A Casual Stroll through Paper Mario (Part Two)

Yesterday we strolled quite deeply into the world of Paper Mario, but I still have more hints and insight to provide. So get your strolling shoes back on, because Part Two is beginning!

PARTNERS
Yesterday we talked about the game’s first four partners, a selection that covers a decent portion of the early game. Now we’re going to discuss the last four partners, who make up the mid-to-late parts of Paper Mario and whose abilities are a bit more varied and unique. If you missed yesterday’s stroll, you may want to go back and check it out before reading this part, as I go over some terminology that will be used pretty regularly here.
BOW
Bow the Boo is a haughty ghost with a mean case of RBF. She possesses one of the most useful field/combat abilities in the game: the power to make you disappear from sight. This ability makes you not only invisible but intangible as well, passing you through solid objects and enabling you to avoid attacks completely. Whenever facing an opponent with the ability to charge up their attack power, her Outta Sight move is essential to avoiding massive amounts of damage. Of course, using her this way costs your turn, so don’t spam this ability trying to avoid every attack. Use it when you need it and Bow will protect you from serious harm.
Bow’s Basic attack is Smack, a contact move (and therefore vulnerable to fire, electricity, and some spikes) that hits multiple times for only 1 damage. This is a serious disadvantage when using Bow – if the enemy has a point of defense, her basic attack becomes completely useless. In exchange for this, she is tied with Goombario for the highest damage output with a basic attack. Her damage progression is 4-5-6, meaning that at Ultra rank she can deal very good damage to defenseless enemies. Smack also hits enemies on any part of the battlefield, meaning that even ceiling enemies are vulnerable to her.
At Super level, Bow gets the Spook move. This has the potential to startle all enemies off of the battlefield, not giving you any Star Points for your victory. This is like a better version of Parakarry’s Air Lift, but it still is only useful for chasing off weak enemies when you don’t care about gaining levels. I don’t recommend utilizing it.
At Ultra level, Bow gets a powerful move called Fan Smack. This attack deals 2 damage rather than one, for a maximum of five attacks. That means that she can deal up to 10 damage to a defenseless opponent. This makes her Fan Smack one of the most powerful damaging moves, and it is actually cheaper in FP than most Ultra level abilities. Of course, defense is still Bow’s achilles heel – even an enemy with only 1 defense cuts the power of this move in half.
Bow is a great ally from a defensive standpoint, absolutely essential for protecting you from attacks that are charged up and can deal incredible amounts of damage. She has the highest damage output of all partners when it comes to defenseless enemies, but her usefulness is drastically lowered against any opponent with even 1 point of defense.
WATT
Watt is a light bulb and she is childish but very determined. No doubt the weirdest partner, being an inanimate object and all, she is still one of my personal favorites. Watt covers some weaknesses that have been present in many of the preceding partners, meaning that she fills a very important role in the party.
Her Basic level moves are the Electro Dash and the Power Shock. Electro Dash is a flying tackle that can hit any enemy, even those on the ceiling. And even though it makes contact, spiky enemies and electrical enemies are still vulnerable to this move. But the best thing about Watt’s attack is that it pierces defense. With most other partners, high defense enemies render them useless or at least a lot less potent. Watt is capable of piercing defenses with her basic move, meaning that it costs no FP to completely ignore the defenses of any opponent on the field regardless of position. This is an incredible feature and is useful from the moment Watt joins all the way through the rest of the game. The damage progression of this move is 3-4-5. Power Charge causes paralysis to one opponent for a few turns. This totally disables that opponent from attacking for a bit, but since some enemies can resist paralysis, this is best used sparingly and is never useful in boss battles.
At Super level, Watt gains the Turbo Charge move, a support ability that increases your attack power by 1 for up to four turns. This is a very useful ability, as having 1 higher attack power can sometimes be the difference between taking out an opponent in one round or having to waste two. Against bosses, it makes it easier to wear them down. This is particularly helpful against defenseless enemies, as a +1 boost to Mario’s jump move actually increases the total damage by 2.
At Ultra level, Watt gets the Mega Shock, a powered-up version of Power Shock that can paralyze every enemy present. Again, this is most useful when you’re being overwhelmed by a group of standard enemies, as this won’t function well in boss battles.
Watt is a great partner whose ability to ignore defense and to attack any enemy anywhere is very important. There are some enemies that only Watt can deal with without spending FP, and when FP is a limited resource this makes her very useful. Add to that her ability to increase Mario’s attack and she is a great partner to have around. Watt fails to shine against defenseless enemies, though, as the most damage she can ever do is 5.
