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Mario's ready to paint the town red!
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The fifth game in the Paper Mario subseries, officially released for the Wii U on October 7th, 2016 (though it was accidentally released early on September 22nd, 2016, thanks to an error with eShop's prepurchasing). Color Splash began development at the same time Paper Mario: Sticker Star was finished.

One dark and stormy night, Peach and Toad show up at Mario's house and present to him a Toad that was drained of its color, with a postmark indicating it was mailed from Prism Island. The trio then go there by boat, only to find the island, and many of its native Toads, drained of their color as well. Using the help of a bucket-like creature named Huey and a magical Paint Hammer, Mario sets out to restore color to Prism Island.

Rather than selecting an attack to use from a menu, players collect cards from around the world to fight enemies with. Cards may be painted before use, and how much a card is painted determines its strength — at the cost of some of your paint, making battles more puzzle-like. Real-world items, or "Things", return from the previous game, but can now be instantly turned into cards. Enemy cards also let Mario summon friendly enemies to fight alongside him.

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This game provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Wendy flings Coins and enemies at Mario at a high speed.
  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Winning the game show Snifit or Whiffit gets Mario a Mini Paint Star or the Instant Camera card for a perfect game. Losing, however, results in Mario drowning in the ocean.
  • Action Commands: It's a Paper Mario game, after all. Most action commands are similar to Sticker Star, but some, like the hammer command, have been altered slightly to make them more intuitive.
  • Actually Four Mooks: In Paper Mario tradition. Lampshaded by Huey at the beginning of the game when a Slurp Guy sneaks in reinforcements.
    Slurp Guy: Hey, so...we're just gonna go ahead and attack you now. I mean...if that's cool.
    Huey: No, that's definitely NOT cool! And since when are there three of you?
  • Air Vent Escape: Inverted when several members of the Blue Rescue Toad Squad attempt to infiltrate Fort Cobalt by doing this... and then end up getting stuck, requiring Mario to get them un-stuck.
  • Advertisement:
  • Alien Sky: The sky within the Parallel World goes from black on the horizon and gradually turns a deep purple directly overhead. The solid land below is a lighter shade than the sky, making this place look really weird.
  • The Alleged Car: After blowing up one of Bowser's Airships near Crimson Tower, it reappears after defeating Morton. Except this time, it's being held together with Bowser tape and has quite a few holes in it.
  • All There in the Manual: Quite literally — the manual has a section explaining things that didn't make it into the game itself for one reason or another, such as the true nature of Dark Bloo Inn and the production process for the steak in Tangerino Grill.
  • And I Must Scream: Being drained of color renders characters unable to see or speak.
  • Anti-Villain: Amazingly enough, Bowser is depicted as such in-game. While he did cause the entire mess by spinning in Prism Fountain, it should be noted he never intended to create the black paint and was only trying to give himself a rainbow-colored shell. He's under the control of the black paint, and has no idea what he's doing.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Cards can have multiple icons on them, which allows Mario to attack multiple times in a row, allowing for faster battle managing.
    • Extra card slots can be found throughout the game, and each one will permanently let Mario play an extra card during his turn, up to a total of 4.
    • Things also return in card form but don't cost any paint to use.
    • Things found in the overworld can be instantly transformed into cards upon obtaining them, removing the tedium of backtracking.
    • There's a Toad in Port Prisma Harbor who will cryptically tell you which Thing you need to progress next, eliminating guesswork. He'll also let you know if you have it with you.
    • Paint is in general very easy to refill after defeating enemies, meaning you won't have to constantly go back to town to replenish your stock.
    • The Cutout feature makes some improvements upon Sticker Star's Paperize.
      • Instead of being able to use Cutout everywhere, like you could with Paperize, attempting to use Cutout in a place where it's not required will cause nothing to happen.
      • If you attempt to Cutout in an area where it is required, but you're standing in the wrong place when you do, a dotted outline will appear to tell you "you have the right idea, but you're in the wrong spot" and guide you toward where you should be using Cutout.
      • The only cards you'll need to use while using Cutout are Thing Cards, and the ones you'll need to use are more intuitive.
    • If you fail in Snifit or Whiffit's Bonus Round, the black Snifit who gives you all the cards with the answers on them will allow you to skip straight to the Bonus Round for a fee.
    • When navigating the Violet Passage you have to participate in some minigames. Fail, and you have to find a Random Encounter. If you mess up three times, the difficulty gets downgraded. This is especially helpful in the coin cannon section.
  • Art Evolution:
    • Thanks to the HD upgrade, in addition to the graphical leap, characters have thin white outlines to add to the "paper" look. Clouds are dangled from offscreen strings while casting a shadow on the sky, like in a shoebox diorama.
    • Shelled enemies like Koopas visibly pop into their shells like in the first three games instead of folding themselves into an origami shell.
    • Rather than just being yellow, coins are covered in shiny gold foil. Collecting them makes characters glow briefly.
    • Characters now gently flap in the wind when standing still.
    • Minor characters such as Toads and Koopas are sometimes drawn from angles other than 3/4 view (e.g., facing the screen, walking away from the screen, etc). In the previous games, this would be reserved for Mario and Peach.
  • Art Imitates Art:
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Shy Guys are by far the most common Mooks (this counting all the dozens of variations that can be fought) and also the most common NPCs after Toads. They're also directly involved in the plot, being the ones responsible from draining the colors of Prism Island (under Bowser's orders). The usual Goombas and Koopa Troopas are comparatively rare and unimportant.
    • Luigi, who was just The Cameo in Sticker Star, gives Mario a ride to the final level.
  • Ascended Meme: Huey references Luigi's Death Stare near the end of the game.
  • Athletic Arena Level: The Golden Coliseum.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Flower cards. They're not so bad if you find them pre-painted, and they do very good damage with a fairly easy and forgiving timing pattern, but filling in a blank card of either flower type will absolutely devour your red (fire) or blue (ice) paint. It's mitigated by the relatively low paint consumption of other cards, but if you think you're doing four Big Ice Flowers in succession, think again.
  • Background Music Override: The battle theme doesn't play when fighting enemies at Black Bowser's Castle. Instead, the field music keeps playing, which is a very good thing.
  • Badass Bystander: The Toad train conductor of the Sunset Express during Larry's boss battle, who assists you by preventing Larry from being constantly healed by a Shy Guy.
  • Balloonacy: The effect of the Balloon card - three balloons appear over each enemy and lift them away from the stage, ending the battle immediately. This is also mandatory to beat Ludwig, as the balloons will carry his submarine over solid ground, allowing Mario to destroy it.
  • Big Bad: Bowser, who's now covered in black paint and is the mastermind behind Prism Island losing its colors. Ultimately zig-zagged, as he's actually The Heavy to the sentient black paint. He accidentally created it by mixing every color of paint together and ended up possessed by it as a result.
  • Big Ball of Violence: If there are multiple enemies in a battle, some of them may do a group attack that consists of dashing at Mario and dealing some damage to him as a cloud of smoke appears over the event, obstructing the view of Mario getting beat up.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: Dark Bloo Inn, a haunted hotel with multiple ghost Toads.
  • Big Red Button: Activates the self-destruct mechanism on Bowser's Airship right above Crimson Fortress.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Mario saves Princess Peach and returns Prism Island back to normal. Unfortunately, Huey has to absorb all the black paint into himself to prevent it from causing further trouble and then leaves for parts unknown.
  • Black Market: The Wringer's shop is a really shady one.
  • Blood-Stained Letter: Actually inverted. In the game's opening, Peach receives a folded Toad drained of its colors by mail. Since paint is the cast's equivalent of blood in this game, it means the letter contained the entirety of a body except for its blood.
  • Blow You Away: The Fan Thing returns from Sticker Star and is used to unleash gusts of wind at foes.
