at the pier, Jr. Troopa's health is significantly dropped due to swimming across the ocean. Twice. Jr. Troopa himself integrates the gameplay: He doesn't say "I'm exhausted", he literally says "My HP have dropped!"
  • Get a Room!: In Toad Town, there's a pair of Toad lovers who, if talked to, can be overheard talking about their love for each other (as well as other current events). Goombario states in his tattle that he's not a fan of public displays of affection and wishes they'd stop.
  • Giant Mook: Each Blooper fought in the Toad Town Tunnels is bigger than the last, with the final Blooper (technically a Blooper Nanny) being extremely large.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The Blooper, Electro Blooper, and Super Blooper, who all appear out of nowhere screaming "BLOOPER!" in huge text while you're exploring the sewers below Toad Town. Although, by the time you see the Super Blooper, the shock has all but worn off.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • The Bzzap! enemy. It does damage comparable to that dealt by late-game bosses, but it has less HP than some mooks in the very first dungeon. You can encounter a group of them much earlier than you're supposed to, earning you tons of experience.
    • Tubba Blubba after reuniting with his heart also applies. He deals a fairly high amount of damage for an early boss, but only has 10 HP, meaning two attacks from Mario and his partner will finish him.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: Jr. Troopa shows up repeatedly in ill-fated attempts to get revenge on Mario for beating him at the beginning of the game, but never succeeds at doing so. He even exhausts himself swimming to Lavalava Island to fight him, then swimming back after realizing he just missed him.
  • Good Feels Good: After helping Mario destroy the Puff Puff Machine in Flower Fields, Lakilester realizes this and accompanies Mario for the rest of the game.
  • Goomba Stomp: One of Mario's main attacks, the other being his hammer. Ironically, only Goombario, who is a Goomba himself, has a similar jump attack.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: In the prologue, Mario is sent to the Goomba Village family's veranda in order to get help from Goompa after Kammy breaks their front gate with a giant block. When he steps outside, the veranda is no longer there (it broke apart due to the quake the block caused when it landed), and he immediately falls into the backyard when he realizes what's happened.
  • Green Hill Zone: The Prologue area and Pleasant Path resemble the usual World 1 setting of the Mario games, with lots of greenery and trees and not many dangerous encounters.
  • Ground Pound: Usable once you find the Super Boots to break open boxes and loose floorboards in the environment.
  • Guide Dang It!: No one ever tells you that the Star Beam can cancel out every positive status effect on enemies. Most people end up never using it until the very end.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Let's just say that nowdays "Twink" is not exactly a very common name for many reasons...
  • Heel–Face Turn: Lakilester starts a villain, but agrees to help Mario free Flower Fields from the baddies' cloud-spewing machine after being defeated in battle.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: Twink will give you a tutorial about performing the Action Command after giving you the necessary item.
  • Heroic Mime: Mario does not talk at all, though his partners and everyone else do. Later games have him speak, though not through speech bubbles.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: It turns out that Tubba Blubba's Heart, the secret to his invulnerability, is concealed inside the giant windmill that you pass on the way to his castle. Somewhat downplayed in that even if you guess that there's something important inside the windmill, you still need its key—which Tubba himself has—to get in.
  • Hive Mind: Huff N. Puff. When damaged, he splits off into several Tuff Puffs which have their own sentience. They refer to Huff himself as Master, despite being smaller parts of him. So it seems Huff is made of roughly 80 individual Tuff Puffs that you knock off and then kill as the battle goes on. As they're knocked off, they are separated from the central mind and become independent (but still loyal) once more.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Chet Rippo and Rip Cheato are both shady characters out to sell Mario something. Subverted in that their services are actually somewhat helpful: Chet lets Mario re-arrange his stats, and Rip can sell Mario some good items, a couple Star Pieces, and a very good Badge (though he eventually runs out of good stuff and sells nothing but Dried Shrooms afterwards).
  • Hopeless Boss Fight:
    • Bowser at the beginning of the game is invincible due to powering himself up with the Star Rod.
    • Tubba Blubba cannot be defeated until you discover the secret of his invincibility later in the chapter.
  • Hub City: Toad Town, the area surrounding Peach's Castle. It has the most services of any town (two shops, the Dojo, Merlon's house, the Post Office, the inn, Tayce T.'s kitchen, the Li'l Oink Farm, and the Playroom), and Mario's house, Shooting Star Summit, and nearly every chapter area can be reached from somewhere within it or its Toad Town Tunnels dungeon.
  • Hub Under Attack: Toad Town is a harmless area with a shop and a free health-restoring Toad House. When Mario returns after chapter 3, it's being ransacked by Shy Guys, and many of the town's residents have had items stolen from them. While adventuring in Shy Guy's Toy Box, the main focus of the chapter, Mario collects the stolen items and can return them to their owners.
  • Humongous Mecha: "Bowser?" in chapter 1, a replica of Bowser that has 10 HP and 1 attack.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Kammy Koopa proves to be this, investigating leads about Mario's progress throughout the game, and hindering him however she can. This comes to a head when she anticipates the possibility of Mario rescuing all seven Star Spirits, and prepares for it. The only reason Mario comes out okay is because of a Deus ex Machina.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: During the course of the game, there's a news bulletin in Toad Town that has different news articles on the front Mario can read and underground gossip on the back. One time, the back reads, "Both people who read and write these messages must have nothing to do but gossip. Of course, I'm one of 'em."
