Paper Mario Talks — An Examination of Danger Mario

When Mario is at 5 HP or less, he’s in what’s known as Danger. If he has 1 HP, he’s in Peril. In Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, there are badges that only activate when you’re in Danger or Peril. These badges are as follows:

— Close Call (and partner variant) [Increases chance of enemies missing]
— Last Stand (and partner variant) [Halves damage Mario takes]
— Power Rush (and partner variant) [Increases damage Mario deals by 2]
— Mega Rush (and partner variant) [Increases damage Mario deals by 4 (64) / 5 (TTYD)]

These 4 badges are quite powerful and represent a “last chance” kind of effort for the player. It allows them to win by the skin of their teeth in normal gameplay, especially if you have Mega Rush equipped, which only activates when Mario’s in Peril. However, if a player is upgrading HP often, these badges become less useful because you can go entire battles without it activating. On the flip side… there is a badge setup known as Danger Mario. A character in both games called Chet Rippo allows Mario to swap stats around. This makes it possible to make Mario’s HP 5 instead of 10, effectively putting him in permanent Danger. This is the basis of Danger Mario, and it enhances these 4 badges beyond their normal usefulness.

Now, Danger Mario is quite notorious. Many players frown upon it, saying it’s powerful, but not fun. I’m inclined to agree, but I’ll save my opinions for later. For now, let’s jump into what makes Danger Mario so good. Let’s break down TTYD’s first, as it’s the one most well-known as the “Danger Mario” build.

There are quite a few builds of Danger Mario in TTYD. The first one is the most common: hyper offense.

Here’s the setup:

Hyper Offense Danger Mario

– FP Plus
– Spike Shield
– Ice Power
– Multibounce
– Power Bounce
– Quake Hammer
– Power Rush x20+

Now, you’re thinking “20+ Power Rushes? What??” Well, in the Pianta Parlor, you’re able to buy badges for tokens you win while at the parlor. One of them happens to be Power Rush. Buy enough, and you can make Mario a monster, dealing up to 99 damage per Jump if you buy and equip enough. With Spike Shield and Ice Power, Mario can jump on any enemy barring those on the ceiling, but that’s what Quake Hammer is for. Multibounce allows you to OHKO basically every enemy, and Power Bounce lets you destroy bosses in one turn. Truly, this is Mario’s most powerful form offensively.

This specific setup is the one everyone knows about. There are plenty of videos of it online. The reason it’s so powerful is that you can stack badges in TTYD, and there’s an infinite supply of Power Rush badges for Mario to equip. The other three badges can be stacked, but you need to grind badge drops from enemies, making builds focused around stacking them more tedious to implement. The other one I’ve seen used often is one with a bunch of Close Calls, which makes Mario an evasion tank that will never be hit.

Now let’s look at 64’s Danger Mario. Unlike in TTYD, you’re only able to get one of each badge. But, Last Stand functions differently in 64. Instead of being last in the damage calculation and rounding the damage taken up, Last Stand comes before Guarding & Damage Dodges, and rounds down. This is a significant difference and makes Danger Mario in 64 much more potent defensively than TTYD’s. It’s the only Danger Mario setup that can successfully use a Peril Mario setup.

Now, an offensive build in 64 is actually not incredibly potent. While you have Jump Charge/Hammer Charge, Mega Rush and Power Rush don’t stack with each other like they do in TTYD. Furthermore, Mega Rush only increases your ATK by 4. Without any other badges, you’re sitting at only 7 damage with Ultra Boots. Couple in the lack of partners using items AND lack of ATK-increasing items, and your only real way of powering up is Watt’s Turbo Charge, which makes your ATK 8. No, offense isn’t what makes Danger Mario in 64 so potent. It’s Mario’s defensive setup. Let’s look at Tank Mario.

Here’s the build skeleton:

Tank Danger Mario

– Last Stand
– Damage Dodge x2
– Defend Plus
– P-Down, D-Up
– Fire Shield

Without Last Stand active, Mario’s current DEF is 2. With a Guard and two Damage Dodges, Mario can reduce his total damage taken by 5. If you add in Sushie’s Water Block, that total is now 6. With Chill Out, it’s 9. If the move is a Fire move, Fire Shield blocks that for an extra 1 point of damage. Now, since Last Stand comes before guarding, a move reduced by Last Stand can have its damage output effectively reduced by 6 (7 for a fire move) before Last Stand takes effect.

Let’s see what Mario’s taking before he guards with Last Stand active!

  • Final Bowser’s Flame Breath (10) -> 3 / 2 -> 1
    • No Chill Out = 6 / 2 -> 3
      • No Water Block = 7 / 2 -> 3
  • Final Bowser’s Lightning Blast (10) -> 4 / 2 -> 2
    • No Chill Out = 7 / 2 -> 3
      • No Water Block = 8 / 2 -> 4
  • Star Rod Powered Final Bowser Flame Breath** (20) -> 16 / 2 -> 8
  • Huff N. Puff’s Full Power Ground Slam (15) -> 9 / 2 -> 4
  • Huff N. Puff’s Ground Lightning* (12) -> 7 / 2 -> 3
  • Anti Guy’s Flashy Attack (12) -> 6 / 2 -> 3
    • No Chill Out = 9 / 2 -> 4
      • No Water Block = 10 / 2 -> 5
    • No Water Block = 7 / 2 -> 3

*Huff N’ Puff’s Lightning Attacks go through Water Block’s 1 DEF increase.
**When Bowser has the Star Rod active, Chill Out will not work on him.

