If you’re a Nintendo fan, chances are that Mario is one of your favorite game characters.
However, apart from the main series of 2D and 3D platformers with countless spiritual successors and clones, there was always another niche little brother in the Mario franchise – Paper Mario.
All Paper Mario games combine storybook graphics, a surprisingly engrossing narrative, a great combat system, and RPG mechanics. If you’re a Paper Mario fan, you’re sure to be a fan of the art style and storytelling style. It’s a compelling series of games, and luckily, there’s plenty of others like it.
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the best games like Paper Mario! Here are 7 games like Paper Mario to check out and play today.
Paper Mario – The Thousand-Year Door
Okay, so our first pick is technically a cheat because it’s still a part of the Paper Mario franchise. However, you’ll find that just getting it up and running is a gargantuan task, even though it’s one of the classics and a favorite for every Paper Mario aficionado.
Unfortunately, there are only two ways to play The Thousand-Year Door these days. One is being a proud owner of an actual working Gamecube, and the other is delving into the intricacies of emulators like Dolphin that allow you to play Wii and Gamecube games on the PC.
But, provided you manage to run this particular Paper Mario game – what’s it actually about? Most of the game takes place in the town of Rogueport, the town that surely wins the ‘Most RPG City Name Of All Time’ award.
At the start of the game, Mario and his buddies arrive at Rogueport for a quick holiday. Of course, that wouldn’t make for a fun game – which is exactly why a secretive villain society kidnaps Princess Peach; after all, it’s a Mario game.
The gameplay itself revolves around the classic Paper Mario routine. It’s a turn-based combat engine, but with a bunch of mini games too. If you’re good at them, you’ll be able to block additional attacks or inflict more damage to the enemy.
On top of interesting combat mechanics, you’ve got a bunch of areas to explore and companions to meet and recruit, ensuring this game still stands as one of the best entries in the franchise. It’s a charming game and perfect for fans of classic games like Paper Mario.
If you’re an avid Paper Mario fan, you might have heard about Undertale already. It’s garnered quite a lot of popularity with a similar target demographic. Plus, there’s one other thing that most Undertale fans have in common: once they start playing, they immediately get hooked.
As you’ll soon see, there are quite a few reasons for that. The game has a specific charm that’s quite similar to the feelings Paper Mario usually evokes. Unlike most other RPGs you’ve had the chance to play, Undertale is about more than leveling up and fighting monsters. As cliche as this sounds, it’s also about the friends you’ll make along the way.
The game gives you control of a child that accidentally stumbles into the vast Underground – a magical but dangerous world filled with monsters to kill or, if you’re so inclined, befriend.
This option for a peaceful playthrough is one of the things that separates Undertale from most other genre titles. And the combat itself is more than satisfying and unique in many ways that fans rave about The Origami King.
You’ll also be happy to hear that Undertale is extremely replayable; your choices throughout the game affect the ending you’ll get, and the game was clearly designed to be played multiple times. A large number of secrets to discover also attests to that.
So, considering all of this, Undertale is a great choice if you need games like Paper Mario, and it’s one of the best indie games on Switch by a mile.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
South Park’s unique brand of comedy has managed to transcend race, gender, religion, and generational gaps – and while it’s still too spicy for plenty of people, its place in the comedy hall of fame is pretty much undeniable.
Unfortunately, we all know how rarely movies based on games turn out to be good, and you’ll rarely find a TV property successfully adapted to an interactive format. However, South Park: The Stick of Truth and its sequel called The Fractured But Whole are the exceptions that prove the rule.
First of all, they’re amazing turn-based RPG titles in their own right, worthy of a place next to any Final Fantasy title.
However, what’s amazing is that they manage to perfectly emulate the visual style, audio design, and writing of the South Park series. Any screenshot from each of the games might as well be a South Park episode – you’d never notice the difference.
Also, both of the games cover a specific niche of nerd culture. The Stick of Truth tackles and ridicules the classic fantasy tropes from Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings – and its gameplay most closely resembles a Paper Mario game. You’ve got turn-based combat and the option of enhancing your performance in it by beating small mini-games.
While the aesthetic is a little different to Paper Mario, it’s a great pick for a Paper Mario alternative regardless. If you’re a Mario fan who enjoys South Park jokes, this is a game that you simply can’t miss out on playing.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Yes, we’re going to recommend the South Park sequel as well. The fact that we got one great RPG set in the South Park universe was crazy enough – but the fact that the sequel managed to live up to its predecessor in basically every way was even more unexpected.
So, the deal is basically the same. If you loved South Park and The Stick of Truth, you’ll have tons of fun with this title. And if you’re a fan of the MCU, DCEU, and other movie-screen translations of famous comic book properties: you’re in for an even bigger treat.
