Paper Mario is a role-playing game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo. It was initially released in Japan on August 11, 2000, in North America on February 5, 2001, and in Europe on October 5, 2001.
Although primarily a console RPG, Paper Mario also contains elements of games from the platforming genre. The combat system makes use of turn-based battle sequences and experience points, a staple in many RPGs. Over the course of the game, Mario manages to find eight party members to assist him both in battle and in navigating the world. Outside of battle, however, the player must direct Mario over traps, lava, and other obstacles, giving the game its platforming feel. Mario may lose hit points in both combat and in the field; if reduced to zero, Mario will be defeated and a game over will occur.
Mario has two primary methods of dealing with obstacles without the use of party members: a jump attack and a hammer blow. The jump is available from the start of the game, while the hammer is acquired very early in the game's prologue. During certain points in the game, the player must upgrade Mario's boots and hammer, giving him both new abilities for use in clearing traps and heightened attack power inside battle.
The game is subdivided into a prologue and eight chapters. Players are initially restricted to Goomba Village, Toad Town, and the roads immediately surrounding them during the game's prologue, but new regions are unlocked during each gameplay chapter. Each locale has its own unique set of obstacles that typically require the use of a new party member or equipment upgrade to clear.
Players can begin a battle by having Mario touch any on-screen enemy. However, If Mario manages to jump or use his hammer on an enemy, he performs a special move called a "First Strike" and is allowed to attack once without any chance of the enemy counterattacking. The opposite also holds true; an enemy also has the ability to hit Mario with its own First Strike and cause damage.
Once the main battle begins, both Mario and his supporting party member have the chance to make one action each before enemies can counterattack. Players may direct Mario or the party member to directly attack an enemy, use an item to attack enemies or heal Mario, change the supporting party member, run, or do nothing. After Mario and his party member both attack, enemies are given the opportunity to counterattack.