Look at that damage! Because no attacks pierce in 64, everything is affected by all DEF boosts Mario has. Now, let’s factor in Guarding and Damage Dodges!

  • Final Bowser’s Flame Breath = 0 damage
    • No Chill Out = 0 damage
      • No Water Block = 0 damage
  • Final Bowser’s Lightning Blast = 0 damage
    • No Chill Out = 0 damage
      • No Water Block = 1 damage
  • Star Rod Powered Final Bowser Flame Breath = 5 damage
  • Huff N. Puff’s Full Power Ground Slam = 1 damage
  • Huff N. Puff’s Ground Lightning = 0 damage
  • Anti Guy’s Flashy Attack = 0 damage
    • No Chill Out = 1 damage
      • No Water Block = 2 damage
    • No Water Block = 0 damage

So, with 6 badges equipped, Mario has successfully negated damage from all but a few attacks, and some don’t even need Water Block or Chill Out! The only move that truly defeats him is Final Bowser’s Flame Breath while being boosted with the Star Rod. That’s an insanely tanky Mario. Even without the extra badges increasing DEF, Last Stand rounding down coupled with Chill Out or Water Block can cripple most enemies and bosses for practically the whole game. And, unlike TTYD where you have to wait until after Chapter 5 to access permanent Danger Mario, you can access permanent Danger as early as pre-Chapter 2 in 64. You also don’t need to stack any badges to achieve this level of defensive prowess.

With only 6 badges equipped, you have more than enough BP to equip some badges that boost ATK, D-Down Jump, Flower Saver, HP Drain, and more! You can also equip Dodge Master for easier guarding. With this setup, Mario can basically emulate superguarding from TTYD by equipping Zap Tap and tanking his way through enemies.

So, now that we’ve broken down common builds of Danger Mario and how they function, what do I think of Danger Mario? I think 64 definitely has the more broken Danger Mario. It requires no grinding for stackable badges and only requires a few badges to be truly terrifying. Even Last Stand alone is ridiculous, and because Chill Out exists, it just cripples enemies.

And yet, for how broken 64 Danger Mario is, I find it fun to use when it’s needed. Using only 1 of each badge forces more strategic thinking and planning in both games. And with the exclusion of items like Point Swap and Trial Stew in 64, it becomes even more pronounced. And, because most damage is moderately high from more deadly enemies if you miss a guard, there’s still a feeling of tension. You can’t mindlessly run through the game Multibouncing everything in sight with +40 ATK. If you miss a couple guards, you’ll probably game over. I feel the same way about TTYD, but like I said earlier, that only applies with 1 of each badge equipped. Stacking a ton of them can be fun once just to see Mario run a train through every enemy and boss left, but being a challenge runner, I prefer being challenged and not mindlessly playing. Although, I will say I think the evasion tank build is quite hilarious and cool, and am a fan of it over the hyper offense setup.

All that being said, I do tend to stay away from Danger badges – especially Mega Rush in TTYD and Last Stand in 64 – if I can help it, but I’ll use them if I need to. Sometimes, the most elegant or most creative strategies require them.

Also, Close Call is incredible. Seriously.

Just Sayin’

REVIEW: Pushmo

Right after I reviewed Pictobits, my friend Jacob suggested I get Pushmo, another game from the 3DS e-shop, so I decided to buy it when I downloaded the Rayman Origins Demo. Just like Pictobits, it’s another gem that is sure to please anyone!

Atmosphere (Music/Graphics):

While the music isn’t the best I’ve heard, it is nice, and complements the way Pushmo feels while playing – it’s definitely good background music for trying to solve a puzzle. The actual puzzles are awesome, especially the murals, which range from Mario‘s head to a Christmas tree. All of them are really creatively made, and Tetris-like look of them makes it even better!

Gameplay:

Pushmo is a puzzle game where you manipulate blocks to reach the top of the Pushmo (the puzzle), and save the child whom has been trapped inside of it. It’s a very simple concept that anyone can pick up and play with ease, but the puzzles are so cleverly designed that you’ll find yourself thinking on more than a few occasions, which I find awesome.

Manipulating blocks is really simple. You can pull out a row three times as long as there’s solid ground behind you, and you can pull a block that you’re not standing on sideways as long as there’s solid ground to the side of you. A lot of puzzles require you to push a block in to be able to pull another block sideways out or in, and then re-pull or push a block back in or out to create a series of steps that you previously couldn’t access before. There are multiple ways to solve some puzzles, and only one way to solve certain puzzles, so there’s some flexibility and creativity in the way you can solve them.

And don’t worry, if you mess up, you can turn back time by pressing the L button or press the reset switch to restart the level.

