Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Review | Nintendo Switch

The Thousand-Year Door is a must-have for every fan of Mario or role-playing games.

By Rayan, Posted 27 May 2024

It is hard to imagine that playing a game of papercraft would be so interesting. Drawing inspiration from Paper Mario, Intelligent Systems redefined the series as an approachable adventure with a cast of whimsical, imaginative misfits, straightforward gameplay, and an amusing storyline. It's been a while, and I think the Paper Mario series has done the right thing by branching out from the same old turn-based mechanics and becoming a platform for fresh takes on the role-playing game genre. 


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The Thousand-Year Door, its sequel, elevated everything to an extraordinary height. With its multilayered storyline, funny side characters, and papercraft gameplay, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is an intriguing and visually engaging experience, and it's fantastic. Particularly noteworthy as a defining feature of the series going forward is the comedic tone of the language that made it into the game. While the game was groundbreaking for fans of the JRPG style, it also marked Nintendo's departure from that formula in later games.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Remaster's plot is an exact recreation of the original. The story starts in Rogueport when Princess Peach finds a treasure map that has magical powers. In the depths of a port city beset by brigands lies a fragment of scroll that, when unfolded, discloses the whereabouts of a treasure that has been hidden for centuries. Her quest for the treasure begins with no delay, and she contacts Mario, who is relaxing in his countryside home. So, Mario sets sail for the ocean in quest of the princess, believing that she needs his assistance with her research. However, upon his arrival, he finds that Peach has vanished. Mario heads out in pursuit of Peach, intending to uncover the myriad secrets that surround this enigmatic treasure map.

The plot and the humor are the same even if the narrative is 20 years old. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is full of interesting plot developments and engaging character interactions that suit Mario's personality, particularly appealing is the adult tone that is tossed on top. Following the progression of the story, it becomes clear what Princess Peach and Bowser are up to. Walking around as little Paper Peach was really more fun than I anticipated, even if I didn't get much done because I got to play with the tale instead of just watching it develop. There were several funny situations; for instance, it was hilarious to see an AI fall for Peach and Bowser get furious because someone else had her, and a lot more.


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Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door's gameplay has been largely preserved, while the graphics have been upgraded. The gameplay is tight, following the same format but with some minor but significant improvements over its predecessors. Combat takes place in the traditional turn-based role-playing game structure which is tedious and time-consuming. Mario and his allies engage in combat on a stage, pitting themselves against enemies while in front of spectators.

At its heart, The Thousand-Year Door is the same game as before: you journey into an unfamiliar realm on wild adventures, make new friends, and face deadly enemies. As customary, to overcome the numerous obstacles, Mario will employ a mix of his jumping, hammer, and allies' abilities. Even though it served as a role-playing game, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door did a better job of incorporating its paper world than the previous Paper Mario installment did. To fit through increasingly narrow gaps, Mario frequently has to roll up or spin sideways, showcasing the origins of the paper-based puzzle-solving style.

Similar to its forerunner, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door takes a fresh go at battle. Regardless of the number of foes they encounter, Mario and his selected ally will charge at them in a rather straight route. You must use Mario's hammer to smash ground enemies and jump on top of flying enemies to defeat them. Jumps, on the other hand, can hit any opponent in the line, whilst hammer and ground assaults can only target the first enemy within range.

An extra engaging feature meant to keep you involved is the need for precise timing for each step. This gameplay approach, however, makes time seem to go much more slowly. It can get tiresome having to hit buttons at certain intervals all the time. Particularly, the speed of combat might feel slow because of the repeated changes in animation between attacks, which can disrupt the flow of gameplay, and the monotony sets in throughout longer encounters.


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The monotony of having to precisely synchronize my button taps grew unbearable during one very lengthy duel. It seemed as if the flow of the game was being thrown off, which made the overall experience less enjoyable. I have mixed feelings about the combat in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, but I do have plenty of good things to say about the game overall. Because there are so many different types of adversaries, you can't just autopilot fights. Given the current state of affairs in battles, you'll need to use your imagination to figure out the best approach.

Since the combats happen on a real stage, the audience's reactions make for exciting gaming. These interactions elevate the whole gameplay experience by enhancing features such as hecklers throwing rocks, gifts from enthusiastic fans, and enhancements to your attacks. There are methods to significantly shorten fighting times as well. POW Block and Fire Flower are so effective in clearing the board that you can destroy the stage in a few seconds. 

There are also additional actions that can be activated by the cheers of the crowd, objects that deal damage or increase stats, and you can unlock more moves using Flower Points. Minigames that rely on timing control how successful strikes are in the grand scheme of things. You get a burst of power when the timing is just right. In addition to doing additional damage to the enemies, these tremendous attacks have the potential to knock over stage props. Not to mention that timing the Superguard's ability to parry attacks is tough to master. It exemplifies the importance of having a skill to hone during these protracted conflicts. Since missing a Superguard could result in losing an attack, going with the Classicguard ability instead is a more viable choice.

