Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
The Nintendo64 title Paper Mario appeared in Europe in the last years of this console and since most people had already focused on the Gamecube that was arising at the horizon, the game didn’t really sell well. Too bad as unique graphics, a fun battle system and a chunk of humour made this title a top game. Those that did play it furiously hoped for a sequel and surprisingly enough their wish came true. It’s called Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and even gamers that aren’t familiar with the first part know about this title. Very high expectations but did Nintendo manage to fulfull them ? For me to find out !
The storyline is different from other Mario games where it used to be all around Princess Peach who got abducted by the big, evil Koopa King: Bowser. This game starts with a letter from Peach addressed to Mario with an included treasure map. Greedy as she is, Peach wants to have the treasure and asks Mario for help. You start off to Rogueport where you’ll meet up with her highness but of course not everything goes as planned…
As you can think from the title, Mario is made out of paper, just like his enemies and friends. Everything plays in a 3D world but your characters are flat as… a piece of paper This doesn’t only look original, it also brings the necessary interaction. Mario can go sideways through small gaps, fold into a paper airplane, curl himself to roll under something, and so on.
The game is colorful, as we’re used from a Nintendo game and contrary to what the screenshots would suggest, quite nice. The textures of the surface like f.i. the grass look quickly made but this all adds to the atmosphere, the “being of paper” of the world. The 3D part could use a little more work though. There are quite visible edges and the models are quite standard.
You won’t notice much of that though as the 2D-part jumps more into the eye and luckily this has been done quite good.
Throughout the whole world there are of course bad guys, waiting to be slaughtered and next to Mario’s well-known jumpattack, he also has a hammer with him to finish the job nicely. When they run into you, the fight starts, but it’s better for you to attack them first as that will give you a so-called “First Strike”.
The battle is on the stage of a theatre, filled with audience. They are an important factor as the better you attack and defend, the more Star Power you’ll get for special attacks. Next to that there’s also of course Health Points (health), Flower Points (stronger moves) and Badge Points (how many badges you can wear). Badges improve the power of your attacks or give you new ones.
The audience can also throw objects at you, both good and bad. Some can f.i. be used to heal yourself, other times they’ll throw rocks that damage you.
Fighting is turn-based which means that each teams fights in turn. You can improve an attack by making the right action command which appears in the bottom of your screen. You’ll for instance have to bash the R-button, press a series of others in the correct order, and so on. When doing this correctly, your attack will not only give more damage but the audience will liek you more which will make your Star Point meter fill more rapidly. During an attack you can also press the A-button to get the status of “Stylish” which of course is good for your style power meter.
Next to attacking, you can also use items and different tactics including running away and defending. After a fight you get additional Star Points and each 100 of those will let you increase a level.
Throughout the game, Mario will encounter different characters that just love to fight along with him. They aren’t only useful in battle, also in the normal playworld you’ll need them to progress. Since you can only have one sidekick in your team, this will result in the necessary puzzle elements to keep your brain active.
The hardest difficulty of the game is also in this part. The battles are reasonably easy and the main problem is the feeling of a true RPG. What do I mean by that ? When I think of an RPG, I think of huge worlds where you have to run through fields to reach the next village. In this game that’s not the case, you just climb in some warppipe and you end up at your destination. You’ll miss a certain feeling of liberty and that’s a shame, eventhough the playworlds are big enough.
There’s not much to be said about the sound. It contains the necessary happy tunes and enchanted background music that we can expect from Nintendo. There’s no voice-acting but the letters in the text balloons do nicely bring over a feeling. This is done by f.i. gigantical letter when someone shouts, shaking letters if someone is scared, etc. This only adds to the cartoony feeling of the game, real voices would probably spoil it. The facial expressions are also quite good and at times really funny.
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a very enjoyable title, especially for fans of Mario games, as you’ll encounter quite a lot of familiar characters. The battle system is neat, renewing and also the humour adds to the making of a top game. IF you’re looking for a real RPG with a big world where you have to go from town to town, you’ll probably better wait for Tales of Symphonia (which we will of course also review)