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Role-Playing Game






Intelligent Systems



E (Everyone)



October 2004



- Deep, addictive gameplay

- Great presentation

- Humorous

- Easy control



- Released amid the 4th Quarter Flood so it won't get the attention it deserves



Review: Mario & Luigi - Superstar Saga (GBA)

Review: Paper Mario (N64)

Review: Final Fantasy - Crystal Chronicles (GC)



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Paper Mario:

The Thousand-Year Door

Score: 9.4 / 10


If you took the original N64 Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and folded them together in an elaborate origami animal I’m pretty sure it would look a lot like Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.  Everything I likes about those games returns, along with a few new aspects that blend to create one of GameCube’s best games (never mind role-playing game).


paper mario thousand year door review          paper mario thousand year door review


The tale begins with Mario receiving notice (yet again) that Princess Toadstool has gone missing.  Mario sets off to track her down and perform the standard rescue, makes some friends along the way, cleans out pipes by flushing himself through them, etc.


It’s not an easy quest so it’s a good thing Mario has a few new moves up his sleeves.  For starters, he can fold himself up like a piece of paper.  Early on Mario gains the ability to make himself into a paper airplane when he’s standing on specific floor sections.  (The other “paper moves” are not context sensitive.)  The other addition is crowds during fight sequences.  Star Power is required to perform special moves and to increase the gauge you can appeal to the crowd for a boost.  Characters in the crowd can also throw items onto the stage – not all of them helpful.  Fortunately, before these attacks take place Mario can attack the audience member.  This addition to the fights makes for a further level of complexity.





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If you’re familiar with the original Paper Mario and Superstar Sage, the fights will feel very comfortable, as the execution is very similar.  For those not familiar with either of those games, the combat is easy to learn.  Mario (and whichever buddy is with him) enters combat from the main exploration screen when an enemy attacks or Mario instigates a “first strike” which lets Mario get a free hit before the battle commences.  From that point there are decisions to be made and a host of considerations including current Badges, 


available power-ups, the hit points of your buddy, the order the enemy should be taken out, etc.  This portion of the game is turn based, although Mario does have the ability to make defensive moves in real time and dish out more damage if your timing in on.  It’s a complex/simple hybrid that becomes extremely addictive as you attempt to level-up Mario and his sidekicks.  (You also have to take into consideration that sidekicks are not leveled-up the same way as Mario.)  For all its complexity and depth, it doesn’t get in the way of having fun.


The graphics really do add a lot to the experience.  They are brighter and bolder than even Super Mario Sunshine.  More importantly the style sticks to the paper theme like a staple.  When Mario enters a building, walls fold down and the camera turns to reveal what’s inside; the feeling of being inside a massive world made entirely of paper is really captured here, more so than the original.


paper mario thousand year door review          paper mario thousand year door review


There are plenty of surprises to find and optional quests to tackle.  Familiar Mario conventions appear like power blocks, coin collecting, and the usual bestiary of opponents (with a few new ones thrown in for good measure.)  There’s also a deprecating sense of humor throughout the game, which was seen in Superstar Saga and really does make for some laughs. (All those years Mario spent just flattening Goombas… who knew some of them had interesting and amusing things to say?)


Any game that I like this much, I always make an effort to find at least a couple of flaws so I don’t present as a “Rah-Rah!” fanboy and more the staid game journalist that can spot flaws two minutes into a game.  However, flaws are in short supply.  It’s easy to save, the control is great, the presentation awesome, and the gameplay deep and addictive.  Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a must-play title for GameCube owners.  You could rent it but this is one of those rare titles I would just recommend for an outright purchase (particularly if you liked the first Paper Mario or enjoy role-playing games even a little).


- Omni

(November 15, 2004)

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