10 Games Like Paper Mario For Colourful RPG Adventures

Paper Mario game cases

Thanks to the arrival of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door on the Nintendo Switch, both old and new generations of gamers are experiencing Mario’s alternative RPG adventures all over again. First dropping on the N64, the Paper Mario series has enchanted gamers since 2000, with a further 5 games dropping across Nintendo’s home console systems and culminating in The Origami King. The new remake is incredible, and unless you’ve been living underneath a rock as part of Graham Hancock’s lost civilisation, then you’ll no doubt have seen all of the positive attention it’s had from both critics and players alike.

Despite being made of paper, the characters and action in this series are anything but flat. They’re full of life, vibrant, and immersed in a colourful world that allows for Mario to pull off actions he would never be able to do in his 3D form. I mean, he wouldn’t be able to slip through cracks in walls for a start, or turn into a paper airplane to cover big distances. Cappy has nothing on that.

Whether you’re waiting to save up for a copy of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door on the Switch or have already completed it but love their style, here are 10 games that you can try that have elements of the Paper Mario series in them.

1. Mario & Luigi: SuperStar Saga

Seb holding his Nintendo Switch while playing Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga
  • Comedic storyline and characters
  • Brilliant duo moves
  • Portable play on both GBA or Nintendo Switch
  • The format can get a little repetitive
  • Not entirely the same graphics which might annoy Paper Mario purists
  • Release Date: 2003
  • Developers: AlphaDream
  • Publishers: Nintendo
  • Genre: RPG
  • Average Completion time: 18 Hours
  • Buy Digital: Nintendo Switch Online
  • Buy Physical: eBay

If I had a pound for every hour I played this game, then I would probably be richer than the King of England. I loved this game when it came out; the comedy, the duo moves requiring both brothers to work together, the storyline, all factors that are prevalent in the Paper Mario series.

While All Mario games are family-friendly, titles like Mario & Luigi are even more so. It’s incredibly non-threatening, a game that champions teamwork and exploration, and is incredibly funny; it still makes me chuckle when I play it today!

There’s nothing better than slotting this into my Retro Dodo modded GBA SP and playing like I did back in 2003, albeit without the stresses of having to use a worm light like on my original GBA – that thing was the absolute pits! If you’re looking for the same kind of RPG turn-based action and a similarly jovial storyline, then this would be a great place to start.

2. Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling

The opening sreen to bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling on Seb's Switch
  • Closest in graphical style to Paper Mario
  • Endearing characters
  • Battle styles are very similar
  • Some gamers could think it’s too similar with not enough changes
  • Graphics look targetted towards a younger audience
  • Release Date: 2019
  • Developers: Moonsprout Games
  • Publishers: Dangen Entertainment
  • Genre: RPG
  • Average Completion time: Around 40 Hours
  • Buy Digital: Nintendo
  • Buy Physical: eBay

In terms of looks and content, Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling is as close as you’re going to get for games like Paper Mario without actually playing a Paper Mario game! The graphics look more digital art than Paper-esque, but it’s definitely got a similar vibe to it and, more importantly, has that same sense of colourful, relaxing gameplay that we’re all rediscovering thanks to the new release of The Thousand-Year Door on Nintendo Switch.

In the place of Mario is Vi, a determined little bee who, like Dora, wants to become a well-renowned explorer. When it comes to teaming up with other bugs and battling enemies, the game feels incredibly similar, as do the level designs and general overview of the options displayed on the screen. Still, I wouldn’t say that it’s a complete clone that has copied every element; think of it like Yooka-Laylee taking the Banjo-Kazooie formula to make something inherently different while feeling just the right amount of familiarity.

3. TinyKin

Brandon playing Tinykin
  • Utilise the skills of other characters as you explore tiny worlds
  • No threat level, leaving you to explore at your own pace
  • A great ‘entry game’ into the world of gaming for novice players
  • No threat level could make it too easy for some players
  • Very short game
  • Release Date: 2022
  • Developers: Splashteam
  • Publishers: tinyBuild
  • Genre: Platform, Puzzle
  • Average Completion time: 6-8 Hours
  • Buy Digital: Nintendo
  • Buy Physical: eBay

While Tinykin isn’t set in a paper universe, its characters are, as the name suggests, a little on the short side. The setting, characters, and general feel of the game make me think about a world where Nickelodeon might have modded Paper Mario, which I wouldn’t be mad about if it actually happened.

It’s the mixture of 2D characters in a 3D world that makes this game feel like Mario’s folded adventures, and Milodane is the perfect protagonist for fans of Paper Mario to get behind. He’s an astronaut on a mission to collect Tinykin from their eggs, and they’ll help him to progress through the levels. In many ways, it also feels a lot like Pikmin, especially when I tell you that the Tinykin are colour-coded depending on their abilities.

