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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: This game introduced the idea that Bowser has a romantic interest in Princess Peach, a concept that would become a staple of the Paper Mario series. Bowser is also more immature in this game than in previous incarnations, producing the Franchise Original Sin for Bowser's Villain Decay.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Despite generally being the considered the true boss of Chapter 3, Tubba Blubba's Heart honestly isn't much harder than the intentionally easy fight against Tubba Blubba himself. Pretty much the only attack the heart will use during the fight is the heavily telegraphed charge-up move, where all you need to do to avoid it entirely is use Bow's Outta Sight each time. He does have one other attack, dealing a hefty 6 damage, but he'll likely only use it once. You're unlikely to get hit more than once in the entire fight.
  • Best Level Ever:
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    • Chapter 3 — courtesy of all the Creepy Awesome goings-on in both Forever Forest and Gusty Gulch, as well as introducing an Ensemble Dark Horse Partner — is this for the Nightmare Fetishists.
    • Chapter 4, with its very unique toybox aesthetic, the introduction of one of the most useful partners, and having one of the most fun boss fights in the game at the end.
    • Chapter 7 is also very fun, thanks to its aesthetics, interesting events, the Crystal Palace dungeon and of course, its boss fight at the end, the Crystal King.
  • Best Boss Ever: Quite a few.
    • Bowser. His fight in this game is widely seen as one of his best boss battles, being a challenging but not overly difficult boss with epic music, several tactics and attacks, and more. It's especially satisfying to beat him after he wiped the floor with you back in the game's opening act.
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    • All the chapter bosses are awesome to some degree. They're among the best parts in the game, for involving skill and strategy in unique ways and taking the battle system to its limit, among several other reasons. Some bosses that deserve a mention include General Guy, the Crystal King, the Koopa Bros., Lava Pirahna, Tubba Blubba's Heart- screw it, let's just say that every major boss is awesome, even the dreaded Huff n' Puff (which becomes a lot more satisfying after you finally beat him). As fun as the boss fights are, it's something that the sequel would repeat and do even better.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
    • Even though you have eight party members, it is easy to just stick with Goombario most of the time, since he will tell you interesting info about every area and person, reveal the health of enemies, and his basic attack is one point stronger than everyone but Bow. If you equip Quick Change, it is even easier, since you can just retrieve a party member that can defeat an enemy that Goombario cannot, and switch him back afterward.
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    • Watt's basic attack ignores enemies' defense, which is really useful against later bosses. She can also attack flying enemies, but does not jump on them, avoiding damage from spiked enemies. In the field, she also reveals hidden item blocks.
    • The only thing nearly anyone ever levels up is the Badge Points stat (BP) to get access to as many badges as possible. An NPC can be paid to relocate the extra 5 HP you start with (you start with 10) to BP so that Mario is permanently in the Danger state and can always reap the rewards of many badges that take effect in this state. These badges do things like increase Mario's attack and defence, and even make enemies miss sometimes, and they stack, so you make Mario able to do tons of damage and take absolutely none, effectively turning on god mode. This is known as the "Danger Mario" build.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Clefts have 2 Defense and are spiked so that you can't jump on them. They're also frequently encountered throughout Mt. Rugged. This can mostly be averted as Bombette's Bomb attack can OHKO them, on getting many first strikes makes things even easier. Plus you also get access to Parakarry's Shell Shot, which can also OHKO them. If the player buys "D-Down Pound" it pierces their defense and you're given access to Quake Hammer.
    • The Dark Koopas are very annoying to fight as well, since they have a move that can put Mario into Dizzy-state, making him completely useless for two turns. The problem here is that, more often than not, you fight against multiple Dark Koopas at the same time, and they all like to use that Dizzyfying move on Mario, giving him absolutely no chance of recovering from it. If you don't have the Feeling Fine badge equippednote  and you're out of FP when that happens, you might as well reload from your last saved point.
