Paper Mario Like Games
Image: Nintendo Life

We've updated this guide to reflect the upcoming release of the Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door remaster and also added Born of Bread to the list. Enjoy!

If you're a Paper Mario fan, then there's one key thing that you probably share with all other Paper Mario fans: Disappointment. However, Paper Mario is set to make a big return in 2024 with the remaster of the GameCube classic, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.

Up until now, the series has been a little lacking, taking the things we loved about the early games (turn-based combat! Witty writing! Incredible characters!) and turning them into things that... just aren't as good. Endless parades of faceless Toads, combat that relies too heavily on a gimmick that doesn't quite work, and writing that never quite reaches the heights of Paper Marios of old...Origami King was pretty good, though.

It's been a long time since we've had a special Paper Mario game. Luckily for us, game developers can be fans of Paper Mario too — and several of them have taken up the reins, creating Paper Mario-inspired games that harken back to the good ol' days of our flat friends. Here are the indie games you should check out if you're ever feeling nostalgic for Thousand-Year Door or the OG...

(Shout out to the excellent Paperverse, a community that keeps tabs on Paper Mario-like games, for helping us with this list!)

Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling (Switch eShop)

The most Paper Marioest of the Paper Mario-inspired games on this list, Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling isn't just a love letter to Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door; it's that GameCube classic's terrifying stalker. We can't stress it enough; this is Paper Mario.

From top to bottom, it's spiritually identical – from the writing style with its many little comical asides, the pop-up book graphics, the music (that "battle won" theme is shockingly evocative of Thousand-Year Door) all the way to the individual animations; bee protagonist Vi's little arm flail precisely recalls Mario's. It's so similar that it's almost unnerving; like Bug Fables has killed Paper Mario and is wearing its skin. But, you know, in a good way.

Tinykin (Switch eShop)

Tinykin's more obvious inspiration is Pikmin, but this 3D platformer also has a healthy chunk of Paper Mario DNA in there, too. This critter-wrangling puzzle game presents a lesson in appreciating the simple things in life, including the help from those around you (like Paper Mario's various NPC companions), with plenty of environmental puzzles that utilise the strengths of each of your tiny pals. It's a sweet game with low stakes, but charming writing and inventive level design make it well worth picking up.

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion (Switch eShop)

This tax-avoidance action-RPG may be the only one of its kind, but it pulls inspiration from games like A Link to the Past to create a brilliantly-written, surprisingly gorgeous game that constantly delights players with weird and witty dialogue and puzzles. We wouldn't say Turnip Boy is as clearly inspired by the Papers Mario as, say, Bug Fables — but it certainly hits the spot when it comes to the writing.

UnderHero (Switch eShop)

UnderHero is, like one of its inspirations, Undertale, an anti-RPG. You play as a minion of the evil overlord, who starts off the game's story by accidentally killing the actual hero, and then going on his own quest. It's a 2D platformer with Paper Mario-like upgrades and coins to collect, and timing-based combat that builds on the foundations Mario laid. Like many other games on this list, the writing is a strong point, the visuals are cracking, and the soundtrack is filled with bangers. A true hidden gem of the paper-like genre!

Cat Quest II (Switch eShop)

The better of the two Cat Quest games, Cat Quest II does for cats what Paper Mario did for stationery. Get ready for puns-a-plenty, all to do with humanity's favourite feline friends, in this comedic action-RPG with simple but compelling combat. Now we just have to wait for Cat Mario and Paper Mario to be combined, at last...

Undertale (Switch eShop)

Where Paper Mario took the RPG formula and made it silly, weird, and self-referential, Undertale does the same in a more modern, meme-saturated, EarthBound-flavoured way. It's definitely not the closest analogue to the Paper Mario world, but its heart is full of similar charm, goofiness, and memorably unique moments — just be warned that it gets a fair bit darker than Mario would ever dare.

Nobody Saves The World (Switch eShop)

Drinkbox's past work (Guacamelee!, Severed) has ranged from goofy to gory, and sometimes both — but Nobody Saves The World errs on the comedic side of things, which nabs it a spot on this list. Like many others in here, it's an action-RPG, and the gimmick this time is that you can use magic to metamorphose into different forms, each one with their own strengths and weaknesses, not unlike Thousand-Year Door's various companions. Combined with gorgeous art and Drinkbox's trademark weird writing, this game feels like an adult evolution of the Paper Mario oeuvre.