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Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GameCube) artwork

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GameCube) review

"Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. When you hear that name, what kind of outlandish thoughts spring to mind? Is it deemed a "kiddy" game forever, never to be given a second glance? Is it a cool new innovation -- a Mario RPG -- that you would like to try out? Or perhaps it's the sequel to a superb game on the N64 that you can't wait to get your hands on? No matter what notions you might have, know that this is a exceptional game that takes the very RPG genre as we know it two steps forward. "

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. When you hear that name, what kind of outlandish thoughts spring to mind? Is it deemed a "kiddy" game forever, never to be given a second glance? Is it a cool new innovation -- a Mario RPG -- that you would like to try out? Or perhaps it's the sequel to a superb game on the N64 that you can't wait to get your hands on? No matter what notions you might have, know that this is a exceptional game that takes the very RPG genre as we know it two steps forward.

We enter the game with a familiar plotline: Princess Peach has gone missing. Her last known whereabouts bring us to the shady town of Rogueport, a rundown back-alley haven for, erm..., rogues. She has left behind a mysterious treasure map that depicts the location of the seven Crystal Stars. These stars are used to open a door, a thousand year door. What lies behind is the real mystery. The game is divided into eight chapters - each its own quest for a Crystal Star, and one final one to explore what's behind. These chapters develop their own memorable and witty sub plots, and each is packed with friendly characters that will aid you in your strive for the fair princess. These characters have their own special ability and can be taken into battle with you. In order to complete the game, you will need to utilize each of your "partners" (as referred to in the game) own unique ability several times. For example, hopping over gaps, blowing away wallpaper, and all sorts of unique things you shouldn't try at home.

Being true to its roots, Paper Mario puts heavy emphasis on the paper aspect of the game. At key points, Mario may slip through bars with his paper thin self, become a paper boat and float on water, and soar with the seagulls as a paper airplane. I never would have thought origami was Mario's forte. Nonetheless, controlling these folded variations is as easy as taking candy from a baby, as is controlling Mario in his bodily form too. Just to think how detrimental it would be if we had translated the original Paper Mario to another name gives me stomach ulcers.

Another thing i'd like to mention about Paper Mario:TTYD are brain tearing puzzles, with no obvious signs of how to solve them. Luckily for you, there is a built in help system, known as Merlin the Wizard. Drop by his pad, pop a few coins onto the table, and let him guide you in the right direction. But before you call on him for help, you may use your partner Goombella's Tattle ability, which hints at the solution. As you can see, this game is fairly easy, the only thing hard about it would have been the witty puzzles. None of the boss fights will be popping your capillaries, bar one or two. Although you might find yourself in trouble if you cant get used to timing your moves correctly in the pseudo-turn based battle system.

The battle system is a diamond in a gold mine with the innovations of this game, pardon my metaphor. Everything seems turn based, (the menus, the action) until it comes to striking your foes or avoiding the opposite. Its like a minigame where you must time your actions correctly. Take Mario's "jump" command for instance. As Mario walks up to the enemy and hops into the air, you must press A just before landing. Doing so will cause Mario to jump once more, tacking on double the damage. These minigames vary, like when using Mario's "hammer" command, you must hold left on the control stick until a green light pops up to add more bang to your blow. Your partners use their own moves with their own minigames as well, although only one can stand beside Mario in battle. There are no blasphemous random battles here, your enemies are on screen. You can also get a whack at them before the battle starts to tilt things in your favor. My favorite part about the already innovative battle system is the addition of the audience.

The audience is composed of various baddies, including the infamous Goombas, Shy Guys, Koopa Troopa's, and so on. As you time your moves correctly, more people come flocking to your stage. The audience may throw power-up items at you, as well as rocks if your performance isn't to their shockingly high standards. The good thing is, every round they charge up your Star Meter a little bit more. The Star Meter is sort of an energy bar displaying how much star power you have to execute star powers; collected by retrieving Crystal Stars. I think that cut the mustard pretty well. Not to mention it(the battle system) makes the oh-so tedious level up system in so many games before a blast here.

At the end of every suspenseful chapter, you get to play as Princess Peach for a while, in the base where she is held captive by the X-Nauts, a vile race bent on world domination! To do so, they are on a quest for the Crystal Stars as well, to use whatever's behind the door for world domination! However, they are always ten steps behind that adventurous plumber we all know and love. During your time as Princess Peach, she meets a super computer named TEC who thirsts for ultimate knowledge. Somewhere along the way, Mario makes his way over here and the two plots intertwine. Also, at the end of Peach's levels, you are privileged with the ability to command Bowser for a healthy dose of comic relief. The gameplay is refreshing, addictive, and best of all, it never gets old!

The graphics are truly resplendent; very few games have reached such a technical standpoint. The framerate never drops, I can name several times in the game where at least a hundred characters are flailing their arms about on-screen. Many vibrant colors are displayed; Paper Mario blends 2-D characters and 3-D environments in a magnificent way. Also, a monopoly is held from a graphical point of view; no games have ever had such an innovative style (except the first of course). The sound effects and music are catchy as well, it's possible that a few tunes will have you humming in the shower, but nothing quite as exceptional as the rest of the game.

All in all, the game plays like a normal RPG; traverse from town to town, beat up the antagonist, and complete the goal of the plotline. Paper Mario manages to do so, and season it with some humor, sauté it with innovation, throw in a plot twist or two, and present it on a china plate with two cloves of basil to the side. A truly unforgettable experience, purchasing this game is a decision you will not regret.

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Community review by meeptroid (December 07, 2004)

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