  • Blue with Shock: When the red Shy Guys that rolled up Ruddy Road realize that said road is being unrolled by Mario, and therefore that they are about to be crushed by it, their cloaks turn from red to blue.
  • Body Horror:
  • Bomb Whistle: The drophammer and the Basin make such a noise when they are falling on hapless enemies.
  • Bonsai Forest: The Sacred Forest, in which the trees are barely taller than Mario. Justified, as Kamek has deliberately shrunk it to impede Mario's quest.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Two examples.
    • By completing the game's "Roshambo Temples", you will be given Enemy Cards in the form of the Koopalings. They run away from bosses like any other Enemy Card and do nothing besides run up to regular enemies and chase them away, with no variation between each Koopaling. Aside from adding to your gallery, they're pretty useless.
    • After Bowser is defeated, Huey will squeeze The Very Definitely Final Dungeon into a special enemy card. When used, Bowser's castle will perform a Colony Drop on the enemies, instantly killing them and severely damaging Bowser note .
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Bowser is this once more. In an early cutscene, Peach notes how Bowser seems different, and he gloats about sharing the gift of black paint with the world. After you get the last Big Paint Star, a flashback shows Bowser accidentally creating the black paint, which corrupts his personality.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • Late in the game, Huey comments on how Mario has been fighting Bowser for 30 years.
    • When the Snifits jail Mario, Huey, and the Chef Toad, one Snifit says there is nothing much he can do to them without raising the game's age rating.
    • When the Green Paint Star is returned and shares its part of the story, Huey remarks that the whole game could have been avoided if someone had posted a sign warning not to mix every color of paint together.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: The chef at the Mustard Café is one of the best on Prism Island. Problem is that he would much rather spend his days sunbathing somewhere, implementing a reservation system simply so he can work whenever he feels like. Customers book reservations months or even years in advance not because he's that popular, but because he works that infrequently.
  • Bullet Time: Happens when Huey is nearly hit by the cannonball shot off by the Pirates in Violet Passage.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Yoshi makes his first non-cameo appearance in the series since Thousand-Year Door.
    • Dino-Rhinos also make a reappearance for the first time since their introduction in Super Mario World (not counting their albino brethren from Paper Mario 64).
  • But Now I Must Go: After absorbing all of Bowser's black paint into himself, Huey flies off to locate a place where it cannot harm anyone. However, if one manages to get 100%, the ending implies that he returns, going back into the fountain.
  • But Thou Must!:
    • In the introduction to the game, before the first battle, Huey asks Mario if he has any paint. The options you're given to answer this question are "Uh..." and "What?"
    • Before Mario and Huey can get close to the Mini Blue Paint Star in Port Prisma, he must give all of his Battle Cards to a bespectacled Toad who will run the Card Museum of Port Prisma later on. If you refuse, he will continue to insist to see all of his Cards until you do. Naturally, one would obviously refuse at first because giving up all of Mario's Cards leaves him utterly defenseless, until Huey introduces the Battle Spin.
  • Call-Back: In Bowser's castle, Mario falls through a trap door in front of a picture of Peach, just like Super Mario 64.
  • Calling Card: Shy Bandits will leave one at the stage that they will run to and try to suck the color out from. If Mario can reach it before the Shy Bandit, he will be automatically defeated without having to fight him.
  • Can't You Read the Sign?: One of the posters in Mustard Café simply reads "Don't hit posters for no reason!" Guess what you have to do to progress.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Linger around for a while without playing a card in battle, and the enemies will start spitting off one-liners.
  • The Chew Toy: The engineer of the Sunset Express cannot catch a break. During the train's final journey, the bridge over Kiwano Temple is partially destroyed, a Mega Thwomp crushes the train's engine, the repair shop he takes it to gets overrun by pranksters, the chef at Tangerino Grill (the passengers' destination) has broken his arm and cannot cook, and Larry Koopa hijacks the train and torments all of the passengers who aren't his minions. By this point, the engineer is at his breaking point and actively helps Mario during the boss fight.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Bowser Jr. does not show up in this game, despite being a main-series Mario character and having major roles in Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam.
    • This is also the first Paper Mario game where Parakarry isn't even referenced.
    • Despite appearing in both Sticker Star and Paper Jam, Broozers are absent from this game.
  • Circus of Fear: Lemmy is the head of one located in the forest, which happens to be a Boss Bonanza that includes Shy Guys on unicycles, Dino-Rhinos, hostile Yoshis, and more.
  • Colony Drop: What happens if you use the Bowser's Castle Battle Card.
  • Collapsing Lair: After you defeat Bowser, you have to escape the castle while it falls apart due to the bottom half of it being flooded by black paint.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Towards the beginning of the real level part of Sacred Forest, Huey panics upon realizing a tiny Goomba is stuck to his back, and shouts at Mario to get it off. Mario obliges... by slamming Huey in the back with his hammer so hard that Huey flies into the background and slams into the blue-painted cardboard skybox. Despite being extremely far-off, you can still hear his "turning red" noise before he comes up and yells at Mario.
  • Composite Character: Dino-Rhinos can breathe fire here, when originally they already had a sub-species that could do that: Dino-Torches.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: When Shy Bandit leaves a calling card on the map, it's entirely possible for him to run across routes on the map that you haven't even unlocked yet.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • A new enemy named "Shady Sledge Bro" wears sunglasses similar to the ones Koopa Troopas wore in the pre-Sticker Star Paper Mario games.
    • Another new enemy called a "Shy Bandit" wears Ms. Mowz's mask over his regular mask.
    • Using a Goomba card summons a Goomba that jumps headfirst onto the enemy, a la Goombario and Goombella.
    • Pictures of the Yoshi Sphinx and Hither Thither Hill from Paper Mario: Sticker Star are seen in Dark Bloo Inn's lobby.
      • Also at Dark Bloo Inn is a tiny birdcage owned by a ghost, referring to Big Boo's Haunt from Super Mario 64, which is located within a birdcage.
    • The bartender at Bloo Bay Beach has a flag with Super Mario Sunshine's life-meter drawn on it.
    • At the Dark Bloo Inn the Toads tried to call Luigi to deal with their ghost problem, but it went to voicemail.
    • Green Energy Plant is a reference to Super Mario Bros. 3 (aesthetically, with Super Mario Bros.'s flag at the end) and Super Paper Mario (mechanically).
    • The endgame is one big nod to Mario Kart, complete with Rainbow Road, Luigi geared up (and a reference to his infamous Death Glare), and Bowser asking if Mario's in his castle because of a kart race.
    • One line of Birdo's musical number is "My heart Flutter Jumps" which is a nod to Yoshi's Signature Move and also to their long-rumored relationship.
    • At the saw mill in Sunglow Ridge, a Toad talks about a nightmare he had where Wart invaded their mill and wondered if it wasn't just a dream.
    • At one point, Huey declares "HOLD UP! What in the Lost Levels is going on here?" which is a reference to the game's hellish difficulty.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Zig-Zagged with Ludwig. The Balloons Thing normally takes enemies right out of the fight, ending it. Naturally, this means it doesn't work on bosses... except for Ludwig, where it's his weakness... Except it doesn't take him out of the fight, it just makes it possible to hit him.
  • Controllable Helplessness: Getting hit by Wendy's fight-ending attack will have you spend a turn unable to move. The next turn she finishes you off.
  • Cool Airship: Bowser uses several to move the stolen paint throughout Prism Island. One is particular is boarded, and subsequently blown up by Mario and Huey. When it appears as Bowser kidnaps Peach, Bowser tape is plastered all over it, parts of it look like they're falling apart and there is a notable ridge near the front.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Lampshaded with the comment that putting a "Do not mix the paint!" sign by the fountain might have averted the whole situation.