What I love about Tinykin is that there are no enemies to worry about; there’s no dying from the conventional sense i.e being eaten by a monster, leaving you to just enjoy exploring at your own pace. It’s a game for everyone and the perfect title to coax people who are a little unsure about gaming onto the Nintendo Switch. It’s non-threatening, colourful, and a joy to play no matter your gaming ability.

4. Rainbow Billy: The Curse Of The Leviathan

Brandon's Switch with Rainbow billy playing
  • Relaxing, non-threatening game with a positive message behind it
  • Utilising allies as you progress feels very Paper Mario-like
  • Battle style feels very similar to ‘The Origami King’
  • Quite garish if you’re not used to games with tonnes of colours
  • Release Date: 2021
  • Developers: ManaVoid Entertainment
  • Publishers: Skybound Games
  • Genre: RPG
  • Average Completion time: 30 Hours
  • Buy Digital: Nintendo
  • Buy Physical: eBay

Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan certainly wins the prize for the most garish game on this list! In the Land of Imagination, everyone is happy, and Rainbow Billy never wants to grow up. An angry Leviathan thinks this is all nonsense, however, and steals all of the colour from the land, leaving Billy to head out on an adventure to bring color back to lots of animal allies.

A land where everyone is always happy instantly makes me think of the Toads in the Mushroom Kingdom, but this game is like Paper Mario for more in-depth reasons than that. For starters, the game is split between exploration and combat where players have to match up symbols. The combat feels more like it’s jumped straight from Paper Mario: The Origami King, and players have allies that they can use throughout the game in order to progress. When you’ve defeated a monster, they will join your party and assist you in the fights to come!

Rainbow Billy’s world is filled with excitement and happiness, which is again the kind of thing that we’ve come to expect from the Paper Mario series. It’s a game that, while you might need sunglasses to play at times, is just easy to dive in and out of without feeling any stress or pressure at any point. Like Tinykin, it’s the kind of game that the whole family can get behind!

5. South Park: The Stick Of Truth

Seb holding up a game case for South Park: The Stick of Truth
  • Brilliant RPG that never fails to make you laugh
  • Paper Mario fans will appreciate the turn-based battle style 
  • 2D nature feels like certain areas on The Thousand-Year Door
  • Definitely not family-friendly
  • Probably quite confusing if you’ve never watched the TV show
  • Not very long
  • Release Date: 2014
  • Developers: Obsidian Entertainment
  • Publishers: Ubisoft
  • Genre: RPG
  • Average Completion time: 12 hours
  • Buy Digital: Nintendo
  • Buy Physical: eBay

I love South Park games, and while they’ve changed a lot since South Park 64 with me and my friends throwing yellow snow at each other, I can honestly say that change is for the better. These games are bonafide RPG games through and through now, and the Stick Of Truth follows the characters from the iconic TV show in an incredible quest that South Park fans will love from start to finish. I was torn between this game and The Fractured But Whole, but as it’s the first game in the series, I’ll go with The Stick of Truth.

All RPGs should have some elements of fantasy larping in them; elves, wizards, humans, gnomes, zombies, and The Stick of Truth has them all in equal measure. Playing as the New Kid, you’ll explore South Park as you take on quests as (in true RPG fashion) one of four class types. And in true South Park fashion, one of those classes is ‘Jew’.

The Stick of Truth isn’t family-friendly; it’s definitely one for adult games, what with the references to Nazis and general ‘South-Parkishness’. If you watch the show, then you’ll already know what to expect from the comedy stylings of this game, and it’s definitely not the same as traipsing around with Bombette. The visual stylings and the turn-based battles remind me of Paper Mario a lot, and the fact that it’s a 2.5D third-person game in a cartoony style will definitely appeal to Paper Mario fans looking for a game that’s a little more bizarre!

6. Undertale

Seb's switch with the loading screen for Undertale
  • Tactical battles will please Paper Mario fans
  • The morality engine makes for exciting gameplay that makes you think
  • Isometric viewpoint feels more like the early Zelda games crossed with Maniac Mansion than Paper Mario which might put some people off
  • Release Date: 2014
  • Developers: Toby Fox
  • Publishers: Toby Fox, 8-4
  • Genre: RPG
  • Average Completion time: 16 Hours
  • Buy Digital: Nintendo
  • Buy Physical: eBay

I’m going to continue with the slightly ‘darker’ theme here and bring Undertale into the mix, mainly for the reason that it champions tactical battles and the isometric feel of the gameplay. I say darker mainly because the gameplay revolves around humans and monsters being against each other – the monsters are hardly the kind of thing you’d find in Doom, but it’s still slightly removed from Goombas and Pirhana Plants.

You play as a kid trained by a monster (a nice one) and can decide whether to diffuse tensions calmly or just battle and destroy your opponents. The puzzles and NPC interaction certainly marry up with the Paper Mario formula, with a little bit of what I like to call ‘The Fable Factor’ added in for good measure. Every action you take has a direct effect on how people treat you, so think twice before you act!

