Paper Mario:The Thousand Year Door Review


Jun 2004
I'm gonna try to start doing reviews for games I beat, no matter how old they are. So, here goes!

The beginning of the Paper Mario series starts way back with a game called Super Mario RPG:Legend of the Seven Stars which was released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1996. Basically, the game was a cross between your traditional Mario platformers and RPG's such as Final Fantasy. The game was very well received and was the 3rd highest selling game in Japan in 1996. The next game in the series would come to the Nintendo 64 with the title of Paper Mario. The game was originally planned to be titled Super Mario RPG 2, but due to legal issues with Square, who had involvement in the original game, they changed it to Paper Mario. Paper Mario for the N64 was also very well received by critics and consistently garnered review scores of 90% or more. The next game in the series would come to the Nintendo Gamecube and is the base of this review. During the course of this review I will refer to The Thousand Year Door as TTYD.

Story: The story in TTYD is fairly simple and straight forward; Princess Peach is captured by bad guys bent on World destruction and Mario is given the task of saving her and destroying evil. There's obviously more to it but that is the basic plot. Throughout the course of the game you will come upon some smaller side stories mainly used for developing your party members. The core gameplay is what really makes this game shine so I was fine with the simple story, however, I would have liked a little more history about my party members than what was given.

Audio and Visual: Both the audio and visuals in this game are very well done. The environments are a mix of 2d and 3d while the characters are always in 2d. It makes for a very visually pleasing game I must say. As with any Mario game, the graphics are very bright, colorful, clean, and well detailed. I really liked how Nintendo was able to create a sense of nostalgia all while taking advantage of the modern technology. Visually, nothing is going to completely blow your mind or make your draw drop, but it's all just nice to look at, minus a few areas which I found rather bland. Both playable and non playable characters portray a variety of expressions and animations which really helped bring them to life. All in all, the game is incredibly vibrant and lively despite being "paper".

Both the soundtrack and sound effects are top notch. The tracks fit the environments perfectly and really helped to enhance the overall feel of each area. Outside of battle the sound effects are nothing special, but they really shine during battle. There was few moves I loved using simply for the awesome accompanying sound effect. My only complaint in the sound department is the repetitive battle theme. From my experience many RPG's suffer the same issue. I really wish somebody would think that through a bit better. Considering the number of battles you enter is going to be in the hundreds, if not thousands, it would be a great idea to have a few random battle tracks to reduce repetitiveness.

Gameplay: The core of the gameplay in TTYD is pretty much standard RPG fare. Throughout the game you need to collect 7 Crystal Stars which are found by traveling to a new area and completing a quest or set of quests. Along the way you will meet new characters, encounter side quests and mini games, earn new skills, buy new items at shops, and so forth. You will gain new party members during your journey all equipped with unique skills and traits. However, there is also a lot about TTYD that sets it apart from traditional RPG's. Mainly, the battle system and the skills Mario can utilize due to being paper. Battles take place by bumping into an enemy on screen, so they are not random which is nice. Also, if you are fast enough you can thwack an enemy before they notice you allowing you to "strike first" {take 2 turns in a row}. Once you enter a battle you are taken to a screen which looks like a theater stage, well actually, it IS a theater stage. The cool thing about this is that you have an audience which also participates in battle in small ways. For example, sometimes an audience member will try to throw something to hurt you, but they will also do things to benefit you such as making you invisible and thus not able to take damage. It's a very simple concept but it really adds a lot to the battles and always makes them entertaining. You can also try to swoon your audience over by performing certain actions which is beneficial for a few reasons. The actual fighting is done turn based but it is rather fast paced. Another factor to battling is badges. Throughout the game Mario will find or acquire badges that are equipped with a certain skill. For example, there is a badge to boost overall HP, boost FP, one to allow Mario to strike all ground enemies with one hammer blow, and so on. Each badge requires a certain number of "badge points" to wear, and the battle skills require a certain number of "flower points" to use during battle.

That brings me to my next point which is leveling up. After each battle you get "star points" and after acquiring 100 star points you level up. This is a bit unique as each time you level up, you can only choose 1 of 3 attributes to level up {HP, flower points, badge points}. This is something that should be done with a little strategy and thought because you may realize late in the game that you should have leveled up a certain attribute more or less than you did. Regardless, though, the game will provide a nice challenge no matter how you decided to level up your character.

Another aspect of the gameplay is certain skills Mario acquires that are used outside of battle. Since he is paper, he will learn skills that allow him to morph into a paper airplane, or to become paper thin to get into tight spots, etc,. These skills are mainly used to access new areas or find secrets, so it's wise to make mental notes when see something suspicious in the game world, because most likely you'll need to come back to it.

Conclusion: The best way I could describe TTYD is that it's just simply a joy to play. Once I beat it I felt very satisfied and I was glad to have experienced it. It's not a perfect game, but it also does not have any glaring flaws either. The only flaws were that it was a bit short and a little weak on the character development. You can still find this game for $20 new and I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys a good game.