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Review

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (Switch) Review

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To briefly recap the story of The Thousand-Year Door, there’s the titular door from a lost city that remains buried under the city of Rogueport. To open the door to the mysterious treasures within, someone needs to collect the 7 Crystal Stars. Mario receives a magical map from Princess Peach, who has gone missing. It’s up to Mario to find out what’s happened to Princess Peach and to collect all the stars to open the Thousand Year Door. It isn’t just Mario taking part in this adventure; Princess Peach has been kidnapped by a being called Grodus and their X-Nauts, who are also seeking the crystal stars. Being captured doesn’t mean she is a helpless damsel just waiting for Mario; Princess Peach is on her own adventure to help Mario while teaching a computer about love. Bowser is also here, not one to miss out on the race for the crystal stars.

To collect the seven crystal stars, Mario will need to visit the surrounding areas. Each new area is revealed only once a star has been found, and the map shows the next location. Mario isn’t travelling alone; a variety of companions join him on the adventure. Each character provides unique skills that are vital to navigating the many obstacles ahead, playing their own part in the story and interactions. 

One thing I always enjoyed about the earlier Mario RPGs, whether the original Super Mario RPG, Paper Mario, or the Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, was the humorous take on the Mario series. TTYD is full of charm and a good dose of silly fun, filled with goofy dialogue and character.

Now, the game isn’t 100% the game found on the GameCube; for starters, it’s a remake. The dialogue isn’t 1:1 for the original English translation, but unless you’re looking for particular dialogue the spirit of the original is very present. To be honest, with it being about 20 years since I sunk so many hours into the original there will no doubt be lots of small tweaks or changes I won’t be able to notice.

So, how is it actually playing the game? It’s very much a Paper Mario game, and still one of the best ones. It is full of character and charm, with a story filled with humour and some surprisingly touching moments. The turn-based combat is still enjoyable, with mechanics like the timing-based ‘action command’ and  ‘stylish’ moves to fill up your star meter. The stage show layout that combat takes place in makes for other quirks that keep fights involved. When you hit hard enough or use certain attacks you might knock down the scenery on the enemy, or knock loose some jets of freezing air to freeze them up. Be mindful that you are just as vulnerable to the same attacks, with the audience watching on potentially throwing objects or messing with the backstage. There’s also some strategy involved when you see enemies holding items, if you don’t deal with them quickly they could use them to hurt or debuff you. 

It’s not too hard to tell where things have stayed the same with TTYD, whether it is having to save manually at save blocks, paying for using HP and FP healing blocks, a heap of backtracking, and the transition into combat. Fortunately, you’re never too far from a save block or too short on cash for healing. The backtracking can be slow going, with the game sending you back and forth and giving you a shortcut if you’re lucky. 

You can take on Troubles from the Trouble Centre, a notice board for taking on requests to help out NPCs. When you take one, you have to seek out the requester, then perform the task. I won’t lie, it’s still a little frustrating that you can’t take on more than one task at a time given how many times you need to go back and forth around the place if you want to take on every job. 

I possibly forgot or maybe never realised at the time, despite being an RPG with upgradable stats TTYD does a pretty good job at keeping Mario at a good level – as long as you engage with most enemies the first time you see them. The amount of EXP gained from enemies drops off fast, at a point it becomes either grinding through countless enemies for little gain, or solely focusing on the fights on the way. The Pit of 100 Trials is still in the game for those who want an extra challenge. 

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Between The Origami King and just how effective the art style for the Paper Mario games¬†have¬†always been, it shouldn’t be a surprise that TTYD looks great on the Switch.¬†No matter how many years¬†it’s been¬†since the Paper Mario games started coming out, it is¬†still¬†always fun to see how the world works and unfolds.¬†If there was¬†going to be¬†one teeny tiny gripe I would have with the visuals, it would be how reflective some of the surfaces are.¬†Initially I thought it was just the game being cute with a particular¬†surface shiny¬†like contact wrapping.¬†But then¬†the¬†more I continued to see Mario reflecting off surfaces, it took away just a little bit from the paper/craft material aesthetic. ‘That said, it doesn’t affect gameplay in any way’.¬†Because I remembered the original looking pretty good back in the day, I had to¬†go¬†watch some side-by-side footage to¬†really see the work that’s been¬†done here.¬†The remake is definitely an upgrade, with more detail where it can make a scene pop but still capture everything the original was.¬†

TTYD has had an audible overhaul too. The original music has been reimagined and sounds great, and with minor effort you can choose to play the game with the original soundtrack instead. One new addition that feels like it would’ve been there all along is the dialogue sounds. Instead of one generic sound as dialogue is displayed, it is now “voiced” as in the sounds are now character-specific. As I said, it felt like it should’ve been there in the original, but it wasn’t! Given there’s a fair amount of dialogue it helps to have some variety in the sound and give the game a little extra charm.

There has been some discussion around the reduced FPS from 60FPS down to 30FPS, and how it might affect the timing of action commands. In short, it’s not an issue. I’m not always the best with the action command timing but I was still nailing Superguard prompts often. For those still overly concerned, there are badges that can help with the timing, but you should be fine. 


If you’ve been waiting for a Thousand-Year Door remaster/remake for many years, let’s not pretend you’re not already getting this when possible. If you are still reading because you just want to be sure, you can relax; Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is still a great game. Paper Mario is not only still a great game but remains one of, if not the best, Paper Mario games. If you haven’t had the chance to play this game when it was first released, you’re in for a treat. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is not only a classic Mario RPG but a must-buy for the Switch.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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The Good

+ Is still the best Paper Mario game
+ The remake improves on the originals sights and sounds

The Bad

-The backtracking can still feel a bit of a chore

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If you've been waiting for a Thousand-Year Door remaster/remake for many years, let's not pretend you're not already getting this when possible. If you are still reading because you just want to be sure, you can relax; Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is still a great game. Paper Mario is not only still a great game but remains one of, if not the best, Paper Mario games. If you haven't had the chance to play this game when it was first released, you're in for a treat. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is not only a classic Mario RPG but a must-buy for the Switch.

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About The Author
Paul Roberts
Lego enthusiast, Picross Master and appreciator of games.

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