SUSHI
Sushi the cheep-cheep is a fish babysitter who seems to be in over her head. Of course, her babysitting experience has given her the skills she needs to spank foes on the battlefield. Sushi is most useful in specific situations, but her specialty is needed relatively often and even when it isn’t, she still has advantages to offer.
Her Basic moves are Belly Flop and Squirt. Belly Flop is a jumping attack that only scores one hit, but it makes contact just like Goombario or Mario’s jump. It deals damage in the progression 3-4-5. Because it only connects once, it’s useful for dealing damage to opponents with a point or so of defense compared to a double jump, but it is less useful for slipping opponents with shells. Squirt is a powerful water-based attack that hits one target anywhere on the field. The damage progression is 5-6-7. Because this move hits anywhere, it’s quite useful against enemies on the ceiling, but by far the best function is its effectiveness against fire-based enemies. Squirt deals bonus damage to them, and at full power can sometimes defeat fire opponents in one blow.
Sushi’s Super level move is Water Block, a move that creates a protective watery shield around you for a number of turns based on your success with the action command. This is a useful move that boosts defense by 1, reducing the damage you take for a few turns. Now 1 doesn’t seem like a big boost, but when you figure that you’ve got +1 defense against two, three, maybe even four enemies on the field at once, that reduction is going to add up over time. And again, Sushi’s specialty against fiery foes shows itself: Water Block resists an additional point of damage against fire attacks, giving you +2 defense against any move utilizing fire. This is essential in the chapter where Sushi joins you, but can still be useful in later parts of the game as well. Fire is the most common element that enemies will bring to bear against you.
Her Ultra level move is Tidal Wave, a move that hits every opponent on the field for water damage based on your success with the action command. This is probably the hardest move to do perfectly in the whole game; at maximum damage, Tidal Wave deals 13 points of damage to every opponent on the field. However, I’ve never gotten it this high. I typically land somewhere in the 7-9 range. That’s still a pretty solid amount of damage to deal to every opponent, and if you’re dealing with fire enemies, that damage will be even higher. This move does not pierce enemy defenses, but it costs the same as Parakarry’s Air Raid, making it cheaper than Mega Bomb while also generally dealing more damage. Just for perspective.
Sushi is a partner who offers great power against fire enemies and whose defensive special move can reduce the damage you’re taking over time. Against enemies without the fire attribute, Sushi’s utility isn’t as impressive and there are generally other partners who can do her job better in those instances. But when it comes to fighting fire, Sushi is the way to go.
LAKILESTER
Lakilester the Lakitu wants to look cool, but he’s actually a socially awkward guy who just wants his girlfriend to be happy. Lakilester is an odd partner – you get him pretty late in the game and his niche is really unusual. As such, he can feel kind of useless. Like Kooper, Lakilester tends to be situational, so you want to be aware of what situations he is helpful in and then capitalize on them.
Lakilester’s Basic moves are his only damage-dealing moves. They are the Spiny Flip and Spiny Surge. Spiny Flip hits one opponent anywhere on the screen without contact, so you can safely hit enemies shrouded in fire, electricity, spikes – whatever. It deals damage in the progression 3-4-5. Spiny Surge hits all enemies on the screen for no-contact damage, dealing damage in the progression 2-3-4. Now you’ll notice that this is low damage, particularly added to the fact that this move does not pierce defenses. It costs less than other moves that hit every opponent on the field, so it at least has that going for it. Spiny Surge has a very particular function – it’s a cheap way to clear the field of low-HP enemies. There are a few bosses who rely a lot on having low-HP cronies with them, so using this move against them can be very effective. However, in typical battles you won’t have much use for this.
Lakilester’s Super level move is Cloud Nine. This move causes Lakilester to cover you in a cloud, making your evasion higher for up to four turns. Now higher evasion can be helpful – after all, an attack that doesn’t hit at all is way better than an attack that does any amount of damage – but evasion is a chance-based mechanic. This means that using Cloud Nine is not a promise than an attack will miss. It is most effective when combined with other dodging effects; most of those come from badges. The more evasion effects you have stacked, the more likely you are to actually dodge.
Lakilester’s Ultra level move is Hurricane, a move like Spook that attempts to get rid of all enemies without actually giving you any Star Points for them. You already know how I feel about these kind of moves, so I won’t spend any time on this one.
Lakilester has a very specific role in the party – cheap, light damage against a large collection of enemies. There are situations where this is very helpful, as wasting a ton of FP to take out a group of foes with only 2 or 3 HP can quickly empty your stores. However, in most other situations one of your other seven partners has something better suited to the task.

