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PAPER MARIO: THE THOUSAND-YEAR DOOR | REVIEW | NINTENDO SWITCH

Updated: May 30

''SPEAK FRIEND AND ENTER''

 

Developed: Intelligent Systems

Published: Nintendo

Genre: RPG

Release Date: May 23rd, 2024

Platforms: Switch


*PRODUCT PROVIDED TO ME BY NINTENDO

It's been 20 years since Nintendo released arguably one of their most revered RPG titles and now here in 2024, Nintendo and Intelligent Systems aims to see if that same magic from yester-year, still holds up in 2024. Does this game still hold the same amount of charm as it used to? or is it nothing more than nostalgia in our eyes keeping this game on a pedestal? Only one way to find out, so lets WAHOO!


STORY:


The X-Nauts are after the treasure behind the Thousand-Year Door! With a map from Princess Peach—and the help of a few locals—Mario must journey through a colorful world made of paper to find it first.

''EVERYTHING THE LIGHT TOUCHES....ISNT YOURS. BAD GOOMBELLA''

 

GAMEPLAY:


When it comes to industry leading RPG titles, a few games or franchises come to mind, those being Final Fantasy, Persona, Dragon Quest or Quest 64. Well.. maybe not so much Quest 64, but you get the idea. You think of specific titles from those franchises that have been a mainstay in the hearts of gamers for many years, well after the hype or excitement for each franchise has died down and the Paper Mario franchise here is no different. With the first Paper Mario game many years ago on N64 becoming a benchmark for Mario RPG's following my favorite Mario related RPG, Super Mario RPG, Nintendo decided to try their hand at upping the ante on themselves and creating an even greater adventure with the sequel we are now reviewing here, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Obviously they succeeded tremendously since 20 years later were still talking about how great the turn based combat was, how silly and random the humor is and the way the world itself felt like it was its own character due to how alive everything felt. Every side character feels like they have something to say or add, like Luigi himself trying to get in one the action and telling you of his grand adventure, which Mario... really doesn't give a crap about and falls asleep. What a jerk! but then again, his sidekick friend did say that Luigi purposely threw him in the lava of a volcano, so... who's the REAL monster here? I see you Luigi, I'm onto you. Evil Luigi antics aside, you immediately get the feeling that Nintendo isn't playing around with this entry into the Paper Mario franchise and see why people considering putting it on a Mount Rushmore of Mario RPG's alongside entries like Super Mario RPG and entries from the Mario and Luigi RPG games. But this is where things also become a problem because due to the high praise of this title, the purist of the franchise refuse to play or acknowledge games like Color Splash or even The Origami King and whine that ''but mehhhhh wahhhh this isnt Thousand Year Door, therefore sucks in general''. Normally you could chalk that up to a case of just having an opinion, but when you have people not even give you a reason as to WHY they dont other titles compared to Thousand Year Door other than ''its not thousand year door'', then honestly, you don't make a compelling argument on why people should take you seriously. Just saying. I'll give you guys Sticker Star though, I'll let you have that win, you big goofs.

