Ever since the series debuted in 2000, Paper Mario has been one of the most enjoyable, colorful, and lighthearted RPG franchises in all of gaming. Including five main games and several spin-offs, covering almost every major Nintendo console since the Nintendo 64, Paper Mario has been consistently delighting fans for over 20 years.
The newest entry in the series, Paper Mario: The Origami King releases on July 17th, welcoming an all-new set of players on the Nintendo Switch. With a brand new game right around the corner, it’s a great time to take a look back at the two most-retro games in the franchise and count down the best characters you can recruit. Chosen from Paper Mario on Nintendo 64 and Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door on the Gamecube, these are our picks for the top 5 party members in Paper Mario.
5. Ms. Mowz (Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door)
The Paper Mario series is full of cutesy, small companions, but Ms. Mowz is the only party member in the game that is completely optional. Even so, we make sure to pick up this flirtatious and strategic mouse whenever we play The Thousand-Year Door. Although she’s not a powerhouse in battle, Ms. Mowz possesses a handful of invaluable abilities.
In addition to stealing enemy items and badges with her Kiss Thief move, Mowz can also bolster Mario’s health with a solid use of her Smooch move. Ms. Mowz is never one to forego a compliment, so we love keeping her at our side whenever possible.
4. Vivian (Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door)
Vivian is one of three Shadow Sirens; dark-magic wielding sisters who attempt to capture Mario in the Boggly Woods. Although she’s originally out to defeat Mario, Vivian soon changes her mind, after Mario shows a simple act of kindness toward her.
Often dejected and lacking in self-esteem, Vivian slowly regains her confidence throughout your adventure in The Thousand-Year Door. Generally speaking, her abilities are great for damaging large groups of enemies, lighting them on ablaze using her Fiery Jinx and Shade Fist moves. Beyond her strength in combat, Vivian is a likable character with an endearing charm, easily earning her spot on our list of the top 5 party members in Paper Mario.
3. Kooper (Paper Mario)
When you first meet Kooper in the original Paper Mario, your journey is just beginning and your arsenal of moves is pretty weak. Despite his general inexperience, this young-yet-confident Koopa Kid is great for early battles, thanks to his hard-hitting Power Shell move. When enemies line up like bowling pins, Kooper knocks ’em down with ease.
Kooper has big dreams of exploring the world, which makes him an ideal companion throughout your adventure. Even as you progress further into the game and unlock party members with more strategic options, Kooper is always a reliable pick.
2. Mini-Yoshi (Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door)
The Paper Mario series is packed with plenty of unique characters, but sometimes it’s a classic Mario face that makes us the happiest. Look no further than Mini-Yoshi, your very own customizable, infant dinosaur, to prove that point. After collecting his egg in the Glitz Pit, you only have to wait a little while until Mini-Yoshi is born.
Full of life and attitude, this bottle-rocket of energy comes kicking right out of the shell. Possessing plenty of trademark Yoshi movies, like spitting enemies out as eggs or delivering a swift kick to the head, Mini-Yoshi is always fun to use in battle. In addition to having seven different possible colors, Mini-Yoshi is the only party member in Paper Mario that players can name themselves. If the level of customization isn’t enough for you, then his generally adorable face hopefully is.
1. Bow (Paper Mario)
When you think of the ghostly Boo characters in the Super Mario universe, you usually don’t think they’d be on Mario’s side. However, that’s not the case for Bow, a sassy female Boo who teams up with Mario to take down the ghost-eating boss named Tubba Blubba. Armed with her cute, red hair-bow and a mean backhand, Bow is arguably the best damage-dealing party member in the original Paper Mario.
This mostly stems from her Smack and Fan Smack abilities, both of which can damage an enemy up to six times with one attack. If you’re facing a particularly tough boss, Bow is also indispensable, due to her Outta Sight move that completely shields Mario from any damage. Whether you’re trying to seriously hurt your enemy, dodge attacks, or just look cool as can be, Bow is the best Paper Mario party member around.
So who is your favourite Paper Mario party member? We’d love to know in the comments.