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Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

ペーパーマリオRPG

Developer: Intelligent Systems Publisher: Nintendo
22 July 2004
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door [ペーパーマリオRPG] - cover art
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4.32 / 5.0
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1,042 Ratings / 5 Reviews
#21 All-time
#2 for 2004
On a trip to the city of Rogueport, Princess Peach buys a treasure map, which she sends to Mario asking for him to help her find the treasure it leads to. But before Mario arrives, she is captured by Sir Grodus and his army of X-Nauts! Mario is not aware of this, however, and assumes that she's simply looking for the treasure by herself, so he goes on a quest to find the seven Crystal Stars in order to unlock the Thousand-Year Door that is connected to his map.
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Paper Mario [マリオストーリー] was a better-designed game. If it had the combat/audience system and the level of partner interaction this game has, it would be plainly obvious for everyone to see. (people say that the partners in this game are better than in the original, but it's not really a fair comparison; the partners in TTYD get a lot more dialogue than in the original)

In the original Paper Mario, the world felt a lot more real, due to the way the levels connected. Toad Town is your main hub, and the goomba village is accessed via a path to the west. The koopa village is accessed via a path to the east, and the spooky woods are accessed via another path to the east. You can take a train to the mountains, or ride a giant tuna to an island. There's a big toy box in the centre of town that you can jump into for another level. Only one level in the original Paper Mario can only be accessed via sewer pipe.
In contrast, The Thousand-Year Door's koopa village can only be accessed via sewer pipe. The woods and creepy twilight town can only be accessed via sewer pipe. The ice level can only be accessed via sewer pipe. Rogueport itself does not connect to anything. The only non-sewer pipe levels are accessed via a blimp, pirate ship, and train. Rogueport doesn't feel like a place that could actually exist because of this.

TTYD also reuses a lot of ideas from the first game. Chapter one of both games are set in a plains area, koopa village, and koopa castle. The main difference is that the first game's chapter one boss is four ninjakoopas piloting a giant Bowser mech, and TTYD's chapter one boss is a dragon whose entire attack strategy hinges on Mario having a foot fetish.

The biggest problem with TTYD is the backtracking. Chapter four requires you to walk through the entire level no less than five times (thrice forward, twice backward). Chapter five requires you to traverse the same jungle a total of five times (thrice forward, twice backward), unless you fail to grab the coconuts on the last screen your first visit, in which case make that seven times. Chapter seven requires you to chase down General White, who you may recall seeing in chapter one's area, but he's not there any more, and makes you chase him down to every single area in the game. Also, there is an optional quest you can undertake to do the General White backtracking mission again, because everyone loved it the first time.
In contrast, the original game has a few chapters based around backtracking as well. Chapters four and six require you to traipse around the level doing glorified fetch quests, but the areas are designed for it. In Flower Fields, for example, six paths branch off from the starting screen, each short and sweet, and you never have to go down the same one twice in a row.

This game is one step forward and two steps back. Shame everyone is too focused on the step forward to see this.
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Also fuck the Boggly Woods
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This game is absolutely fantastic but I never want to play it again, because the great chapters are offset by chapters plagued with backtracking and extremely annoying encounters. Absolutely still worth playing though, buy or emulate this game for sure
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Wombstone 2022-01-07T21:28:46Z
2022-01-07T21:28:46Z
4.5
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If the first Paper Mario was an RPG vehicle to flesh out the Mario universe, then Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is meant to flesh out the Paper Mario universe. Having a sequel to the first Paper Mario meant that it became its bonafide property separated from the mainline Mario series. Because of this, the Paper Mario franchise would have to expand upon the idiosyncrasies that make it removed from the standard Mario universe. The first Paper Mario was charming, quirky, and exuded the warmth of a storybook with its presentation. It gave the Mario universe a much-needed level of depth that could only be plausibly presented through the RPG genre. The first game was still confined to the familiar properties of the Mario franchise, almost to a fault. While the first game was flippant enough with the source material, it still somewhat carried a lot of the tired tropes from the mainline franchise. The personality the game gave to its characters, areas, and narrative was a splendid change of pace for the Mario series, but something felt somewhat limited. The margins set by the archetypal Mario universe sort of undermined the full potential of the series.

With the sequel Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the chains of the mainline franchise were severed and the series was free to run wild with creativity. Like any other exemplary sequel, The Thousand-Year Door is a more well-oiled machine that buffs out the blemishes of the first game. It was also on a more advanced piece of gaming hardware, so the game naturally came with better graphics and a smoother framerate. The Thousand-Year Door also amplified all of the distinctive properties set forth by the first game. If slight irreverence was the key in the first game, The Thousand-Year Door revels in it. It is a Mario game that exceeds all expectations anyone has ever had for a Mario game. Because of this, The Thousand-Year Door holds a stellar reputation as not only the best Mario RPG but as the best Mario game period. I’ve certainly been someone who has echoed this sentiment as The Thousand-Year Door enchanted me when I was a kid. It was the game that properly introduced me to the JRPG genre, and the charm, creativity, and humor were what won me over. Every other Mario game paled comparatively, including the first Paper Mario. For several years, I was a part of the gigantic hivemind of Thousand-Year Door enthusiasts that could not find fault with this game. This was the peak of the Paper Mario franchise, especially since the series started to falter with every subsequent release. The only comparable game is the first Paper Mario, and The Thousand-Year Door seemingly trump's its predecessor in every way. After replaying both of these games, I don't think that The Thousand-Year Door eclipses the first game. I’ve come to realize that maybe The Thousand-Year Door isn’t the flawless masterpiece we all thought it was.