    • Hammer Bros. in Bowser's Castle. They have a whopping 12 HP, won't flip over like other shelled enemies, and their hammer throws have the possibility of making Mario shrink, cutting his attack power by half. It gets worse when their HP drops below four and they start throwing a flurry of hammers at him. Their annoyance is even Lampshaded by Goombario. This can mostly be averted by using moves like Shell Shot and D-Down Jump.
    • The Bzapp! (exclamation mark included) you can find in Forever Forest has terrifying attack power at that point of the game. They're Glass Cannons though, so it's all a matter of killing them before they kill you.
    • Halfway through Chapter 5, Magikoopas of various colors start showing up as enemies, and you have to make sure to beat them before anyone else. Their ability to electrify, make transparent, heal and buff themselves or their allies can easily change the tides of a battle and make it much longer than it should. The "standard" blue Magikoopas from Bowser's Castle have access to all support magic used by their subtypes and thus are among the most dangerous enemies in the game.
  • Ear Worm: The Koopa Bros. themes. Both the battle and cutscene themes.
  • Fanon: Star Haven is very commonly believed to be the very same Star Road from Super Mario RPG but with a different name. Furthermore, Geno is is a Star Kid, and the "higher authority" he claims to serve may in fact be the Star Spirits.
  • First Installment Wins: A minor example. A small but pretty vocal portion of the fanbase finds this game to be the best game in the series, better than even The Thousand-Year Door which is believed to be an Even Better Sequel by other fans.
  • Franchise Original Sin:
    • You might notice that this game has the exact same Excuse Plot that Sticker Star was criticized for having. The difference is that this game has better characterization to distract from that.
    • Much of the generic usage of standard Mario enemies is also fairly prevalent despite some great unique characters and monsters. The liberal useage of toads is here as well, the variety in their physical appearances helps alleviate this but then you find out most of their roles are small and personalities quite... Flat.
    • The first signs of Bowsers's Villain Decay, which would persist until Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, were present here in his immature personality. Now that said, that this game had Bowser defeat Mario for the first time ever, gave him a serious Leitmotif, and had him such a serious threat it took the entire game to stop him made it unnoticeable without hindsight, when the seriousness was transferred to other villains. Sadly, it is still far cry compared to how Bowser would be in games like Super Mario Galaxy and the aforementioned Dream Team.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • The Mystery item is a minor one. In battle, it takes the effect of a random item, from a healing Mushroom, to a powerful Thunder Bolt, to a rock that damages Mario. Not so great unless you're in the Random Number God's good graces. Its real value, however, comes from Item Crafting. By giving them over to Tayce T. to cook, you can potentially obtain any craftable item in the game, including ones you're not supposed to get until much later. Most of the time, however, you'll get a Mistake (a Joke Item that only restores 1HP and 1FP apiece), but even that can be utilized by selling them at Boo's Manor for five coins. Conveniently, Boo's Manor sells Mysteries for only 1 coin, giving you a 4 coin profit even in the worst case scenario.
    • A powerful game breaker that carries over into the sequel is Power Bounce. Power Bounce allows Mario to attack an indefinite amount of times (though usually 6-9) using his jump. By itself the attack is merely useful, allowing you to easily do a good 10 damage in a single turn. The real strength of the badge comes through in combination with attack boosters and Jump Charge. Power Bounce's strength increases dramatically with each extra attack point Mario has. Getting all the possible attack boosting badges, Spike Shield, and making use of Jump Charge or Super Jump Charge can let you destroy every single enemy in the game including Bowser or The Master within a few turns. This is made more potent by the fact that it's possible to get Jump Charge by Chapter 2, and both Attack Plus badges during Chapter 4, with All Or Nothing not long afterwards.
