I absolutely adored Paper Mario: The Origami King. I laid off playing it until 2023, thinking "it can't be that good, right?" I was wrong. While TTYD is still my favorite Paper Mario game, The Origami King is a pretty close second for me—yes, I even like the battle system. But the best part of The Origami King? Its vibrant and phenomenal chapters. I love every single one of them (at varying degrees, of course), so in today's article, I will be ranking every chapter in Paper Mario: The Origami King from worst to best.
7. Prologue - C Tier
NOTE: I will be considering all events before Picnic Road as part of the Prologue.
Personally, I found this to be my second favorite Paper Mario prologue, only behind Super Paper Mario's lore-filled extravaganza. The beginning is dark and intriguing, Whispering Woods is quite charming, and saving Toad Town from the Paper Macho enemies is quite fun. My personal favorite parts, however, are the introduction of Olly, the dark paper to origami transformation scene, and seeing the streamers for the first time! Honestly, I rarely put Paper Mario prologues above D Tier—in the grand scheme of things, I thought this prologue was pretty rad. But it felt slightly empty and tutorial heavy in a game that is otherwise fantastic, fun-filled, and injected with pure adventure.
6. Origami Castle - B Tier
It's so disheartening to put put the final chapter so low, but the other chapters are just too fantastic. The Origami Castle itself, while awesome on the outside, is devoid of personality on the inside. For being the only explorable area in the chapter, that's pretty embarrassing. The Stapler fight is pretty weak in terms of the Legion of Stationery, and Olly isn't even close to being the best boss in the game. The Stapler gimmick is kind of nice, and the dog vibe is fun, but the lack of a floor tile gimmick is pretty disappointing. But even with mediocre boss fights, the cutscenes are fantastic, Olivia and Olly's especially. Bowser giving Olivia advice was also quite emotional, and Kamek and Bowser Jr. saving Mario was so cool. The airship mini-game and Hotfoot Crater? Fantastic. Luigi actually having the key the whole time? Hilarious. The Origami Festival? Touching. But overall, I just truly could not justify placing this any higher, as much as it was an awesome conclusion—it just had very little gameplay and exploration, which are integral parts to the greatness of The Origami King.
5. Red Streamer - B Tier
The Red Streamer still stuffers from some of the hand-holding elements from the Prologue, and it still has the boring-er format of other Paper Mario first worlds, but it is a fantastically grassy romp. Picnic Road, while boring at first sight, is home to so many fun-to-find secret toads, shops, and the ever-iconic Sensor Lab. It even has an homage to the original Super Mario Bros! The Earth Vellumental Temple is perhaps the coolest temple lore-wise, and opening it with the six shells was a jolly good time. The temple itself was awesome, and fighting the first Vellumental was so exciting and introduced the amazing boss battles the game has to offer—even if it still relied too much on tutorials. Overlook Mountain was cool, and seeing the much more interesting Autumn Mountain in the background was so exciting (and introduced just how well the world was connected in this game!). The highlight was definitely Overlook Tower, an area that uniquely restricted confetti usage, introduced the Colored Pencils in awesome and frightening way, and even gave us an awesome restaurant! I loved a lot of the stuff going on here, but it was still devoid of the magic of some of the other chapters in the game. Overall, I loved this chapter, but it was a little tutorial-heavy and it suffers from the omnipresent Paper Mario first chapter syndrome.
4. Purple Streamer - S Tier
I skipped the A Tier because I truly think their is a huge gap in quality between the Purple and Red Streamers. This streamer, as said by everyone and their grandmothers, is kind of like Wind Waker. With lots of hidden secrets, islands, and collectibles, this chapter is incredibly satisfying. Clearing the fog for the first time is super cool, learning the important backstory of Olly and Olivia and revealing Diamond Island? It is all completely fantastic stuff. The Ice Vellumental and Tape are both two of the favorite fights in the entire game as well! The Scuffle Island also allows for a fun and nice way to fight Paper Macho enemies and get coins! Heart Island also is a very unique puzzle for a HP Max Up Heart! However, I do have a couple problems with this chapter. First, Mario doesn't have a fun partner to hang out with. If Captain T. Ode was much more present in the chapter, I'd love this chapter a lot more. Second, the islands were just too basic for the most part other than Diamond Island. Third, the Sea Tower was by far the least interesting final streamer dungeon to me, and Tape's appearance was just so much less interesting than the Colored Pencils, Hole Punch, Scissors, and even the Rubber Band. In the end, however, I love so much about this chapter though—to me, I still thought it was quite a masterpiece. It gave me the feel os Wind Waker but in a much more bite-sized and feasible portion. All in all, I adored this chapter, but I adored three more of them, well, more. And one chapter does this chapter's exploration, but better...
3. Green Streamer - S Tier
Going from perhaps the longest streamer to the shortest streamer, the Green Streamer is just phenomenal. The Shangri-Spa is just such an inspired location, and one of the best Paper Mario locations of all time. The interactions between Mario, Olivia, Bowser Jr., and Kamek are absolutely golden. The idea of going to different spas and healing up Bowser Jr. is so novel. His destruction is a great set-up for the fantastic Scissors fight. This chapter also has four boss fights—the Boss Sumo, the Handaconda, the Paper Mistake Buzzy Beetle, and the Scissors. Bowser's Castle is also very fun, but short. However, there are some flaws with this otherwise amazing chapter. First, three of the four bosses are some of the game's least interesting bosses. Two, without a Vellumental, this chapter is a bit more interestingly paced than the other chapters, but it makes the chapter not anchored by one of the game's most awesome new additions. Three, it was just a little bit too short (and the game show was much too long). However, the Scissors' introduction and fight were amazing, the origami Chain Chomp sequence makes up for the lack of a Vellumental, and the shortness? While disheartening, it was a bit of a breath of fresh air compared to some of the other super long chapters.