Truth be told, it doesn’t take a creative genius to subvert the tropes of Super Mario Bros. It’s arguably the most iconic video game franchise of all time, so we’ve all come to know what to expect. A sense of familiarity is a strong aspect of the Super Mario brand. The first Paper Mario game expanded on these tropes to make them more interesting with added nuance. These tropes are expanded upon even further in The Thousand-Year Door, almost to the point where they tread new ground for the franchise. For one, the call to adventure begins with someone ELSE capturing Peach for a change. She retains her typical damsel in distress role, one of the most tiring aspects of the Super Mario series. It’s such an exhausting trope that having someone else besides Bowser kidnaps Peach is a refreshing change of pace. On vacation in a place called Rogueport, Peach discovers a mystical map that leads to an ancient treasure. Peach gets abducted by someone posing as a street merchant who is intrigued by the map that Peach has found. While getting abducted, Peach sends a letter to Mario inviting him to join her on the adventure to uncover whatever the treasure map leads to. Once arriving at Rogueport, Mario intervenes in a scuffle between a female Goomba named Goombella and a portly, uniformed man with his army of miniature minions with similar uniforms. Mario learns that Peach has been captured from Toadsworth, the most useless old knob in the Mushroom Kingdom who is supposed to be protecting Peach. The female Goomba looks at the treasure map Peach gave Mario and they take it to Professor Frankly, Goombella’s sensei and history expert. Frankly informs them that the map leads to seven different Crystal Stars that need to be gathered in one place under the city of Rogueport to unlock a gigantic, ancient door in the ruins underneath the town of Rogueport. What Mario doesn’t know initially is that the group that kidnapped Peach is also looking for the Crystal Stars, so collecting them becomes a race between Mario and Peach’s mysterious captors.

I previously stated that the key to the Paper Mario franchise was irreverence, the method of separating it from the mainline Mario series while also making it substantial. There was some irreverence sprinkled into the mix of the first Paper Mario with the humor and subversion of Mario tropes. All of this was done subtly while still sort of preserving the typical Mario narrative of rescuing Peach from Bowser’s clutches. The Thousand-Year Door strays even further from the archetypal Mario formula, but it is somewhat inherently confined to the new tropes placed by the first Paper Mario game. The base of the narrative is essentially the same as in the first game: Mario must find seven stars scattered across the map and the path to retrieving these stars is reserved to a chapter of the story. Once these stars are all brought to a specific place, they unlock a path that leads to the final chapter and where Peach is located. The narrative structure, partner characters, and the unique, accessible RPG combat system are the aspects that persist in this sequel. The Thousand-Year Door doubles as a sequel that deviates even further from the first game and the mainline series while also acting as a more nuanced improvement to what the first game established.

The first Paper Mario had to offer recognizable properties from the mainline Mario series to establish a close connection to it. It was a radical improvement that the notable, nameless characters like Goombas, Koopas, Boos, Bob-ombs, etc. could be domesticated through the RPG genre. While it was nice to talk to typical Mario enemies instead of Mario squishing them with his weight, most of them amounted to being uninspired NPCs. Most of the partner characters were rather bland with most of them having one distinguishable feature like a color swap or an additional article of clothing. Any personality the partners had flew out of the window once they joined Mario’s posse, almost as if Mario would have backhanded them for trying to out-charisma him. Fortunately, the partners in The Thousand-Year Door have been improved upon significantly in every single aspect. For one, their roles in supporting Mario no longer undermine their characterization. Any of the partners add dialogue to whichever situation Mario and company find themselves in and incorporate it for said situation. Many of the new partners are very similar to the ones from the previous game on a surface level. The first partner Mario meets is another Goomba named Goombella. Like Goombario, she bonks enemies with her noggin, she can reveal enemy statistics by tattling on them, and she can provide insight on an NPC or setting in the overworld. However, she is not a simple, gender-swapped reskin of Goombario. Goombella is a well-educated, spunky lass that yearns for discovery and combats every situation with a blast of sass. She’s a way stronger character than the overly emphatic kid Goombario was.