After a while, ‘gadgets’ come into play, such as manholes and switches. Switches push every block of its color out 3 rows (the maximum), and the manholes let you reach areas you couldn’t by just jumping or manipulating blocks. Once those come into play the puzzles get a lot harder, but way more fun. I found myself really enjoying the gadgets, as they allowed the puzzles to be structured much differently, and many of the puzzles still are simply pushing and pulling.

Another feature (that I have yet to try) is Pushmo creation. You can create your own puzzles using an editor and play them and share them. I want to finish the game before I try it, but it looks absolutely awesome, and I’m really excited to try it out.

Pushmo has a lot of content for a game under $10, and it’s perfect if you’re a fan of puzzle games. The puzzles look great and are really satisfying to solve, and, like Pictobits, you can pick it up, play it for a few minutes, and put it back knowing that you can play it again later and still enjoy it. I’m glad my friend recommended it, because I’m loving it!

Score:

Atmosphere: 8/10

Gameplay: 10/10

Overall: 9/10

Just sayin’.

REVIEW: Pictobits

Every month, Club Nintendo releases a set of games that are available on the Wii Shop Channel or the 3DS e-Shop as rewards for coins. These are usually priced at 150 coins, and, like with Super Mario Kart, some of them are absolute gems. Pictobits is one of those gems.

Atmosphere (Music/Graphics):

It’s 8-bit! Who doesn’t love 8-bit? The puzzle pieces look very similar to Tetris, giving it a very nostalgic feel. The music, remixed versions of the original songs (still 8-bit!) are great! I got into it and started playing to the beat of the songs, and it was awesome to hear the originals remixed with 8-bit, keeping everything simple and themed.

I found myself replaying a few levels just because the music was that awesome!

Gameplay:

The gameplay is actually relatively simple. Colored blocks are falling from the sky, and you have three rows of various colored blocks to make a column or row of 4 or a 2×2 box minimum by manipulating them with your stylus. You can make a row stretching across the entire screen if the falling pieces present themselves that way or a 5×2 box – the combinations make up a big part of the way the game plays. If the falling pieces hit your blocks and don’t make a match, they turn into blocks themselves.

Once you make a match, time freezes, and any pieces attached the to completed piece start to fall faster after the completed piece disappears – this gives you time to set up blocks so that they fall into matches and link together. You can go up to a maximum of 9 links, and I’ll explain why in a second.

You can touch an untouched block with your stylus and have the entire block of puzzle pieces fall quickly to extend your combo if you’re quick enough, and any match you make during the time freeze will extend your combo.

So, why only a maximum of 9 before it stops counting? Because of the goal of the game. The goal of the game is to uncover the level’s hidden character(s). You do this by completing puzzle pieces. If you complete a column of 4, then 4 bits fly to the top screen and fill in 4 bits of that character. If you do a combo, you’ll get 8 bits for 2 links, 12 bits for 3 links, and so on and so forth until you can get a whopping 36 bits for link 9, and that’s only for combing with 4 bits. If you combo with larger blocks, rows, and columns you can get into the 60’s of bits!

The difficulty increases as you complete the character. In the beginning, the music is just some beats and a very small rhythm. As you complete the character, the music begins to fill itself in with the parts of the game pertaining to that character, and once you’re 3/4 of the way done, the entire song comes out and plays as you finish the character. As the music picks up, the puzzle pieces fall faster, making it harder to combo.

It’s actually pretty simple, but the game throws a few curveballs in – there are blocks that can’t be moved (marked by an ‘x’), so they must be completed to disappear. There’s also the Pow Block and coins. Completing a 2×2 or higher block gives you one coin, and any unmovable blocks give one coin when matched – but what are they for? Besides buying the Dark levels (harder versions of the original levels) and music to listen to, they’re for restoring spaces in your block holder.

At the start of any level, you can store up to 10 blocks to then put down and make matches. If, for whatever reason, you find yourself in a tight spot, you can press the Pow Block in the lower left-hand corner to erase a few lines of your stack and make the rest come crashing down to the bottom of the screen. However, it comes with a price – you lose one spot in your block holder, meaning you now can only hold 9 blocks. If you have 5 coins, however, you can buy one spot back. It’s a very balanced system, and extremely useful during the later levels when you’ll be using the Pow Block more than a few times.

There’s some replay value in Pictobits, but only in its Dark levels that need to be unlocked and in getting enough coins to unlock all the music. Or, for those who are hardcore, you can try to get the highest score, and if that’s the case the replay value is great!

And finally, the controls – in short, the stylus works wonderfully. There’s nothing more to say about it except I’m glad it used the stylus instead of the D-Pad.

Pictobits is one of those games that you pick up, beat, and then come back to when you have a few minutes to kill and want to play something you know you’ll enjoy – it’s got great music and intuitive gameplay, and it’s something I’ll be playing whenever I’m bored or want a puzzle game with fantastic music! If you’ve got 150 coins to spare on Club Nintendo or a few extra dollars, pick up Pictobits; you won’t be disappointed.

Score:

Atmosphere: 9/10

Gameplay: 9/10

Overall: 9/10

Just sayin’