    • As far as Partner Moves go, Lady Bow's Outta Sight ability allows her to turn Mario or any ally invisible, evading enemy attacks. The downside is the recipient is unable to make a move while invisible. However this downside is minor when you consider that it gives Mario a 2nd turn. Similar to Goombella's Rally Wink from Thousand Year Door, Outta Sight grants Mario two options a turn, meaning he can attack, Outta Sight and Attack again. (This is useful when you consider stacking charges, having enemies attack every other turn and lowering their attack). Since many enemies have telegraphed options and it provides a 2nd turn usage, it makes Outta Sight the best defensive move in the game and makes up for any weakness she may have.
    • The otherwise-underwhelming HP Drain badge combos nicely with Power Bounce. Under normal circumstances, it drops Mario's attack power by 1 in exchange for healing 1 HP every time you attack. With Power Bounce, however, each consecutive jump counts as an attack, letting Mario heal up to 5HP per turn, which is more than most non-boss enemies can take off in one turn if you're good at blocking and have some defensive badges.
    • Money can be easily acquired in absurd amounts early on with the combination of Pay-Off and Money Money. Payoff increases the amount of Money earned in proportion to how much damage you took, while Money Money doubles the amount of coins earned. Combining the two together lets you get hundreds of coins per chapter and potentially even buy out Rowf's badge shop after every chapter. Pay-Off is available almost immediately, and Money Money can be acquired by the start of Chapter 3 with vigorous Star Piece hunting. The only snag is balancing your health out, though even then, a skilled or well-prepared player can heal or conserve damage to counteract the risks.
    • While the cooking Item Crafting system of the game is generally overlooked, it can yield some surprisingly effective healing items for little to no cost. Dry Pasta from Dry Dry Outpost will give you Pasta if cooked by itself, which restores six HP and four FP. For only three coins, this a much more cost efficient healing item than Mushrooms at that point in the game, and really useful on a low HP run if you plan on abusing the aforementioned Danger Mario setup. Similarly, once you can combine two items together, you get access to one of the best healing items in the game: The Bland Meal. It heals ten HP and FP and its ingredients, the Goomnut and Koopa Leaf, can be gotten for no coins whatsoever and with little effort thanks to the warp pipes that take you to the areas where they're gotten from being close together once you unlock the sewer area. Also, unlike the Whacka's Bump, the ingredients for this item will never run out. Once you can make this thing, you'll almost never need to spend coins on healing items ever again.
    • Repel Gel is this game's equivalent to Red Essence, granting Mario a few turns of complete invincibility. It's even stronger here than in the previous game because usually, Mario is the only party member who takes damage.
    • The Stone Cap is another invincibility-giving Item, but without the Too Awesome to Use rarity of the Repel Gel. Feel like cheesing an otherwise-insane Bonus Boss (e.g., The Master #3 or the Anti Guys Unit)? Just stock-up on as many Caps as possible, put one on when Mario can act (the Necessary Drawback makes Mario skip all his Turns until it wears off), and have your Partner handle all the offense while Mario himself sits back and relaxes in total safety.
  • Goddamned Bats:
    • Fuzzies, who absorb Mario's HP with every bite and, in the case of the jungle ones, have to be pulled off with quicktime events. Fortunately, the Zap Tap badge hard-counters them, ensuring that they can't even hurt Mario and take damage whenever they try.
    • Spy Guys can literally smash away Mario's moves, making them obnoxious to fight when they are paired with enemies that might require Jumps (Sky Guys and Medi Guys) or Hammers (Pyro Guys) to beat. Thankfully, you can at least manipulate them to never use their hammer attack.
    • Crazee Dayzees have a very difficult-to-guard lullaby attack that has a high chance of putting Mario to sleep, and because Mario can't guard himself while asleep, he can be put into a situation where he never gets to wake up unless his current partner can end the battle by themself. The worst part about those enemies, however, is that they're really slooooooooow, taking forever to attack. Oh and the jerks can also run away from battle, denying you of their Exp. points.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: One of Luigi's diary entries has him saying he wants to be the star in an adventure someday, and he'd like his name to be in the title, but he knows that'll never happen. Luigi would eventually get his wish with Luigi's Mansion.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Jerkass Woobie: The Boos who terrorized Tubba Blubba before he gained his powers. However, while Bow admits she's not sorry, she promises that they'll leave him alone after Mario defeats him.
