Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Switch review – back to the fold

Screenshot of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door – It’s Not a Dragon (Nintendo)

A forgotten classic finally gets another chance to shine, with an excellent remake Nintendo’s best role-playing game.

Of all of Nintendo’s classic games from over the decades, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is perhaps the most overlooked, both by players and Nintendo itself. Players haven’t had much of a choice as it has never been re-released or remastered until now. Not only did Nintendo let it fade into obscurity, but they purposefully ignored most of its best features when creating its many sequels.

While 2020’s Paper Mario: The Origami King was the best entry since 2004’s The Thousand-Year Door, it still wasn’t a role-playing game in a sense, which seems crazy since the inspiration for the entire franchise was the recently remade Super. Mario RPG. Next came the original Paper Mario on the N64 (which is on Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack) and then its portable sister series Mario & Luigi.

Although very unconventional, Paper Mario was a true role-playing game, with leveling and turn-based combat. For reasons best known to Nintendo, and despite everyone begging them to go back to the older style, all subsequent sequels removed the more overt role-playing elements. Although the real problem with the other games is that they were never as hilariously funny as The Thousand-Year Door.

The Thousand-Year Door was originally released for the GameCube and still looks good thanks to its stylized graphics (just like the original N64 entry). We didn’t know it at first, but this is a full remake, with significantly reworked visuals and soundtrack, as well as a number of quality of life improvements, including an expanded hint system and fast travel.

You start the game with – you guessed it – Princess Peach being kidnapped, albeit by a new group called the X-Nauts (which may or may not be a reference to Xbox, we still can’t decide) and not by Bowser. In fact, Bowser is furious when he finds out and between chapters you get some very funny segments where you control Peach as she tries to teach a computer the concept of love, and Bowser as he rampages through the kingdom in an attempt to save his express one’s own righteousness.

Meanwhile, Mario explores the shady town of Rogueport and soon becomes embroiled in a quest to find a series of crystal stars and open the titular door, behind which lies a treasure of an undetermined nature.

Obviously the story is completely unimportant, but the dialogue is surprising and always funny. We don’t know what it was like in the original Japanese, but the translation is peppered with jokes, unexpected references and funny asides.

It would be wrong to call it exactly adult, but a number of characters turn out to be unexpectedly horny, Peach has a full frontal nude scene (she is invisible at the time) and the game even finds an excuse to disapprove of Guantánamo Bay. scandal that was current at the time (to be honest, it is in one of the enemy descriptions).

Not every line in the game is a zinger, but The Thousand-Year Door has a charm and unpredictability that doesn’t quite compare to other video games. It constantly breaks the fourth wall and we love the surreal moments with Luigi as he talks about his recent exploits while you and your companions slowly fall asleep while he continues to drift off forever.

The entire tone of the game is completely different from other Nintendo titles, as Rogueport’s main square has a gallows in the middle and most of the inhabitants are layabouts. You visit many other areas, with more traditional Mushroom Kingdom inhabitants, but The Thousand-Year Door shows you the seedy underbelly of Nintendo’s world, which has never really been referred to again.

Screenshot of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door – battles can be avoided if you want (Nintendo)

Your allies, or partners as the game calls them, are a varied bunch and while we don’t think any of them outshine the initial recruit Goombella, who desperately needs her own game, they all have their own funny quirks and, most importantly, unique skills. .

By default, Mario can run around as usual and while he can’t jump very high, he can use his hammer whenever he wants to interact with landscapes and enemies. Each partner has their own specialties, such as Koops the Koopa who is about to hit objects at a distance or Madame Flurrie, the enormous bosom cloud who can blow away parts of the landscape to reveal secrets.

While this is a role-playing game, with all the combat taking place on a separate screen once you touch an enemy, there’s plenty of platforming, puzzle, and character interaction to be had outside of that.

It’s all pleasantly complex too, with an almost Metroidvania-like element of giving you a number of paper-folding abilities, transforming into a plane or boat, and reaching previously inaccessible areas.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door – this mouse femme fatale is one of many returning characters (Nintendo)

The combat will be familiar if you’ve played any of the associated games, as while it is turn-based, it also relies heavily on timing to increase the effectiveness of both offense and defense. Press the button at the right time and Mario can jump on someone’s head twice or time Flurrie’s gusts correctly and you can deal more damage, which is sometimes essential to deal damage at all if an enemy has a high defense stat.

Fights take place on a small stage, with the audience watching you. The more fun you are, the more the audience will applaud and your special bar will fill up faster. However, if you bore them, they will start throwing things at you, although you can quickly prevent them by jumping out and hitting them. The entire concept is often pushed to the extreme, from the first boss fight where the villain decides to eat the audience.

The entire game is utterly charming from start to finish, with each new area having its own theme or gimmick, from a giant tree full of little slug creatures that you can arrange like pikmin to an extended sequence where you try to become the number. one champion at a wrestling style fighting tournament.

While the original game has aged very well, this remake is excellent, with all the 3D backgrounds designed to look like they’re made from craft paper. That was always the case, but the effect is much clearer now, especially the fact that the characters are actually made of several pieces of thin cardboard, with their feet and hands overlapping their bodies.

The only downsides the game really has are the long loading times between each screen, which is probably just a limitation of the Switch, and the fact that your partners can’t track you in a sensible way at all. We’ve seen better behaved toddlers in a supermarket because they often have to teleport back to you after just a few steps, which is quite visually distracting.

Strangely enough, no one makes any reference to the fact that everything and everyone is made of paper, even when Mario is doing one of his paper folding tricks, but we guess that’s just the world they live in. (The original intent of the art style was simply to make it clear that this was no ordinary Mario game, but something different.)

These days, Nintendo has a strange policy that prevents developers from creating unique versions of any of the classic Mushroom Kingdom races. So now all Toads should look the same except for minor color variations, as well as all Koopas and Bob-ombs and so on. The Thousand-Year Door shows what nonsense that is, because everyone looks so distinctive in clothing, body type, and facial furnishings.

The Thousand-Year Door is one of Nintendo’s best games ever and we can only hope that the effort put into this remake means that whatever the next Paper Mario game becomes, it will be another proper role-playing game with same meaning. of ambition and absurdity. Not only was The Thousand-Year Door one of the best games on the GameCube, but now it’s one of the best on the Switch.


Summary of the review of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

In brief: A fantastic remake of a deeply underrated classic, which easily has Nintendo’s best script and whose pseudo-RPG battles and exploration still prove endlessly charming.

Pros: Beautiful script, full of strange characters and unexpected comments. Fun and relatively deep battles. Fun and rewarding exploration, with great graphics.

Cons: Relatively linear, the inability of your allies to keep up with you for more than a few steps is weird and distracting. Quite long loading times between screens.

Score: 9/10

Formats: Nintendo Switch
Price: £49.99
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent systems
Release date: May 23, 2024
Age rating: 7

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