2. Yellow Streamer - S+ Tier
To me, this does all the Purple Streamer does, but better. Exploring in the boot car is so fun and more unique than by boat, and digging things up more fun than grabbing them from the ocean... digging is more available, less tedious, and it is done by the legendary Professor Toad! The sun being stolen also was very cool and worked so well at establishing Hole Punch as the chapter's main villain, as well as allowing for a beautiful and incredibly unique picturesque and twilight desert environment! Aligning all the toad statues through a fantastic series of riddles is so fun (if not the greatest on subsequent playthroughs, but I don't replay games)! The revealing of the Fire Vellumental Cave, the Temple of Shrooms, and Captain T. Ode's secret hideaway are all fantastic. The Fire Vellumental fight is pretty epic, but the Hole Punch is the true highlight, as the whole streamer—not just the Temple of Shrooms—is influenced by the actions of the Hole Punch: easily the best of the six Legion of Stationery in my eyes. With my three gripes being fixed from the Purple Streamer, as Professor Toad is awesome and the Temple of Shrooms being my favorite dungeon in the game, this is a perfect Paper Mario chapter in my eyes. This chapter is just full of intriguing moments, houses the bodacious Boot Car, boasts awesome mystery elements, and has the most surreal moment in any video game I've ever played: fighting a hole puncher who punches holes in the faces of Toads so they'll always be able to have dance parties with him. Overall, not only is this my second favorite Origami King chapter, but my fifth favorite chapter in the entire series.
1. Blue Streamer - S+ Tier
NOTE: I'm counting Sweetpaper Valley and the Princess Peach as part of the Blue Streamer, as every partner story is only told during one chapter. I think this makes more sense, as it starts and finishes Bobby's story if those two locations are counted as part of the Blue Streamer experience.
This chapter is my fourth favorite in the whole series for a reason—it has everything I love about the Green Streamer, but without any of the fundamental flaws that that chapter has. Like Shangri-Spa, Shogun Studios is an incredibly fun and inspired location. The trio of Mario, Olivia, and Bobby is perfect... it is truly full of chemistry, and I love it! (I mean platonic chemistry, in case anyone is demented and thought anything else.) The scene in which Mario meets Bobby is masterfully crafted, and is one of the only times a Mario game uses the fantastic writing method of "show, don't tell" in its writing. Bobby's basicness and lack of intelligence is somehow simultaneously annoying, charming, and perfectly aligned with the themes of the game. This chapter has my favorite boss fight in the whole game: the Water Vellumental! In fact,this boss is one of my favorite RPG bosses of all-time. And yes, I still think The Origami King is an RPG... just because it doesn't have a typical leveling progression system doesn't mean it isn't one. Is Chrono Cross not any RPG by that standard? Anyway, I digress. Truly, it also doesn't have the flaws of the Green Streamer. This chapter has three fantastic bosses: the Water Vellumental, Rubber Band, and the Paper Macho Gooper Blooper! Also, in reality, the acts in the Big Sho' Theater feel like boss fights in their own right! The first location of the chapter is the absolutely gorgeous and fun Autumn Mountain. After is Chestnut Valley, a boring area in terms of gameplay, but a great area in terms of establishing Bobby's character. The third is the Water Vellumental Shrine, my second favorite Vellumental dungeon in the game, as well as the first location to have a coffee shop! Of course, after acquiring the Water Vellumental is the very fun, annoying, and iconic Eddy River! Though it took me a ton of tries, in the end, I had a lot of fun getting the trophy at Eddy River. After Eddy River is my second favorite location in the game, Shogun Studios! It is an amazing town with a great atmosphere, a trading sequence side quest, the fantastic Ninja Attraction, and the aforementioned Big Sho' Theater—my third favorite final chapter dungeon (behind Bowser's Castle and the Temple of Shrooms). But the best locations of all? The Sweetpaper Valley and the Breezy Tunnel. Sure, some argue it is part of the Yellow Streamer, but I feel like it closes out the Blue Streamer and Bobby's story arc. Bobby's emotional sacrifice is not only my favorite moment in the game... not only my favorite moment in the Paper Mario series... but one of my favorite moments in any game I have ever played in my entire life. It is just that well made. The emotions, deep themes, and sacrifice of the moment play into the story of The Origami King so, so well. This is also the only moment in the entire Mario series where Mario seems to show complete and genuine grief, and him and Olivia reacting to Bobby's death is just so heartbreaking to see. Mario cheering up Olivia is just the icing on the cake. Truly, the only Paper Mario chapters I like more than this chapter are SPM's Chapter 8 and TTYD's third and fourth chapters. Overall, I absolutely adore this chapter, and honestly? I absolutely adore Paper Mario: The Origami King. Of the insane amount of games I've played, this game has now broken through my top ten video games of all time with flying colors. If the beginning and end were better, it'd probably be even higher. (Don't worry, I still like TTYD better.)