  • Cranial Eruption:
    • Happens to Mario in Cobalt Fortress after the Basin Thing falls on him.
    • Also happens to Draggadon after Mario and Huey drop the Basin on him to calm him down.
  • Cultural Translation: The design of the “Washing Machine” Thing card differs between regions, with it being top loading in the North American version, and front loading in the European version, as seen in this video.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Huey is sidetracked from looking for Mini Paint Stars in Tangerino Grill and talked into helping the waitstaff calm down the angry patrons because Toads are adorable.
    "AHH! It's just impossible to turn down a Toad for anything! You're all so adorable, even under duress!"
  • Dance Party Ending: Happens every time after a Big Paint Star is reclaimed.
  • Dark World: The Parallel World, which Mario first encounters on Vortex Island, and which he repeatedly visits through the rest of Prism Island's violet sector, overlapping with Mirror World. Accessed through special Warp Pipes, the Parallel World has Boos and Dry Bones for enemies, and the colors are unnatural and jarring. True to the Mirror World trope, things that happen in the Parallel World affect things in the Normal World, though from the perspective of observers on the other side, objects appear to move on their own.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Shy Guys are Bowser's primary attack force in this game and come in the most varieties as opposed to Goombas.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: The small enemies encountered in groups that are fought in the forest are capable of this. A small Goomba that does one damage may not be that intimidating, but try fighting 30 of them. There is one point where Mario finds a crowd of small Goombas with a higher population than Mario has HP, meaning he will die in one turn because they will all attack him for 1 HP each.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Defeated enemies will sometimes drop a card of themselves that Mario can use to summon that enemy as a partner in battle.
  • Degraded Boss:
    • Shunned Guy is faced at the end of Indigo Underground and is played up to be a major threat, and at that point in the game, Mario doesn't have many options to fight him with. Shunned Guy later appears as a normal enemy, albeit a rare one, in Sunset Express and is also the third competitor in Roshambo Temple #3 if the Rock Paper Wizard isn't there.
    • Black Shy Guy is a mini-boss in Violet Passage on your first visit, with the mini-boss music playing when you fight him. He is then treated as a normal enemy that can always be found in one corner of Fort Cobalt. In a true instance of boss degradation, Mario can whack the Black Shy Guy in Fort Cobalt with his hammer to instantly defeat him without a fight.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The world map has little color at first, but as Mario collects the Mini and Big Paint Stars, the map gradually gets restored.
  • Demoted to Extra: Kamek, previously Mario's most recurring bother in Sticker Star, is encountered early in Daffodil Peak. After that, outside a few scenes in the story, he merely shows up randomly to mess with Mario's cards. Subverted later, where he is fought as a Mini-Boss in Sacred Forest.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • Using a replica of a Thing as a substitute against a Koopaling will have them creatively disarm it and mock you for the attempt.
    • Cooking the steak using replica Things will make the VIP complain that it "tastes like replicas".
    • Normally, Mario requires the Purple Big Paint Star to repaint the giant hole in Mustard Café, and attempting to paint it with the hammer will result in Mario running out of paint quickly. However, if the game is hacked so Mario has infinite paint, most of the hole actually can be painted, but the game will make it so a few minor spots on the hole simply won't be coloured, ensuring the hole can't be properly filled in.
    • If you drop down the wrong side of the gate after first using the Cutout feature, Huey takes notice and complains.
    • Attempting to explore Bowser's Castle after defeating the final boss has Huey notice and say that they don't have time to look around.
    • Near the end of the game, the six Big Paint Stars make a rainbow road to Black Bowser's Castle. Normally, you're supposed to jump on the road created in Port Prisma and attempt to climb it, at which point Mario falls and Luigi shows up. However, if you exit to the world map and attempt to climb up the road there instead, Mario will still fall down, since Luigi hasn't shown up to assist him yet.
    • At the end of the game, after Mario and Huey block Bowser's last attack, the boss will be left helpless and Mario will have to use any attack to finish him off. In the event that you make it here with zero attack cards, Huey will give Mario a Hammer card.
  • Dinosaur Doggie Bone: When Princess (a huge Chain Chomp who behaves like a dog) goes missing, Mario finds her at the fossil excavation site in Marmalade Valley, attracted to all the huge bones there. His task then becomes getting Princess out of there and back to the Professor.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: The Cat-o-Luck Thing card animation, which includes sushi falling from the sky, dancing girls, a man in a samurai helmet, a neon city, and, of course, the Cat-o-Luck itself flying out of the ocean.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Encountering the Bone will have Huey tell Mario to "give that bone a squeeze" for science. Later, a Yellow Rescue Squad member suggests that hugging it is an option. Other objects being squeezed into Thing cards aren't too bad, but squeezing the Bone suggests something else entirely.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": As with Sticker Star, none of the Toads actually have names.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: Ludwig's Megabad Super Battleship of DOOOOOOOOM.
  • Doorstopper: "The Internet (Print Edition)" can be found on a bookshelf at Dark Bloo Inn. At one point, a Toad can be seen failing to get it off of the shelf.
  • The Dragon: Roy is the only Koopaling who doesn't guard a Paint Star; he's fought at Bowser's castle, as the penultimate boss before Bowser himself.
  • Dramatic Disappearing Display: In the final battle, if the final attack that Huey blocks isn't Black Bowser's final attack, the health and coins disappear as you fail to block the attack, followed by a game over.
  • Dramatic Timpani: Play when using the Fan Thing card.
  • Drop the Washtub: The Basin Thing returns from Sticker Star, and retains the ability to be dropped on enemies.
  • Dungeon Shop: There is a Toad café deep within Fort Cobalt, Ludwig's HQ. There is in-game justification for it: The Toad who runs the place is undercover, selling drinks and food to the Shy Guys there while slipping information to Mario.
  • Dungeon Town: Port Prisma is this at the start of the game, as there are enemies wandering around. Subverted after you get the first Red Mini Paint Star, at which point the town is emptied of enemies and the friendly Toads return.
  • Eldritch Location: The entire violet sector (except for Plum Park). Bizarre phenomena happen there and in the surrounding seas that makes traveling through the area famously difficult, between a stretch of ocean that's seemingly sentient, a whirlpool that never ever goes away, another area of ocean that's pitch-black even in the daytime, and clouds of smoke spewing out from nothing in particular. Except for the first, the Parallel World is responsible for all of these weird things.
  • Escort Mission: When the chef at the Mustard Café falls into a sinkhole in the desert, Mario has to help him get back to the surface. He may have an insufferable attitude, but he has the Mini Paint Star Mario needs.
  • Exact Words: Used for a puzzle in Sunglow Ridge. There are wooden signs scattered throughout the level that have been telling you to "Try hitting this log with an Unfurl Hammer." The last screen in the level has a sign that tells you, "Now try hitting this with an Unfurl Hammer." Notice that it doesn't mention a log—you're supposed to hit the sign with the hammer.
  • Experience Points: Unlike Sticker Star, the game has an experience point system in the form of Hammer Scraps that are obtained by defeating enemies. Collecting enough to level up will increase the maximum amount of paint Mario's Paint Hammer can store.
  • Exposition Fairy: Huey fills Kersti's role from the previous game.
  • Fake Longevity: Some stages have two stars very close to each other. Once you get one you have to go through the whole stage again to get the other. Sometimes this is used to show players a new event at the start of the stage.
  • Fastball Special: Wendy will frequently take her minions and throw them at Mario.
  • Fatal Fireworks: During the ending, fireworks are fired during the party to celebrate Mario's saving of Prism Island. At one point, Bowser and his minions are seen in a patched-up airship struggling to fly when a stray firework collides with it, exploding and sending the ship, Bowser and the Koopalings crashing.
