Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

Surprise, surprise, Nintendo's remake of a classic Mario RPG is very good!

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Following the Super Mario RPG and Mario vs. Donkey Kong, Nintendo's latest remake of a classic Mario title comes in the form of the Paper Mario sequel, The Thousand Year Door. Mario is back in his 2D self, and as you can probably guess from the game's title, he's hunting down the Thousand Year Door.

Well, more accurately, he and his ragtag team are hunting down seven Crystal Stars which can be used to open the door. The catalyst for this journey, as it is for most of Mario's escapades, is a captured Princess Peach, but rather than platforming his way to her this time around he's battling his way past traditional and not-so traditional enemies in a series of stage-like combats and exploring the picture book come to life that is the world around him.

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year DoorPaper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

As you set sail to Rogueport - the central hub of the game's story and where your journey begins - you're immediately greeted by bright, vibrant visuals that bring the world to an exaggerated type of life that only exists in books, plays, and cartoons. All of these styles mix wonderfully in Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, and the updated visuals are an immediate treat to the eyes. It's not just the picturesque background that look pretty, as a lot of work has gone into bringing the characters to life, too. Mario has never been quite so charming as in his 2D self, where his mouth opens wide at every new discovery, and after winning every battle he turns to face the player with a big thumbs up. A lot of the expressions are smaller details, but they are noticeable and show a great amount of care has been put into bringing this RPG to more modern standards.

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Speaking of the characters, it's not just their looks that shine in this game. As a mostly silent protagonist (apart from your usual wa-hoos), Mario is left by the wayside a bit, but much of the NPCs, party mates, and even villains will keep you entertained. Despite their 2D nature, no one ever really falls flat in this RPG, and every person, penguin, Koopa, and Goomba you meet along the way is packed with personality. The dialogue is a big help here, and while the amount of text you'll go through on this Mario adventure is substantial, it's rife with quick-witted humour and interesting character details that keep the narrative standing even in its slower moments.

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year DoorPaper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door's story is split into chapters, each of which following your adventure as you set out to capture one of the seven Crystal Stars. As with other similar artefacts in an adventure movie, game, or TV show, the Stars are spread throughout the world, taking you from the never-ending darkness of Twilight Town to a fighting arena in the sky. Each chapter is a smaller, complete adventure on its own, and the areas are full of things for you to discover along the way. With each chapter complete, Mario will gain party members, power-ups, and paper-inspired abilities, which can unlock further areas of the game and help you beat certain puzzles.

The paper plane, boat, and other powers are so creatively implemented it's hard not to be impressed by them. While not all of the paper abilities are used equally (the same can be said for most of your party mates' abilities), they do provide consistent and inventive solutions to puzzles that reward creative thinking. The gameplay is split pretty cleanly between exploration and combat, with the latter only taking place in a cutscene or if you meet a random enemy out and about. As mentioned before, the combat takes you to a stage environment, complete with props and lighting that can fall on you and opponents, as well as an audience you have to impress by hitting your moves at the right time.

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Mario is equipped not only with his stomping shoes in this game, but he also has access to a hammer for when you're facing an enemy that can't be jumped on. Both your shoes and hammer upgrade over time, dealing more damage and through your badges you can also grant them special moves to deal more damage or inflict statuses on an enemy. Your chosen partner also has their own series of attacks, from Koops' shell that can run through every enemy on the ground to Bobbery's massive damage explosion. Items you pick up are also very useful in a pinch, whether to heal you back up or deal some damage across the board. Finally, there are also special moves that you get access to the more Crystal Stars you collect. They can do all sorts of things, from giving you massive buffs to attack and defence to immobilising everyone on the stage.

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year DoorPaper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

A lot of Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door's combat is about pressing the right button at the right time. Tap A when you're about to stomp on an enemy, and you get another stomp for free. Hold back the stick until you hear a beep and you'll do the most damage with your hammer. The list goes on, and it's not just for attacks. If you press A when something's about to hit you, you can negate some of the damage with a Guard. A Superguard requires much better timing and the pressing of the B button, but it'll deal a point of damage back at an enemy. There is a decent amount of depth here, and the boss battles are a raucous amount of good fun because of it, but the more regular encounters start to turn a little stale. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is a fairly lengthy title, and by the end I was starting to skip as many encounters as I could, as the monotony of slamming every enemy with a hammer just grew too strong.

Otherwise, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is a fantastic RPG that stands out as a unique gem of the genre. It's not afraid to be whimsical and strange, nor does it compromise on making the theme of a Paper Mario game come to life with its interesting abilities and mechanics. The characters really make this game whole, and the writing of them kept me entertained even during the slower story beats. A worthy recommend for any fan of the plumber or anyone looking to try a different style of RPG.

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
09 Gamereactor UK
9 / 10
Great visuals, music, sound, characters and dialogue are very well-written
Combat gets very monotonous during the lengthy story
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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