A Paper Mario Challenge Runner’s review of Bug Fables’ combat

SPOILER WARNING: This review contains spoilers! Don’t read further if you haven’t played the game! I just had a great idea: go play it right now, then come back and read this! Seriously, go play it.

As one of the best in the Paper Mario challenge running business, I’d had my eye on Bug Fables for a while. Once people from my community really started getting into it and recommending I stream it, I decided to take the plunge and wound up playing a very impressive spiritual successor to the first two entries in the Paper Mario series. I liked the story and the characters; honestly, I thought they were better then any Paper Mario game. The music is good, the art is fine, the side quests are great — bottom line: If you’re a fan of Paper Mario, you’re doing yourself a disservice NOT playing this game.

But that’s not what this review is about. This is a review of the game’s combat in regards to challenge running potential and high-level game play. I highly suggest you go play the game first before you read this (or at least have some idea of the medals) because some of these strategies will likely spoil you.

As a disclaimer: when I first started the game, my entire chat told me “Hey, equip the Hard Mode medal, it’s the way the developers intended you to play the game”. If that’s how they wanted it to be played, then I had no choice to oblige. This review is about combat with that medal equipped at all times.

Let’s go over the combat basics. Like Paper Mario and TTYD, you’ve got HP, TP for special attacks (FP), and MP for medals (BP). You fight with Kabbu (a beetle), Vi (a bee), and Leif (a moth). Each one has their own unique basic attacks (Kabbu pierces DEF, Vi can hit flying enemies, and Leif can hit underground enemies) and special skills that use TP and you can equip medals that affect either the entire party of just one character. You can swap the positions of characters at any time (even when a character is knocked out!) as long as all active members haven’t used their turn. However, you only have three set formations: [Vi/Leif/Kabbu], [Kabbu/Vi/Leif], and [Leif/Kabbu/Vi]. Why is this important? Because the character in front gets a natural +1 to their attack power and is targeted more often. 

There are lots of cool medals (badges) you can use!

You can also relay your turn so another character can attack twice, but at a cost of -1 attack power per extra attack a character does. This is an amazing new feature. Got 3 flying enemies? Relay with Kabbu and Leif to Vi and take them all down in one turn. Have a character use a skill, then relay to them to use it again…or use a different skill. It’s pretty sweet.

Relaying a turn to another party member is an essential tool in your arsenal of abilities

Okay, that’s it for the basics. In short… the combat is great. I love the turn relay system combined with the already solid Paper Mario foundation; it all gels together really well with how you approach normal fights and bosses. Being able to relay turns when needed to better utilize a character’s strengths and position them accordingly to better use your medals was very satisfying. I loved being able to figure out strategies and bosses completely blind with only my previous experience to guide me. That was very fun, and I think anyone will feel rewarded once they figure out some dope strategies.
 
Balance wasn’t really a problem as far as normal fights are concerned. I always felt like if something wasn’t working, I could find a way to make it better or had other options to choose from. The bosses and superbosses all had cool moves and one or two unique things about them for the most part. But that’s where the cool stuff ends and my issues with boss AI begin. Maybe this is a “Hard Mode” thing, but a lot of bosses had this pattern: Do things -> start buffing/attacking twice forever/summon minions after x HP is lost. Maybe sometimes they’d use a new move in conjunction with the above, but for the most part many bosses just started attacking more and buffing themselves. Now, of course, not all bosses were like this, but I would say it was enough to be over saturated.

What this lends itself to is the same strategies working all of the time. Tank Do Nothing Kabbu combined with Danger/Poison Vi is ridiculously strong and can wipe almost any boss pretty quickly if you’ve got enough TP-restoring items or both TP Cores equipped. Near the end of my playthrough, I found myself using those strategies to basically obliterate bosses. I was in real danger of a game over maybe a couple times near the end, but honestly, it didn’t feel like it. I felt like I had a pretty easy time because nothing could really stop the aforementioned strategy. This is a pretty big contrast to early and mid game, where bosses felt much more dangerous and I definitely felt in danger of a game over most of the time.