  • Fight Like a Card Player: Instead of stickers, Mario uses cards to attack. Cards can also be painted to make them stronger at the cost of some of your paint.
  • First Town: Port Prisma, which is where the main game begins. It's basically this game's equivalent of Decalburg, with a considerably more rustic and stony look.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: At Green Energy Plant, the player has to use the Battery Thing in order to activate the monitor and enter the Super Mario Bros. 3 Nostalgia Level. After the Thing is used, nothing seems to happen. Then, Huey pops up:
    Huey: So... If I remember correctly, lightning tends to strike tall, metal objects... *the Battery Thing strikes him*
  • Flower from the Mountaintop: The Rainbow Carnation, a mystical flowers that can heal wilting trees, only grows in high places, and Piper's friends are therefore seen climbing up the moutains from Marmalade Valley to get one.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Princess, the gigantic Chain Chomp wearing a ribbon who terrorizes Marmalade Valley. She can be summoned in battle with the Bone Thing.
  • Food Eats You: Mario fights a giant steak at Tangerino Grill.
  • Foreshadowing: At Sunglow Ridge, Huey manages to clean up a whole mess of black paint. At first, it seems to be a one-time thing, but it's a clue to his role in the final boss fight where you have to use him to absorb the black paint off of Bowser.
  • For Science!: Huey says this before you squeeze the Bone Thing at Marmalade Valley.
  • Funny Background Event: As the Piggy Bank Thing breakdances, Mario can be seen absolutely awestruck.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Even after defeating Kamek, he can still appear to screw with your cards.
  • Gangplank Galleon: The entire set of stages towards the purple Big Paint Star is this, as you follow a crew of pirates heading towards the legendary Fortune Island. Also overlaps with Dark World.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • "Mario used a performance-enhancing power-up to cheat his way to victory!" Now, start thinking about the Olympics and try not to grin.
    • This game literally gets crap past the radar a couple times by having characters say "scrap" instead.
    • Huey asks "What in the Lost Levels is going on here?" at one point. The notorious difficulty of The Lost Levels makes it likely to be a euphemism for "hell".
    • The Plunger Thing attacks by vigorously pumping up and down on enemies. This normally wouldn't be so risque... except it's accompanied by Sexophone music.
    • Played with in regards to a particular Snifit in this scene. The implications themselves would be risky enough in a PG-rated show, let alone an E-rated Mario game.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere:
    • The steak. While it's not surprising to see a big slab of steak in a restaurant, it's completely out of left field to actually fight it, the music indicating it's a mini-boss.
    • This can also apply to Roy, as he is fought out of nowhere in the last level and has no relevance to the plot.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: All Bowser really wanted was to make his shell rainbow-colored, but mixing all of the paint together made black paint, which possessed him.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Aside from the usual "dang" and "darn", there is "scrap", which is used in place of... well, you know.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Downplayed in the case of the black paint. It does have a mind of its own and is controlling all of Bowser's actions, but never takes on an active role in the plot. Bowser is the one in the foreground.
  • Great Escape: After falling into the sinkhole created near Mustard Cafe, Mario, Huey, and the Chef Toad are eventually captured by Snifits who lock them in prison cells under the desert. Mario and Huey break out of their cell first and then have to help the Chef get out.
  • Green Hill Zone: Ruddy Road is one of the first levels you go to.
  • Grilling Pyrotechnics: The Grill card places the enemies on top of a giant grill that suddenly combusts them within a massive flame pillar. Said explosion covers nigh the entire screen.
  • Grimy Water: The waters of Plum Park end up alarmingly poisoned courtesy of Petea Piranha and take on a lovely lavender colour. Therefore, any contact with it will result in Mario taking damage. Defeating Petea will restore the park's water to their pristine glory.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Dark Bloo Inn has been caught in one whose loop begins a little before 12:00 and ends right after 3:00. Mario and Huey, as outsiders, are the only ones aware of it. To break the loop and get the Mini Paint Star, Mario must find and reunite the six ghost Toads, who had been causing this time loop without being aware of it, or even knowing they're in a loop.
  • Healing Loop: Its very easy to get caught in one with the boss fight against Larry if you haven't equipped the right cards. Your ally in the battle, is the Toad engineer trying to prevent a Shy Guy giving Larry an endless supply of healing items. But the train's engineer can be taken out by Larry's minions. You need to have multiple-enemy-hitting attack cards to KO Larry's minions in one turn. Run out of cards and you're trapped, forcing you to reset.
  • Hidden Depths: If we take his word for it, Larry Koopa is a renowned food critic, the kind who gives out prestige stars to restaurants. Even if we don't take his word, his critique, while harsh, is honest and fair.
  • Hologram: The Holo-Peach functions as a post card after Peach gets kidnapped by generating a holographic projection of her.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: If you don't have the proper Things for some bosses, then you'll either have this result, or a much more difficult battle. And don't you dare think that a Replica of the actual Thing will save you; you must have the actual Thing. Ludwig, for instance; if you do not have the real Balloons by the time you destroy the half-complete Super Ludship and get to his submarine and try to use a Replica of them, Ludwig will counterattack by firing a missile, rendering the Replica useless.
  • HP to 1: Bowser has one that has this effect on himself, although its amazing power compensates it.
  • Hulk Speak: Morton talks like this.
  • Impact Silhouette: Morton leaves Morton-shaped holes in walls as he crashes through them.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • Slurp Guys are Shy Guys that wield straws to suck the color out of everything.
    • Some of the bosses use some pretty unlikely weapons too, all of which render themselves immune to Mario's attacks. These include a spiked circus ball, a train's chimney, chariots, and lots and lots of coins.
    • Mario is also one of these when he uses Things. In order to defeat the Koopalings, Mario will end up using a bunch of balloons, a washing machine, a fire extinguisher, and a disco ball as weapons, among other Things.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Morton wields a hammer that's on fire.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Bowser just wanted a rainbow shell but winds up getting possessed, beaten up by Mario and dragged off by his broken airship. Not to mention having no idea what happened by the end.
  • Instakill Mook: The Thwomp in Iggy’s boss fight deals 999 damage. It only appears if you improperly use the Bone Thing however.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: After Mario defeats Iggy in the Golden Colussuem, the announcer asks "Wait, is this thing still on?"
  • It Tastes Like Feet: If you attempt to cook the steak using Things, make sure you use legitimate Things and not replica ones, as if you do, the VIP guest will complain that it "tastes like replicas".
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: The game's story begins when Peach and Toad knock on Mario's door one rainy evening, in contrast to earlier Mario games that started during a sunny day.
  • "Join the Army", They Said: Green Rescue Squad Toad #6 has this opinion if you talk to him before they form the bridge.
    "Join the Rescue Squad," they said..."It'll be fun," they said...
  • Just Following Orders: A Shy Guy on the Sunset Express complains about his job and laments the fact that the next time he meets Mario, it'll probably be as enemies. You can end up fighting him on the way to Lemmy's circus, and if you do so, he solemnly notes after the battle that he was at least glad to meet up with Mario again.
  • Just Friends: Peach hesitates for a second before referring to Mario as her "friend".
  • Kaizo Trap: You can die after beating the final boss if you don't save Peach in time, or if you take too long getting out of the castle after rescuing her. Waiting too long will have the castle collapse completely, killing Peach, Mario, and Huey.
  • Kill It with Fire: Unless one makes liberal use of Thing cards, this is the only way to kill the Shunned Guy in the Indigo Underground.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: While most Koopalings get to monologue a bit after you defeat them, Larry unceremoniously gets cut off in the middle of his.
    Larry: Lamb chops sound pretty good righ-
  • Large Ham:
    • Iggy. What else would you expect from the Golden Coliseum's announcer?
    • Ludwig is completely grandiose and self-important.
    • Lemmy is a justified case, as he is supposed to be a stage magician in the circus level.