With the Introduction of The Thousand Year door, a title which I have not beaten in over a decade till this remakes release, you will notice that the game isnt as ''big'' as the original Paper Mario game in terms of level size and maps, but... that's when you start noticing the game didn't really need bigger areas in it to justify its existence and instead utilizes its smaller map size to enhance what worked for Paper Mario and extend that towards more combat options for you as a player, a wide ranging story that takes you many different locations between interconnected chapters that have NPC's change dialogue depending on actions you take in the story, and ultimately landing yourself at the main games hub point which will act as your Must Go To for Sprite upgrades to level your partners skillsets, act as fast travel and allow you to join the mob. Wait what? join the mob? Poor Mario, it seems like prison life in Mario Sunshine really changed the man... I thought I knew you, you little cute small pudgy man, but alas I did not. Mario's crime riddled past aside, the hub of Rogue Port is actually key to progression and means for fast travel to combat some of the quality of life issues that people had trouble with in the original game, including me. In the original game, fans would have to backtrack all the way to areas for simple fetch quests or just to talk to someone, re-fighting the same enemies all over again and really just sinking time into something that really didn't need to be that long to begin with, much like the fighting tournament in Glitzville that goes on for WAY too long and is a 5 hour fight fest that could've been done in like two hours tops. But at least we got RAWK HAWK, who I always felt was going to pull out the ''BROTHER'' line when he would cut promos like he's Hulk Hogan. Bro wasn't ready for me though, I kicked the crap out of him. But you know who is ready take on the fight? BONESAW. Becoming the world heavyweight champion aside, by using hidden pipes with tearable walls that reveal a new area of the game that allows you to take warp pipes to instantly go to every area in the game that you've collected a crystal star in, cuts down your backtracking time by over half the time. Obviously it's still not perfect, but its definitely a much needed quality of life change that improves playability a ten fold. Now if they could only cut down the ''I love you's'' in Keyhaul. This girl Francesca really wanted my boy Frankie to say ''I love you'' to her 100 times before agreeing to see her dying father. What the heck girl? your dad is literally turning into a thin soggy paper man, go see him!. Frankie, this woman aint worth it, FO-GET ABOUT IT, lets just go see The Boss ourselves. Like seriously, Francesca, he told you he loved you like two hours ago, if he changed his mind he'd let you know. My bro Frankie literally had a hit put on him by the mob, ran to save his life ,uplifted his life to move to an isolated island with her and this is the thanks he gets? Man, I oughta put the hurts on her myself Frankie, what do ya say, shall I bump her off? make her swim with the fishes? no? ok fine, were moving on then.
 

''EAT YOUR VITAMINS AND SAY YOUR PRAYERS''

 
Story wise for this title, the game remains largely unchanged from a narrative stand point and all the key things, including the annoying machine falling in love with Princess Peach arc that takes place in between chapters. What's weird is that these sections aren't necessarily bad in itself, they just aren't very fun and come off as very weird with a machine randomly falling in love with a human and Peach not even being phased by it. TEC just wants to know what love is and hopes that Peach doesn't break his heart by asking her ''WHAT IS LOVE''. Frankly, I prefer the Bowser arc of the side stories with him getting super angry that someone besides him would have the audacity to kidnap Princess Peach, like HOW DARE THEY?. This leads him on a journey to follow Mario all over the world to save Princess Peach himself, just so he can be the one to kidnap her from the kidnappers. Classic Bowser logic. The story as usual starts off with Mario receiving a treasure map from Princess Peach, who went to Rogue Port for a vacation, but because she's a dumb dumb, ends up getting kidnapped by the group known as the X-Nauts. Because you always have the save the day, Mario then heads on an adventure to Rogue Port in order to uncover the secrets that lie below in the depths of the city with the mysterious Thousand Year Door and discover the truth behind the power behind the Crystal Stars. This is where the silliness prevails due to the over the top spectacle that is this games charm that has you burst into a castle to take on the evil Hooktail like you're Shrek or Donkey breaking in to fight a dragon, find a town who's all been turned into pigs but have one guy literally be like ''who cares bro? my life sucks anyways, I'd rather be a pig'', which makes you feel bad for laughing because you're like dang bro, you good? you want me to give you my happy meal? its got a cool toy in it. You then get to journey on further by taking a break from all the fighting action to partake in a ''who dun it'' mystery taking place on a train where you must investigate clues, help an undead toad find his diary, find the glutton who ate all the soup for dinner... which I mean... was kind of obvious, watch Bowser trying to cross the seas on his koopa clown car, only for him to be taken down by Falco from Star Fox getting in his way. Ok.. maybe that doesn't happen, but you still do get to fly the big Vegas in the sky town of Glitzville, which I mentioned earlier, where you participate in over 20 matches to obtain the crystal star and ultimately win the title of Champion yourself as you fight as ''The Great Gonzalez'' and take part in intense battles that make the fighting stage look like some rave or rock party. Its all very silly and completely bolstered by the large variety of playable partners and unique characters to meet and interact with.

