Paper Mario: Thousands-Year Door

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Remake Review

Twenty years after the original GameCube version was released to the public, Nintendo is bringing a direct remake of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door to Switch and it is an absolute gem. For those who don’t know, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door marked the second game in the Paper Mario series and is likely one of the best entries ever made.

Fans will defend its greatness until the end of time and there’s reason why. For its time, the game took Mario outside of his comfort zone and introduced various characters and locations that essentially merged other Mario game ingredients into one.

Paper Mario: Thousands-Year Door Preview

The game also greatly expanded on the combat system by introducing new partners that journeyed alongside Mario which featured their own attack styles. Compared to the Nintendo 64 version of Paper Mario, Thousand-Year Door is seen as the game that went above and beyond to reinvent the series.

Twenty years later, while many of the later entries include vast new features and mechanics, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is still a pure joy to play through. It also shows that while the original launched back in 2004, the remake has left most of the gameplay untouched because it was so enjoyable in the first place.

Paper Mario: Thousands-Year Door Preview

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door starts off with Mario heading towards the main city of Rogueport to find Peach. The princess has come upon a treasure map which she claims leads to an ancient treasure buried under the city. Of course, Princess Peach gets kidnapped again but this time it isn’t Bowser. Instead, it is an evil society called the X-Nauts who grab her. They are also in search of this treasure.

Mario soon learns that in order to access this treasure, which is supposedly hidden behind the Thousand-Year Door, he needs to collect seven Crystal Stars scattered around the world first. They are the keys which unlock this door. Paper Mario: Thousands-Year Door Preview

So Mario sets off to various locations across the world to track down these Crystal Stars. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is then divided into eight chapters essentially following Mario to each location.

Sure, the story sounds as cookie-cutter as other Paper Mario games but it works. The introduction of the X-Nauts in the series is also quite refreshing. These no-gooders sort of look like a blend of Dr Eggman and supervillains.

Paper Mario: Thousands-Year Door Preview

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door also features playable sections where I got to play as Princess Peach and Bowser. While these gameplay portions aren’t layered in mechanics and as detailed as Mario’s adventure, they tell side stories which add extra comedy relief to the story.

While Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door isn’t as fast-paced and deeply written as some modern-day games, it does a great job telling its story. There are also some real standout characters in the game. Madame Flurrie has to be my favourite. This wind spirit is an ex-superstar who puts her career on hold to travel with Mario. However, her demeanour is what I loved about her. She screams sex appeal and her reactions to some story moments had me in stitches.

Paper Mario: Thousands-Year Door Preview

Mario can also use her ability to blow wind in and out of combat. She came in handy throughout the game. Other companions that join Mario follow the same route. They all pack their unique abilities in the real world which translate to combat moves during battles.

Koops is a Koopa who can withdraw into his shell. Mario can then shoot him towards platforms and items activating them and collecting them. In combat, Koops then dashes forward in his shell to deal damage to enemies.

Paper Mario: Thousands-Year Door Preview

I spent a lot of time in combat during Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and while it does drag on at times, the encounters are enjoyable. These fights are played out on a stage with a live audience. Mario and his chosen companion use various moves and items to take down their opponents. However, the combat is a lot more tactical than it sounds.

Most battles rely on either jumping on an enemy or hitting them in another way to prevent direct damage from being done to the player. Mario’s hammer, for example, can easily smash a Pirahna plant but he can’t jump on top of it. Of course, it would bite him.

Paper Mario: Thousands-Year Door Preview

The hammer can’t hit enemies in the air either. Some enemies, such as the Pider, then crawl up and down a web during fights so I had to swap between jumping on them and hitting them with the hammer. It all depends on the position of the enemy during the attack.

Every move also has a mechanic behind it which determines how successful the attack will be. Madame Flurrie, for example, can squash enemies with her bosom by body slamming. However, I had to move a target into a ring and keep it there to sort of “target the slam”. On the odd chance I moved the target out by mistake, the attack would miss.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Remake Review

Mario also benefits from this by a perfectly timed jump attack which results in a second follow-up attack. His hammer, on the other hand, had me hold back the left analogue stick and let it go at the perfect moment to deal double damage. If I didn’t pay attention, it would have only dealt the standard damage.

If you have played any Super Mario Bros RPG or Paper Mario game in the past, these mechanics will sound very familiar because they are. Nintendo has implemented this system into the vast majority of these games.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Remake Review

Where Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door stands out is in its “stage” mechanics. The audience, for example, fills up the seats in the crown depending on how well I performed in combat. Often, an audience member would try to toss a rock at Mario and I had to quickly press the “X” button to stop the action. However, other times the audience member would toss a healing item. If I pressed the X button, it would cancel this “good” opportunity.

The stages were also designed after each area I was exploring. This means they have trees and buildings as backdrops. These backdrops can often fall onto enemies if I use my hammer attack often enough. But this also means Mario’s party might fall victim to a dropped stage light due to a strong attack.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Remake Review

These small details make Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door quite enjoyable when it comes to the combat. While every area starts to feel the same after a while due to the repeated enemy variety, each new chapter brought new mechanics I had to master both across combat and during exploration. It kept me going throughout the game.

Mario can also equip badges with various effects. Some unlock a “chance” for something to happen during combat such as refilling health or FP. Other badges grant Mario actual attacks and skills. I was always on the search for new ones throughout the game.

There are some noteworthy changes in the Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Remake which help with the general flow of the game. Mario can now carry 15 items instead of 10. This helps more than you know. There’s also a new One World, One Pipe room in the centre of Rogueport that let me travel to a previously-visited location. This helped a lot with backtracking.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Remake Review

There’s also a Battle Master Toad in the game which offers advice on combat and gameplay mechanics. I could also test out my combat skills here. This was vital to practising the perfect dodge and slam of new attacks. While these changes are minor, they help here and there.

I think the best part about Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door for me was the game’s visuals. The entire experience is delivered in a gorgeous pop-up book style and everything comes to life in unique ways. The sound design then complements this with paper sounds during opening doors and exploring areas. Keep in mind that from a design point of view, this remake is one-to-one. But it looks as modern as ever.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Remake Review

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a cult classic and the Switch version gives new players the opportunity to experience likely the best Mario RPG-like ever made. It looks wonderful and delivers a charming story. Everything feels hand-crafted to perfection and oozing with Mario’s love.

This Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Remake review is based on a Switch code provided to us by Nintendo. The game launches on 23 May and retails from R1185.


Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Remake is wonderfully crafted for modern hardware while still capturing the magic and love of the original 20-year-old game. There’s a reason this is a cult classic and now everyone can enjoy it.

Marco is the owner and founder of GLITCHED. South Africa’s largest gaming and pop culture website. GLITCHED quickly established itself with tech and gaming enthusiasts with on-point opinions, quick coverage of breaking events and unbiased reviews across its website, social platforms, and YouTube channel.

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