The second issue I had with bosses is that their AI is completely random (for the most part). Now, obviously, bosses have some triggers that are static and you know will come. The problem is that everything else is random, so while you can cook up cool strategies, you can’t fine-tune them like you can in Paper Mario and TTYD. This dampened the experience for me because there are only a few ways to get to an optimal state. I’m totally fine with random boss AI in most other games, but in a game where damage can be so finely tuned, I think having truly random boss AI like this actually takes away from it instead.
  
In Bug Fables, getting into Danger or being Poisoned is where it’s at for damage and defense for your primary attacker. There are a few items that will put you down at 1 HP, but other than that and Weak Stomach, you have to basically wait until a boss deals enough damage (and if you aren’t Kabbu using Taunt, you need to be targeted in the first place). This is how late-game boss battles looked like for me:

1) Attack until bosses put Vi into Danger -> Spam Tornado Toss (you could sub another move here — didn’t really matter)
2) If Vi dies, use Pep Up; otherwise, Do Nothing on Kabbu to restore HP/keep DEF up
3) If Leif is alive, buff Vi or rally to Vi always. Rarely, use Cleanse on beefed up boss

Exhibit A of the aforementioned strategy

This cycle basically destroyed every boss in EX Boss Rush mode without me healing between rounds or using items. I put Miracle Matter on Leif just to make bosses go faster by letting Vi attack more. I would always keep Vi in front because I didn’t care if she died. She took 1-3 damage most of the time thanks to Last Stand x2 and I’d deal 30-50 in one turn if I also gave Kabbu’s turn to Vi. You could supplement other things around this, but the core is the same.

There are definitely other cool strategies I haven’t explored that utilize Sleep or something or using Berserk or what-have-you (I used a really dope Taunt Kabbu HP Regen setup on the Mini-Boss Rush and it was pretty effective and fun), but the core of my problem is… there’s not a lot of cool ways to get to the state you want to be at to activate Medals you have. You’re either using Big Mistake/something to active Weak Stomach or the status you want to inflict on yourself, or you’re waiting for bosses to just deal enough damage to put you in that range. If they die, just use Kabbu’s Pep Up which puts them in perfect Danger (and waiting for a character to die just so Kabbu can do that is RNG and…yeah). It’s very samey, and because bosses are basically random you can’t manipulate cool positioning or damage you deal to direct them as the battle goes on and you’re just waiting sometimes for things to start happening while not even feeling threatened. The only way to really do that is through Kabbu’s Taunt, but sometimes they could roll to use AoE moves and ruin that anyway. You could be waiting 2-4 extra turns just to get your strategy rolling unless you use one of the few ways to force it to start.

This is a stark contrast to TTYD, where you can do some pretty wild stuff to get into Danger/Peril while also taking/dealing the exact damage you need to and using the exact amount of FP you have to emerge victorious. Point Swap + Double Dip, using a move + Point Swap, KO’ing a partner with Point Swap to force attacks onto Mario, Trial Stew, Poison Shroom, manipulating specific phases that give you extra turns to setup, taking damage on purpose while Charging, using clever DEF to go from full HP -> Danger -> Peril… there are a LOT of ways to craft a cool or interesting strategy or one that just gets into Peril, and that to me is more interesting than what I did for most of Bug Fables’ end game.

With all of this said, I still found the entire end game experience very fun, but most of the cool stuff that bosses have gets shut down by the same things by then and it’s just a waiting game to get there instead of a cool mapped out strategy you can implement with 100% or near-100% certainty, which was a little disappointing. To add onto this, most of the secret codes to impose extra challenges are only slightly different and probably don’t change this cycle (except maybe for MYSTERY which randomizes all Medals). 

So what does that mean for challenge running this game? In my opinion, I think the game still has a lot of challenge running potential. The secret codes on their own aside as challenges, you can use them to do some other cool things like Level Zero, maybe a “Character Alone” run? You can try and use no Danger/Poison or ban Miracle Matter. You could “lock” your formation and see how to play around that. Some won’t change too much, but the fact I can name all of these right now and feel like I’m only scratching the surface means there’s a lot of potential for this game and that’s really exciting! There are quite a few people in my community and I’m sure the Bug Fables’ community that have been challenge running this game for a while, so there’s definitely interest and the game having built-in modifiers only helps. I’ll definitely be doing quite a bit of challenge running for this game myself because combat is super fun to play despite the few issues I had with it during my first play through. Who knows… maybe my opinion will change once I really sink my teeth into some challenge runs!