  • Hypocrite: During the first Bowser battle, Bowser gets mad at Mario for removing his spell casted by the Star Rod, angrily calling Mario a “cheap little coward”. Bowser is accusing Mario of fighting unfairly when Bowser used a magical object to become super powerful so he could finally beat Mario instead of becoming stronger on his own.
  • Ice Crystals: The Crystal King, the last of the seven bosses possessing the Star Spirits, is a spectral being with a frozen crown in perfect symmetry and accompanied with three Crystal Bits that resembles 3d shapes. One of his attacks involves spitting them to harm Mario, hitting him a number of times depending on how many of the bits are in the battle.
  • Ice Palace: The Crystal Palace atop Shiver Mountain. Goombario repeatedly complains about how cold it is in his Tattles.
  • Idiosyncratic Combo Levels: When performing attacks or blocking damage, the game awards the player with Nice, Good, and Super ratings with each successful command.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • After Mario's fight with his heart, Tubba Blubba reunites with it and claims that body and heart together will be unstoppable. The catch? Them being separated was the whole key to Tubba Blubba's invincibility. And if he really was that stupid, at least the heart should have known better.
    • After chapter 5, Peach participates in a game show hosted by Bowser's minions where the consolation prize is the Sneaky Parasol, an item that allows its owner to transform into anyone they desire (as long as the original stands close to the user). That's right, Bowser's mooks awarded Peach, which at that point of the game has had a long history of failed escape attempts, with an item that makes it even easier for her.
  • Idle Animation: The characters fall asleep if you don't move them for too long.
  • Implacable Man: Jr. Troopa just WON'T STOP challenging Mario to battle, even after the final encounter.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: At times, you have to try to figure out which is your real partner and which is the fake in the Crystal Palace, you use what they say in the first one, and their speech pattern in the second. The third takes it Up to Eleven by having the fakes not even be fakes of your partner, but fakes of other characters in the game, including one that decided to be Luigi.
  • Inconsistent Dub:
    • Watt is referred to as both a "he" and a "she," depending on where the text is. Officially, she's female.
    • The Chancellor from Super Mario RPG and Kalimari Desert from Mario Kart 64 have reverted to their original Japanese names of "Minister" and "Dry Dry Desert", respectively.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Merlon and his family. A character in the second game tells you that they are from a special tribe that names their members based on their profession.
  • Infernal Retaliation: After you seemingly defeat Lava Piranha, he comes back in a second phase where his attack is increased and he's on fire, preventing physical attacks. However, you can beat him at his own game if you have the Ice Power badge equipped which allows you to stomp on enemies who are on fire.
  • Invincible Villain:
    • The main plot point of Chapter 3 is that Tubba Blubba is invincible, meaning that Mario won't be able to defeat him. However, Mario realizes that he has a weakness and sets out to discover it. Ultimately, he succeeds in making Tubba Blubba vincible so that he can defeat him.
    • Bowser also has the ability to make himself invincible as well. The first time he does this, it allows him to defeat Mario easily. However, the second time they battle near the end of the game, Mario has access to the Star Beam, allowing him to remove this invincibility and stand a fighting chance.
  • Invisible Anatomy: Goombario and his family are easily able to hold items out despite lacking visible limbs. This same logic applies to other Mario enemies as well.
  • Invisible Subtle Difference: When examining Peach's dress in the Chapter 1 interlude, she insists that they're all different. To both Twink and the player, they're identical.
  • Item Crafting: Cooking, which initially improves one item, but after finding Tayce T.'s cookbook, she can combine two items for a greater effect.
  • Joke Item: The Dusty Hammer, which attacks one enemy and deals 1HP of damage, less than your normal hammer by the time you can first purchase it. The only reason to ever buy it is as part of two secret codes in Dry Dry Outpost.
  • Journey to the Sky: Since the villainous Huff N. Puff is clouding the sky with his Puff Puff machine during Chapter 6, sunlight isn't reaching the plants. Mario aims to reach the sky to challenge Huff N. Puff and revert the situation, but to do so he needs to gather some items first: A Miracle Bean that can grow into a tall beanstalk, a Fertile Soil to plant the bean onto, and some Miracle Water to make it grow. With the items gathered and the beanstalk grown, Mario climbs it to reach the Cloudy Climb and look for the boss. At the end of the ordeal, he frees the sixth Star Spirit and continues on his adventure.
  • Jungle Japes: Jade Jungle, the main portion of Lavalava Island, is a thick tropical jungle filled with poisonous enemies, strange plants, and rivers that need to be crossed with Sushie's help.
  • Just Add Water: Tayce T. can make a lot of useful recipes with only a single item provided, and her repitoire expands by a lot once she gets the cookbook in Chapter 4 and can cook two items together.
  • Just Eat Him: Tubba Blubba terrorizes the Boos by turning them into snacks. The Yoshi Kids also eat Huff n Puff at the end.
  • The Key Is Behind the Lock: The Odd House in Toad Town is locked from the inside. In Chapter 5, you find a back way in, and it turns out the key was inside all along. But at least you can unlock that Door to Before. (If you exploit a Good Bad Bug to get the key early, you still can't unlock it from the wrong side — no Sequence Breaking for you!)