      Lemmy: Now feast your eyes on this! My magic wand! PHENOMENAL ARCANE POWER... in a slim and user-friendly stick!
    • Bowser, as per the subseries norm.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Done a few times. Often they are used as Puns.
    "You'll be going home with a fat bag of coins and a brand new car...d!"
    "I'll show you the true meaning of PAIN(beat)T!"
  • Left the Background Music On: Early in Mossrock Theater, there's a Toad that you can repaint. Upon doing so, he begins to wonder why he's in this creepy forest, citing the song currently playing as proof of its creepiness.
    Green Toad: Where am I?! This forest is creepy! I mean, just listen to this music!
  • Leitmotif: In addition to a few that permeate the entire game, the first phrase of "Sailor's Song" is present in every stage in the violet sector (boss theme included), including Plum Park. The blue region also has a leitmotiv that has been remixed into tunes fitting a tropical beach, a fancy hotel, a military base AND a haunted inn respectively. Also, every stage in the orange sector that doesn't outright use Marmalade Valley's theme has several phrases from it, and as Mario gets closer to The Emerald Circus in the green sector, the more likely you will hear the first several bars used somewhere in the background music (and also used in the boss's theme).
  • Lethal Lava Land:
    • Redpepper Volcano is naturally full of lava so Mario needs to recruit a friend to help him across.
    • Additionally there is the bottom floor of Kiwano Temple.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Spoken almost word-for-word in Sunglow Ridge right after Huey neutralizes the Black Paint.
  • Level Up Fill Up: All 3 colors of your paint will be maxed out every time your paint capacity increases.
  • Lighthouse Point: Lighthouse Island prominently features a lighthouse, whose lights are out. Amazingly enough, this causes the entire sea past the island to be pitch black despite being in broad daylight. It is up to Mario to repair the lighthouse to continue his quest.
  • Lilypad Platform: Some lilypads are used to cross Plum Park waters.
  • Living MacGuffin:
    • The Big Paint Stars are sentient Stars that give color to the world.
    • The Chosen Toads are Toads (natch) who are destined to be keys for a door.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: A downplayed example. Black Bowser's Castle really comes crumbling down after Mario defeats Bowser, but this is because Mario had already been wrecking parts of it before meeting Bowser.
  • Locomotive Level: The orange star levels center around a giant train. The final level is the train itself and Larry is fought on top of it.
  • Lord Error-Prone: Mario encounters a Toad that believes himself to be a fantastic hero much like Mario himself. However, when he attempts to do something heroic, he gets stripped down to his underwear.
  • Lost Woods:
    • Not following the directions going through the stretch of sea known as the Violet Passage will reset any ships back to a fixed location. Traveling back towards Prism Island, however, is effortless from anywhere within the Violet Passage.
    • The Sacred Forest is a more typical forest but Kamek has cast a spell which has made parts of it very large or very small.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Averted with Snifit or Whiffit, at least if you buy the cards from the black Snifit near the entrance and immediately go in and participate. The cards he gives Mario contain all of ones necessary for a perfect game, eliminating the conundrum of knowing the answer but not having the right card to show the host.
  • MacGuffin: The Big Paint Stars, which fill the world with color. They're also sentient.
  • MacGuffin Person Reveal: The Chosen Toads, which are the keys to opening the Crimson Tower, all have a moment where they reveal the keys atop their heads.
  • MacGuffin Super Person: The Chosen Toads are required to open a door, but they also all have spectacular powers. The red one telekinetically pulls a Red Mini Paint Star to Mario, the blue one stops a massive wave dead in its tracks, and the yellow one levels a mountain with psychic powers. All 3 are also capable of flying.
  • Macro Zone: The Sacred Woods which also combines this with Lost Woods. Because of Kamek's spell on the forest, parts of the forest are very huge compare to Mario, and others are very small.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Who in their right mind builds a temple almost entirely covered in sharp spikes? And above a lava field, too!
  • Maneki Neko: The Cat-o-Luck Thing returns from Sticker Star, and stomps on the enemies when used in battle.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Mario can die in several horrific ways in this game aside from the usual battles (drowning, getting ran over by a train, getting crushed by a giant Chain Chomp...), leading to Non Standard Game Overs.
  • Market-Based Title: Strangely, averted. The European versions of this game don't add a U to the word "Color".
  • Mega Maelstrom: An enormous whirlpool sits permanently off the coast of Vortex Island, giving the place its name. A Mini Paint Star sits directly above the whirlpool's epicenter, requiring Mario to find a way to calm the waters down so he can safely reach it.
  • Mid-Life Crisis Car: When Mario meets an adventurous Toad who wants to sail to the edge of the world, another Toad thinks the latter simply goes through a midlife crisis and suggests him to "buy a convertible and be done with it".
  • Mirror World: The Parallel World seen in the Violet Islands has the exact same layout as the regular islands but with undead enemies and a black and purple Alien Sky. Moreover, the ocean is completely absent in the Parallel world, leaving only a desolate field on which Mario can walk.
  • Mon: Enemy cards let monsters fight alongside Mario.
  • Money Fetish: Huey really has a thing for obtaining and keeping wealth- he expects others to pay for him, like asking Peach to pay for a burger for himself. He later expresses outrage when the pay load of Mondo Woods' giant coin is equal to a normal one.
  • Money Mauling: Wendy attacks Mario by hurling golden coins (as well as Mooks) at him. If he fails to use the Instant Camera in time, she can even One-Hit KO him with a huge shower of coins.
  • Monster-Shaped Mountain: Fortune Island is shaped like a jumbo-sized skull.
  • Mood Dissonance: In Toad Trainworks, the broken train has a car full of impatient Toads. Entering it initiates a "battle" that consists of twelve Toads yelling at him, which takes 1 HP each time. If you start off with 12 HP or less, the Toads will keep yelling at the poor guy - even when he starts showing clear signs of exhaustion - until they take all his HP, at which point one of them says "Ah, I feel so much better now!". Then you get the usual Game Over animation where Mario falls over and the Slurp Guys suck up all his colour as the screen fades to white... but the Toads who got to yell at him watch contently as they their only hope of survival suffers a Family-Unfriendly Death.
  • Morph Weapon: The black paint. It makes sense, as the black paint is not solid.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: A lot of Thing Cards are this. The Fan in the previous game was already built up as this, but here? A giant fan emerges from over the Earth's horizon, blocking out the sun. The Bone card makes a giant Chain Chomp appear, destroying everything in its path while still picking up the bone that was thrown, and the Cat O' Luck card turns the scenery into a Japan-like setting while the Cat O' Luck flies from the sea, stomping on the enemies.
  • Musical Nod:
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Partners return in a limited form through the use of enemy cards, which creates a friendly version of that character that will attack enemies in-between turns. Summoning one during a boss battle is a waste, as it will run away immediately.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Princess isn't the first Chomp with a ribbon on her head. Back in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, One of Madame Meow-Meow's pets already had one; bringing it to her was even part of the game's Chain of Deals.
    • One lyric from Birdo's grand musical number is "Two hearts in doki doki panicnote ", a reference to her original debut game before becoming a Super Mario Canon Immigrant.
    • While inside the Super Mario Bros. 3 level, Huey refers to the outside world as the "real world". Many episodes of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 had King Koopa and his family running havoc on Earth, which was usually referred to as the "Real World" in the Mushroom Kingdom.
  • Naked People Are Funny: The Chosen Toad at Cherry Lake, "Justice Toad", tried to jump onto Bowser's airship to stop them from getting away, but fell off and landed directly in the path of a giant fan, which blew off all of his clothes except for his underwear. After saving him from the fan, he'll hide in the bushes and refuse to help you until you find all of his clothes.
  • Never Say "Die":
    • Averted. A Toad actually goes "We're all gonna die!" at one point.
