Super Paper Mario was a very popular title at Nintendo's booth during GDC. While GDC rarely has lines for their titles, they were plentiful at Nintendo, unfortunately. I managed to get to Super Paper Mario early in the day and get my hands on the Wii Remote before too long. The first thing to do was turn it sideways. For those who have experienced the Virtual Console, or Excite Truck, this is nothing new, but it shows how the Wii Remote can be used in so many different ways.
I watched someone else play Chapter 1-1, so I was set to start 1-2. By now, Mario has learned about his super ability to "flip" from one dimension to the other. This simple concept opens a whole new level of gameplay to Mario titles. Whenever Mario runs into an impassable obstacle, pressing A will flip him from the "3-D World" to the "2-D World." Enemies and other sections from the main world are shown as paper thin objects. In this way, Mario can open up ways to pass the obstacle or skip around enemies while they can't see him in the alternate version of the world.
In addition to flipping the world, Mario can interact with the background like never before. Instead of a pipe always going to a separate sub-area, it can transport him to the background. Mario may be a different size, and sometimes a color-shift is applied to match the background, but other than these aesthetic changes, it's another section of the ever-growing experience in the Mario games.
Mario travels with a butterfly companion. Since the makers of Mario decided not to let him speak in this game, he has a butterfly that speaks for him. Like Navi from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the butterfly will talk to the NPC's for Mario, as well as offer advice. To find out about enemies or items on the screen, turn the Wii Remote to point at the screen and highlight anything that Mario might need to know about.
Unlike previous Paper Mario titles, there is no separate battle system. Super Paper Mario crosses the gameplay from the platformer Mario titles with the Paper Mario aspects of HP, items, and, of course, a story. Also, only Mario, Bowser, and Peach are playable characters, and the representative wouldn't reveal if the other sidekicks from the Paper Mario games would appear, even in cameo roles.
While it's unclear if this new Paper Mario is an RPG or action platformer, it is clear that it will definitely be one of the most enjoyable titles this year. While I wasn't able to play Bowser, it will again be interesting to see them working in tandem for a common goal.