Just Sayin’

Kappy’s Paper Mario Challenge Running Tier List v7.0 (October 2019)

Since the end of December of 2017, I’ve been keeping tabs on the players who challenge run Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. I did this mainly because despite there not being an official list of the best players from the Glitz Pit Discord, there’s still discussion about it. Also, I like tier lists. LOL.

Let’s jump in!

  • + symbol means edge case for next tier up
  • This is my personal opinion; I repeat: this list is NOT objective.

GOD TIER

— The best of the best. The cream of the crop.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED
  • Kappy
  • Koop

TTYD

None.

64
None.

ELITE TIER

— Players in this tier are highly proficient in their game of choice. These are some of the best.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED
  • Fatguy703+ – Fatguy has almost completed his run of Master Quest. So far, he’s been doing well and has a few creative strategies. There’s not enough for me to put him in God Tier, but we’ll see how the rest of his run plays out.
  • GamerFourFun — Gamer has done a slew of things in Master Quest, a super-tough mod for Paper Mario 64. I was thinking of giving him a + because what he’s done is quite impressive, but I don’t think challenges completed in the mod are enough weight compared to vanilla challenges. He’s easily cemented his spot here with those completions, but the mods tailor a certain play style over others and are not always indicative of player skill over figuring out the designer’s intended puzzle. He also has a “battle first, strategize later” still, which just doesn’t cut it for even an edge-case for God tier in my eyes.

TTYD
  • Dyla — Dyla is back with a nice 10 HP Prologue Pit completion (without Super Jump) not too long ago moving him up to Elite. He’s now doing Impossible Mode and (I hope) more challenges after that. Now, he could very quickly fall back to Great+; we’ll see how he performs in the future.
  • Miccat87 — Miccat recently completed 10 HP Prologue Pit, which is awesome. Only a small portion has been uploaded, so I can’t hand him a definite + just yet, but I do think he could be another contender for God-level in TTYD. Time will tell.

64
None.

GREAT TIER

— Players in this tier are proficient in their game of choice. These are what I would consider to be a “general” challenge runner.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED

None.

TTYD

None.

64
  • Auron Nomcario — Auron recently completed a 10 HP Mario Alone run, officially putting him back into being active for Paper Mario 64! I hope he plays a little more. I could see him going above Elite if he stays active.
  • Miccat87
  • TwoPieRadian — TwoPieRadian is back into challenge running! He recently completed a cool “crit” mod of 64 where enemies could randomly critical and deal more damage. Not enough to jump him anywhere, but I’m glad he’s back! Hopefully, we’ll see more of him.

GOOD TIER

— Players here have breached past what I would consider “casual” and are officially challenge runners (or have the skills to be one). Most new challenge runners will be put her since usually they’ve only completed one or two challenges or are in the process of completing their first one.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED

None.

TTYD
  • Auron Nomcario+
  • DiamondCrafterA — DiamondCrafter is back to try and finish his Impossible Mode run! I think if he finishes it soon I can easily put a + next to his name.
  • Mr_Some1 — Mr_Some1 has come back into the realm of activity with a FP Only run. I hope that he finishes this and continues to do a couple more runs.
  • TwoPieRadian — Pie is also back with TTYD! He’s been doing BP Only right now, which is a pretty standard run for someone at this level. We’ll see how it goes from there.

64
  • Mailguy — Mailguy has come back to activity with a Hammerman run! We’ll see where he stands once the run is finished and if he decides to do more.

