The long anticipated sequel to Paper Mario is finally here.
Paper Mario 2 is essentially just like its predecessor. Mario is on a quest to find the star crystals so he can do what he does best, save the princess. Along the way he has the help of a few friends, each with their own abilities. The look and feel of the game are exactly like the original except the graphics are much crisper.
The three playable levels at E3 are Star Crystal Field, Hooktail Castle and Boggly Forest. Mario has a specific companion for each level, Goombella, Koops and Flurrie respectively, although as you progress you can switch between them. Each of your companions have special moves both on the overworld and in the battle screen. Goombella can reveal secrets (although this wasn't available in the demo) or discover the HP of an enemy, Koops can be kicked by Mario or fire himself into the opposition and Flurrie uses her lungs the push objects around or damage the bad guys. Once you make contact with the enemy, combat begins. Of course, Mario can get the first strike in by whacking enemies with his hammer before the battle.
The only real addition to the battles is that they take place inside a theatre in front of a live audience. As the audience responds to your efforts, their cheering fills a star power meter which allows you to pull of a special move when full. You can even use a turn to "appeal" to the audience in order to fill the meter faster. On the top side, Mario can use his paper digs to his advantage. He can turn to the side to slip through narrow spaces, like jail cell bars in Boggly Forest, or he can fold himself into a paper airplane to cross large gaps. This last trick is pretty cool, but you can only use it from special platforms and although you can swoop back into the air a little, you're always descending.
Fans of the original will find plenty to like in the familiarity of Paper Mario 2 and will find the new additions are a nice touch.