    • Huey also refers to the Spikes of Doom at Kiwano Temple as "giant, pointy spikes of death."
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Larry, by handing over his orange Mini Paint Star to the staff of Tangerino Grill, allowed Mario to create a path to catch up to him. That being said, he probably didn't know he had given it to Mario.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: After losing the paint thief on Ruddy Road, you'll later find him trying to hide on a sign warning people to watch out for paint thieves. Considering the medium, he almost gets away with it... except that the "portrait" on the sign looks much more detailed then the ones on similar signs. And he leaves the bucket of paint that he stole right next to the sign. And he can't resist spicing up the sign's warning with his own commentary:
    Paint Thief "Sign": Beware the Incredibly Handsome Paint Thieves!
  • No-Sell: Bowser's horns will deal damage to Mario if you attempt to use a non-Iron Jump jump attack.
  • Non-Standard Game Over:
    • Stage hazards that do damage can kill you outside of battle if you're not careful.
    • Scripted chase scenes will also kill Mario instantly if he falls behind.
    • At the end of Kiwano Temple of the Orange sector; if you get hit by the lava rocks that spring up too many times, or if you move too far off the platform in either right or left directions, well, all that can be said is hope you like your Mario "Extra Well Done".
    • At Cobalt Base's mini-game, Snifit or Whiffit: Seabed Edition, if you either A) quit the mini-game after giving an incorrect answer, despite the fact that Snifit has warned against such an action as you'd be looking at the Game Over screen or B) if you make three errors in the game, a Sea Urchin will come up from above and pop Mario's bubble... causing him to turn blue in the face and drown helplessly. The reason for that is "it helps ratings".
    • If you Game Over inside the Super Mario Bros. 3 section of Green Energy Plant, the game plays the SMB3 Game Over jingle instead of Color Splash's.
    • During the final battle, if Huey blocks as many attacks as he can, then tries to block one more, he gets knocked out of Mario's hands while shouting "It's no good! My body can't take it anymore!" His dead body then collapses next to Mario's, and the screen fades to white, followed by the game over screen.
  • Nostalgia Level: Green Energy Plant references both Super Mario Bros. 3 in aesthetic, style and enemies, and Super Paper Mario in gameplay (switching between 2D/3D and killing enemies by jumping on them (except for the paper foes) and level design.
  • Not-So-Phony Psychic: The Justice Toad at first is merely seen as a delusional super hero wannabe by Huey... before he is revealed to be a Chosen Toad. Even HE didn't think he had any real super power.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: The Sunset Express gets stuck at Kiwano Temple due to a broken bridge that the train tracks are on, and the engineer is peeved about it. The thing is, in order to enter and complete Kiwano Temple earlier, said bridge was broken by none other than Mario (to make a safe path over the nearby spikes).
    Engineer: If I get my hands on the numskull who destroyed my track... AGHHHHHHHHHH! The kind of scum who would do this is beyond redemption! Don't you agree, Mario?
  • Obvious Trap: In Cobalt Fort, there is a trap in the gate sequence. A Basin hangs above one of the gates in plain sight, and upon seeing it, Huey literally says "OK, that's DEFINITELY a trap. That Thing up there makes it totally obvious." Should you proceed to hit the gate that the Basin is hanging over with your hammer, Mario loses half of his current HP as a result of the Basin falling on him. But on the upside, you get the Basin Thing for doing that. And said Thing is necessary to progress late in the game, which makes the whole thing a case of Stupidity Is the Only Option. note 
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Peach spends her time in captivity spying on Bowser and leaving holographic letters for Mario.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: Bowser's Castle floats above Prism Island.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: Played in Dark Bloo Inn, at least until you solve the central mystery behind it.
  • One-Hit Kill: Thing cards to normal enemies.
  • One-Time Dungeon: The airship near The Crimson Tower gets destroyed as Mario is on it and cannot be revisited once that happens.
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping: At the hot springs in Redpepper Volcano, we see three stacked Shy Guys peeping on someone on the other side of the wall. This "person" reveals to be a Boo, leaving the Shy Guys in shock. If Mario talks to one of them, they will say they were just looking at the Paint Star in the back.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: It doesn't happen until the final level, but it still might count as a hint that the Black Paint may be more than it seems when, upon Peach attempting to escape, Bowser drains her color as well. Bowser may have kidnapped her literally dozens of times...but since when has he ever wanted to harm her?
  • Painfully Slow Projectile: Bowser's "last breath" attack moves a lot slower than one would expect it to for a final attack. So don't block too early, or you're taking the brunt of that hit.
  • Palmtree Panic: Bloo Bay Beach, a seaside area where Oceanfest takes place.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Besides it being true literally because everyone is made of paper, the Rock Paper Wizard is quite obviously a Toad, but everyone treats it as a huge surprise when he finally removes his hood.
  • Perspective Magic:
    • The Cutout ability works in this way. If objects line up onscreen to create geometric shapes or straight lines, Mario can then use them to do various things, such as use them as platforms or place Thing cards on them.
    • At two points in the game, Mario can use the Magnifying Glass (on a shrunken Toad and a shrunken Warp Pipe). The Magnifying Glass will enlarge them onscreen, which enlarges them physically once it's removed.
  • Piggy Bank: One of the Things. In addition to direct damage, it gives Mario 300 Coins when used.
  • Player Nudge: In an attempt to fix a major complaint about the previous game, facing a boss causes the characters to start dropping increasingly unsubtle hints about the Thing card you need to win. In addition, if you flee from a boss fight due to not having the proper Thing or using them improperly, then return with the Things needed, Huey will explain to you when to use them.
  • Point-and-Click Map: Like the last game, except with the areas not using the standard Mario numbering convention (e.g., World 1-1). The map starts out in sepia tones, but gradually refills with color as you find Paint Stars.
  • Pop Quiz: Snifit or Whiffit returns from the last game, and the stakes are just as high.
  • Primary-Color Champion: As usual, Mario's outfit is heavy in the red, blue and yellow. His main paint colors are also red, blue, and yellow. The first three big Paint Stars you obtain are also of the primary colors.
  • Production Foreshadowing: Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam had the 3D Koopalings ask about their paper counterparts, with Wendy speculating that they were busy. The Paper Koopalings show up in this game.
  • ''Psycho'' Strings: The track "Straw of Doom" features them.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Deconstructed by the Shy Guy from the Sunset Express, who is a nice character and tells Mario about his regular life and his obligations as Bowser's minion.
  • Puzzle Boss:
    • Like in Sticker Star, boss battles encourage use of a Thing card. Unlike Sticker Star, the game specifically prevents beating the boss without it. For example, Morton attacks using a fiery hammer that can be put out using a Fire Extinguisher. Even if Mario could survive the attack and deplete Morton's health, it will stay at near-zero no matter how much further damage is dealt unless the proper Thing card is used.
    • The steak fought at Tangerino Grill. The objective is to turn it into a delicious meal for the VIP guest, which is done by tenderizing, seasoning, cooking, and squeezing lemon juice onto the steak.
    • The latter half of the circus performers in The Emerald Circus have ways of avoiding damage from Mario's attacks, requiring Mario to find some way to make them vulnerable first. The earlier half, though, have more complex mechanics than normal enemy encounters too—you can just defeat them the hard way if you prefer.
  • Rainbow Motif: In a game putting so much emphasis on colours, encoutering this trop was inevitable. The six Big Paint Stars represent one colour of the rainbow each, and nigh every level is associated with one of them.
  • Random Encounters: The Shy Bandit can randomly show up on the map and try to steal paint from a level, although whether or not you actually encounter the Bandit depends on whether or not you catch him.
  • Reality Warping: Thing Cards work like this, bordering on No Fourth Wall.