  • Memetic Badass: Goompa is the best partner in the game, no doubt. The game itself implying that he trained the Master and was part of a group of intrepid explorers in his youth further fuels this.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Koopas.
    • Editing this page crashes Paper Mario.Explanation 
  • Moral Event Horizon: Huff N. Puff — unlike the other, Punch-Clock Villain bosses — invokes It's All About Me to the point of willfully turning Flower Fields into a cloudy Mordor that's heavily implied to be hazardous to the health of its Plant People.
  • Sacred Cow: Not to the same extent as its successor, but still counts since the game is still highly regarded like it was back when it was released, and is considered by most fans as the second-best (or at least arguably tied with the third game) in the series, if not the best. It helps that the game also uses the "Bowser kidnaps Peach" scenario like in Sticker Star, but unlike that one the game had excellent characterization and world-building to make up for it, something that the next two games would do even better.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Koopa Koot In Koopa Village. He supplies a huge amount of fetch quests and is an annoying old curmudgeon who barely rewards you unless you do a LOT of stuff. Not helping matters is the fact he is clearly trying to take advantage of you in his later missions.
    • Rosie in Flower Fields. Her It's All About Me attitude makes her willing to sacrifice Lily's health and hydration rather than give up her favorite MacGuffin — which, when Rosie begrudgingly relents, is easily replaced anyway. But does she at least become a Jerk with a Heart of Gold about Lily? Nope, Rosie's just glad there isn't one less neighbor to show-off in front of. Unsurprisingly, quite a few fans see her as the one resident actually deserving of Huff N. Puff's Mordor.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Despite being temporary, the fact that you can't use Action Commands to guard against damage or increase the damage of your attacks before being taught the commands makes the early game needlessly frustrating and tedious.
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: It's very easy to get addicted to raising Lil Oinks, especially since they can give out the best healing items in the game.
  • So Okay, It's Average: This tends to be the thoughts concerning this game for fans who didn’t grow up with it, especially those who first played The Thousand-Year Door or the Mario and Luigi games.
  • Special Effect Failure: Monstar has a very impressive effect where the stars that make up its body seem to "fall into" the center of its sprite. ... On an original Nintendo 64. Even on Nintendo's official emulator it's unable to reproduce that effect, causing Monstar to have a circle of stars surrounding its body instead. You can see what it's supposed to look like in this video.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: 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 similiarities: 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). 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 town"s; and a hill or summit where all the shooting stars land. Both games end with a parade featuring all of the characters who appeared in the game, with Luigi serving as the Grand Marshal.
  • That One Attack:
    • While the Final Boss (Bowser, obviously) isn't overwhelming, he will occasionally use the Star Rod to A) hit both you or your partner, KOing them for three turns if you don't block, and debuffing both or B) Restore 30 HP. Also, he can occasionally C) strike you to disable your Jump, Hammer, or Item for several rounds.
  • That One Boss:
    • Huff 'n' Puff is widely considered to be one of the most annoying fights in the game due to inflicting a lot of damage and being an Asteroids Monster that can reform himself; the player has to kill the parts of him that break off to do any lasting damage. Though Lakilester, Parakarry and Sushie can be used to dispose of his minions, not every player will think of this.
  • That One Level:
    • Shy Guy’s Toybox, aka “Backtracking The Chapter”. In order to make it farther through the stage you have to retrieve items the Shy Guys stole from different members of Toad Town... This means every time you find one of these items you have to go back through where you just ran through, go to the right section of Toad Town, THEN go back to the Toybox. As you get deeper into the Toybox the backtracking gets steadily longer and more tedious. To further add insult to injury the chapter has a plethora of annoying enemies.