  • Killer Rabbit:
    • The Anti Guys are as cutesy as any other Shy Guy, and even speak with hearts, but are grossly stronger than almost anything else fought in the game
    • Amazy Dayzees, if they choose to attack. The singing attack that's only an annoyance with Crazee Dayzees deals 20 when coming from them, a level of damage only matched by the Master and Bowser.
  • King Mook:
    • King Goomba is about as straight as it gets; Bowser enhanced him with the power of the Star Rod and left him to govern the lands west of the Mushroom Kingdom. Unlike Tubba, he retains his enhanced powers, though he shows up in other games using the moniker "Goomboss".
    • The Koopa Bros are a selection of four Koopa Troopas mixed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
    • Tutankoopa is a koopa with a running motif of Pop Ancient Egyptology.
    • Tubba Blubba is a much larger, invincible variation of the Clubba enemies. However, Tubba is also a small subversion in that in his normal state he's only slightly stronger than the average Clubba and something of a crybaby to boot; his incredible powers came from the fact that Bowser used stolen wish magic to separate and hide Tubba's heart, which rendered Tubba's body as an invulnerable puppet. Tubba's heart is the true boss fight, as normal Tubba has only 10 HP.
    • General Guy is a Shy Guy with military stylings.
    • Lava Piranha is a gigantic Piranha Plant with fire powers.
    • Huff N. Puff is a giant Ruff Puff, and, when damaged, breaks up into a a smattering of tiny "Tuff Puffs", which can attack or be reabsorbed to heal Huff... unless Mario and company can destroy them first.
  • Large Ham: A good portion of the series' humor revolves around just how over the top some of the characters speak and act, especially the villains. Bowser gets the most of this, as he and his minions make him seem more terrifying than he really is.
  • Leitmotif: Several bosses have distinct theme music, most notably, the Koopa Bros. As do areas that are related to each other. Such as Dry Dry Desert and Dry Dry Ruins, and Mt. Rugged and Dry Dry Outpost.
  • Lemony Narrator: "Who stuck that weird thing into the story?" (referring to the picture of Kammy taped into the picture of the Star Spirits in the intro.)
    Bowser: Oh, that's right. I did!
  • Lethal Lava Land: Mt. Lavalava and parts of Bowser's Castle are flooded with lava. Falling into it deals 1 point of damage to Mario.
  • Level-Up Fill-Up: HP, FP, and Star Power are fully recovered when you gain a level.
  • Limit Break: Mario's "Special Moves" are powered by limit break points called "Star Power", which slowly replenish themselves during battle and are replenished in a greater amount if Mario (or his partner, with a certain badge) uses a certain action. Mario gets eight of these special moves over the course of the first game and each uses a different amount of Star Power.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Lampshaded. Twink sees Peach's dresses are all the same, and she is adamant that they are different.
  • Live Item: The Mystical Key from Tubba's Castle, called Yakkey, is sentient and talks. Well, actually, screams in order to alert his master Tubba Blubba.
  • Long Speech Tea Time: It's a Running Gag in the series to make Mario fall asleep during a long, dull story.
  • The Lost Woods: Forever Forest. Complete with warping to the beginning after taking a wrong path.
  • Lovely Assistant: Chuck Quizmo's assistant, a Toad named Vanna T, a pretty Toad lass made prettier when compared to her wormy boss.
  • Market-Based Title: Known in Japan as Mario Story.
  • Meaningful Name: Of note is Herringway, a penguin author named for a famous real-life one. His name also foreshadows his role as a Red Herring in the search for the Mayor's murderer.
  • Metal Slime: Amazy Dayzees are rare enemies that reward the player with a large amount of Star Points upon defeat. However, they will commonly escape whenever they get their turn. Ironically, they also behave as Bosses In Mook Clothing if they bother to stay and fight, as their attack deals a whopping 20 damage and also can put you to sleep.
  • Mini-Game: The Jump Attack and Hammer Attack games in the Playroom, used to earn coins once you unlock them. Jump Attack is risk-based (hit blocks to earn coins and multipliers while hopefully not losing them to a Bowser icon) but gets you more coins depending on your payment, while Hammer Attack (smash blocks to collect Princess Peach icons while avoiding Fuzzies) is harder to finish but less reliant on luck.
  • Mirror Routine: Duplighosts in the Crystal Palace will shapeshift into Mario and mimic his movements to fool the player into believing that the translucent walls in the back of the dungeon rooms are mirrors.
  • Monster Allies: All of Mario's partners are members of the various enemy races he fights in his other games — to wit, a Goomba, a Koopa, a Bob-omb, a Paratroopa, a Boo, a Li'l Sparky, a Cheep-Cheep, and a Lakitu. Some non-playable members of these races are friendly and helpful to Mario as well.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: The Super Blooper in Toad Town Tunnels can produce Blooper Babies.
  • Monster Munch: Stanley and his brethren in Chapter 3. Bow explains that they loved scaring Tubba, so they kind of deserved it, but it's what they do best.
  • Monster Town: Most towns found all over the games are populated by members of enemy races that are friendly to Mario.
  • Mook Bouncer: The Sentinels, UFO creatures in Tubba Blubba's castle that throw Mario out the front door if they capture him. Bow's field move will prevent them from finding Mario.