Thousand Year Door is a weird anomaly in the Paper Mario series in a sense that characters and gameplay go hand and hand with each other to noy only move the story further, but allow you to seek out extra content for your own personal pleasure as well. Where you have funny mafia bosses, a flirty little mouse thief girl who loves stealing badges as has a weird infatuation with Mario because she thinks he's cute, little monster friends that live in a giant tree that just want you to play with them, Koopie Koo who goes full on ChiChi from Dragon Ball when she learns her boyfriend Koops is joining you on your adventure to save the world and absolutely freaks out, or even characters like Flavio, who is a flamboyant and boisterous pirate obsessed with his red skull stone and loves to sing pirate songs to himself or anyone unlucky enough to hear them that happen to be in vicinity. To be fair, one of my favorite chapters of the game actually involves him when you have to travel across the ocean with your assembled crew of pirates in order to discover the mysteries of the Cortez Treasure. Through this chapter you actively search an island, take part in battles in pirate ships, uncover treasure and solve puzzles in an underground cavern after successfully deciphering the ''song of legend'' sung gracefully by our boy, Flavio. Well, it might be graceful, we really dont know because this game has no voice acting, but his song on how to open Cortez's cave would actually make for a banger of a pirate song in general, just saying. So.. what was the point of me even mentioning any of this? well I'm trying to hit home the fact that characters themselves and the situations they create are just as important as the game play itself. For example outside of normal combat, which uses a fun turn based mechanic with timed pressed combat that lets you team up with all your recruited partner members such as Goombella who is a know it all Goomba girl that specializes in doing headbutts for attacks or when leveled up, allows you to cast a spell that gives Mario an extra turn, Baby Yoshi, I named Turd, is able to do floaty jumps by tapping ZR and do multiple butt stomps onto enemies or creating a massive stampede to hit all enemies on the field, Bobbery who is an old bob-omb that allows you to throw out multiple explosives or one gigantic explosion to damage all foes, Vivian a ghost with fire attacks who can use defensive abilities like cloaking Mario, Flurrie, an eccentric actress who does belly flops or infatuates characters to fall in love with her to momentarily buy you time in a battle, etc. You get the picture, all partners have unique abilities that can be leveled up or used to your advantage, but it still goes even further beyond that with all characters usefulness. Way more useful than whatever Luigi was attempting to do in this game. Bro, were not having it.

As you pick and choose which strategy to take with your partner characters, level up and try to balance out upgrades between leveling up your health, your flower power or even your BP, which are your badge points used to equip badges that give you boosts in defense, give you new attacks to use, raise your health or flower points, give you regeneration, etc etc. Heck you can even get the crowd into the fray by appealing to them during a fight to raise your Star Power so you can unleash massive attacks that either let you heal your party like using Sweet Treat or attacks that do massive damage to everyone on the playing field in general, but sometimes those jerks can throw crap at you too to injure you. Freaking little turds, I'll remember you kid, I know the mob now, remember? soon bro, soon. Outside of battle though is where I feel each partner truly shines because all partners, including my little mohawk Turd baby Yoshi who I saved from being eaten alive in egg form - all of them have use that involves puzzles or making secret discoveries from locations you've previously been to but either couldnt access yet or needed a specific ability to be able to open or reveal. While you are exploring different areas, old or new, you can use each partners unique ability to solve a puzzle or traverse through an area by using said techniques. For example when you start the game, you'll see random walls with their edges slightly peeled off, nothing can be done with those till later in the game when you obtain the services of Flurrie who uses her power of wind to blow and peel off whatever is hidden behind a wall, which can be a treasure chest, a sprite, a warp pipe or even a secret door leading to a brand new area. The same goes for your partners like Bobbery, Vivian, and Turd with Bobbery being able to blow up cracks in the wall that reveal items and new passage ways, Vivian helping you shield you by taking you underground to avoid spikes and other hazards and Turd allowing you do his HRMMMMMMMMMM hover jump to get you over to ledges you previously weren't able to get to. This doesnt even account for all the paper abilities you obtain that let you go thin to fit between narrow passages, roll around on the ground underneath ledges, turn into a paper plane and try not to do as horrible job as me flying, become a boat and find new areas to swim to, etc etc, there's just so much variety to its exploration and use of characters that it makes everyone actually seem vital to your agenda even outside the story, rather than being one and done. Just like Yamcha showing up to the Saibamen fight. Nope, no, were not doing this again, no more Yamcha jokes for the time being, hes been through enough and I feel and he deserves a break. Krillin on the other hand, RUN!.

