Paper Mario: The Millennial Door

Platform: Switch

Mario isn’t just the jumpiest plumber on the planet – he also has a strong background in saving worlds through the noble medium of turn-based combat. It’s a line Nintendo has been keen to remind players of in recent months, first with the November ’23 remake of the SNES classic Super Mario RPGand now with the GameCubes The millennial door get a shine.

Originally released in 2001, The millennial door was always a refreshing twist on the Mario series of figures of speech and conventions. Take Princess Peach: well, someone did that. She is kidnapped again, but this time it is not by Bowser, but instead by new villains, the let it open. Now that Peach manages to send a magical card to Mario before he is sent into hiding, he sets off on a journey across the world to all-new locations to be the first to find the Stars, stop and destroy the X-Nauts and their leader Sir Grodus. prevent them from coming loose. whatever lies locked behind the ominous portal.

Paper Mario

It’s further enlivened with clever breaks between each chapter, where players check in midway through Peach’s kidnapping and then play as a rampaging Bowser. angry that someone else took Peach. The game is packed with clever character touches like this, moments that only really work in these more story-focused outings, adding to The millennial door delicacies.

In 2024, it remains a game packed with charm, thanks in large part to its ingenious papercraft aesthetic. First introduced in the original N64 Paper Mariothe visual approach enables a world built like a pop-up storybook, where each area is a diorama where secrets can literally be hidden between the folds. Likewise, it roots this 2D Mario’s capabilities in his ability to fold origami-style into paper planes or boats to reach new areas, or turn ninety degrees to slip through gaps. Combined, they force players to think smartly about depth and perspective in ways only possible in this branch of Mario’s RPG adventures.

Nintendo invites newcomers to experience what returning GameCube owners already know: one of Mario’s greatest adventures.

Along the way, Mario is joined by a number of partners from the wider series, each with unique abilities that can be used both in and out of battle. For example Goombella the Goomba (one of those walking mushrooms that you normally squeeze Super Mario games) can scan enemies in battle to reveal weaknesses, or provide hints to your next objective while exploring the overworld, while Admiral Bobbery, a decorated Bob-omb sailor, can blow up enemies or charge through obstacles. Between partners’ skills and Mario’s, The millennial door may deviate slightly from the turn-based RPG formula and adopt elements of Metroidvania games, allowing you to return to previously visited areas to oh-so-satisfactorily access secrets you’ve long been able to see but not reach.

In many ways, that exploration side of the game is also the most fun. While The millennial door turn-based combat is far from boring thanks to a reactive, real-time prompt system that allows players to amplify each attack or reduce the damage taken. They can feel repetitive. Each enemy falls into one of two camps: those that can be jumped on, or those with some form of nail that need to be dealt with with a hammer blow instead. While there are a plethora of collectible badges to equip Mario with, offering more varied hammer or jump attacks – attacks that hit more than one enemy or add an elemental effect, for example – they don’t make things much more interesting. There’s even one badge that completely negates damage from jumping on sharp enemies, making battles even easier.

Luckily, Mario is always accompanied in battle by one of his new friends, and their skills help liven things up. Each of their skills has a different set of inputs that you need to use perfectly for maximum effect, and if you only have one ally on hand at a time, you’ll need to think carefully about when to switch them, or whose powers you have. best suited to tackle current enemies. Then there’s the trademark Nintendo charm at work during battles: each battle takes place on a stage, with an ever-growing crowd watching from the stalls. Flashier performances attract more viewers, their cheers filling Mario’s star meter for special moves – but enemies can also sneak in and pelt the ‘performers’ with rocks or rubbish if you don’t react in time to stop them. Even your own attacks can cause the stage to collapse, dealing extra damage to everyone. It’s tricks like these that persist Paper Marios combat encounters are interesting, even if the central hero’s attacks can be dull and boring.

However, that’s essentially how it was in the game’s original form, and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” seems to be the maxim of this remaster. It’s not nearly as big an overhaul as Super Mario RPG got, but it never needed much work – a testament to how well the GameCube handled its signature art style in the first place. Here the most noticeable visual update is just a touch of extra depth to the character models to better sell the papercraft style – everyone really does look like a cardboard doll, especially when turned sideways to show the edge of the cardboard – while improved lighting effects ensure everything is really popping. Strangely enough it now only runs at 30 frames per second, while the GameCube managed 60, but it all still looks beautiful.

Elsewhere, improvements are largely limited to the quality of life department. There’s now a quick switch tool that lets you easily switch between partners, giving you quick access to their skills; an extensive fast travel network to return to completed areas and search for collectibles; and a new support character called the Battle Master to practice all those timing-critical special moves. The music has been rearranged (although purists may find a badge that lets you return to the original GameCube recordings), and there’s an extensive gallery of concept art and music to unlock.

All nice additions, but nothing that dramatically changes the experience – but thankfully the experience remains delightful. Upon reopening The millennial doorNintendo invites newcomers to experience what returning GameCube owners already know: one of Mario’s greatest adventures.

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