  • Mook Horror Show: When Mario storms Bowser's Castle late in the game, he encounters a group of Koopatrols, who, upon seeing him, begin to completely freak out and pathetically forget their orders (until a Magikoopa tells them to snap out of it). Even when they approach to fight, they really need to suck up their courage.
  • Mundane Wish: Mario's late game ascent to Bowser's castle is seen as a shooting star on earth. While some characters wish for world peace or Princess Peach to be safe, one toad wishes for shroom cake.
  • Musical Nod: The credits music for Super Mario World plays on a radio in Koopa Village.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Nearly all of Mario's companions are heroic individuals of the various enemy types. Other friendly versions of the enemies also appear, implying that not all of them work for Bowser.
  • Nepharious Pharaoh: Tutankoopa is the boss of Dry Dry Ruins and keeper of one of the kidnapped Star Spirits. He attempts to frighten Mario away from the ruins, even calling himself the "remorseless king of the desert" in his first warning.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Certain Badges note  turn Mario into a gameplay version of this, letting him instantly defeat certain Enemies note  without even going into Battle.
  • North Is Cold, South Is Hot: The Dry Dry desert in the South East, the tropical Lavalava Island is in the South West, and the Slippy-Slidey Ice World is in the North.
  • No-Sell: Bowser wipes the floor with Mario when in control of the Star Rod's power. If you do defeat him in the prologue via hacking, the game simply crashes.
  • The Nose Knows: A downplayed example. Kammy Koopa is able to discern that Peach is disguised as a Clubba because she smells nice.
  • Not the Intended Use: The Power Rush and Mega Rush badges were likely intended for emergency situations. Deliberately putting Mario in danger or peril to increase his strength probably isn't what the developers intended.
  • NPC Roadblock: The Koopa Bros. disguise themselves as Toads and keep you from moving to Koopa Village in Chapter 1 (Merlin will bust their scheme after you talk to him), and the penguins in Shiver City will prevent you from leaving the area after you become the prime suspect in a murder, which you have to solve before you can get out.

    O-Z 
  • Oddly Small Organization: Goomba "Village" appears to consist of a single family living in a single house, with the only other inhabitant being a lone toad running a Toad House.
  • Ojou: Lady Bow is based on this archetype. She's a spoiled Boo who lives in a grand mansion, carries around a fan, and has a strong Noblewoman's Laugh.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: Bowser's Castle is a floating castle adorned with Bowser's menacing face. It's always seen surrounded by dark clouds, befitting the tyrant's villainous role.
  • One of These Doors Is Not Like the Other: Small variations in the scenery of Forever Forest indicate which path the player should take to advance into the next area.
  • One Steve Limit: Vanna T.'s Japanese name is Kinopiko, which is also Toadette's Japanese name.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: Dry bones get a ton of extra damage by fire (and in fact can only be fully defeated by that or explosions), whereas in almost every other Mario game they are completely immune to it. Thankfully, Goombario's tattle outright tells you so it's not a Guide Dang It!.
  • Paper Fan of Doom: Bow uses one in the Fan Smack. It can actually do the largest amount of damage to a single enemy, as well.
  • Parallel Conflict Sequence: The Final Battle involves both a fight between Mario vs Bowser and Peach & Twink vs Kammy Koopa.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: You can get yourself into a fight with some Bzzaps! (bee-like enemies) in Chapter 3, though they're Chapter 6 enemies, which is particularly nice as you get the Super Boots (which let you deal 4 damage with a basic jump) in Chapter 3 as well. Thanks to the game's usage of Anti-Grinding and the Bzzap's Glass Cannon status, you can use them to reap plenty of experience.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • Only eight Whacka Bumps can be beaten out of Whacka before he vanishes, making it possible to run out of them eventually. While no recipes can be missed by running out of Whacka Bumps, the strong Deluxe Feast can be made early on by cooking one with a Strange Leaf; otherwise, it can only be made by cooking a Shroom Steak with a Potato Salad (the ingredient for Potato Salad isn't available until Chapter 7).
    • There are three badges (as well as a Jammin' Jelly and a Shooting Star) that can be found during Peach's between-chapter interludes, or by Mario himself at the end of the game. If Peach picks them up but fails to deliver them to Mario by the end of the interlude between Chapters 6 and 7, they'll remain in Peach's inventory and can never be obtained by Mario.
  • Phantom Zone Picture: Or Phantom Zone Playing Card in this case. Bowser traps the Star Spirits on individual cards and gives them to his minions to guard. They're able to muster up whatever power they have left to communicate across great distances and help Mario after he's trounced by the Koopa King in the Prologue, but it completely exhausts them.
  • The Pin Is Mightier Than the Sword: Mario gains new moves, stat upgrades, and passive abilities by equipping Badges, which are represented by small pin icons in the menu.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: Every chapter boss has a natural weakness to the partner you obtain in the chapter itself. Some are subtle (Lakilester, who has one of the best methods to get rid of Huff n' Puff's pieces. Parakarry also has the best move to handle Tutankoopa) while others are more obvious (Bow, Watt, Sushie).
  • Point of No Return: The final Peach stealth segment is the last chance to drop stuff into the magic chest for Mario before approaching Kammy, who will expose Peach and end the segment (there's no stealth segment after releasing the final Star Spirit, just a cutscene).
