Review: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (Switch) – Still the king of Mario RPGs

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door was held as the standard for Mario RPGs for 20 years. It, along with its predecessor N64, captured what fans wanted from their turn-based adventures starring plumbers: silly humor, epic adventures, fantastic combat and charm. Purists often see the GameCube original as the end of the ‘true’ Paper Mario style – perhaps a bit unfair when Super Paper Mario and The Origami King are both great, but undeniably different from that original formula.

It should come as no surprise that the Switch remake of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door was celebrated upon its announcement. Even if you like other Paper Mario titles, it’s hard to argue that Thousand-Year Door wasn’t a high point for the plumber, not just in the RPG realm, but in Mario’s broader canon. Twenty years later, that’s still true, and now the best Mario RPG is finally more accessible.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

What sets Thousand-Year Door apart from other Mario-starring RPGs is, well, everything. It builds on what the first Paper Mario did in every way, giving you more combat options, a much grander story where every chapter is connected to the larger story, and a bigger world to explore. Rogueport alone is one of the best hub cities in any game we’ve ever played: full of shady individuals and packed with lore and history that the game fully explores. Thousand-Year Door also feels and Plays like an excellent RPG, with wrinkles befitting a Mario game, like walls with donkeys waiting to be torn apart, hidden pipes waiting to be unfolded, and playable Peach and Bowser sections that add to the charm and humor .

The story is unchanged from the original GameCube version, aside from a revamped, revamped localization. Things start when Mario receives a treasure map from Princess Peach, who is visiting the shady town of Rogueport. Mario follows the map and discovers that Peach is missing. Thus he encounters the myths of Rogueport, the title Thousand-Year Door, and a dangerous adventure to collect the Crystal Stars that will span the entire world.

Thousand-Year Door is packed with twists and turns, and there’s a real mix of spectacle and silliness throughout. From Hooktail’s grand entrance at the top of the game’s first dungeon to the hilarious ‘whodunnit’ in the Excess Express, it’s bursting with personality. What other Mario game has a Pianta mafia running a casino? Or a flirty mouse thief who wants to be a little cheeky with Mario? Perhaps the silliest and best example of the writing involves Luigi, who is on his own little adventure. We insist that you talk to him every time you see him; You will have no regrets.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

The real star of Thousand-Year Door has always been the combat, and thankfully the gameplay here is the same as on the GameCube. Mario and one of his partner characters take to a literal stage to fight enemies in turn-based battles. Using timing-based mechanics, you can deal more damage, defend against damage, or counterattack with a superguard. It builds on the core principles of Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario, giving you more tools, enemy variety, and partner versatility. Badges also return, some of which give Mario new attacks such as Power Hammer or Multibounce, while others can improve his health, Flower Points (magic) or stats. Mario feels endlessly customizable, and you can go to town and experiment with the playstyle you want.

You have to play too Unpleasant the audience by using the Appeal command, landing perfect hits, and sometimes even adding an extra flourish mid-attack to wow the spectators, all to generate more Star Power to use Specials. The crowd can throw useful healing items at you, although at other times the X-Nauts or some of Bowser’s minions can throw rocks, and you can throw them out of the crowd. Other times they invade the stage and drop items on you or your enemy. It’s simple, but every battle is incredibly fun.

Each partner character also has their strengths and weaknesses. Goombella, the cheeky college student, is a solid offensive and defensive option who can tell you an enemy’s weaknesses or attack for multiple hits. Everyone loves Yoshi, but how about a newly hatched baby Yoshi who wears a mohawk and has loads of attitude? Physically, he’s perhaps the best character in the game, with fun button-based commands that make him a powerhouse.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

These are some of the best Mario characters ever – some are downright funny, while others have sob-worthy stories. But we want to focus on Vivian, a fan favorite and member of the Three Shadows who eventually joins Mario. We loved her in the original, and she’s just as great here, with fantastic combat prowess and a heartwarming storyline made even better by the updated localization. In Japanese and several other languages, Vivian was always a transgender woman, but the original English script omitted this. Now Vivian talks in English about accepting her true identity, especially her gender. It’s only one or two scenes, but it’s a pivotal moment that should have always been there, and we’re glad it’s been ‘restored’ for the Switch version.

The characters are great, but so is the world, and the beautiful new visuals, revamped for the Switch version, really help bring areas like Boggly Woods and Pirate’s Cove to life. Even at 30fps this is a beautiful – and fluid – game, and we only experienced frame drops once or twice while there were plenty of characters on screen during cutscenes. There’s also a completely re-arranged soundtrack, which takes a leaf out of The Origami King’s book, and now every single location offers a unique twist on the main theme of the battle – Glitzville gives you a rock-heavy rendition, while Hooktail’s Castle has something yields more. sinister. Rogueport even has several variations on the theme, with a sailor’s cabin in the harbor or a jig in the inn. We can’t praise the new music enough and it breathes new life into the adventure.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

The locations are slightly smaller than those in the N64 original, but one of the biggest criticisms of Thousand-Year Door was the amount of backtracking required. This is still a minor problem in some places, such as in Chapter 2, but in other cases – such as in Chapters 4 and 5 – a new warp pipe has been added to the Creepy Steeple and a spring on Keelhaul Key to ease the process. These, along with the updated warp pipe hub at Rogueport Sewers, help just now a little.

Ironing out the creases is the name of the game with all the additions from the Switch version. Mario’s partners have overworld abilities: Koops, the shy Koopa, can press switches and grab objects from a distance, while Admiral Bobbery can be thrown forward and blow up walls with cracks in them. These skills are required to progress and discover secrets, but previously you had to open the menu to swap these characters. Now you have access to the Partner Wheel to switch between partners in an instant. It saves one or two clicks, but it also makes exploration much smoother.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

There are lots of little things like this everywhere. The new hint system helps you figure out what to do next. Additionally, when taking Trouble Center requests, Ian Foomus (a new NPC) can provide advice on how to complete that request. If you die during a boss fight, you have the option to start over from the boss room And skip the cutscenes – and this also works for that infamously long final boss. Other things added or tweaked include a few new save blocks throughout the game, a slightly larger inventory, and an unlockable art and sound gallery.

However, our biggest problem remains the Trouble Center. This is how Thousand-Year Door handles side quests, and they are gradually unlocked as you progress through the game. The problem is that you can only do one of these at a time and you have to go back to the center in Rogueport to pick up another quest. This felt like an obvious solution to us, especially since you have a diary where Mario stores hints for the collectible Shine Sprites or Star Pieces. It’s a minor blemish, though, especially considering the newer backtracking system.

If there’s one thing we’re slightly disappointed with, it’s the lack of new content. Last year’s Super Mario RPG remake certainly didn’t add a ton, but it did just now enough – and made it more challenging. We can’t go into details, but players returning to TTYD for the first time in years may be a little disappointed, despite everything else this remake does that well.

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