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Paper Mario: The Origami King guide to combat

Entering combat in Paper Mario: The Origami King switches you over to a kind of mini-game. The game will take its time and explain it all to you, but those tutorials will fade from your memory over time.

In this guide, we’ll review the basics of combat in Paper Mario: The Origami King and give you some tips for when the puzzles get harder.

Attacks and ring moves

Regular combat against the origami Folded Soldiers you’ll encounter everywhere is like a puzzle. You’re trying to arrange the enemies into patterns that you can hit with your attacks.

Boots and hammers

Let’s talk about attacks first, since these are the “solutions” you’ll be aiming for.

Mario’s two attacks.
Intelligent Systems/Nintendo via Polygon

Mario only has two attacks:

  • Boots. A straight line that hits all four segments in a ray (or radius) away from the center.
  • Hammer. A two-by-two square (well, “square”) that hits on the two rings closest to the center.

Your boot and hammer attacks are the basic versions. As the game progresses, you’ll get fancier hammers and shoes, but the areas you attack stay the same. Even items that deal damage in combat follow these rules — Fire Flowers attack in a straight line like boots, while a Tail attacks like a hammer.

Ring Moves

Your enemies won’t all show up and arrange themselves neatly into rows and squares. This is where the puzzle aspect comes in.

Ring Move options.
Intelligent Systems/Nintendo via Polygon

You have two choices to move your enemies around the arena:

  • Rotate. You choose one of the four rings and spin it in either direction.
  • Slide. You choose one of the six diameter segments (a matched pair of the 12 segments), and you slide all the sections in a straight line. If an enemy, moves off the edge, it’ll wrap around to the far side of the arena.

A simple example

Let’s break down a simple combat (this is one of the first you’ll encounter in the game), and talk about how the attacks and ring moves above come together. There are three images in the gallery below corresponding to the numbered list.

  • Paper Mario: The Origami King combat example. Intelligent Systems/Nintendo via Polygon
  • Paper Mario: The Origami King combat example. Intelligent Systems/Nintendo via Polygon
  • Paper Mario: The Origami King combat example. Intelligent Systems/Nintendo via Polygon
    1. This is an easy puzzle, but it introduces all of the mechanics you’ll be juggling throughout the game. In the upper right corner of the screen, you can see that there’s a (roughly) 20 second time limit, and only one ring move allowed.
    2. There are already three Goombas lined up, so the solution is probably going to look like a Boot attack. We just have to get that lone Goomba on the right into line.
    3. We can’t slide it into place, so we rotate the third ring out to place it in the row with the rest. After that, a boot attack will finish the fight.

    Later fights will have more Ring Moves and more enemies, but the concept remains the same: move the enemies into lines or squares. That’s your only goal.

    Tips for combat

    While the concept of every fight remains the same, you’ll still have to handle some increased complexity as you progress through the game. Here are our tips for handling combat.

    • Arrange enemies by type. As combat gets more complex, you’ll get multiple types of enemies at once. You’ll also have multiple attacks per turn, though, so it balances out. You’ll still need to arrange the enemies into lines and squares — the puzzles are just harder to solve. Generally, though, enemies of a type — Goombas or Koopas, for example — will go together, and that means you’ll be getting a subtle hint to the solution.
    • Rescue Toads and ask for help. As you find the crumpled, folded, hiding, or stuck Toads scattered around the world, they’ll appear in the stands around the battle arena. During the Ring Move phase, you can hold down the Y button to bribe them to cheer for you. As you spend coins, more and more Toads will come to the edge of the arena. When you let go, they’ll perform a number of Ring Moves for you, effectively allowing you to buy the solution.
    • Buy multiples of weapons. A little into the game, you’ll start unlocking shops where you can buy weapons — new boots and hammers, mostly. These weapons deal more damage than your basic attacks, but they have a set lifespan and will break with use. As your enemies get tougher, you’ll need that extra damage to win combat in one round, so make sure you stock up on the best weapons you can afford.
    • Hitting the B button allows you to undo Ring Moves. Until you’re out of Ring Moves, you can hit B to backtrack (and if you keep holding it down, you can attempt to flee the battle). This means you’re not locked in to your decisions right away.
    • Double check your aim. Wasting an attack is infuriating and time-consuming, so always make sure you’re attacking the right segment(s). The process for attacking goes: aim by selecting segments, choose the type of attack or item, and then execute. The game will usually automatically select where you want to hit, but it won’t always be perfect. Double check before you rush through.

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