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There was an elephant in the room inside of Nintendo's off-site Comic-Con Nintendo Play Lounge. Not to be confused with a small stage shaped like an oversized Nintendo 3DS console, or the mammoth, room-sized inflatable Kirby set up to greet guests, this elephant took the shape of a video game kiosk. The game was Paper Mario: Color Splash.

For those unfamiliar with the elephant in question, here is the elevator ride version of where the elephant came from: Ever since its brief unveiling during a Nintendo Direct and then an extended look at E3, some vocal fans of the series have in recent times flooded internet forums with curt comments, have downvoted YouTube trailers for the game, and conveyed an overall distaste for the title. The reason? A perceived lack of RPG elements have some fans feeling left out of the fun.

So instead of ignoring the elephant, I just went ahead and led with it as I picked up the controller.

"So, some of our readers are very, very vocal about their distaste for Paper Mario: Color Splash lacking RPG elements."

This is where our preview begins. In this demo, I began on the left going right, like in many Mario games. A quick visit from a Toad informed me that a number of Toads were missing in action, and the game was immediately (and refreshingly) off to the races as I wandered off to find them. As I explored some greenery, this became apparent: "A" was jump, "X" was hammer, and "B" was also hammer, but with the added effect of - surprise - a splash of colour as it smacked the ground.

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Subtle circles of white blotted the land, the hammering of which brought items bursting from the floor. Muted flowers reacted to the paint with an unfolding burst of colour and a complimentary coin. As a core mechanic, I'm pleased to announce that you could do worse than a paint hammer. Driving this point home is the fact that each paint splosh is seemingly no more uniform than in the paint warring game Splatoon; the animations are messy, and the trail you leave behind looks and feels distinctly your doing.

And speaking of looks, even just this very basic locale looked quite pleasing on the eye. If there is anything certain about Color Splash, it's that it looks great in motion. Little graphical touches – a cardboard question block, a foil heart piece – help make this likely the prettiest of the Paper Mario titles. Especially striking is the subtle manner in which enemies convey their health bars, wherein instead of any on screen bars their bodies slowly fade of colour as they run out of health.

Yes, this of course means I found myself in some battles while hunting Toads in this (fairly small) area. In fact, I purposefully got myself into more battles than necessary just to fully explore the combat system.

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A paintbucket companion character is introduced to you when you begin fighting. Down on the Wii U GamePad screen trading cards (which enemies drop in decent quantities) are lined up in a row, displaying varying amounts of hammers and shoes (and special items, if you're lucky). I was able to pick any two of them, then told by the paintbucket that by additionally adding paint to them they would become even more powerful. The amount of paint added was dictated by a three coloured meter in the top left corner, which largely drives the push and pull of your paint management in this game. Of course in my short demo I paid no heed: I let every enemy have the full extent of my powers.

Just like in Paper Mario games past, once you choose your weapon of choice you are guided through an attack animation that allows for additional attacks via timed button presses. If you're a series veteran there's little of surprise to see here, or really anywhere else in the entire demo, save for a random "paint by memory" mini-game that elicited more initial confusion than amusement.

Also if you are that series veteran, you are likely also already aware that no experience points are doled out after a victory in Color Splash, but instead, more items. There is no trace of any character party. There just aren't very many traditional roleplaying elements here. None of that was in any way different in this demo.

Back to the beginning of my conversation with my Nintendo reps.

"So, some of our readers are very, very vocal about their distaste for Paper Mario: Color Splash lacking RPG elements."

In unison: "This is more of an adventure game."

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Paper Mario: Color Splash is not a traditional RPG, and to what extent it remotely retains any of the original titles' gameplay mechanics is still to be seen. This much was evident: I adventured around and splashed paint everywhere. The enemies made me laugh in mid-battle as they taunted me with amusing word bubbles. Special attacks were gloriously animated in over-the-top silly, beautiful fashions. And the demo was straightforward and pretty basic: if you have any familiarity with the series, your own imagination would be enough to guide you through this playthrough.

One note for purists: one rep did repeatedly tell me there was some sense of character progression. He later pointed out during a separate demo these tiny, brown, cardboard hammers that sometimes drop from enemies. When collected, these display a separate meter that run horizontal to the paint meter (like a ruler sticking out of a square), and when fully filled levels up (at least) Mario's hammer.

Whether Paper Mario: Color Splash is ultimately a game for you is yet to be seen and, unsurprisingly, will eventually be up to yourself. But at least know this: Paper Mario: Color Splash, with its silly demeanor and flashy world with witty inhabitants and arcade button presses, is a game for somebody.