INACTIVE TIER

— Inactive Players. Players have their last tier listed for reference.
(sorted alphabetically)
  • A. A. Ran — Elite Tier (TTYD) | Good Tier+ (64)
  • amazydayzee — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • avengah — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • Blanket P.I. — Great Tier (COMBINED)
  • catbooger — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Codebox — Great Tier (COMBINED)
  • DarkMario1000 — Great Tier+ (TTYD) | Elite Tier (64)
  • Dount Cooku — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Feposo — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Gibstack — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • Gradis — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Grassdigger — Great Tier+ (TTYD)
  • ilikepieinmouth — Elite Tier+ (TTYD)
  • Jayjar100 — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • JakeTheSnake — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Jdaster64 — God Tier (COMBINED)
  • Jon — Great Tier (64)
  • Lolyuri — Good Tier (64)
  • Mathcat — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Michael The Fox — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • MilesLuigi — Elite Tier (COMBINED)
  • MellowMathTeacher — Great Tier (COMBINED)
  • MorningStar — Great Tier+ (TTYD)
  • ngburns — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • Olmi — Elite Tier (COMBINED)
  • OmegaRaptor — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Prentiscool — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • simodomino — Good Tier (COMBINED)
  • Skawo — Elite Tier (COMBINED)
  • Slime — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Starlad — Good Tier (64)
  • StarmanOmega — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • stebbdogg — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • Stylish — Good Tier+ (TTYD)
  • Wayoshi — Elite Tier (TTYD) | Great Tier (64)
  • ThatOneSpyGuy — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • Timmy — Great Tier (64)
  • TRex Quisite — Great Tier (COMBINED)
NOTABLE CHANGES & THOUGHTS
  • We’ve seen a slight surge in returning players, which is awesome 🙂 I hope this trend continues.
  • Paper Mario Master Quest dropped, which is an ultra-hard mod of Paper Mario 64 that is designed to challenge God/Elite Tier level players. Honestly, it’s difficult, but due to how most of it is designed, I will not be adding any new players who have completed this mod. If they’re good enough and want to be on this list, they can prove themselves through challenge runs in vanilla.

And that’s it for this version of the tier list! I hope you all enjoyed reading my thoughts on this. If you’re interested in making it on this list, start challenge running (and if I missed you or you think someone else should be added, please let me know via Twitter or Discord DM so I can update this and future tier lists)! A great resource for challenge runners is the Glitz Pit, a Discord server dedicated to challenge running the Paper Mario series. You can also check out my Discord server.

Just Sayin’

September 2018
December 2018
March 2019
July 2019

Kappy’s Paper Mario Challenge Running Tier List v6.0 (July 2019)

Since the end of December of 2017, I’ve been keeping tabs on the players who challenge run Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. I did this mainly because despite there not being an official list of the best players from the Glitz Pit Discord, there’s still discussion about it. Also, I like tier lists. LOL. This should’ve come out in June, but I was quite busy that month so it was pushed back to July.

Let’s jump in!

  • + symbol means edge case for next tier up
  • This is my personal opinion; I repeat: this list is NOT objective.

GOD TIER

— The best of the best. The cream of the crop.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED
TTYD
None.
64
None.

ELITE TIER

— Players in this tier are highly proficient in their game of choice. These are some of the best.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED
  • Fatguy703+ — Listen here, all ye. Fatguy has beaten my nearly 2-year-long record of reset count in Impossible Mode. While his consistency when it comes to the Pit isn’t the best, it’s good, and his superguarding and strategy are great when he’s focused. He’s actually always been great despite all the memes and I think with this he is on the cusp of being a God. How he does in Master Quest, I think, will determine if his foot’s in the door or to the exit; I’ll be watching closely.
  • GamerFourFun
TTYD
  • Gibstack
  • ilikepieinmouth+ — While Pie is still undoubtedly the best superguarder, I just can’t keep him up as a God on superguarding alone. The superguard-heavy challenges he’s completed are nothing short of impressive, but I look for more than just superguarding in amazing players. He’ll likely stay here for eternity until I see more strategy that’s not about reducing superguards.
  • Miccat87
64
  • DarkMario1000

