653rd played so far

Genre: Role-Playing
Platform: Gamecube
Year of Release: 2004
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door came up the week before I played it, but as I needed more time to it, I wanted to dedicate a day to it – something I did today (as I write this).

Aside from it always being good to get an RPG in, the Mario series always provides really good ones. The first Paper Mario was a lot of fun to play and I started this one years ago… just didn’t finish it because a certain blog starting eating up quite a bit of my gaming time. Now I get to properly play more of it!

Our Thoughts

Thousand-Year Door is as charming as the earlier games and hits a bunch of the same mechanics. Where it expands, though, it does so wonderfully, in a way that works really well for the story, world and game. Throughout, for example, you have an audience for your battle. They get excited as you do better and will increase your star power, as well as throwing helpful items. Sometimes they get infiltrated by enemies, which you have to be careful with, at just the right rate to keep it interesting – often enough that you don’t forget about it, but not often enough to dominate.

In a lot of games, that’s a system you expect them to add but then forget about. Here, the game keeps referencing them, with bosses scaring them away and them playing out in different circumstances. It’s a place where systems mix and fit in well. In a similar vein, the normally for-fun attack fx badges (which changes the sound effects) actually have a gameplay effect in at least one (major) battle. It’s not the biggest thing, but plays with the mechanics in such an interesting way that it feels fair but fresh.

It feels like this happens more out of battle too. While the first Paper Mario played with the mechanics already, I feel like there were more paper based elements in here – both in powerups you get, such as flying around as a paper airplane, which happens quite often, and in the way the world changes, using paper style cutouts and the like that felt more frequent. Add to that a lot of use of the different planes and we get to a world that’s filled with interesting things, while feeling a bit more condensed (in a good way).

The story, too, feels a bit more creative. Rather than a standard Bowser kidnapping, we get another new villain group. Doing so really works better for Mario RPGs, as it means there’s a new group of enemies to use while allowing the basicc enemies to populate the world and fill it out, avoiding a bunch of basic beats.

Final Thoughts

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door lives up to the expectations of a Mario RPG. It’s charming, looks good and introduces its own set of gameplay rules that add to the game. I really need to keep playing – at least I’ve got a few more RPGs like it left in the list, as there are some good ones in there.