The Origami King plays with the texture and malleability of paper in brilliant ways, mixing 3D animations and realism with 2D visuals. Mario’s journey spans a handful of large, unique maps that players can explore freely once they’re unlocked, complete with puzzles, secrets and lots of confetti.

Confetti is one of the main mechanics in The Origami King. Mario collects this magical stuff by smashing flowers, bushes and tree trunks with his hammer, and walking over the rainbow strips of paper that fall to the ground around him. A bag in the upper-lefthand corner of the screen glows red, yellow or green depending on how much confetti Mario has on-hand. This is important, because one of Mario’s tasks throughout the game is to paper over holes that have appeared in the landscape, revealing wire frames and unknowable depths below. Some of the holes are merely cosmetic, but many of them appear in locations that Mario has to walk over or otherwise interact with. When he successfully covers a hole in confetti, it glows white and makes an extremely pleasant womp noise. 

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I live for this noise. Even if the holes are cosmetic, I find it nearly impossible to pass one up without throwing fistfuls of confetti all over it. It’s incredibly satisfying, and Mario looks so pleased as he does it. Plus, it seems there are always sources of more confetti close by, so running out is more of a temporary inconvenience than a game-over situation.

Speaking of game over — The Origami King definitely has a fail state, and if you play, you will experience it. This is another feature that differentiates The Origami King from New Horizons, and it’s a driving force behind the game’s sweet tension. 

Save cubes are scattered across The Origami King’s maps, but there are generally hordes of enemies, intriguing new storylines and a handful of riddles standing between Mario and salvation. If (When) Mario dies, he starts at the most recent save cube he’s hit, which could be a world away, if you get the timing exactly wrong. The stakes are high enough to make dying a true punishment here.

Most Mario deaths will likely occur in the game’s ring-based battle arena. When Mario encounters an origami enemy like a Goomba, Spiny or Shy Guy in the wild, he’s thrown into the center of a circular stadium surrounded by Toad cheerleaders. The battlefield is made up of four concentric rings, with individual spots for enemies to occupy.

Mario stands at the center of the circle and players rotate or slide the rings until the bad guys are grouped up to take the most damage possible (generally in a straight line or two-by-two square). There’s a timer on this section and a limit on the number of ring rotations players can make, adding a ton of pressure to each move. Mario then picks an appropriate weapon and attacks, with bonuses applied if players tap the jump button at the indicated times. There are also twists on this basic setup: In one iteration, Mario has to rotate rings emblazoned with arrows, items and attack moves in order to carve a path to a mini-boss or boss. 

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