    • Flower Fields. While not overly hard, it's a level that tends to overstay its welcome for several reasons. Firstly, expect to do a lot of back and forth ping-ponging through its areas carrying items back and forth, and because of the "gating" system for areas, you'll have to sack a few healing items in your very limited inventory in order to get to these areas. On top of that, the area has what is widely considered to be annoying (as noted by That One Boss above) and because of the events of the story, it has a very gloomy and dull atmosphere to it for a greater part of your time there, making the whole area feel like a drag to play through. It's also very long. Though to it’s credit, it still dossn’t have anywhere near as much backtracking as Shy Guy’s Toybox.
    • Navigating Dry Dry Desert to find Dry Dry Ruins can be a pain if you do not know where you are going. The only hint you have is the gem you are given by Moustafa which blinks faster as you get closer to where you have to go. Dry Dry Desert is a 7x7 grid full of annoying enemies. And this is before you consider the other things you can find there.
    • The Crystal Palace. Loads of Demonic Spiders, including Swoopulas, White Clubbas, Duplighosts, and several different varieties of Magikoopas, as well as a rather confusing layout where certain rooms are "mirrored". Examples include breaking a Spin Jump panel or pushing a statue in one area and then having to backtrack to the other side of the mirror and go to the new path that the previous action unlocked, which the game doesn't really hint at all that much.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy:
    • Lakilester is easily the least useful partner in the game. He comes in during the climax of Chapter 6 so late in the game that practically any use he could have is already taken by Parakarry and Sushie, both which have superior screen clearing moves anyway. Spiny Surge hits all enemies, however it only does 4 damage at max which is outright weak for that point of the game, where partners and enemies do 5 and beyond. Spiny Flip is a mediocre attack that's outclassed by Watt's Electro Dash. Hurricane rewards no star points and once he can learn it, it's during the chapter you get "Up & Away", plus you have Bow's Spook attack, making it completely useless. Lakilester's only use is that he can transport Mario faster on the overworld in addition to his Cloud Nine stacking with the other evasion boosts on a Danger Mario build, but it's much less reliable compared to defense boosts and Lady Bow's Outta Sight, since it relies on the Random Number God being on your side.
    • Kooper's performance in combat is rather subpar. While he sees use early game for his non contact moves and Dizzy Shell being a decent option, which puts his use above Lakilester, he still underperforms compared to everyone else. He has the worst boss range in the game, he's only useful against 6 bosses (two of which are optional) and because of this he's largely obsolete when it comes to important fights. Despite his usefulness in Chapter 7 where Ice Foes are weak to Fire Shell, the actual dungeon contains airborne foes and enemies with high HP, meaning it's best to just use Parakarry or Sushie to handle the enemy swarms anyway. While he can permanently end Dry Bones with Fire Shell, so can Bombette and Bombette already has more use in power and utility. Due to his low power, he's largely just outclassed by Bombette and you're better off just sticking with her.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: While not at first, it's later revealed near the end of Chapter 3 that the reason why Tubba Blubba joined Bowser and wreaked havoc on the Boo community was due to them having bullied him over the years. With this in mind, the Boos you've been helping out might come off as Asshole Victims. It doesn't help that Bow is shown to not regret this a bit, though she does agree to leave him alone from now on.
  • What an Idiot!: A few times:
    • Bombette and the Bob-Ombs in Chapter 1 are trapped in a cage. Said cage has a cracked wall Bombette can easily destroy. She does this immediately after joining you and claims she just didn't think to do it before. To their credit, one Bob-omb who was analytically trying to think his comrades' way out prior does lampshade the oversight, implying the group was just too overcome and clouded by frustration to notice.
    • Then, of course there's Jr. Troopa, who swims between Toad Town and Lavalava Island to chase Mario, and back again. He forgets that he can fly, making him a much easier opponent.
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