  • Pop Quiz: Chuck Quizmo can be found in random spots and will give you a question every time you talk. Successfully answering a question gets you a Star Piece, and he has 64 different questions.
  • Power of Love: The Star Spirits only grant good and selfless wishes, so when Peach and the grand majority of the Mushroom Kingdom wishes for the Star Spirits to be powerful enough to defeat Bowser, the Right Makes Might-o-meter goes Up to Eleven, into full Deus ex Machina territory. Powered by love.
  • Powers as Programs: The Badge system works this way. Some badges contain special moves for Mario's hammer and jump, while others contain status buffs or immunities for Mario or his partners.
  • Pre Existing Encounters: Nearly every fight in the game works this way. You can even get an early advantage (First Strike) by attacking an enemy in the field before the actual encounter begins (and so can the enemy).
  • Production Foreshadowing: Reading Luigi's diary reveals that he's terrified of ghosts and that he also wishes that he would go on his own adventure one day. The good news for him is that he would get his wish only a few months later. The bad news for him is that said adventure involves entering a mansion filled with ghosts, the very things that he is terrified of.
  • Punny Name: The Toads of Toad Town all have names that end in "T." This creates several punny names describing them, such as Tayce T., the chef.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: You're joined by a Mario fanboy, a wannabe archaeologist, a pink exploding tomboy, an absent-minded postman, a ghostly Ojou, a baby spark of electricity, a fussy nanny fish, and a cloud-riding punk with self-esteem issues.
  • Rainbow Speak: Almost every time a new location or character is mentioned, it's usually in red. In Shy Guy's Toy Box, the color of each station to travel to is colored in its respective color.
  • Random Effect Spell: Mysteries, which can give you a surprising number of good things. They cost only 1 coin (3 in the sequel), so they're not a bad investment.
  • Recurring Boss: Jr. Troopa is fought several times throughout the game, though the battle plays differently in each chapter due to him learning new techniques before each encounter. He eventually grows wings, wears a spike helmet and learns magic as he tries to keep up with Mario's own progress.
  • Recurring Traveller:
    • Chuck Quizmo can appear randomly in most of the game's towns, and prompts Mario for a quiz question to get a Star Piece.
    • Kolorado travels around the world for the first half of the game, first showing up in Dry Dry Desert and then becoming a companion on the trip to Lavalava Island. After Chapter 5, he goes home to Koopa Village (if you can get him past Kent C. Koopa) and stays there.
    • A trio of maids working at Peach's Castle end up visiting a few of the towns as the game progresses, usually right after you finish the respective chapter.
  • Reduced Mana Cost: The "Flower Saver" badge reduces the FP cost of every move by one. There are two of them whose effects can be stacked.
  • Redundant Researcher: Kolorado tries to investigate several places in search of ancient ruins and artifacts, but Mario gets to them before he can, which usually ends in Mario having to give one of said artifacts to Kolorado.
  • Remembered I Could Fly: Bombette is first seen stuck in a jail cell. Once she joins the party, she demonstrates her abilities by blasting a hole in the damaged wall. She then sheepishly admits that the idea hadn't occurred to her before that point.
  • Rise to the Challenge: The very last portion of Lavalava Volcano is the attempt to escape rising magma.
  • Rock of Limitless Water: The Water Stone, needed as part of a Fetch Quest in the Flower Fields. When it's given back to Lily, she uses it to refill her empty pond.
  • Running Gag: Merlon and his ancestor Merlar have something important to tell Mario and claim time is running short and they tell long boring stories. The stories digress and go on for so long that Mario falls asleep.
  • The Runt at the End: There are two times where a huge mob of Shy Guys run away from Mario and his partner in Shy Guy's Toy Box. Both times, one of them trips, then gets up and runs offscreen with the rest of the Shy Guys.
  • Say It with Hearts: Icons like hearts, stars, and musical notes are used to spice up characters' lines, sometimes in very unfitting places like with Anti Guy.
  • Scenery Porn: The cartoony, paper environments in all games are just amazing to look at. Especially in Star Way, where you can look back at the path you came from and see how awesome it is.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: If a Magikoopa is the last enemy on screen, he'll always run away.
  • Scripted Battle: Towards the end of the game, you take control of Peach and Twink to face Kammy Koopa. In this battle, every character has only one move they can use, and there's no option to skip your turn, so there's only one way it can go.
  • Second Place Is for Winners: During one of the sections in which you control Peach, you take part in a game-show-like quiz. First prize is a rather helpful item (a Jammin' Jelly, which restores 50 FP) you can send to Mario, but the consolation prize for just participating is the Sneaky Parasol, necessary to complete the game (you need it for the next and last Peach segment).
  • Secret Diary: Bowser and Luigi each have one. The former is a minor plot point, as Peach reads it and relays tactical information to Mario.
  • Secret Room: Mario's house has a secret basement where you can find Luigi's diary.
  • Seemingly Hopeless Boss Fight: During the final battle with Bowser, he surprisingly resists Mario's Star Beam, thanks to Kammy Koopa's invention empowering the Star Rod. However, the battle is made winnable once the princess upgrades Mario's attack into the Peach Beam.
  • Sentient Stars: The Star Spirits re living stars who all have distinct personalities and powers.
  • Sequential Boss:
    • The Koopa Bros. First you fight them while they are inside a blatantly fake Bowser suit and try to pass themselves off as Bowser, and then once you destroy the suit, you fight all four brothers on foot.