Many of the other new partners also follow suit with a needed dash of extra characterization. Koops the Koopa is the next partner after Goombella just like Kooper was after Goombario. Koops plays exactly like Kooper, except that he isn’t an absolute blank slate of a character. Koops is like if Kooper was that kid in school who ate their lunch under the stairwell and listened to Linkin Park. He’s a timid soul who couldn’t even ask Mario to aid him in his quest without stammering and having an anxiety attack. The reason why he wants to join is to defeat Hooktail and avenge the death of his father. He continues partnering with Mario to build his self-confidence for his girlfriend Koopie Koo. As much as building a character arc for a partner character is an improvement, I’m not sure Koops progressively becomes the chad he wishes to be. He’s still as apprehensive in the sixth chapter as he is in the first. I’m sorry to say, but Koopie Koo probably has sights on another man, and it’s probably Mario Just as a quick tangent, why does every female character in this game want to bone Mario? It’s very disconcerting. Bobbery is a Bob-omb like Bombette that explodes at will, but is o much more than just a differently colored Bob-omb. He’s an old, salty ex-sea captain who has a vague resemblance to Sean Connery in The Hunt For Red October. His navigating talents are needed when Mario must make his way to the island of Keelhaul Key, but Bobbery still feels traumatized by the passing of his wife the last time he was out at sea. The letter Mario finds from Bobbery’s wife is an incredibly touching moment and greatly enhances the intrigue of Bobbery as a character with this weighted backstory.

The Thousand-Year Door also incorporates partners that are less familiar to the ones from the first Paper Mario. The first game features a Yoshi civilization on a tropical island, but none of these Yoshi’s were playable characters. In the middle of the Glitzville chapter, Mario and friends adopt a rambunctious Yoshi egg that hatches to an equally excitable Yoshi kid. The player can name him whatever they want as he has no canon name and can even dictate his color from a few timed circumstances. Regardless of his name and color, he’s an energetic little squirt who utilizes his instinctive, voracious appetite as a Yoshi on the battlefield. Ms. Mowz is a Squeak who has occasional run-ins with Mario. She’s given herself the title of being an “elusive badge thief” and can be unlocked as an optional partner who sniffs out rare items. She’s much more interesting as a recurring character than she is as a partner. There are also party members that do not resemble any preexisting Mario races. I’ll give out a sum of money to anyone who can tell me what the hell Flurrie is supposed to be. I could take a wild guess, but I’m afraid whatever I say will come off as offensive. Ghostly Aretha Franklin? See, I just know that sounds bad. While she is one of the most useful partners in combat, her physical design is a little uncomfortable. She even has nippleless breasts that bounce up and down when she moves and Mario grabs one of them when she blows wind in the overworld. Everything about her screams irreverence to almost breaking any kind of moral sanctity the Mario franchise had. Vivian also has an unfamiliar design to anything else in the Mario universe, even though her veil ability is exactly like Bows.

Partner characters like Flurrie are certainly indicative of The Thousand-Year Door’s directive to separate Paper Mario’s identity from its source material. Many of this game’s NPCs look unrecognizable to anything from the Mario universe. These unorthodox NPCs are scattered all over, but there are some pretty clear examples. Twilight Town is filled with peasant-like denizens that look like dolls that have been sitting under dirt and debris after a nuclear fallout. The Punies are a race of grey insects with antennae on their heads that come in multiple colors. There are even some NPCs that look damn near human such as the security guards in Glitzville and Flavio the pirate. While there are still plenty of recognizable Mario races, many of them are much livelier than in the first game. Toads, Goombas, Koopas, etc. will be wearing different costumes depending on the location and there are far more distinctive NPCs per Mario universe race. Most of the Bob-ombs in the game are settled in a frigid outpost, wearing ushankas and saying “da” as an affirmative like they’re Russian. The Piantas run the west Rogueport crime syndicate, and they are portrayed as negative Italian stereotypes more so than Mario and Luigi ever were. It was radical enough that all of these enemies could talk in the first game, but all of this characterization for all of the NPCs makes the world of the first game seem bland by comparison.

I’ve mentioned before that having someone else besides Bowser kidnap Peach is an outstanding change of pace. While I’m being somewhat glib with my enthusiasm, it’s nice to see more villains getting the spotlight. These new villains are also unlike anything the franchise has seen. The X-Nauts are a mysterious bunch that are much more uniform than Bowser and his minions. The basic X-Nauts wear red uniforms with black X’s marked on them, veiling their faces with white hoods and goggles. While the X-Naut enemies come in a few more varieties, each of them all act like oafish droogs. The X-Naut battalion is led by Lord Crump, a doofus of the highest degree with surprising technological capabilities. Their commander is Sir Grodus, a much more sinister and stone-cold serious villain to balance out the buffoonery of his underlings. Similar enemies in the same faction as the X-Nauts are the Shadow Sirens, three ghostly sisters that are in league with Grodus to find the Crystal Stars. The three of them have different elemental abilities and distinctive personalities. Beldam is the malevolent de facto leader with ice powers, Marilyn is the simple one (keeping it polite as possible) with electric abilities, and Vivian is the sweet, cute one with fire abilities. They have a Cinderella sisters dynamic in which Beldam and Marilyn, the homely sisters, are mean to the fairer younger sister and make her life a living hell also because she decides to join Mario after withstanding enough abuse from Beldam. In a way, it’s like a prince sweeping her off her feet. Doopliss the name thief replaces Vivian as the third Shadow Siren, but the dynamic is missing. Incorporating him with Beldam and Marilyn is really only a means of keeping him in the game after chapter 4. The X-Nauts and Shadow Sirens also have a much more devious plan for Peach than Bowser ever has. It’s revealed that the “treasure” that lies behind the thousand-year door is a hidden demon of immense power, and the X-Nauts plan on using Peach as a vessel for the demon and use her power to take over the world. The X-Naut armies may be bumbling idiots, but their plans are more diabolical than any Mario villain beforehand. This adds a whole level of urgency to Mario’s quest.

