Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (2024) Game Review – A marvelously crafted remake of a GameCube classic!

If there’s one thing Nintendo’s been consistent on during the Nintendo Switch generation, it’s bringing games from past platforms to the Switch family of systems. From the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to the Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo enthusiasts have received many fun games to play with this handheld, home console device. On that note, the Nintendo GameCube’s library has received much praise lately. 

Despite the game console’s poor sales, many gamers look back on this lunchbox-like device with fond memories. It appears Nintendo’s been doing the same lately. They’ve released multiple remakes of beloved GameCube games for Switch owners to play these past years. From Metroid Prime Remastered to Pikmin 1 + 2, GameCube fans have been fed extravagant meals. 

On the topic of GameCube remakes, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door’s remake was recently released. The GameCube original was praised for its exceptional narrative, fascinating turn-based gameplay, gloriously designed world, and memorable cast. Although this paper-bound world has minor flaws that prevent it from being a perfect piece of art, it delivers a phenomenal RPG experience that’ll appeal to all ages. 

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is the second entry of the Paper Mario series. It follows Paper Mario, who travels to a sea town called Rogueport after receiving a magic map and letter from Princess Peach. There, Paper Mario meets a university student named Goombella and her teacher Professor Frankly. They give Paper Mario more details about Rogueport’s treasure, Crystal Stars, The Thousand-Year Door, and other things. 

However, that’s the least of Paper Mario’s concerns. Not only must he and his friends retrieve the Crystal Stars before the X-Nauts, Bowser, and other villains do, but he must save Peach from the X-Naut’s grasp. Otherwise, horrible things will happen to Peach, Rogueport, and the other locales our heroes traverse.

This game features eight chapters for players to complete. Each chapter features a world for our heroes to explore. These realms contain numerous items to retrieve, plots to resolve, adversaries to conquer, and new residents to communicate with. The items include Crystal Stars, badges, Shine Sprites, coins, and more. Some hold value to the game’s plot. Thus, players must locate these items to progress to the next chapter’s events. Ultimately, Paper Mario and his friends will enter the Thousand-Year Door and fight its boss. 

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door’s remake’s gameplay is remarkable and charming like the 2004 original. For instance, players will adore traversing through every world as Paper Mario to find secret items, solve puzzles, and see how each subplot unfolds. Each world is brimming with things to do and people to chat with. Fans will depart each area with a bright smile. 

Additionally, each world relies on players to utilize their partners (Paper Mario’s companions) diverse abilities to advance. This allows players to bond with their partner characters and appreciate them more. The turn-based gameplay is equally fascinating. These moments involve players getting into electrifying, theatric-themed bouts with the game’s numerous enemies. 

Players will encounter all sorts of foes, big and small, each having a unique design, quirk, and attacking method. Paper Mario has many ways to defeat these foes. From his mighty hammer to the Crystal Star’s special moves, fans will appreciate the attacking options this game grants them. Moreover, fans can perform wonderful “stylish moves.” This adds a bit of flair to Paper Mario and his allies’ attacks, giving players more reasons to instigate battles with foes. 

Speaking of, Paper Mario’s allies have fascinating attacking options too. For example, Goombella’s “Tattle” ability allows her to analyze foes. This gives players a funny yet insightful description of an enemy’s health points, defense, and attack power. This is extremely useful as you’ll encounter foes of the same variety multiple times. Others like Yoshi’s “gulp” will aid players in dealing with heavy, spikey targets. 

These distinct and useful abilities make Paper Mario and his partner companions more engaging, memorable, and fun to use in combat. Our main heroes aside, the game allows you to play as Peach and Bowser at the end of chapters occasionally. As Peach, you’ll fulfill requests from the X-Naut Leader Sir Grodus’s maincomputer TECC-XX (or TEC). Her gameplay contains occasional mini-games and puzzles to spice matters up for her. 

As for Bowser, you’ll partake in Super Mario Bros.-themed affairs occasionally. Yes, the same side-scrolling, block and fire-jumping, and enemy-defeating situations as Mario did in the classic NES title. However, Bowser will have access to a “Ground-Pound” and “Flame” ability, making matters feel destructive. On top of having slight gameplay improvements and add-ons, this title’s gameplay is a big step up, unlike the newly released Paper Mario games. 

