Nintendo Reviews Rating:
Age 7+
Posted: April 30th, 2006
By: Webmaster-Josh
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is the latest game in the Paper Mario franchise. Now making the leap from N64 to
Gamecube, how does this game fare? Read our full review to find out.

The sound effects in this game suffice, to say the least. Even though they are all very simple, there is a lot of variety.
There's a good blend of sound effects outside of battles, too. This game also has some of the cartoony type sounds found in
this type of game, but none of them feel out of place. The game also captures the essence of Mario by making animations
that go along with Mario's voice reactions, which are very basic, but once again, suffice.
The music is a little lacking in this game. A lot of the music is underdeveloped, with some songs lasting only about 10
seconds or so, and then repeating the same exact thing over and over. I was also hoping for a little more variety in the
battle songs. The only changes in music can be found during boss fights. It would have been cool if each location had its
own battle theme to it. In fact some of the nuances in the songs are downright annoying. The other problem I had is that
this didn't feel very Mario-esque to me. Sure, when you get an e-mail the tunes are from Super Mario World (nice touch,
by the way), but a lot of this is all new stuff. That wouldn't be so bad if they did it right. There are a lot of songs that really
don't work. The only memorable song I could think of was the main menu theme, which is also the only one that captured
the Mario style a little bit.
The game also sports Dolby Surround sound. I always complain because not enough games have this, but this game
underutilizes it. There aren't many instances where the Surround sound sticks out. It feels more like it was just thrown in
without any actual use. I'm glad they did it; it spruced up the quality. I just wished that like the music, they would have
developed a little more into it. Overall, the sound is good, but could have been better.

The game controls rather well. It's very easy to execute attacks and dodge attacks. However, the game throws in an
additional command. If you press B to dodge instead of A, you can hurt the enemy. The catch is that B has to pressed
exactly on time, where A can be pressed a little off and still dodge. The equipping of badges allows for additional moves to
be used. You can't learn any moves by leveling up, and you can't boost stats. So you could be level 20 or level 30 and your
hammer attack will be the same. The badges allow for a lot of mixing to the battle system, which makes up for the loss of
leveling up attack and defense stats.
The only stats you can change are HP, FP and BP. HP is pretty obvious. FP is Flower Points, which are points that you need
to use certain attacks. BP are badge points which you need to equip badges. Finding new badges and switching around is
also a fun aspect. As you find more Crystal Stars, your Star Power increases and you gain special moves. These special
moves can only be executed by Mario and cost a certain amount of points, but can prove extremely helpful. You can even
press A at special times during a move and the audience may call it stylish and give you more Star Power.
This is all tied around a unique battle system. You and your partner attack, and the enemies attack. So this is turn-based.
But, like Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga for GBA, you actually do the attacks yourself. It's when you use items are you
limited to what the item does. It's really cool to see this idea implemented again, and was obviously favored form the last
Paper Mario game. Every single battle takes place on a stage with an audience that will cheer you on to raise Star Power,
or can throw items at you. The audience might even be composed of a Bomb-Omb who will scare audience members away
when it explodes. It's really cool, and it works well with the system.
Outside of battles is also good on controls. You can hammer or jump on enemies instead of just engaging them to gain a
first strike which lets you attack first. Of course, enemies have this advantage, too. Traveling is fairly easy, the game
doesn't feel too linear. However, it should be said that this game is easy. You can find almost all of one of the collectible
items by simply walking around, and in battles, most of the attacks are easy to do. This is good for beginners, but veterans
may be more concerned with bigger puzzles than bigger enemies. The game also has some slow load times and freezes
sometimes when loading. It's not too much to be concerned with. All in all, this game controls wonderfully.

Let's face it. The game is based around paper-made objects. Nothing is
supposed to be 3D, although everything is. When characters walk, you
can only see one side of them, which gives it a flat appearance. Even
the most intimidating bosses are all cardboard-like figures.
That's what makes the graphics so good. Imagine if you had to animate
this game. The developers have done an incredible job realizing the
world that is Paper Mario. It's not the best looking game out there, and
it certainly doesn't sport anything spectacular to look at. But if you
understand the design of everything, you can realize that it's pulled off
magnificently. The game has great artwork, and very few framerate
problems. Even a few lighting effects were thrown in. I hate to give this
game an excellent score in graphics only because technically, it's not
that impressive. It's the way  they use their own graphics to their own
potential is what makes it so excellent.

I had one major problem with the original Paper Mario. You couldn't beat the game, really. It never saved the file after
you beat the final boss. That wouldn't be such a big deal if there was actually something to do afterwards, but there isn't.
This game boots a lengthy single-player mode that shows how long RPG games should be-36 hours. That's twice as long as
Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga, and this game has extras to boot!
When you beat the final boss you get to go back and find everything that you couldn't before. There are 100 star pieces
and chances are that you only found a little more than half. There's also tons of Shine Sprites, though you may have found
those in an effort to make the final boss easier for you. The game also has tons of badges and recipes that you can collect.
You can also use Goombella to tattle on every enemy and complete your guidebook to enemies, though you may have to
start over if you forgot the bosses.
Then there's the trouble center. Ah, yes, when there's trouble and people need help, they post their troubles here. You
take on a side quest to clear it up for them. Of course, the center has to stay running, and only allows one trouble at a
time. If you give up, you have to pay to get it off your chest. Seems cheap, but this is actually a very good idea. That way
you are actually encouraged to finish the trouble instead of just picking the ones that are convenient for you.
This alone accounts for at least 10 more hours of play. Then there's the Pit of 100 Trials. It's about a two hour journey
underground and you may not even fully complete it, so repeat tries only add to the replay. The only flaw is no
multiplayer, but it's a small flaw. Overall, you could make this game last over 50 hours and still be playing after, even
without multiplayer. Now that's some replay value.

The game is an RPG, which means you'll be plagued with lots to read. Fortunately this is NOA, who probably has the best
English writing team of any company I've seen. They pull off another spectacular feat by making this game humorous, on
the level of Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga. The game has some ingenious writing that shows off the wit of these people
at Nintendo. I mean the entire Nintendo company, because some of the humor is from the original developers (Intelligent
Systems) putting it in there anyway.
Besides the humor, the game is well-designed simply because it is an interactive RPG. It may be turn-based, but you
actually do the moves you tell Mario and your partner to do. Like I said in the control, the game combines a bunch of
elements like badges and partners to allow for some really unique battles. The only problem would be that the game seems
to dump almost everything on you near the beginning. Fortunately, when you gain new moves or a partner, the game
explains how to use them.
The game also has some really bizarre moments that makes you think of how well the game is designed. For example, you
can actually play as Bowser in levels that are modeled after the old Super Mario Bros. games. It's rather pointless, but who
cares. It's sweet to stomp around as Bowser! The only other thing I could complain about is the story, which isn't very
engaging. In fact, there really isn't much of one. The only thing you might care about is the friendship between Peach and
a talking computer...or maybe not. Whatever the flaws may be, the game makes up for in originality. It's not a pure RPG,
but it sure makes a heck of a case for one. The design is excellent.





Final Words

I can't believe I gave out three scores exactly the same. This is probably the first game I've reviewed with that connection.
This is also the first game I've reviewed for Gamecube to receive an 8.7. But either way, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year
Door is a great game to add to your collection. It'll last long enough to satisfy and be easy enough for anyone to play. The
game has excellent control, excellent graphics and excellent design. Even for a game only scoring 8.7, that's a great feat,
and shows how great of a game it is. Worth a buy, at $20.