Peach’s role as the video game queen of getting captured isn’t subverted all that much here. The X-Nauts quarantine her in a drab, closed-off room that at least has a bathroom equipped with a shower, something her bedroom in the first game didn’t have. Similar to the first game, Peach’s playable segments occur right after the player has completed a chapter. I didn’t mention these segments in my review of the first game because I felt they were pretty inconsequential to the story. To quickly summarize, Peach sneaks around her own castle avoiding Bowser’s guards with the help of a star kid named Twink. While sneaking around, she gains information about the location of the star spirits by circumstance. These sections in the first game serve as flavorless breaks in between the main game, and I never got excited to experience them. The Peach breaks in The Thousand Thousand-Year similarly, but they are far more interesting. After the first time Peach takes a shower, the right side door will mysteriously open. Peach walks down the hall to find the computer room where she learns that the computer, TEC, has opened the door for her. Seeing Peach’s naked body while she showered has sprouted an intense feeling of lust for the princess and TEC becomes more and more curious about Peach and about human emotions. Each Peach break is TEC devising clever ways to either get closer to Peach or to see her naked again. His intentions are creepy and perverted, but TEC is framed as more of a pitiable character rather than a malicious one. Naturally, this affection for Peach is unrequited, but Peach cleverly uses TEC’s infatuation for her to gain information about the X-Naut’s plans and communicate them to Mario from her cell. The Peach breaks show Peach in a more capable light than just a damsel in distress, and her dynamic with TEC surprisingly makes for one of the most interesting subplots in the game.

Humor is also a sign of effective irreverence, and the Paper Mario series has this in spades. The first game had plenty of humorous moments, but The Thousand-Year Door is filled to the brim with hilarity. The dialogue is consistently sharp and emphatic throughout, but Bowser is the king of comedy in this title (no pun intended). The first game already established a more irreverent direction in portraying Bowser as the main antagonist. The intimidating Koopa King is reduced to a sensitive buffoon who throws tantrums when he doesn’t get his way and writes about his feelings about Peach in a diary. This is all amusing enough, but Bowser is my favorite character in The Thousand-Year Door based on his comic-relief role. Just because Bowser isn’t the main villain in this game doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a major presence in it. After each Peach break follows a Bowser break where he and Kammy Koopa slowly plod through the settings of the game trying to take the Crystal Stars for himself. He doesn’t have a plan behind collecting them, it’s just to get them before Mario does for the point of bragging. Along the way, he has hilarious encounters with familiar NPCs and villains where he drops these juicy nuggets of dialogue:

“Pbbbthbtth! Am I Mario’s babysitter? I don’t care what he’s doing! Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what? Sheesh!”

“Great. Just Great. Now I look like the huge, mighty king of GUY WHO TALKS TO POSTERS!”

“You have got to be kidding me. You mean to tell me that LUIGI beat me here?”

I’d take Bowser as a lovable dullard in the Paper Mario games rather than the imposing main villain he usually is. Bowser’s attempts at kidnapping Peach have gotten pathetic over time, and his more irreverent role in these games show a sense of self-aware satire on the part of the developers.

The chapters and settings of The Thousand-Year Door are also just as strong as the characters. A clear deviation in setting from the get-go is the hub of Rogueport. This place is certainly a far cry from the rustic quaintness of Toad Town. Mario and Peach are out of their jurisdiction of the Mushroom Kingdom here, and this questionable vacation spot exudes a great sense of feeling like a stranger in a strange land. Rogueport is a rank, crime-infested hellhole where trash is strewn everywhere and graffiti marks every wall. The back alleys are filled with sketchy characters that are probably selling crack and the west and east sides of town are the strongholds of two feuding crime syndicates. It’s a wonder that Mario’s shoes aren’t missing everytime the player presses pause in this hub. The centerpiece of town square is a gallows pole, something so irreverent in the Mario series that it’s shocking. Conversely, the ruins underneath Rogueport are quite the spectacle. It’s similar to the sewers under Toad Town in that their structure is a series of paths that act as a hub to warp to previously visited areas outside of Toad Town. The difference is that while the sewers in the first game are murky and claustrophobic, the ruins beneath Rogueport are spacious and the dilapidated architecture and design are awe-inspiring. The ruins are also meant to be much more intricate because they house much more than just warp pipes and a few collectibles. There are badge and item shops located in the plaza and there’s the mystic’s house that will grant you a temporary curse effect. The ruins are also where the thousand-year door is located, so they play a much more integral role than the sewers of the first game. Yet, they still have the same division as the hub of Toad Town, only in reverse.