 

''LOOK MA, IM A FRUIT ROLL UP''

 

DISLIKES:


Uh Oh. Dislikes time. Dun Dun Dunnnnnn. Dramatic intro and praises for the game aside, I still do have several issues with the title. Not necessarily ones that ruin the entire game for me, but some issues that come up that do annoy me or growl under my breath to myself. However to me the Trouble Center side quest system still remains a nuisance and overly cumbersome that makes people back track specifically to Rogue Port jus to pick one up. I feel this could've been updated to have one of these boards available in each area so no matter what part of the map you're on, you can still turn in and complete whatever you want, whenever you want without having to drop everything you're doing to get your butt all the way back to Rogue Port, so that is pretty annoying. I know improvements to backtracking were made with the tunnel system, but no, more could've been done. Another gripe is lack of end game content or extra game content to the game. After the new variety and extra content that was added in Super Mario RPG Remake, you'd think there would be a little more of the new content here, but sadly besides the quality of life changes, which are great, there's really not much new to sink your teeth into that wasn't present in the original game on Gamecube. Lastly for my gripes is some of the chapters dragging on way too long with Glitzville being a huge culprit of a time waster with taking on like 20 to 30 matches to become champ in what feels like segments that could've been done in 2 hours rather than the 5 hours it takes to get through the area. I realize I am complaining about something I already beat when I was younger and its a nitpick after all these years, but dang, with all the other quality of life stuff, couldnt they have tweaked this? at least just a little bit? It would've done wonders for my sanity.

 

''ROB SCHNEIDER IS ''THE LOVE MACHINE'', RATED PG 13''

 

OVERALL


At the end of the day, Paper Mario The Thousand Year Door remains a very fun game just as I remember it. Sure its not perfect all with backtracking still being a major issue, especially in later levels, quest system still feeling a bit convoluted, pacing being off quite a bit on some chapters that feels like they're lengthier than they should be, etc etc. While those are definitely debbie downers, I feel they cant outweigh completely the positives like a hint guidance system that offers players that are stuck a little bit more help on what to do and where to go, being able to restart boss fights immediately should you happen to lose, skip cutscenes, new save block, cool art and sound gallery, variety to gameplay using partners, cute and charismatic characters that add to the enjoyment and lore of the world, fun ways to strategize by bein gable to switch out any partner for your party at anytime, should the build you created not work against a specific enemy type. There's just so much good here that it's hard for me to say anything other than I recommend it. Even though there's a debate on a $40 vs $60 remaster price tag, which is a legit battle to have, I feel it should be evaluated on a case by case basis overall. I personally feel with Super Mario RPG being the better RPG in general, but also giving more bang for your buck that its an easy one to say ''I'll buy that for dollar!'' or this case, $60. Even though I don't feel this title surpasses the enjoyment I had with Super Mario RPG Remake, The Thousand Year Door for me still remained a treat to retread for the first time in over a decade and if you're a fan of the Paper Mario series or just want to know what this series is all about, then I definitely recommend picking this one up and giving it a go, even despite its shortcomings. I feel you'll be pleasantly surprised. So with all that having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick says BUY NOW.


 




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