  • Recurring Riff: The title screen theme is incorporated into several tracks in the game's soundtrack, such as in parts of the standard battle theme, the jingle that plays when you get an upgrade, the Port Prisma theme, and the Cutout theme.
  • Remilitarized Zone: Cobalt Island. Very little of the natural landscape is shown, with Mario going right into the steel bases. The game suggests that Ludwig and his forces had built all this (though probably not Snifit or Whiffit).
  • Ret-Canon:
    • Ludwig is shown to be a skilled inventor, much like his cartoon counterpart.
    • Wendy is shown to have a small crush on Mario, a trait that first appears in the Super Mario-kun manga.
  • Retirony:
    • Much of the "orange" chapter of the game revolves around the Sunset Express's last trip before the train is retired. Throughout this journey, the train is stalled by a broken track, crushed by a Thwomp, menaced by Shy Guys during repairs at the Toad Trainworks, and finally hijacked by a Koopaling. Subverted, though: not only does the train survive all that with nary a scratch in the end, but the engineer changes his mind and decides to keep the train in service.
    • The foreman at the aforementioned Toad Trainworks. Repairing the Sunset Express was to be his last job before retirement, and not only is the job disrupted by the aforementioned Shy Guy attack, at the end of it all his subordinates decide to "toss the foreman in the air in a heartfelt-but-super-dangerous show of gratitude" (that's an exact quote from the game). Also subverted, and in a very similar way: he isn't harmed in either event, and upon hearing that the Sunset Express is staying in service, he decides to do the same.
  • Retraux: The Green Power Plant level mainly takes place inside a virtual world with the graphics and music from Super Mario Bros. 3.
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Only Mario and Huey are able to remember the time loops at Dark Bloo Inn, and even then, it takes a few moments for Huey to realize it. Possibly the Toad stuck in the courtyard too, as, like Mario and Huey, he's an outsider to the area.
  • Rock–Paper–Scissors: There are temples littered around the land known as Roshambo Temples that house Rock-Paper-Scissors matches that allow you to win cards and coins.
  • That Russian Squat Dance: One of the dances the Toads do after recovering one of the Big Paint Stars. Mario also joins in.
  • Scandalgate: After you catch him and his crew cheating in a shell game they named "Toad Shuffle", the presenter of Oceanfest fears that the event will be labeled "Shufflegate".
  • Scenery Porn: Being the first Paper Mario game in HD, it's to be expected. Now the environment looks like it really is made out of papercraft materials.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Mario's first reaction to seeing the Shunned Guy is trying to run away.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Although Huey is a good guy, he can contain the very evil black paint inside himself. Bonus point for actually being a can.
  • Self-Deprecation: One of the Toads waiting in line at the circus echoes the common complaint that most of the NPCs are generic Toads.
    Toad: Thanks for taking the time to talk to a normal Toad like me with no unique traits or discernible characteristics!
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: Mario destroys Bowser's airship over Crimson Tower to release the big bucket of paint it is holding up, all by pressing a Big Red Button.
  • Sequel Difficulty Drop: Color Splash is noticeably easier than Sticker Star, not necessarily because it's much less Guide Dang It!-heavy than its predecessor, but mostly due to the fact that you have twice the amount of health you had in its predecessor, as well as having access to incredibly powerful cards and having to solve fairly easy puzzles overall. Most of the challenge comes from certain parts with Non Standard Game Overs, as well as a few boss fights.
  • Sequential Boss:
    • The fight with Ludwig unfolds in 3 phases; the first is against the Super Ludship, the second is against his submarine, and the last part is a Curb-Stomp Battle.
    • As usual with the series, the final boss has two forms. And much like the Shadow Queen, there's even a "hopeless" section in between with dark music.
  • Sentai: The game features a group of Toad heroes called "Rescue V", which are clearly inspired by Super Sentai/Power Rangers. They all wear color-coded outfits and pose in dramatic fashion whilst colorful explosions appear behind them.
  • Serial Escalation: Each Rescue Squad you encounter is bigger than the last, to where, militarily speaking, the last two are not technically squads anymore.
  • Serious Business: Roshambo is taken so seriously there's temples and stadium crowds dedicated to it.
  • Sexophone: Plays when the Plunger Thing is used.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The first part of the Mustard Cafe is a giant desert, It turns out the giant colorless port the Chef was resting on was a giant sinkhole.
  • Shout-Out: Nintendo has always been prone to reference its own games and the Treehouse often sneaks some Woolseyism into the Western version, but Color Splash is one of the most pop-culture heavy Nintendo games ever, including several parodies of famous movies:
    • The Fan animation is an homage to the iconic last shot from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    • The Fire Extinguisher is a Godzilla shout-out, complete with Suspiciously Similar Song.
    • Rather unexpectedly, a creepy reference to Ju-on / The Grudge with the Unique Enemy Shunned Guy.
    • When a cannonball is shot at Huey, he dodges it by bending backwards in Bullet Time and with a spinning camera, parodying the shot from The Matrix.
    • The entrance to Fort Cobalt looks suspiciously similar to Shadow Moses'. It could have been a coincidence if not for a Rescue Toad hidden in a cardboard box.
    • "I ain't no stinkin' boid!"
    • Prisma town's tourist handbook is named the "Prisma Guide", a reference to Prima Strategy Guides.
    • Just like Jen Barber, Morton thinks the word "pedestal" is really "pedal stool". Both of them even have a coworker named Roy.
  • Shows Damage:
    • Instead of a health bar, enemy health is indicated by how much color they have. Every enemy is initially fully colored, but as you do more damage to them, their color drains.
    • Most enemies, as well as Mario, have a unique animation when they have low health.
  • Spam Attack: Some cards have multiple icons on them that allow Mario to attack multiple times with one card. For example, a card with two jump icons on it will allow Mario to jump two times. Taken Up to Eleven when you reach cards with three Hopslippers on them, as each lets you bounce on a foe 10 times.
  • Speaking Simlish: Reserved for Snifits and Shyguys, but they have a distinct vocalization that differs for the tone of the speech.
  • Spikes of Doom: Kiwano Temple features hazards shaped like Spiny Shells, complete with spikes. Huey even refers to them as "giant, pointy spikes of death".
  • Stage Magician: Lemmy assumes the role of one. Fitting for his role as an illusionist, he specializes in Interface Screw.
  • Standard Status Effects: During the battle with Roy Koopa at Black Bowser's Castle, he shoots Mario with his paint, with each colour giving him a different status effect.
    • Red makes Mario angry, causing his actions to speed up.
    • Orange makes Mario self-conscious, forcing him to use pre-painted cards only.
    • Yellow makes Mario rhythmic and happy, making him unable to use blue cards.
    • Green makes Mario lose all his motivation, causing his actions to slow down.
    • Blue makes Mario sad, forcing him to use only blue-coloured cards.
    • Purple poisons Mario, damaging Mario with each card he uses.
  • Star-Shaped Coupon: Both the Mini Paint Stars and Big Paint Stars. The former stars lead you to new areas, and the latter are the main objectives to reach.
  • "Staying Alive" Dance Pose: Mario assumes this pose in many situations, such as during a Big Paint Star recovery dance, when the Disco Ball Thing is used, and sometimes when the Instant Camera Thing is used.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • This game has a break-dancing piggy bank. What is a piggy bank most likely to do in a work of fiction? It breaks.
    • After obtaining the yellow paint star, Mario can collect a coin so huge that it actually blocks his ability to progress. However, Huey is dismayed to learn that unlike say, the Dream Coin, it's still only worth 1 coin. Why? The coin used to be a normal-sized coin, but Kamek made it huge and decolorized to block Mario's way. In other words, Huey's dreams of wealth fell victim to inflation.