Okay, we are finally done with the partners in this game! I hope you have a better understanding of how their abilities work and what situations to use them in. Now let’s talk about a few other things.

STAR PIECES
Yesterday I mentioned that the main way to obtain badges was through the badge shop in Toad Town or to find them in the field. However, there’s another way to get badges, and that way is Star Pieces. Star Pieces are little golden diamond-shaped objects that are very valuable to one specific person: Merlow, brother to Merluvlee and collector of exotic badges. Of course, he’d much rather collect Star Pieces, so in exchange for these little beauties he’ll give you some of the rare badges he has. Merlow has some very unique badges that you can’t really find anywhere else, and while I won’t list off every one, I’ll certainly tell you which ones I recommend.
Pretty Lucky causes attacks to sometimes miss at random. It’s effective in combination with Close Call and with Lakilester’s Cloud Nine ability. Another good badge is Feeling Fine, which gives you total immunity to status conditions like poison and dizziness. The Happy Heart and Happy Flower badges cause you to regenerate HP or FP slowly over time. Zap Tap electrifies you and makes it so that enemies whose attacks make contact take damage from touching you. Flower Saver reduces the FP cost of all your special moves by 1. And Power Plus gives your attack power a boost, making it easier to damage and defeat enemies.
So how do you find Star Pieces? Well, they tend to be hidden, so whenever you are exploring be sure to check in good hiding places. Some Star Pieces are underground and can only be revealed with a ground pound. Anytime you see a wide enough area that it looks like you might be able to flip a hidden panel, give a ground pound a try. And finally, anytime you find one of Parakarry’s lost letters, be sure to deliver it. You’ll get Star Pieces in return.

RECIPES
In Toad Town there is a nice old lady named Tayce T who will cook for you if you bring her ingredients. There is no cost to this service, and a ton of advantages to cooking. Tayce T has about 50 recipes up her sleeve, though many of these dishes can be made using multiple possible combinations. Now as is the nature of Casual Strolls, I’m not here to tell you every single recipe. What I am here to tell you are some suggestions I have about the basics of cooking.
First of all, most basic items can only be improved by cooking them. Mushrooms, Honey Syrup, Goomnuts, Eggs; all these items are better after being cooked than before. So there’s absolutely no reason not to cook them. Now as you get up to higher level items like Super Shrooms, Maple Syrup, and the like, these tend to lose some usefulness when cooked by themselves. Certain items completely change function when cooked. For example, damage dealing Fire Flowers change to healthy Spicy Soup, which heals both HP and FP when consumed.
Eventually you’ll gain the ability to combine two ingredients instead of just cooking with one. When this occurs, your options will be vastly expanded. Naturally, you’re going to want to shove ‘Shrooms and Syrup together, and that’s fine. Any kind of ‘Shroom combines well with any kind of Syrup – they literally just add their effects together into one dish. Combining multiple ‘Shrooms kind of works, but it’s best to stick to the less effective ones, as most ‘Shroom combinations all create the same dish. Try a Dried Shroom or a Mushroom with a Super Shroom. Whereas the ‘Shrooms combine well, the syrups do not. Don’t bother with putting them together, because you’ll just lose effectiveness.
The best item for combinations is Cake Mix. This stuff is incredible and makes a beneficial item with pretty much everything. The only thing I wouldn’t recommend trying it with are the Ultra Shroom and Jammin’ Jelly, just because those items are so powerful and valuable. Try Cake Mix with less conventional items like Fire Flowers and Volt Shrooms – you still get great effects for that.

FORTUNES
In the distant town of Dry Dry Outpost, there lives a magical lady named Merlee. Merlee has a curious power – when she tells your fortune, good luck seems to follow you around. Merlee’s fortunes activate at random, but when they do, they tend to be very useful. Effects include increasing your attack power or defense power dramatically, increasing the number of coins you get after battle, or – my personal favorite – doubling the Star Points after a battle. Merlee’s enchantments aren’t a necessity,  but they make it a little easier to level up and sometimes her blessing comes at a pivotal moment during battle, protecting you or giving you a little extra push right when you need it.
So where is Merlee, exactly? In Dry Dry Outpost, there is a hidden alleyway that leads behind the Toad House. There you’ll find Merlee ready to read your fortune – for a price, of course. Often, her spells are well worth the effort.

That’s going to be the end of our stroll through Paper Mario. If you enjoyed it and found it informative, be sure to share it in honor of Multiplayer Week. You can tell someone about it in person or share it on social media. Speaking of social media, Adventure Rules is on FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr, where you can find exclusive content not featured on the main blog. Be sure to check them out!

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