The settings of a few chapters aren’t as radically shifted as the hub world is. Once the player leaves Rogueport for the first time and starts the first chapter, the familiarity is bound to cause a sense of deja-vu in some players. Mario will run through a grassy field fighting Goombas and Koopas. Somewhere at the edge of this field is a quaint village mostly populated by Koopas. The second half takes place in a castle nearby. The fifth chapter takes place on a tropical island that Mario sails to from the docks of the hub area. The fourth chapter takes place in a spooky area filled with Boos like Forever Forest from the first game. These familiar settings don’t sound too irreverent, but they make up for it with a better sense of inspiration than their similar predecessors. The castle in the first chapter is home to a menacing dragon named Hooktail who has been terrorizing Petalburg Village for some time. Mario and Koops must vanquish Hooktail like the oldest of epic stories. There is much better context behind Hooktail rather than the Koopa Bros., whose forretress just conveniently happened to be close by to the village. The fifth chapter frames sailing to the southern tropical island as a pirate adventure in which Mario makes allies with a gang of seadogs from Rogueport. They are led by the Rogueport Inn regular Flavio, who is as yellow on the inside as he is on the outside. They all get marooned on the island of Keelhaul Key after a shipwreck and cultivate a civilization on the island as a means of survival. The fourth chapter that takes place in the eerie Twilight Town admittedly reminds me the most of a chapter from the first game in design, but I appreciate the gothic, borderline cosmic horror inspiration.

While these chapters are still rich with characterization, the much more unorthodox chapters in this game are what elevates The Thousand-Year Door in terms of providing irreverent, engaging narratives. The second chapter takes Mario and friends to the Boggly Woods, an ethereal realm that kind of looks like a winter-themed diorama. At the edge of the woods lies The Great Boggly Tree where the Punies reside. Mario then rescues the Punies that have been held captive by the X-Nauts and uses them to navigate through the tree to retrieve the Crystal Star. Using the Punies sort of plays like a more streamlined version of Pikmin. The sixth chapter is a three day train ride to an affluent area called Poshley Heights. Most of the chapter takes place on the train where there is little to no combat. Instead, Marios bides his time solving mysteries like he’s in an Agatha Christie novel. It sounds boring, but the humor and characterization of all the different passengers really shine here. The most unorthodox chapter in the game and my personal favorite is chapter 3, “Of Glitz and Glory”. To receive the Crystal Star here, Mario must participate in a fighting league and rise up to the top of the ranks. He must beat the Glitzville champion Rawkhawk, an arrogant douchebag who brandishes a Crystal Star around his belt as a sign of his might. Meanwhile, Mario must uncover the truth about a conspiracy revolving around missing fighters. This chapter is so robust and so well-contained that it could’ve been it’s own Mario title. This chapter is the peak of Paper Mario’s narrative potential.

If all of the stronger narrative elements weren’t enough, The Thousand-Year Door is also leagues better than the first game in the gameplay department. Of course, it has the advantage due to being on a more advanced piece of hardware, but this fact still persists. A more involved and somewhat humorous new portion of the gameplay are the paper abilities in the overworld. Once in a while, Mario will come across a talking black box that begs Mario to find the key and let him out. Once he does, the being inside shows his true, malevolent nature and “curses” Mario with a new paper ability. This happens four different times in the game and Mario treats these occurrences with hilariously deadpan apathy. These paper moves range from turning into a paper airplane to glide, becoming paper-thin by turning sideways, and rolling up into a paper tube to roll under crevices. The paper boat move replaces Sushie’s swimming ability, minus being able to submerge underwater. These moves are mostly used for puzzles and traversal in the overworld, adding an interesting paper mechanic in the gameplay rather than having it strictly be an aesthetic design for the series.