GREAT TIER

— Players in this tier are proficient in their game of choice. These are what I would consider to be a “general” challenge runner.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED
None.
TTYD
  • DarkMario1000+ — DarkMario, at this point, is on the level of Elite+ when it comes to strategy. There’s really no way around it — the guy knows his stuff. Still, I’d like to see more footage. Seeing him do a run would really help cement him in Elite. As it stands, I just can’t bring myself to move him up without more concrete gameplay.
  • Gible_V — Coming back from inactivity, Gible has finally completed Impossible Mode. Along with the other Pit challenges she’s completed, I think she’s earned her spot here. We’ll see if she goes any further.
  • Grassdigger+ — Grassdigger’s in the same boat as DarkMario — his breakout performance during the puzzle challenges was quite impressive, despite him taking a small back seat later on. I think he might’ve won otherwise. If he ever decides to start posting more videos, I’m sure he’ll be Elite.
  • Kyle
  • MorningStar+ — Just saw this guy recently, and I like what I see. He recently finished Level Zero Double Damage (including a perfect Gloomtail fight!) and literally finished the Pit with no Strange Sack as I’m posting this to my blog. If he continues, he can only go up.
64
  • Jon
  • Miccat87

GOOD TIER

— Players here have breached past what I would consider “casual” and are officially challenge runners (or have the skills to be one). Most new challenge runners will be put her since usually they’ve only completed one or two challenges or are in the process of completing their first one.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED
  • simodomino
TTYD
  • Auron Nomcario+ —  I’d say that Auron’s done enough with puzzles alone to earn him a +. Not enough to jump to Great tier, but he’s really close!
  • Slime
  • Stylish+
64
None.

INACTIVE TIER

— Inactive Players. Players have their last tier listed for reference.
(sorted alphabetically)
  • A. A. Ran — Elite Tier (TTYD) | Good Tier+ (64)
  • amazydayzee — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • Auron Nomcario — Great Tier (64)
  • avengah — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • Blanket P.I. — Great Tier (COMBINED)
  • catbooger — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Codebox — Great Tier (COMBINED)
  • DiamondCrafterA — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Dount Cooku — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Dyla — Great Tier+ (TTYD)
  • Feposo — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Gradis — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Jayjar100 — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • JakeTheSnake — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Jdaster64 — God Tier (COMBINED)
  • Lolyuri — Good Tier (64)
  • Mailguy — Good Tier (64)
  • Mathcat — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Michael The Fox — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • MilesLuigi — Elite Tier (COMBINED)
  • MellowMathTeacher — Great Tier (COMBINED)
  • Mr_Some1 — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • ngburns — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • Olmi — Elite Tier (COMBINED)
  • OmegaRaptor — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Prentiscool — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Skawo — Elite Tier (COMBINED)
  • Starlad — Good Tier (64)
  • StarmanOmega — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • stebbdogg — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • Wayoshi — Elite Tier (TTYD) | Great Tier (64)
  • ThatOneSpyGuy — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • Timmy — Great Tier (64)
  • TRex Quisite — Great Tier (COMBINED)
  • TwoPieRadian — Good Tier (TTYD) | Great Tier (64)
NOTABLE CHANGES & THOUGHTS
  • ilikepieinmouth has moved down from God Tier to Elite Tier because he continues to only do superguard-heavy runs when he does play. There’s no question of his superguarding superiority, but…there’s more to playing this game than superguarding. Good strategy cannot be overlooked.
  • Jdaster64, despite participation in the most recent puzzle challenges, has moved to Inactive. I thought about keeping him up because of the puzzle challenges, but he stopped pretty early in the game and he hasn’t done anything with Paper Mario in 3+ months, so Inactive seemed to be the best fit for now.
  • As I predicted, there are a lot of inactive players. C’mon, guys, let’s do some runs! I want to see more new faces!

And that’s it for this version of the tier list! I hope you all enjoyed reading my thoughts on this. If you’re interested in making it on this list, start challenge running (and if I missed you or you think someone else should be added, please let me know so I can update this and future tier lists)! A great resource for challenge runners is the Glitz Pit, a Discord server dedicated to challenge running the Paper Mario series. You can also check out my Discord server.

Just Sayin’

September 2018
December 2018
March 2019
October 2019

Kappy’s Paper Mario Challenge Running Tier List v5.0 (March 2019)

Since the end of December of 2017, I’ve been keeping tabs on the players who challenge run Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. I did this mainly because despite there not being an official list of the best players from the Glitz Pit Discord, there’s still discussion about it. Also, I like tier lists.

Let’s jump in!

  • + symbol means edge case for next tier up
  • This is my personal opinion; I repeat: this list is NOT objective.