However, the gameplay has its share of flaws worth addressing. First and foremost, Bowser and Peach’s gameplay isn’t all that great when placed next to Paper Mario’s. Although it’s fun to smash blocks and reign fire on enemies as Bowser, his movement speed is as slow as the original game. This makes his scenarios feel tiresome even though the worlds he explores are neat callbacks. 

As for Peach, her gameplay can be hit or miss. While her dancing routine with TEC was cute and thoughtful, fans won’t find the potion-making fiasco and future dull activities enjoyable. The potion-making debacle may annoy folks who aren’t patient gamers. Additionally, the game feels slightly easier to beat than the original game. Most boss fights felt like a cakewalk and offered little to no challenge. 

This is due to the battleground’s hazards. Occasionally, a stage hazard would freeze or burn a small enemy or a boss. This allows players to utilize Paper Mario and his friends’ current abilities and tools to defeat them without fear. Although these hazards can affect players, too, our playthrough saw little to no worry on the hazard front. This made some boss battle victories feel lackluster. Besides that, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door’s gameplay will excite anyone.

Gameplay aside, does Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door’s storyline hold a candle to other role-playing games? While not the most ground-breaking narrative on planet Earth, this game offers a storyline that’ll surprise those who’ve only known Mario for his 2D and 3D outings. First and foremost, each of Paper Mario’s partners has a relatable and endearing tale that ties directly to their chapter’s subplot. 

From the verbal abuse Vivian receives from Beldam to Admiral Bobbery’s refusal to pursue sailor life because of his lover’s passing, some character arcs will strike audiences at their core. TEC is another brilliant example of a side character done right. He grows and develops steadily, thanks to his touching interactions with Peach. His conversations will make players ponder love and life in meaningful ways.  

Also, the game has characters like Rawk Hawk, Glitzville’s champion, who players will admire for his goofy yet righteous personality. On the topic of humor, this game has players covered. From fourth-wall jokes to amusing banter, kids, teens, and adults will find one line or two in this game that will make them chuckle. If not for the game’s tiny essence of plot convenience and questionable resolutions, its storyline would be pure gold. 

Next to its storyline, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door’s graphics are nearly flawless. The original game looked nice for its time, but the Switch remake grants fans and newcomers the definitive experience. From Twilight Town’s spooky exterior to Boggly Wood’s enchanting phenomena, fans will immerse themselves in these distinct, breathtaking locations. 

Moreover, the character designs remain intact, with slight white outlines given to them to make them appear more extravagant. Many feared Intelligent Systems would give Paper Mario and his friends the bold white outlines from modern titles like Paper Mario: The Origami King. Thankfully, they opted for an in-between. This should please old and modern Paper Mario fanatics. 

Unfortunately, the game often stutters during select scenarios. Some examples include the Bob-omb cannon gathering event in Chapter 7 and the moment Paper Mario unlocks The Thousand-Year Door before entering the Palace of Doom. Although these frame rate issues only occur in spurts, it’s unfortunate that the “entire game” doesn’t provide audiences with a “smooth as butter” adventure. All in all, fans should be satisfied with this title’s graphics. 

Graphics aside, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door’s soundtrack is exceptional. While some new music track renditions don’t produce the same “awe” and “creativity” as the original game, most of this remake’s soundtrack is top-notch, memorable, and emotional. For example, the opening title theme that plays while the narrator explains Rogueport’s early beginnings carries a nostalgic, warming, and magical aura. 

It’ll make players recall times when their guardian read them a bedtime story. On the other hand, the game’s battle music will get players pumped. It may entice them to initiate battles with enemies just to hear that energetic melody ring through their eardrums. Although the game lacks proper voice acting, its Animal Crossing-like dribbles and vocal cues are charming. 

By and large, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door’s remake provides newer Paper Mario fans a look at what the modern series lacks. While newer Paper Mario games contain nice imagery and off-the-wall jokes, many can admit this series lost its edge over time. Hopefully, Nintendo will give Paper Mario fanatics a new entry that can stand toe-to-toe or surpass Paper Mario 64 and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

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  • Verdict - 9/10

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