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Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GameCube) artwork

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GameCube) review


"The first Paper Mario was an unexpected gem released at the end of the Nintendo 64 lifespan. And the third installment felt less like an RPG, and more like yet another Mario platformer. But, to this day, I still hold the second game in the series, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door as one of the best games ever."



The world would be a much bleaker place without Intelligent Systems. These geniuses are responsible for the Fire Emblem series, the WarioWare series, the Advance Wars series, Super Metroid, and Mario Kart: Super Circuit. But, possibly their greatest magnum opus is the Paper Mario series. The first Paper Mario was an unexpected gem released at the end of the Nintendo 64 lifespan. It was a fun game and a great RPG, but I always felt that the game was merely a sequel to Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (a sequel that didn't include Geno or Mallow, so what's the point), that didn’t really go anywhere with the idea of Mario being made out of paper. And the third installment felt less like an RPG, and more like yet another Mario platformer (albeit a good one), in 2.5D, and with a level-up system.

But, to this day, I still hold the second game in the series, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door as one of the best games ever. Easily the best game in the Mario RPG series (which includes aforementioned Super Mario RPG and the outstanding Mario & Luigi handheld games), and is only matched among all of the Mario games (in my opinion) by Super Mario Sunshine. I recently played through this game, and it gave me nearly 30 hours of pure bliss.

The game starts eerily similar to the first Paper Mario game with Mario & Luigi enjoying a spot of tea when Parakarry, from the first game (at least, I think it was Parakarry, it was a Paratroopa that was delivering mail, so I'm going to go with Parakarry) brings them a letter from Princess Peach. This time, cake isn't mentioned anywhere in the letter, and instead, Peach informs Mario that she's found a treasure map containing the locations of the lost Crystal Stars. She's feeling adventurous, so she wants to seek out this treasure, even though we all know she's going to make Mario do all the work, the lazy *bleep*. Once Mario arrives in town, she's nowhere to be found, so everyone's favorite Italian stereotype has to go on another adventure to rescue the clueless idiot who doesn't have enough common sense to not talk to every shady character in a town called ROGUEport. Turns out, she’s been kidnapped by a group of radicals known as the X-Nauts, and their leader, Sir Grodus. They’ve kidnapped the princess as part of a plan for WORLD DOMINATION! (Honestly, I would say that video game villains need to start coming up with some new type of motivation then simply WORLD DOMINATION, but they tried that in Sonic Adventure, and it just came across as lame, so WORLD DOMINATION, it is.)

The game continues to show similarities to its predecessor by pairing you up with a Goomba partner that, for some reason, doesn't try to kill you. (Seriously, pretty much the only Goombas in all of the series that don't hate you are Goombario's family, Goombella and Professor Frankly.) But the game finally cuts its umbilical cord, and your first boss fight is against, not Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles knockoffs, but a giant fire-breathing dragon. That might sound like a spoiler, but the dragon is right there on the box cover, so you were pretty much guaranteed to either fight it or have it join your party.

The game earns an immediate gold star by not having any of the random encounters that plague other turn-based RPGs like Final Fantasy and Pokémon. Every enemy is clearly visible on screen, and you can usually avoid them pretty easily, especially if you’re running low on health, and especially especially when you get the partner that lets you stun enemies with powerful gusts of wind. The enemies in this game range from the classic Goomba or Paratroopa to newer enemies like the X-Nauts and the Yux.

The fighting is very innovative. It starts with standard turn-based combat where you can attack the enemy with your boots or your hammer, then your partner attacks, and then the enemies get their turn. However, instead of the battles basically being televised debates with fists, you can perform an action command that will either let your attacks hit twice, for extra damage, or allow you to brace for impact, which will reduce the damage you take. If you get one of the action commands to go in your favor, the audience that watches your fights will give you Star Power, which will allow you to use your Star Moves. Star Moves are given to you after each boss fight, and will give Mario an ultra-strong move that will either greatly heal Mario and his party members, or do massive damage to all of the enemies on the field.

The game is divided into eight chapters, and they have very diverse settings, from a wrestling arena where the Crystal Star is part of the championship belt, to a tropical island where a local pirate holds one of the Crystal Stars in his treasure horde. Between each chapter is a little interlude, where you get to play as Peach, and, much in the same way that you did in Paper Mario Uno, you have to roam around the place where Peach is captured in search of clues to help Mario move on to the next area. Unlike the first game, the Peach interludes are almost always pretty fun, letting you perform feats of espionage that would make Solid Snake proud. Then, after the Peach interlude, you actually get to enjoy a little Bowser interlude, which is basically just for comic relief. It will either show a cutscene of Bowser trying (and failing spectacularly) to get the Crystal Stars for his own plans of WORLD DOMINATION, or will actually let you play in a Super Mario Bros-esque platformer with ham (in replacement of Mario’s shrooms) that can turn you into a giant invincible Bowser. But in a way, Nintendo is actually intentionally making fun of themselves. This is accomplished either by showing Bowser lagging five steps behind Mario at all times, or making him look like either a crybaby of a doofus, in an attempt to point out how often Mario has defeated him, and making it seem like Bowser just isn’t the baddy he used to be.

There are flaws with the game that some people would notice, but none of them really bugged me. First of all, the battle music gets a little repetitive. It’s almost always the same, except for during boss fights or mini-boss fights. But, I didn’t mind since the music is quite catchy. This game also takes a lot of pages out of the first Paper Mario game. And for some creepy reason, the game has a curious habit of trying to get Princess Peach out of her clothes. It’s always behind a shower curtain or when she’s invisible, but it’s just happens a little too often to be normal.

I’m going to sum up by saying, that this is an outstanding game. If you’re a Mario fan, you already own this game, and you know what I’m talking about. But, if you’ve never really given Mario a chance, this might be the game that changes your mind. It’s that good.

Rating: 10/10

nickyv917's avatar
Community review by nickyv917 (February 02, 2012)

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zippdementia posted February 06, 2012:

@ Princess Peach out of her clothes: have you ever seen the Japanese fans of princess peach? They are responsible for images like this and/or this
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True posted February 06, 2012:

Yep. Totally keeping those. Thanks, Zippy. Got anymore?
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zippdementia posted February 06, 2012:

You haven't even seen the cosplay porn yet.
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zigfried posted February 06, 2012:

I'm pretty sure the first picture was a Western artist, although I'm not 100% sure.

And there need to be more like that.

//Zig
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zippdementia posted February 06, 2012:

Don't encourage me.

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