While the first game made fun of fantasy nerd culture, the geniously named (whoever came up with that title should get royalties from Ubisoft in perpetuity) The Fractured But Whole turns its satirical lens to the world of superhero fandom.
There are tons of jokes and references to Disney’s MCU, but the art style and gameplay mechanics remain as deep as ever. Plus, the combat has changed in a way that isn’t necessarily an improvement but is still new enough to shake things up if you’ve spent dozens of hours with the first game.
The whole point of the new combat mechanics is to maneuver your characters into positions where they’ll deal the most damage to the enemy – there’s a lot of similarity to The Origami King, just with heaps of (high-quality, but still) toilet humor.
Really, where should we even begin describing how awesome Octopath Traveler is? Well, as superficial as this may seem, we’ll start with the graphics and the absolutely genius visual design.
In a world where Square Enix is bending over backwards to produce high-fidelity remakes of their older Final Fantasy games with graphics out the wazoo, and most other JRPGs want to be as photo realistic as possible, Octopath Traveler takes a completely different direction.
If you’ve ever wondered how SNES games would look if they were made for a 2020s machine with a top-of-the-line GPU, here’s your answer. The game manages to evoke the pixel art of the past while also giving us some of the most beautiful lighting and visuals we’ve seen in a while.
Really, anyone nostalgic for the good old JRPGs will be ecstatic about this title. Apart from the instantly recognizable visuals, the game has an engaging combat system with turn-based encounters and an immersive story that lasts for over sixty hours.
In a game whose every design element was so thoughtfully and expertly crafted, the fact that the story manages to stand out is a testament to the writers.
You’ve got eight different player characters, each of whom is equally important. Plus, all of them have their own story beginnings – and you can choose where you’ll kick off the game! Every protagonist has four chapters of their own separate story too, which results in 32 smaller tales you can play with each of them.
This is one of the most impressive JRPGs on Steam, and fans of games like Paper Mario will love everything about it, from the aesthetic to the gameplay.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Most games revolve around a single protagonist, the character you truly care for, while all the others are less meaningful side characters. However, the Fire Emblem series has always gone in a more interesting direction, giving you just as much reason to care about your army’s second healer as it does for the main character.
Every little peon matters greatly in Fire Emblem and that’s never been as true as in Three Houses. As a teacher in the game’s loftiest military school, you’ll work with every single character who will later become your officer on the battlefield.
By the time the game’s narrative rolls towards conflict, everyone who perished in any battle will have been one of your many students. And the game sees you working with them for quite a while, ushering them towards grander accomplishments and carefully guiding their personal growth.
As you may have realized by now, Three Houses manages to be a great many things all at once. It’s a Game-of-Thrones-ish world-spanning war story, but it’s also a full-fledged relationship simulator; you’ve got the classic gift-giving and flirting that games see as romance.
And on top of all that, it still manages to be one of the best strategy games on the Switch, worthy of its esteemed predecessors.
What’s even more amazing is that, much like the game’s characters, none of these elements are secondary and less important. Each one is just as developed as the next, creating a true example of excellent game design. Fans of games like Paper Mario will love it.
Pokemon Sword and Shield
For decades, the Pokemon series has been confined to handheld consoles – its 2D roots keeping it firmly outside of home console territory.
However, all of that has changed with Pokemon Sword and Shield, the latest franchise entry. The arrival of the Nintendo Switch was the perfect marriage between handheld and stationary consoles, and its hardware was powerful enough to lead Pokemon RPGs into a 3D, open-world environment.
And yet, this game managed to retain what was great about the past. Turn-based battles, fun boss fights, and a bunch of memorable puzzles are still very much a staple of the series – but in a new region that, predictably, brings an entirely new selection of Pokemon.
Also, while there’s plenty of innovation in the game, Sword and Shield retain what was great about its predecessors. Namely, a sense of exploration, surprise, and wonder. You never know quite what’s coming next, and the fact that the two different editions of the game give you access to two different sets of Pokemon also adds something to the mystery.
Of course, the two-pronged approach has been a mainstay in the Pokemon series, but there’s an entire avalanche of other improvements that make this game the new standard for the franchise.
For instance, you can actually skip the age-old Pokemon tutorial for the first time; something all experienced players will see as a welcome change. Also, map travel has become much more convenient and faster, while the process of connecting with other players has been reduced down to a single button press.
The most controversial change is the lack of random encounters that have traditionally prolonged the previous games, sometimes at the price of making them seem sluggish.
If you’re looking for a Pokemon game that changes the rules while still preserving the heart of the series, Sword and Shield are your best option. This game has plenty of elements that fans of games like Paper Mario will love, while still managing to offer something completely new.