An integral part of the game's layout is the idea of vast universes where you must search for multiple objects. There will be star pieces that can be used as cash for exchanging products, in addition to the core Crystal Stars, which will be present in each world. Each of the seven worlds has its color scheme and parallels to earlier Mario games; as a result, you'll see plenty of underground areas, as well as forests, dark castles, and castles. As you gradually buy more properties, a process that requires you to return to previous sites will be unlocked. On the contrary, the game incorporates mechanics that allow you to progressively recollect instances where you made promises to others or discovered a particular location.


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Leveling up in The Thousand-Year Door is a really fun experience. Each fight earns Mario star points, which he can use to unlock new levels. There are new ways to level up your character with each new level. This means there's room for creative play styles and builds in each experience. Each character's health is represented by Health Points, while Flower Points and Badge Points are the other two primary statistics. After every fight, your squad will gain Star Points.

When they reach 100, Mario will level up, and you can choose to level up in one of the categories mentioned above each time. You need to use Flower Points to activate Badge Points, which are related to the maximum number of Badges that can be used at once. As Mario advances through the game, his coin balance increases. He can then use these coins to purchase power-ups, which are useful allies throughout Mario's challenging battles, from local stores. Combat outcomes depend on how well you upgrade your allies, forces, accessible items, and, of course, the enemy types.

Intelligent Systems has also implemented certain improvements that enhance the user experience, such as the partner wheel. Another unique aspect of Paper Mario: Legend of the Aeon Gate is the wonderfully varied roster of characters: Six of them—Goombrina, Koopio, Aerona, Mini-Yoshi, Barbara, and Bart-omb—are available throughout the game, while the seventh—Nagerine—is an optional inclusion. And it's not just that their individual powers make them valuable in combat; in fact, they all have skills that come in handy even when Mario is traversing in different locations. Yoshi, for instance, may make Mario run faster and jump higher; Aerona, for the removal of barriers; and Bart-omb, for exploding items that break.

The Thousand-Year Door is a relatively easy game, yet it may disappoint its young audience. Even though it's a Mario game, keep in mind that it's also a role-playing game with turn-based combat and somewhat chatty characters. Nevertheless, its clever use of cardboard in its visual approach will soon surprise you. Unlike the original, Paper Mario is primarily composed of paper in this installment.


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On many levels, you can change Mario into an origami figure, a boat, or an airplane, and this nostalgic experience will make you smile. Every time I've tried this, it made me smile too. Also going through the surroundings of Rogueport, Boggly Woods, and other places was a fantastic and beautiful experience. I couldn't bring myself to stop staring at the scenery or looking for buried treasure. The capacity to step into the role of other characters contributes to the storyline, and this strategy for creating the environment pairs nicely with it. 

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a visual delight. The GameCube version had beautiful visuals, but this remake takes it to a whole new level by thoroughly improving every model, environment, and character. Character and enemy designs are even more impressive than world design. Not to mention the amazing level design, villages teeming with tiny inhabitants each with their distinct attitude, shops, and more characterize the environments. An integral part is the entirely new soundtrack. The new soundtracks are exciting, with multiple tunes especially Mario encounters on his quest for the Crystal Stars.

With a few tweaks here and there, like making frogs Hooktail's weakness instead of crickets, the revised translation feels more faithful to the original. The only real gripe is the way the world is broken up into smaller areas that are only linked at the loading screens. There are brief but noticeable loading screens whenever you go from the game world to a fight scenario. As the game continues, the impatience of players like me becomes increasingly apparent due to the continual waiting and the unnecessary retracing. Aside from all the upgrades, the remake could have done much better to improve this particular issue.


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Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door probably has one or two issues that might annoy you, but it's also one of the greatest and wildest role-playing games ever made. It's undoubtedly one of the finest and most adored role-playing games of all time. The remake adds several renewed concepts that make it stand apart even more. It's hard not to admire the way it continues the unique turn-based combat mechanism of the previous installments while adding gorgeous visuals, a wide range of characters, and hilarious scripting. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting, I guarantee you'll have a blast. The Thousand-Year Door is a must-have for every fan of Mario or role-playing games. 
 

Azfar Rayan (@AzfarRayan)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): Switch
Publisher(s): Nintendo, Nintendo of America Inc.
Developer(s): Intelligent Systems
Genres: Turn-Based Strategy
Themes: Role-Playing, Action, Adventure
Release Date: 2024-05-23

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