    • General Guy. You start with a Shy Guy mob, then two Stilt Guys, and then two Shy Stacks, then you get a crack at the General.
    • The Lava Piranha has two stages. It starts as a large Piranha, but after depleting its initial health bar, a fake victory tune plays before the Lava Piranha emerges for Phase 2, now on fire.
    • The final encounter with recurring boss Jr. Troopa, which is also the last mandatory fight before you reach Bowser, has Jr. shift through all the forms and tricks he took in your fights with him throughout the game, one at a time.
    • The final boss fight with Bowser has a first phase that starts out as a hopeless boss fight, but then a cutscene boss fight with Kammy vs. Peach and Twink plays out before the Star Beam becomes the Peach Beam. After this, the final phase of the final boss fight begins.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Dry Dry Desert, which is the page image for the trope. It should be noted this desert had become a recurring location by this point in the franchise — it first appeared as the eigth stage of Mario & Wario, and again in Mario Kart 64 under the name "Kalimari Desert" (the Dry Dry Railroad uses the Kalimari Desert theme).
  • Shout-Out:
    • Minh T.'s Japanese name is Lip. Both characters are associated with flowers.
    • In the same vein, Herringway the penguin novelist.
    • Moustafa's Japanese name is Lawrenchu, likely based on Lawrence and the Japanese word for "mouse".
    • The same character calls himself Sheek while in disguise. This sounds very familiar.
    • The Koopa Brothers are not merely a reference to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but also a reference to the original Gorenger. Most explicitly pointed out when using Tattle on Yellow, commenting that he reminds you of curry. There is a running joke in Super Sentai that yellow rangers love curry, because the original Kirenger's whole schtick (besides his large size) was that he was always eating curry.
    • Chuck Quizmo's Lovely Assistant Vanna T. is named after another famous assistant. It also sounds like vanity.
    • When the time finally arrives to have a rematch with Bowser, he taunts you with a Star Wars reference:
  • Shrinking Violet: One of the Dryites in Dry Dry Outpost says everything through his friend and shies away if Mario tries talking directly to him.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Tayce T. from the first game and Zess T. from the second game are sisters, and near opposites in terms of personality.
  • Sizable Snowflakes: Big starry snowflakes fall gently from the sky in the Shiver Snowfields and its surrounding.
  • Skippable Boss: In Chapter 2, Buzzar stops you on the last bridge of Mt. Rugged, saying that you look like the person on Bowser's "Wanted!" Poster, and asks your name. Answering Mario or Princess Peach results in a fight. However, answering Luigi will result in Buzzar letting you pass without a fight. You can return anytime and choose either of the other answers in order to trigger the battle, but be warned as thanks to the game's Anti-Grinding mechanic, you'll get less experience points for being a higher level.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: All of Chapter 7 takes place in the perpetually snowy Shiver Region.
  • Smooch of Victory:
    • When you return Goombaria's Princess Peach doll, she gives Mario one of these and a Star Piece.
    • The fifth Star Power, Smooch, has Misstar kiss Mario on the cheek to heal him for 20 HP.
    • In the Crystal Palace, after using Bombette to bomb a wall, five of them will drop down. 4 are fakes, and one is the real one. If you can figure out who the real one is and hammer the fakes, she'll give you a kiss.
  • Sound of No Damage: A soft "clink", like a small object falling into a tin cup, is heard when an enemy fails to damage Mario with an attack (or vice versa). It's always accompanied by a small yellow star graphic, instead of the large white star indicating damage.
  • Spiritual Successor: That this game began life as Super Mario RPG 2 is very obvious from the basic plot of the game, which is largely identical in the Broad Strokes. Among the similarities: Mario and Bowser have an initial confrontation in (or atop) Bowser's castle, which then becomes inaccessible and can't be revisited until the endgame. Star Road/Haven is crashed (literally) by an enemy who renders it unable to grant wishes. Seven Star Pieces/Spirits, scattered around the world, must be retrieved in order to restore Star Road/Haven. An emissary is sent by Star Road/Haven to assist Mario and his friends in this goal. Several characters who first appeared in Super Mario RPG return in this game, such as the Chancellor/Minister (an embryonic version of the later Toadsworth character in the main series) and the Shaman enemies (repurposed into friendly characters as Merlon and his relatives). Many specific settings are common to both games: a network of sewers near the town; a spooky forest maze; a vast, trackless desert on the far side of a mountain; one or multiple "monster towns"; and a hill or summit where all the shooting stars land (and notably, while these use different names in English translations, they share the same name in Japanese). Both games end with a parade featuring all of the characters who appeared in the game, with Luigi serving as the Grand Marshal. Even the combat systems, with their timed hits and action commands, are broadly similar.
  • Spot the Imposter: There are three of these in Crystal Palace, where you have to figure out which one is your partner among the fakes.
  • Squishy Wizard: Magikoopas in Bowser's Castle have a lot of health, inflict a high amount of damage with their magic blasts, but have a defense rating of 0.
  • Star Power: The Star Spirits grant wishes to people from up in Star Haven, and can help Mario by using special moves once they're freed from Bowser's commanders.
  • Star-Shaped Coupon: The Star Spirits are a living version of this. They're seven anthropomorphic star creatures that Mario needs to rescue in order to counter Bowser's Star Rod.