  • Stock Animal Name: Parodied; the Professor's giant Chain Chomp's name is Princess, Chain Chomps being stand-ins for dogs in the Mario world.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option:
    • Despite the obviously toxic nature of the black paint, you have to touch it when it falls in Sunglow Ridge to trigger the event to clean it up.
    • Mario needs the Basin Thing both for card completion and to drop it on Draggadon, so you have to hit him on the head with it at least once.
  • Suddenly Voiced:
    • After being silent in Sticker Star, Bowser is back to his old, hammy self.
    • Luigi has also returned to his original characterization after his silent role in Sticker Star, now sending letters to Mario and appearing in person to give Mario a ride to Black Bowser's Castle.
  • Surplus Damage Bonus: Like in Sticker Star, every time you do damage to an enemy after depleting their HP, you get a coin.
  • Suspicious Video Game Generosity:
    • The first encounter with Black Paint is preceded by a heart refill, as you're required to touch the paint and take 30 damage to progress the plot.
    • In Fort Cobalt, Mario receives a rather large amount of Tail cards. You need them to defeat the Super Ludship at the end of the level.
  • Symbolic Blood: Paint is treated as this. A "bloodbath" is even referred to as a "paintbath" at one point. Color is also used to indicate health and colorless Toads are effectively dead until you restore them.
  • Take That!: A trainspotting Toad follows the Sunset Express as it traverses the orange sector, always capping his statements about how he trainspots because it makes gives him meaning in his otherwise pathetic life.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Subverted for laughs. While Huey is giving Mario a pep talk in the introduction, the Slurp Guy he's going to face nonchalantly announces he's going to attack them.
    Slurp Guy: Hey, so...we're just gonna go ahead and attack you now. I mean...if that's cool.
  • Talk Like a Pirate: The Toad captain in charge of the voyage to Fortune Island talks in this way. Parodied when the legendary captain who first discovered Fortune Island does NOT talk like this, and upon meeting the regular captain, asks him to knock it off as it's getting annoying.
  • Throw the Book at Them: A Shy Guy who found Justice Toad's journal and dubbed himself "Pry Guy" will bash Mario with said journal while calling out names such as "HARDCOVER JUSTICE MISSILE".
  • Tick Tock Terror: The haunted Dark Bloo Inn has a grandfather clock installed in its lobby, and can be heard eerily ringing from time to time from anywhere within the hotel. In fact, its bong signals the passing of time in the inn: the level is a stealth "Groundhog Day" Loop, meaning the more it has chimed, the closer to the end of the loop the player is.
  • Time-Limit Boss:
    • Ludwig. If you take more than three turns to use his weakness during the second phase of the fight, he'll fire a missile barrage for maximum damage.
    • Wendy. If you don't "take a picture to make it last longer" after she summons a giant, gold ring and before she launches it on the next turn, then you'll be rendered paralyzed until she uses the Coin shower, which will KO Mario regardless of health remaining.
    • Larry. If you take too long to defeat him, he'll launch a series of strong attacks that will kill you, even if you block them.
    • Bowser's second phase is this as well, as Huey can only withstand a certain number of Bowser's attacks.
    • The steak at Tangerino Grill must be "defeated" within 3 turns.
    • In a strange case, the battles while Mario is in the sinking sand below Mustard Café will slowly pull Mario in as he's picking out his cards. Take too long, and it could result in a Non-Standard Game Over. In other words, you have a limited amount of time to make your moves during your turn.
  • Time Stands Still: Apparently what the color-drained characters have to go through.
  • Toxic Phlebotinum: The black paint is this. The game shows Bowser using it on Banzai Bills and himself, with plans to cover the entire world in it. It also does heavy damage to Mario if he touches it.
  • Traintop Battle: Larry Koopa is fought on top of the Sunset Express.
  • The Trope Without a Title: At one point in Dark Bloo Inn you come across a Shy Guy who has stolen "It", which you have to retrieve. If you paint "It" after returning it to its owner, it's revealed to be a Yoshi.
  • Underground Level: Indigo Underground, of course.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change:
    • Cobalt Base brings Mario Under the Sea, where Mario is then made a contestant on a game show. You are then asked to get at least 4 questions out of 7 correct.
    • Violet Passage turns into a stage in which Mario fires cannons at objects from the sides of an automatically-traveling ship.
  • Unwinnable: The Koopalings cannot be defeated without the proper Thing Card.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake:
    • If you get really unlucky with Kamek's random curses, it is actually possible to be completely unable to do anything in battle until you use up all of your cards.
    • Downplayed in the battle with Kamek himself. If you engage him with less than 10 coins in your wallet, it's impossible to beat him, as after a certain point, he'll take away all of your cards and force you to use the Battle Spin. However, you can run away from this fight and build up your bankroll, although you'll also have to rebuild your deck, as the boss keeps all of your cards if you run.
  • Variable Mix:
    • The world map song gradually gains instruments as you collect more Big Paint Stars.
    • Many levels have areas where the songs will change depending on your location. Port Prisma is the most obvious example, but there are others such as Dark Bloo Inn and Ruddy Road.
    • Like in Sticker Star, the songs that play in battle become distorted when you have low health.
  • Victory Fakeout: Played for laughs after you squeeze the Washing Machine on Vortex Island. The nearby Shy Guy fights you, and after beating him, the victory jingle starts up... and then gets cut off by a Shy Guy 5-Stack coming through the door. After you beat them, the victory jingle starts up again... and then gets cut off again when a Koopa Troopa shows up. After you beat him, the victory jingle starts up again... and then gets cut off when a Shady Sledge Bro barges in. Only after you defeat him does the battle finally end.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • You can hit Toads with your hammer, causing their entire head to be coated in paint. This is actually required to beat one puzzle, where Mario needs to prove a group of Toads are cheating at a Shell Game by painting one of them before the game starts.
    • After Ruddy Road is unrolled, the Toad running the cafe will try to get revenge on the now cowering Shy Guys stuck under a raised up part of road. You can choose to get revenge by stomping them flat, turning them into paint to collect, or ignore them.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Averted at one point. While on the Sunset Express, Mario meets a Shy Guy who delivers a brief soliloquy, pointing out to Mario that "every obstacle you've experienced has been the result of our hard and thankless work". While the Shy Guy seems to regret the life he's chosen, he knows there's no backing out of it, and notes that the next time he meets Mario, it'll probably be as an enemy. The worst part? He can be killed at Mossrock Theater after a seemingly regular fight. He even thanks Mario for listening to him during the train ride and expresses joy at seeing him again before dying.
  • Wild West: The orange levels are based around a western motif and a train.
  • Wish Upon a Shooting Star: Upon arriving at Starlight Cape, Huey and Mario spot a shooting star in the twilight sky. Huey wishes to find all the Big Paint Stars to restore Prism Island to its peaceful state, and the orange Big Paint Star immediately appears right in front of them.
  • Worthy Opponent: Upon defeating Ludwig, he will admit that he just wanted to fight Mario and was glad that he was able to.
    Ludwig: Mario... The world-famous Super Mario. I wanted to fight you, if only once. That's why I lured you in here with the Big Paint Star. But it looks like I underestimated you. I admit defeat. Even now, I'm glad that I got to trade blows with you.
  • Wrap Around: If you use a Compass Thing during the final boss battle, Mario will run offscreen to the left, and then back onscreen from the right.
  • You All Look Familiar: Most NPCs consist of Toads. That said, there is a bit more diversity than in the last game; more Toad colors appear, some Toads (particularly the Rescue V members) wear unique outfits, a Draggadon appears as a friendly NPC in one area, and friendly "enemy" characters (Shy Guys, Koopas, Goombas, etc.) appear in some other areas.
  • You Can Talk?: Peach reacts like this when Mario tries to open Huey up, thinking that he was an ordinary can of paint.

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