GOD TIER

— The best of the best. The cream of the crop.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED
  • Jdaster64
  • Kappy
  • Koop
TTYD

None.

64
None.

ELITE TIER

— Players in this tier are highly proficient in their game of choice. These are some of the best.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED
  • Fatguy
  • GamerFourFun
  • MilesLuigi
  • Olmi
TTYD
  • A. A. Ran
  • Gibstack
  • Miccat87 — After a recent 10 HP PHP NMRP completion and continuing to work towards other things like BP Only PHP and his current runs, I see fit for him to join the Elite ranks of TTYD players. Miccat is another player who leans more towards the strategy side of things.
64
  • DarkMario1000

GREAT TIER

— Players in this tier are proficient in their game of choice. These are what I would consider to be a “general” challenge runner.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED
  • MellowMathTeacher
TTYD
  • DarkMario1000
  • Grassdigger — I know this guy started No Damage during last list’s time period, but stopped really early so I didn’t bother putting him on. However, the guy’s impressive display so far in the puzzle challenges on the Glitz Pit are more than enough to get him up here. I don’t think I can really push him further (maybe a +?) until I see some solid game play and a run or two, but the kid’s smart when it comes to strategy in TTYD. Nothing but impressive so far.
  • Kyle
64
  • Jon — Jon’s moving up to Great tier after having decided to complete multiple submissions from the Community Challenges on the Glitz Pit and doing all of them. He’s pretty good, and it’s impressive that he completed so many unique challenges in 64. We’ll see if he climbs any higher.
  • Miccat87 — After the recent community challenges and seeing promise in his new Even Turn run, it just made sense to move Miccat up to Great tier in 64. I’m excited to see if he catches up to TTYD and we have another Elite in the COMBINED section soon.
  • Timmy

GOOD TIER

— Players here have breached past what I would consider “casual” and are officially challenge runners (or have the skills to be one). Most new challenge runners will be put her since usually they’ve only completed one or two challenges or are in the process of completing their first one.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED
  • simodomino
TTYD
  • Auron Nomcario — Auron’s back in the game with Season 2 of the puzzle challenges underway and new challenges being attempted. Will he stay in Good tier or jump up to Great? Time will tell.
  • Slime — A new runner who jumped head first into Impossible Mode. Right now, he seems just alright. We’ll see how he fares as he continues the run (or if he gives up).
  • Stylish+ — A new runner who recently completed PHP and PHP NMRP. If he keeps going he’ll easily make it into Great tier.
64
  • A. A. Ran+
  • Lolyuri
  • Mailguy

INACTIVE TIER

— Inactive Players. Players have their last tier listed for reference.
(sorted alphabetically)
  • amazydayzee — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • Auron Nomcario — Great Tier (64)
  • avengah — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • Blanket P.I. — Great Tier (COMBINED)
  • catbooger — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Codebox — Great Tier (COMBINED)
  • DiamondCrafterA — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Dount Cooku — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Dyla — Great Tier+ (TTYD)
  • Feposo — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Gible_V — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Gradis — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Jayjar100 — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • JakeTheSnake — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • ilikepieinmouth — God Tier (TTYD)
  • Mathcat — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Michael The Fox — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • Mr_Some1 — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • ngburns — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • OmegaRaptor — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Prentiscool — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Skawo — Elite Tier (COMBINED)
  • Starlad — Good Tier (64)
  • StarmanOmega — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • stebbdogg — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • Wayoshi — Elite Tier (TTYD) | Great Tier (64)
  • ThatOneSpyGuy — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • TRex Quisite — Great Tier (COMBINED)
  • TwoPieRadian — Good Tier (TTYD) | Great Tier (64)
NOTABLE CHANGES & THOUGHTS
  • Not a lot of changes. It’s been a pretty slow start to the year. Some things to look out for:
    • ilikepieinmouth has become inactive. He’s still a God for those who may have panicked for a second when they didn’t see him up there.
    • Lots of people here are close to becoming inactive. If there are no real big updates from them expect to see that list grow quite a bit next update. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen!
    • While many have been continuing their runs, if it didn’t change their rank then I just didn’t see a need to update them this time around. I’d like to wait for them to be finished. Hopefully, that’s soon!
    • Snowy has been removed from the inactive list. Snowy speedruns PHP and is damn good at them, but it’s a little out of place here. No offense to Snowy — I’m a fan of his, but I don’t see a reason to keep him inactive when he’s active but not challenge running.
    • My journey for the one true GOAT status has finally begun. I am challenge running seriously once more!! Catch my Even Turn No Superguards (TTYD), Shufflizer BP Only (TTYD), and 10 HP Pacifist Mario (64) runs on Twitch or YouTube!