These new paper moves are a nice supplement to the overworld, but the core of Paper Mario’s gameplay lies in it’s unique, accessible RPG system. While The Thousand-Year Door maintains the base elements of what was introduced in the first game, a lot has been improved upon. The framerate in the first game was acceptable, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t sometimes hard to defend myself due to the difficult frame of time to press A in battle. Due to the smoother framerate in The Thousand-Year Door, mitigating damage is much easier to pull off. The smoother framerate also lends itself to the new counter move Mario can execute. With more precise timing pressing the B button, Mario can counter anything, amounting to one HP of damage to the enemy and leaving Mario unscathed. This counter move is about as easy to do as blocking in the first game, so experienced players will have no reason to ever simply reduce enemy damage with the A button. Star points return as the series leveling currency and the player can once again upgrade health, FP, and BP by five. Most experienced players will upgrade their health and FP gingerly, but not because the game teases the player for upgrading their health. Badges stack onto one another in this game which can potentially allow the player to become the ultimate JRPG glass cannon. Admittedly, I am too sheepish to do this, but I’ve seen some players impressively dominate this game with the badges. The accessible RPG system the first game introduced is now balanced here with a surprisingly varied skill-pool that gives players way more freedom. I’m also happy to say that the partners aren’t just better implemented in the game’s narrative. In battle, each partner character has as much of an integral role as Mario does (except if Mario dies). They now have their own HP, they can switch placements in battle to block damage from Mario, and they can use items. This simple improvement makes a world of difference in combat.

The Thousand-Year Door also increases the level of involvement that comes with it’s unique battle system. Besides the new aforementioned action commands, there are new attacks that coincide with the Crystal Stars. They act the same as the star spirit moves from the first game except that these moves are now totally interactive. The effectiveness of each move also depends on the player’s performance. There is an earthquake move with carefully timed button presses, Art Attack has the player drawing a crudely shaped oval around the enemies, and there are two variations of flinging projectiles at a falling array of health and flower points, etc. The meter to refill these attacks recharges slowly, so these moves should be used sparingly. A quicker, more proactive way to refill the meter is to execute a “stylish move” and to “appeal” to the audience.
Yes, the audience: a perfect segway into discussing the less savory aspects of The Thousand-Year Door. With all of the praise I’ve given this game’s improvements, one would think that it’s a flawless sequel. I did say that I reconsidered my position on this game, and there are a few concrete reasons as to why. During every single battle in the game, an audience consisting of many different NPCs and enemies appears. The battle system in The Thousand-Year Door is framed like performing a play as a curtain opens to reveal Mario and his opponent. This is either a callback to the “world is a stage” premise from Super Mario Bros. 3, or because the battle system of the first game was already vaguely reminiscent of a stage. Either way, I don’t think it works in the frame of Paper Mario. Seeing the audience during each fight sort of ruined the immersion of the setting for each area. It only works in Glitzville because each fight would naturally have an audience, but I can’t say the same for more remote locations like Twilight Town or Keelhaul Key. This is however a minor nitpick compared to what seriously irks me about this premise. The audience will oftentimes throw items at Mario and his partners. Some of these items are helpful while others damage Mario if he doesn’t dispose of the rowdy audience member. Because of the nature of the more involved RPG system, the player has to constantly be on their toes with this. Even fucking Luigi tried to lob a rock at me once. This is still not the worst aspect of the audience feature. Oftentimes, stage hazards will spontaneously occur that can hurt Mario. The background might fall, a stagelight might collapse, or a giant goddamn fork might fall from the sky. I’d suggest being constantly vigilant, but many of these happen so quickly that no one could possibly see them coming. The stage hazards also completely fucked me on my last playthrough. I was fighting the final boss and she only had 3 HP left. Suddenly, the streamers on the front of the stage shot frost at me and froze me solid for two turns. This was enough for the final boss to inflict 35 damage to me without the ability to defend myself and I died as a result. I was absolutely livid. If not for this, I might have omitted this rant about the stage gimmick, but it’s definitely a detriment to the combat.

It’s been well documented that the narrative in this game is solid. However, general progress in this game is artificially extended due to heavy amounts of backtracking. I’m usually more patient with backtracking than most, but here it’s quite vexing. The game will often have the player revisit familiar locations throughout. These places can be more easily accessed in the ruins underneath Rogueport, but it’s still a bit of a slog. The ruins are far too vast to be a convenient warp hub like the sewers in the first game. There also isn’t a pipe for every area in the game in the ruins, so god forbid if the player ever needs to take the blimp all the way to the floating island of Glitzville again. Some of this backtracking is even interwoven into the narratives of some of the chapters. Chapter 4 has the player make the trek from Twilight Town to the Creepy Steeple a total of five different times. Why couldn’t there be a warp pipe between these places? Do they not have a septic system in this dim hellhole? The most egregious example of backtracking that every player unanimously despises is in chapter 7. Mario must use a cannon in Fahr Outpost to shoot himself to the moon. However, the cannon’s operator General White has gone AWOL and the player has to scrounge around every single place in the game looking for him. When I say every place in the game, I mean the developers force the player to revisit every single place in the game, even Glitzville, looking for this asshole. After the lead to his whereabouts seems inconclusive, Mario returns to Fahr Outpost to find that General White never left the snowy outpost. He’s been sleeping in one of the houses all this time, and Mario jumps on him several times to wake him from his slumber. In my opinion, Mario should’ve brained him with his hammer, or at least that’s what I felt like doing after this whole ordeal. The funny thing about this is the developers made this fetch quest intentionally grueling. He’s not in his sleeping quarters beforehand, so it doesn’t make any sense that he would be in any other location. They tortured the player on purpose. Do I sound amused, Intelligent Systems?

