I already ranked the first chapters in the series, so now it is time for the second chapters! From a vast and mysterious desert to an atmospheric and oppressed forest; from a orange swampland with an awesome mansion, to another desert (so original); from an awesome archaeological journey to a beautiful, Japan-inspired chapter, there's some awesome variety on this list. Just like last time, I would like to give you a trigger warning, as this ranking is... controversial. Now, without further ado, RPG Ranked presents... Paper Mario Series: All Second Chapters RANKED!
6. TTYD's The Great Boggly Tree - C Tier
One of two chapters I believe to be in the C Tier that isn't from Sticker Star, this is one of the only chapters in the series that is fundamentally flawed. From tons of backtracking through the forest to Madame Flurrie's questionable design and paper-thin personality; from the underbaked and poorly-executed Pikmin-like Puni mechanics to the convoluted layout of the Great Boggly Tree, this chapter isn't all that fun. As much as I never want to replay this chapter again from a gameplay standpoint, I will say it had one of my favorite stories. I loved the story of X-Naut tyranny over the Punies and the in-tree conflict between the Punies and Jabbis. I enjoyed the boss fight, as well as the beautiful atmosphere that looks unlike anything else I've ever seen in a game since. I loved the Shadow Sirens, and the Magnus von Grapple fight was solid enough. However, in the end, as much as I love the story and atmosphere of this chapter, its revoltingly frustrating gameplay makes it one of my least favorite chapters in the series; as much as I wish I could say it is one of my favorites. If I was forced to watch a Let's Play of a TTYD chapter, though, I'd definitely pick this one... if that gives this any brownie points...
5. Sticker Star's World 2 - B Tier
This is the only time I will ever put a Sticker Star chapter above a TTYD chapter, so Sticker Star stans... cherish it while it lasts! This is actually my second favorite chapter in Sticker Star... I truly enjoyed it quite a bit! We got Sombrero Guys, a fun enemy I'd love to see make a comeback. We get the Yoshi Sphinx... a unique idea in Sticker Star!? Ahem. Sorry, it's just such a rarity. We get the Sandshifter Ruins, an exciting level with two hidden Sticker Comets that are fun to discover. And then there's Drybake Stadium, with the Tower Power Pokey, one of my favorite bosses in the game. And best of all? It was short and to the point, with only four actual levels, making it a more streamlined experience than most of the worlds in this game. We also got some ancient Toad architecture, which was very cool (and unsettling). I'm not going to pretend this is a fantastic chapter, but it didn't have any super frustrating game mechanics, and it had some genuinely memorable levels, and for that? It doesn't deserve to be last on this list... because, in the end, I actually had fun with this chapter. Even though it was enjoyable, all in all, this chapter is a bottom-of-the-bucket B Tier chapter, but since I had no significant flaws with it, it was alright! I just didn't adore anything about it either.
4. 64's The Mystery of Dry Dry Ruins - A Tier
This chapter has a fun aura of mystery, exploration, and story! The desert was easily the most open area in the series before The Origami King came with its vast, open worlds. This chapter gave the player small clues at the Dry Dry Outpost, giving them a chance to locate the final dungeon of the area without rail-roading them along, and the secret items found in the desert were fun. Also, the dungeon of the chapter was well-designed, and it was one of the better dungeons in the game! The Dry Dry Outpost is one of my favorite towns of the series, and in the end, this chapter was just so fun... for the most part. In comes Mt. Rugged, an entirely unnecessary area that could've easily been removed, and my opinion of the chapter would be unchanged or improved. I didn't really enjoy this area, and while it was an excellent way to introduce Parakarry and the Buzzar, I would've liked a more unique way of encountering them that didn't take so long to get through. I tried replaying this game recently, and getting through Mt. Rugged almost just made me want to quit the game... it isn't really that bad, but it feels like a filler area every second you go through it, and it really just isn't an entertaining area. I also believe that The Origami King took the idea of this chapter and cranked it up to 11, making a chapter that was significantly more fun, fleshed out, and modern. All in all, due to The Origami King's Yellow Streamer being this but better and the not-so-fun Mt. Rugged, I can't say this chapter is an S Tier chapter, as much as I originally wanted to.