And that’s it for this version of the tier list! I hope you all enjoyed reading my thoughts on this. If you’re interested in making it on this list, start challenge running (and if I missed you, let me know)! A great resource for challenge runners is the Glitz Pit, a Discord server dedicated to challenge running the Paper Mario series. You can also check out my Discord server.

Just Sayin’

September 2018
December 2018
July 2019
October 2019

Paper Mario Talks — Skills of a Paper Mario Challenge Runner

Coffee…Check.
Fingers and hand stretched…Check.
Paper Mario information…Check.

I think I’m ready.

Welcome to Paper Mario Talks! In this new series, I’ll be exploring various areas of the Paper Mario series as it relates to gameplay, game design, and challenge running! I have a lot of opinions on this series that I haven’t really expressed to, well…anyone! So, what better way to talk about the series I love the most than through blog posts and videos!

Oh, yeah, there’ll be videos, too! They’ll be available on my YouTube channel. Here’s how it’s going to break down: these posts will be more in-depth into various topics of the series that I want to write about, and the videos will be more focused on my favorite/least favorite badges/partners/etc…

Paper Mario Talks will be more focused on Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door; the reason will be a topic all of its own!

To begin this series, I want to bring to light what challenge running is so that you know what angles I’m coming from. Unlike speedrunning, where the goal is to beat the game as fast as possible, challenge running aims to beat the game under certain conditions or with restrictions. This is to force a new style of gameplay or make the game harder. RPG’s are usually pretty great for these, as you can easily restrict certain items/attacks/level ups and change the way the game is played.

There’s a wiki detailing a lot of different challenges in the Paper Mario series to get you more familiarized with what I’m talking about. Check it out if you’re interested!

Anyway, today’s topic is about the core skills of a challenge runner in the Paper Mario series. There are four distinct skills I believe most great Paper Mario players are proficient in – execution, planning, game knowledge, and reactionary theory. Let’s define those:

Game Knowledge: How well you know enemies, their health, their stats, Mario’s abilities, partners’ abilities, boss AI, etc… This is an ever-growing skill until you’ve memorized everything. If you don’t know enough about the game, you can’t really improve the rest of your skills. However, it’s easy to improve this one – ask someone or look it up online. Besides Color Splash, the series is pretty old and has a lot of FAQs/guides dedicated to the other games in the series.

Planning: How well you can plan out a strategy for a given fight. If you know enough about a certain boss, you can plan turn-by-turn strategies around them. You can account for RNG and have a plan of attack no matter what the boss does. You can be adequately prepared for any kind of encounter. Theoretically, you can win fights before you even get to them! Everyone can plan to an extent, but truly remarkable players can optimize their strategies further.

Execution: This is Planning’s cousin. You can win fights before you even play them, but can you execute on your strategies and actually win the fight? Can you guard or superguard every attack you’re planning to? Can you hit all the necessary Action Commands? Planning & Execution go hand-in-hand with each other.

Reactionary Theory: Probably the trickiest of the skills challenge runners need. If your plan goes awry, how can you get back on track? Can you save the fight? If you encounter a certain enemy loadout that you weren’t expecting, can you formulate a plan for success? This kind of on-the-fly thinking is crucial to certain challenges and is great for when you messed up an Action Command or RNG truly shot down your strategy. This is the hardest skill to become proficient in.

These four together form the core of a great Paper Mario challenge runner. How I define these skills helps shape how I view challenge running – and by extension certain facets of the series – so I hope this helps shed some light on how I’ll be approaching the rest of the topics in Paper Mario Talks.

Just Sayin’