The last chapter in the game also feels comparatively less rewarding than the final chapter of the first game. Once Mario has all of the Crystal Stars, he heads to the thousand-year door to find that Grodus has already somehow managed to open it. Mario and his friends dash inside of the sublime, eerily lit, sprawling interior of the door to chase down Grodus before he enacts his final plan. Even after defeating him in battle, Grodus still manages to unsheathe the top of the primeval coffin and awakens the beast inside. However, he doesn’t get his wish of controlling the Shadow Queen and using her as a weapon as she decimates Grodus with a single bolt of energy. Beldam was the puppet master of the operation the whole time, falsely promising Grodus that the Shadow Queen would do his bidding if he resurrected her. It turns out that she is hellbent on destroying the world anyways and signaling an era of darkness. The Shadow Queen possesses Peach but returns to her true form after Mario does enough damage to her. The Shadow Queen seems unbeatable until the energy of the Crystal Stars all come together, fueled by the power of hope from the NPCs from the game. After defeating her, the world is saved and Mario and Peach return to the Mushroom Kingdom, waving goodbye to all of their new friends. While the Shadow Queen is a much more formidable final boss than Bowser was in the first game, the ending has some problems. Receiving outside cheers from the NPCs to aid in the climax of the final battle is so overdone in the JRPG genre that it verges on cliche (ie. Earthbound, the Persona series, etc.). I think it’s almost ironic that a game as creative and subversive as The Thousand-Year Door implements something so overwrought. Also, I find the ending of the first game to be more impactful because there is no post-game. After returning home, Mario gets another invitation from Peach to come back to Rogueport. This is a means for the game to continue for those who did not complete all of the side content the game has to offer. The player can collect all of the badges, complete the tattle log, complete all of the recipes, and undergo the ultimate Paper Mario endurance challenge that is the Pit of 100 Trials. A part of me is glad that the game lets the player keep exploring Rogueport, but the fireworks ending screen of the first game is so impactful that this ending seems diminished by comparison.

I, like many other people, once saw Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door as the perfect Mario RPG. After all, there is enough evidence to lead anyone familiar with the series to this conclusion. The game vastly improves on so many aspects from the first game that one could make a substantial argument that The Thousand-Year Door is objectively better than the first game. However, after playing both games consecutively, I find myself enjoying the first game just as much as this one, something I never expected upon another playthrough of both titles. The proof is in the pudding: the game is smoother, funnier, more irreverent with Mario properties, and the narrative is far more interesting. I guess I have to admit that The Thousand-Year Door still has glaring flaws that I never saw as a kid. The first game is rougher around the edges in terms of gameplay but provides a much more complete experience with the story. While the condensed chapters of The Thousand-Year Door are far more substantial, there seem to be cracks in its foundation as a whole. All in all, both of these games combined would stand as my favorite RPG, but that’s not the case here. I guess I can be glad that both classic Paper Mario’s stand as “flawed masterpieces” with equal impact. The Thousand-Year Door is still an incredibly impressive game on its own merit and was the peak of the franchise.
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Erockthestrange 2017-07-21T19:56:08Z
2017-07-21T19:56:08Z
10.0
2
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The story about how I got this game is also mildly amusing. I got it in 2006 at the age of ten two years after the game was released. My mom took me to Gamestop as a reward for getting all A’s and B’s in school with a $50 budget. I just had to get the $30 Chibi-Robo because of what I saw from the game in Nintendo Power. The other game I wanted was Star Wars: Battlefront II for the PS2, but it was also $30 and that would’ve exceeded the budget. The Thousand-Year Door was $20 and I chose it merely as a substitute for Battlefront II. I didn’t know much about it except for the fact it had Mario in it. That’s right, one of my favorite games of all time was discovered out of a compromise. If that’s not dumb luck, I don’t know what is. I got Battlefront II a few months later anyway. I’m so glad my mom didn’t let me be a spoiled shithead because I dread the alternate timeline that exists where I’m contemplating buying The Thousand-Year Door for over $150 from some scalper on the internet. I’m relieved that I owned a Gamecube growing up in general, but this is especially the case for The Thousand-Year Door.
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Not the Origami King
*shrugs*
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CKSkies 2021-06-29T02:14:32Z
2021-06-29T02:14:32Z
9.9
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Better then Shadow the Hedgehog
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On most fronts, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a massive improvement. Firstly, the timing-based combat is accentuated by several new ideas that cut the repetition out and expand on the storybook/theater aesthetic pioneered by its first effort. Theme-wise, the game departs from the previous game's naivete, introducing clever writing with doses of meta humor and a candid, witty, and slightly eccentric attitude. Even better, TTYD boast actual characters and tender moments, not just talking mobs and the usual basic Mario plot. Dungeons were nothing revolutionary, but the new powerups were at least clever takes on the progression-centric formula -- and while their puzzles were a lot more challenging, they were occasionally a little too obtuse. Intelligent Systems didn't so much develop new ideas as they refined and expanded on the current format, maturing it into the full-fledged stylistic hybrid Paper Mario was meant for.
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Blah_Blee 2021-06-28T13:49:49Z
2021-06-28T13:49:49Z
7 /10
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Easily The Best Paper Mario Game
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is easily better than Paper Mario 64 in every way.