3. Color Splash's Yellow Paint Star - A Tier
For those who read my article ranking the first chapters of the Paper Mario series, you know I love Color Splash's first chapter. While I didn't find this chapter as consistently good as that one, I still loved the game's second chapter. There's the Mondo Woods, a level filled to the brim with giant Goombas—I always love myself a good giant enemy level in Mario. There's Sunlow Ridge, a beautiful area that displays Bowser's power in a meaningful (albeit underbaked) way. There's Maramalde Valley, which has one of my favorite background songs in the history of gaming and still stands as one of my favorite Mario levels of all time, as Mario gets to escape from a giant Chain Chomp and have a fun archaeological adventure. And then there's the Golden Coliseum, an area full of excellent level design, intrigue, dialogue, and an epic boss fight at the end. I loved so much about this chapter and initially ranked it even higher due to its plot and fun levels, but I still have some problems with it. First of all, Kiwano Temple is utterly frustrating. It is a slow level with two lazily placed Mini Paint Stars right next to each other, forcing you to replay the same level twice for no reason. Also, there's minimal indication that you can't get the third Mini Paint Star right away, so I wasted a ton of time trying to find it just to be incredibly disappointed later in the game. Also, Mondo Woods was so underutilized, especially compared to the much better Sacred Forest, which had similar ideas but so much better. I also think that Bowser's power is very underdone here, and I found Huey just cleaning the Black Paint to be very cheap. Also, as much as I loved the Coliseum, it was just casually there, and it didn't fit with the overarching plot of archaeology and bones set up by the rest of the chapter (outside of a tiny bit of dialogue from a Shy Guy). As a whole, while this chapter had its flaws, it was still pretty phenomenal and made me fall in love with Color Splash after the first chapter blew my expectations out of the water.
2. Super Paper Mario's Gloam Valley - A Tier
From what I've seen on the Internet, this chapter is a love-it-or-hate-it-chapter, and I'm definitely aligned with the love-it side. I really enjoyed Gloam Valley—sure, it was very basic, but it was beautiful and utilized Peach and Boomer's mechanics well! And Merlee's Mansion? Every level was just so fun and unique, and the story here was fantastic, setting up Mimi to be a very fleshed-out villain during this chapter. I loved the wacky traps in 2-2 and the secrets around the mansion's exterior. I loved the zaniness of collecting Rubees and finding the secret vault through a series of clues and the pixel Slim in 2-3, and the entirety of 2-4 is just a masterpiece in Super Paper Mario level design. If it weren't for some quality of life issues in 2-3, this would likely bump up to S Tier, but in the end, this is one of my favorite Paper Mario chapters... yet there's one more chapter that I love so much more than this one.
1. TOK's Blue Streamer - S++ Tier
Yes, I have the audacity to believe three Paper Mario chapters are S++ Tier, as cringe as that may be, and this is one of them. In fact, this is my favorite chapter in the whole Paper Mario series. It used to be my fourth favorite, but I've changed my mind... this chapter is just that good. This chapter has so many incredibly inspired locations, from the perfection of Shogun Studios to the beautiful Autumn Mountain; I adored every location in this chapter! But at the root of why I love this chapter is Bobby, who is not only my favorite Paper Mario partner but also one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. He's adorable, innocent, stupid, charming, and his emotional sacrifice is my favorite moment in the entire series! I adored the boss fights in this chapter, the Water Vellumental Temple, the stupidity that was receiving all the coins at Eddy River, and the fabulous Big Sho' Theater! I also typically include The Princess Peach and Sweetpaper Valley because they complete Bobby's story. It makes more sense that way, as they aren't part of the stories of the Purple Streamer and Yellow Streamer chapters, respectively. Ultimately, this chapter is the epitome of a Paper Mario chapter for me—it has indelible areas, unforgettable bosses, a precious partner character, and an unbelievably superb self-contained plot, and for that? It isn't just my favorite second chapter in Paper Mario, but my favorite chapter in the whole series.
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