  • Status Effects: Poison and Dizzy, as well as the beneficial Electrified, which shocks enemies who touch you, and Transparent, which makes you essentially invincible for a turn or two.
  • Stealth-Based Mission:
    • Every Peach section revolves around her sneaking around the castle while avoiding being spotted by the Koopatrols.
    • Tubba Blubba's Castle requires a bit of sneaking around with your new Boo partner, as some enemies will instantly force Mario out of the dungeon if he is caught by them; and Tubba Blubba himself is a Hopeless Boss Fight that must be avoided at all costs.
  • Stealth Pun: The Star Spirits revive Mario after he gets beaten up by Bowser. In other words, since he took a beating, he's seeing stars.
    • In Gusty Gulch, there is a village of Boos. This could be called a ghost town.
  • Stone Wall:
    • Several of the enemies later in the game have high HP (but no defense) but deal relatively small damage, such as Putrid Piranhas, Monty Moles from Flower Fields, Lakitus, Gulpits and Duplighosts.
    • Mario himself can become a literal example by using the Stone Cap. It makes him invincible for several Turns... but at the cost of being unable to do anything until it wears off (forcing him to rely on his Partner for all the offense in the meantime).
  • Storybook Opening: Bowser hijacks the intro by sellotaping Kammy onto the background.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: Mario needs to fall for the very obvious trap in the Koopa Bros. Fortress in order to progress the story.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Despite being able to at least swim on the surface in most Mario platformers (and even swim underwater with a breath meter in some), Mario is not allowed to jump in pools of water in this game until you get Sushie.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: There is a health-restoring block and a save point before each major boss.
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: Mario reclaims Kooper's shell by the time he decides to get it back himself.
  • Sweet Tooth:
    • If you want to get the Power Plus badge the Anti Guy is guarding without fighting him, you can bribe him with a Lemon Candy.
    • Gourmet Guy is obsessed with cake. The player must bribe him with it twice throughout the story, first to move him out of the way while exploring the Toy Box, and again when he threatens to tell Bowser that Peach has escaped her confinement.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Your jump is a direct contact attack from above, and your hammer is a non-direct contact attack from the side. Spiky, electrified, and fiery enemies cannot be harmed by direct contact (such as your jump), but you can hit them with your hammer. Many attacks (such as your hammer) are ground-only, and can't hit aerial enemies. Almost all types of Koopa can be flipped on their backs with an attack from above, reducing their defense. Alternatively, one of your partners has a defense-piercing attack. These are only a few broad examples; most enemies have some kind of resistance or weakness to some type of attack.
  • Theme Naming:
    • Most of the Toads have Punny Names that end in the letter "T" (Felissa T., Mihn T., etc).
    • Another theme throughout the entire series is having the wizards' names begin with "Merl" in homage to Merlin.
    • The few named Koopa characters all have names that start with "K".
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: When saving Petunia from a bunch of Monty Moles harassing her, she points each one out one by one.
    Petunia: In case you're wondering, the Monty Moles I'm talking about are... (first Monty Mole pops out looking confused) this guy... (second Monty Mole pops out) and this jerk... (third Monty Mole sticks out his tongue) and this troublemaker... (fourth Monty Mole jumps out of hole) and this horrid creature!
    Crazee Dayzee: !
    Petunia: This guy is... well, you probably don't need to be concerned with that one.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: During the You Can't Thwart Stage One/Final Boss Preview battle at the very beginning of the game, Mario is reduced to two Heart Points, and Bowser decides to finish him off with an attack worth 10 Attack Points! Since Mario only has 10 HP at the beginning of the game, Bowser could have taken Mario down in one hit, implying that he was Just Toying With Him.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In Bowser's castle, in one of the unused bedrooms, examining the wardrobe will have a Toad pop out and say "Nothing here but us clothes", in full view of whoever is in the room. Thankfully, it was just Mario, but what if it was Bowser?
  • Toy Time: Shy Guy's Toy Box, the homeworld of the Shy Guys, is a normal-looking toy box hidden in an empty Toad Town house. Jumping into it shrinks Mario to the size of a toy, letting him travel through a colorful land of giant toys and building blocks, as well as a train station.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Lemons show up twice in the game as favorites. Sheek in Dry Dry Outpost considers them "the nicest of nice things," and Anti Guy loves Lemon Candy.
  • The Trees Have Faces: A tree with a face can be found in Forever Forest, where it serves as one of the markers for the correct path that Mario must follow to find his way through the woods.
  • Tree Trunk Tour: To reach Raphael the Raven's nest, Mario has to travel up a giant tree deep in Jade Jungle.
  • Triumphant Reprise: The scene where Peach is making a wish to help Mario during the final battle is an orchestral reprise of "Peach's Theme".
  • Twinkle in the Sky: King Goomba suffers this after the bridge from Goomba Fortress unfolds.
  • Unending End Card: At the end of the credits, Mario and Peach watches the fireworks from his house and the caption "The End" appears. With that, the screen is stuck on the scene until the game is reset.
  • Unique Enemy:
    • Most coloured versions of Kameks (Yellow, Red, Green, White) appear in one or two fights in the entire game. Only one of them (the red one) can be seen in the overworld.
    • There is only one Amazy Dayzee in the entire game in a particular spot in Flower Fields, and even there it doesn't always appear.