The story is even more engaging and has fun nods to Mario characters that don't appear in this game and nods to the last Paper Mario game. It has an even more colorful cast than the first and the game is more visually appealing (Which was to be expected because it's on the GameCube)

The music is even better than the first game. Koji Kondo has always been one of my favorite video game composers as he has worked on The Legend Of Zelda series in the past

There are also even more side-quests with more rewards in this game. The gameplay has been improved upon and it works better and flows better. The game is also way funnier. Luigi tells you about his adventure and it's funny.

But Bowser... Because he isn't the main villain, Bowser is just a bumbling moron and it is hilarious. He's also playable

The story is very similar to the first game. But I think it's done better and the game ended with me feeling satisfied. There are not many flaws in this game. This was also to be expected since this is widely considered to be the best Paper Mario game.

If there was one problem I can think of... They could've made fast travel better. They also should've had cutscenes skippable (This only gets annoying during the final boss)

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is easily the best in the Paper Mario series. So much personality. I love it
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Catalog

simonkenis ペーパーマリオRPG 2022-06-30T10:13:45Z
2022-06-30T10:13:45Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Turn-Based RPG JRPG Comedy Fantasy Absurdist Comedy 3D Platformer
45minutes ペーパーマリオRPG 2022-06-29T15:31:39Z
2022-06-29T15:31:39Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
aerovane ペーパーマリオRPG 2022-06-27T02:10:57Z
2022-06-27T02:10:57Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
dumey ペーパーマリオRPG 2022-06-27T00:11:46Z
2022-06-27T00:11:46Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
hewwix ペーパーマリオRPG 2022-06-26T03:09:57Z
2022-06-26T03:09:57Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
howmanysigfigs ペーパーマリオRPG 2022-06-23T15:29:17Z
2022-06-23T15:29:17Z
4.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
placentahj ペーパーマリオRPG 2022-06-23T04:13:24Z
2022-06-23T04:13:24Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
MateoForest ペーパーマリオRPG 2022-06-21T14:03:35Z
2022-06-21T14:03:35Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Neinpins Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door 2022-06-19T19:08:48Z
Gamecube • CA
2022-06-19T19:08:48Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Gradono ペーパーマリオRPG 2022-06-18T20:30:20Z
2022-06-18T20:30:20Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Droam ペーパーマリオRPG 2022-06-17T22:23:08Z
2022-06-17T22:23:08Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Hazz ペーパーマリオRPG 2022-06-17T10:04:33Z
2022-06-17T10:04:33Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
CERO: All Ages
Player modes
Single-player
Media
1x Disc
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Also known as
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
  • Paper Mario: Die Legende vom Äonentor
  • Paper Mario : La Porte millénaire
  • Paper Mario: La Puerta Milenaria
  • Paper Mario: Il portale millenario
  • View all [5] Hide

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  • Previous comments (27) Loading...
  • PrivateJoker 2021-07-13 23:42:49.867738+00
    It really grows on you. What looks like a cutesy kids game on the surface is actually a solid RPG with great environments to explore and genuinely funny writing.
    reply
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  • carlos_weed_official 2021-08-03 00:21:15.488326+00
    i dont understand how a character like vivian exists in a fucking mario spinoff
    reply
    • Awesomov 2021-11-14 06:59:25.264104+00
      Because people like Vivian exist in real life.
    • carlos_weed_official 2022-04-10 22:28:27.71995+00
      @ awesomov you dont think i know lmao i am trans
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  • carlos_weed_official 2021-08-03 00:22:15.874286+00
    even beyond the obvious trans discussion abt her

    rly should not be the only thing you guys talk abt with vivian
    reply
    • WattPheasant 2021-11-26 14:29:44.133496+00
      Wait, what trans discussion is there about Vivian?
    • corrine 2022-02-13 20:49:57.031519+00
      she is trans gender
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  • NuEta 2021-09-18 12:44:01.303643+00
    The Rawk Hawk arc is still lit
    reply
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  • Guitar_Lamb 2021-11-09 02:15:12.491248+00
    so glad i bought this for 50 dollars when i was like 11
    reply
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  • Gayvyn 2022-02-15 00:11:26.007566+00
    Rogueport is one of the most unique areas in a nintendo game.
    I was quite young when i first played this, and i remember driving through montreal soon after and thinking it was similar
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  • corrine 2022-05-12 02:00:36.770526+00
    best game o all time
    reply
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  • ella_guru 2022-05-18 09:03:27.574128+00
    Great game, but does anyone know why there is so much backtracking? Were there memory issues with GC discs or something?
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