While the original Paper Mario games were traditional RPGs, the more modern entries have been much closer to action-adventure games. Paper Mario: Colour Splash, the upcoming Wii U game, seems to continue this trend. In an interview with US Gamer, Colour Splash’s producer discussed why these changes came about. Tabata claimed that the series needed to distance itself from Mario and Luigi, another Mario RPG. Paper Mario was the one to change because its 3D graphics allowed for more dynamic action events. You can read the full interview at the US Gamer website.
Tabata: So, as you know, the first Paper Mario was very much a role-playing game, and Mario and Luigi is of course also a role-playing game. Yeah… obviously, we have these two RPG series, but they both allow us to offer new and varied experiences to players.
The old Paper Mario games, they were obviously RPGs and had a lot of good elements, but they weren’t just about the RPG elements. They were full of solving puzzles, solving mysteries, the color factor, the visual style. For the Paper Mario series, we’re focusing more on those elements — the puzzle-solving.
On the other hand, the Mario & Luigi RPG series is created more in a 2D space. And obviously, because we have this fully realized 3D world in the Paper Mario games, we’re able to have much more dynamic events, like you saw in the trailer, with the game being rolled up and the camera panning around.