7. Super Mario RPG

Brandon holding his copy of Super Mario RPG
  • The first Mario RPG remade for Nintendo Switch
  • Brilliant battles and party teamwork
  • Stunning visuals
  • Not the longest game, though it is fun to replay after completing

When Super Mario RPG first dropped on the SNES, people really couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Mario… in an RPG game? He’s the one we’re all used to jumping on Goombas and collecting coins in a side-scrolling universe, not taking part in turn-based battles. Still, the game was a huge success and eventually went on to influence the Mario & Luigi games on the GBA and DS (and now the Nintendo Switch!).

Super Mario RPG undoubtedly influenced the creation of the Paper Mario series too, and while none of the characters are made from any kind of crafty material, the colourful adventures Mario embarks on and the friendly faces he meets along the way are incredibly reminiscent of Mazza’s paper outings.

You can check out our thoughts on Super Mario RPG in our official review article.

8. Born Of Bread

Born of Bread on Seb's Switch
  • Theme and graphics very similar to Paper Mario
  • Characters are very memorable, as is the comedic narrative
  • Battles require timing and precision
  • About half the length of The Thousand-Year Door (completing both to 100%) so will be over quickly in comparison 
  • Release Date: 2023
  • Developers: Wild Arts Studio Inc.
  • Publishers: Plug On Digital
  • Genre: RPG
  • Average Completion time: Around 18 Hours
  • Buy Digital: Nintendo

If you’re looking for a game that basically has the same graphics and play style as Paper Mario, then you can’t go wrong with Born of Bread. 2D characters in a 3D world, timed attacks that require precision and a tactical mind; it definitely ticks all of the boxes, and while Mario isn’t a flour golem born from a loaf of bread, the protagonist ‘Loaf’ still has to team up with allies he meets along the way in order to achieve his goal.

There’s a line on the main description on the Nintendo Switch eShop that I love; ‘Although he may not look like much, Loaf might be the hero this land kneads.’ Brilliant Dad humour at its best right there! And right now at the time of writing Born of Bread is on sale too, making it a steal for anyone wanting to immerse themself in even more colourful RPG quests.

9. Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion

Turnip Boy commits Tax Evasion gameplay
  • Cutesy game with a fun theme
  • Meet other characters that aid you on your quest
  • Simple gameplay, easy to pick up and put down.
  • Incredibly short game at just 3 hours long
  • Graphically more like a GBA game than a Switch game
  • Release Date: 2022
  • Developers: Snoozy Kazoo
  • Publishers: Graffiti Games
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Average Completion time: 3 Hours
  • Buy Digital: Nintendo
  • Buy Physical: Amazon

Next up is one of the weirdest game names of all time, which if you know anything about me is a massive bonus. A feisty little Turnip who’s on the run from the taxman while sticking it to a corrupt batch of veggies who’ve made an unfair government – that’s the kind of thing I dream about on a daily basis.

To say that the content of the game is something that most self-employed people are terrified of, the actual gameplay is incredibly cutesy. It looks more like Mario & Luigi on the GBA than a typical Switch game, but that makes it even more endearing to the nostalgic gamers amongst us. Use items, battle enemies, and unlock new areas in typical roguelike fashion.

The colourful vegetables and fruits that you meet on your way are all very memorable, as is the cute little wanted poster for Turnip Boy – you wouldn’t want to imprison a face like that, would you? My main gripe about this game (cute face or otherwise) is that it’s fat too short. 3 hours doesn’t give you much to sink your teeth into, but it’s a fun (albeit short) game if you can grab it on for a good price.

10. Mario & Luigi: Brothership

mario luigi brothership
Credit: Nintendo
  • Updated visuals from the first Mario & Luigi game
  • Battle styles very similar to Paper Mario
  • Cartoony feel mirrors Paper Mario’s family-friendly nature
  • Not currently out yet, so won’t be playable straight away after completing The Thousand-Year Door
  • Release Date: 2024
  • Developers: Nintendo
  • Publishers: Nintendo
  • Genre: RPG
  • Order Digital: Nintendo
  • Order Physical: Amazon

Yes, Superstar Saga won’t be the only Mario & Luigi game on the Switch soon. After the incredible Nintendo Direct that dropped in June 2024, we now know that a new entry in the series, Mario & Luigi: Brothership, is going to be dropping on the 7th of November 2024.

Compared to the graphics of the original game, Brothership has a slightly more cartoony feel to it, kind of like a cross between the Pokémon games and an animated Mario movie. It works really well and, from what we’ve seen from the initial trailer, manages to capture and even enhance all of the comedic value of the series thanks to the upgraded graphics.

With greater graphics comes more detailed duo moves too, the main part of the battle sequences that I love in these games. Get ready to spin, jump, smash, and use items together in a bid to beat back colourful enemies in the first Mario & Luigi game in nine years!

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