    • In Flower Fields, there is just one location where gray Monty Moles appear, only never to be seen again as soon as you've defeated them all.
  • Useless Useful Spell: The curses you can inflict on yourself in the game give random effects out on occasion, such as doubling your attack power/defense, your experience, or the money you earn from your victory. Unfortunately, said curses have a high tendency to activate when there's absolutely no need for them, such as stomping on the average Goomba, getting double Star Points when you only got one from the battle, and having your defense raised when the only enemy left is flipped on its back unable to do anything.
  • Variable Mix:
  • Verbal Tic: Fuzzies end their sentences with MEEEOOORK!!!
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The game makes it clear that the final confrontation will take place in Bowser's castle, which is frequently seen between chapters floating in space.
  • Victory Fakeout: After you defeat Lava Piranha, you get your Star Points, the camera zooms in on Mario, and the victory jingle begins... and then the screen begins to rumble and Lava Piranha pops back out of the floor.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: While Super Mario RPG, of which PM is a Spiritual Sequel, was technically already in 3D to begin with (using computer-rendered sprites and backgrounds a la Donkey Kong Country), this game upgrades to fully three-dimensional geometries - well, except for the characters.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • Hitting the Whacka. Hit the Whacka eight times, and he disappears for good with the standard "enemy defeated" animation, though whether he simply flees or downright dies isn't stated.
    • The Power Bounce attack lets Mario keep bouncing on an enemy until the player misses the action command. The number of consecutive bounces is actually the object of a world record, encouraging many players to do ludicrous amounts of damage to weak enemies in an attempt to break it. Poor Goomba.
    • When an enemy is impersonating one of your partners and you have to hit the one you think is "fake", you can "accidentally" attack your real partner.
    • If you don't use Watt in the room right before General Guy, Shy Guys will swarm you and slap Mario around. It doesn't cause damage, so this can go on forever if you let it.
    • Jr. Troopa remains on the map after most of the boss fights with him, and you can whack, jump on or bomb him to your heart's content until you leave the screen.
    • When investigating the Whale's stomach Mario can use his hammer or do a spin jump on the Whale's insides causing him pain and to angrily ask what Mario is doing.
  • Voice for the Voiceless: Mario is a Silent Protagonist, so his various partners act as his voice during cutscenes.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You!: Mario's partners will not continue the fight should he fall in battle, therefore, it's vital that Mario's HP is kept at healthy levels at all times.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Averted with the residents of the Hub Level, who will change their dialogue after each chapter (many having mini-stories of their own) but played straight with most of the other locations, where the residents typically only have pre-chapter, sometimes mid-chapter, and post-chapter dialogue that stays the same for the rest of the game. Some get post-game dialogue, as well.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • After you defeat Lakilester in battle, his girlfriend, Lakilulu, will ask you politely to spare his life. If you answer "No" she will get angry, throw a Spiny at you, and ask you again.
    • In the Crystal Palace, doppelgangers of your current partner will appear at certain points, prompting Mario to hit the fake ones in order to progress. Hitting your real partner has them chide you, especially in the case of Kooper. His doppelgangers are of completely different characters and he chews you out if you hit him.
    Kooper: Mario! Ow! You did that on purpose, didn't you!? That's just plain mean!
  • Where It All Began: The prologue, the finale, and the epilogue all take place in Peach's Castle.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Inverted. Chapter 5 takes the exact premise of Yoshi's Island and turns it on its head. Instead of Baby Mario being rescued and aided by a rainbow of grown Yoshis, Mario rescues a bunch of Baby Yoshis. One Island boss, Raphael Raven, appears as a notable ally, while another boss, the Naval Piranha, receives a Contrasting Sequel Antagonist in the Lava Piranha.
  • The Wild West: Mt. Rugged and Gusty Gulch look like areas out of a western film.
  • Windmill Scenery: At the bottom of Gusty Gulch lies the ominous Windy Mill, looming before the path to the Boo Mansion.
  • Worf Had the Flu: The seven Star Spirits are the most powerful Stars in the entire world, and having amazing powers. Unfortunately, the magic Bowser uses to transform them into playing cards also locks their abilities, and even after rescuing them, they barely have any energy. Eldstar mentions that he'll only be able to restore that energy "little by little" as time passes. This is why they can't offer Mario anything more than a single spell on the field, despite being the physical embodiment of wish-power.
  • Wolfpack Boss: After you destroy the Koopa Bros.' fake Bowser tank, you have to fight all four brothers together, and they can team up to do more damage.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: No matter how badly you curbstomp Bowser in the first fight at the end of the game, he still escapes to the 2nd arena; you have no choice but to follow him and get trapped inside Kammy's device that negates the power of the Star Beam.
  • Zero-Effort Boss:
    • Tubba Blubba turns out to be pathetically weak once he's no longer invincible (the chapter's actual Climax Boss was instead his own heart, which you fight right beforehand).
    • Monstar's ludicrously flashy attacks never do more than 1 damage. The Star Kids sure know their magic pyrotechnics, at least.
    • The fight against Kammy Koopa at the finale, when you use Twink and Peach. It's purely scripted, so not only can you not lose, you can't even select options that aren't related to winning. The only thing that keeps it from being a cutscene is that you need to do the inputs yourself.
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