Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Review

The Mario RPGs are like, totally some of my favorite adventures ever!

They’re super funny, have adorable art, and the battles are always so engaging.

But guess what?

I totally missed out on Thousand-Year Door back in the day.

I played the ones before and after, but when it came out in 2004, I wasn’t that into video games yet, so it just slipped through the cracks.

Now, with Nintendo remastering this classic for the Switch, I finally had the perfect excuse to dive in.

And let me tell you, the upgraded visuals and music are a chef’s kiss two decades later. The humor is still on point for the most part.

I get why it’s considered a classic now, though it does show some signs of its age.

This game kind of hints at the series starting to move away from being a traditional RPG, which, let’s be honest, wasn’t the best direction in the long run.

Paper Mario: Thousand-Year Door has always been a looker.

Nintendo is all about timeless art styles over just high-res graphics, and Paper Mario is like, the poster child for that.

The lighting effects in the Switch version? Game-changing!

The game looks fantastic and totally modern now.

Plus, they made some handy tweaks, like quicker partner switching and shortcut keys, which just make the whole experience smoother and less annoying.

Combat is still super fun and didn’t really need much updating.

I love any RPG with timed-button pressing, and it’s great here too, but I was surprised those prompts stick around for the entire game.

I thought they’d vanish after the tutorials, so that got a bit annoying.

And while the special abilities are cool and strategic, they take forever, and I’d groan every time I had to use them.

Same with the partners—I stuck with the ones who could attack quickly, even if they weren’t the most powerful.

Over the years, the Mario RPG series has bounced between being an adventure game and an RPG.

It’s in Thousand-Year Door where you can really see it starting to lean more towards adventure.

Later games, like The Origami King in 2020, even dropped leveling mechanics completely, which was such a bummer.

I love feeling like I’m progressing, and this game had that, even if it felt like a bit of a throwback.

What I adored about this game was its worlds and characters.

It’s so refreshing to see brand-new characters in a Mario game, especially when they don’t quite fit the usual Mario vibe.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Every new place and quirky character was a treat, and I was never let down.

But, hey, let’s talk about the backtracking.

It’s like every area had you running to the end to grab an item, then trudging back to give it to someone, then heading back again, redoing all the fights along the way.

With not many fast travel options, it got pretty tedious.

The parts where you don’t play as Mario? Meh.

Peach’s sections had cute dialogue and fun puzzles with an AI trying to understand emotions, but Bowser?

If they’d cut him out entirely, I wouldn’t have missed him.

His little payoff at the end wasn’t worth the constant check-ins every chapter.

Despite the repeat areas and the slow (but still fun) combat, Thousand-Year Door stands out in the series.

It’s where I first started wishing Mario RPGs would go a different way (I’m more into the Mario & Luigi style), but the constant breaking of the fourth wall, the colorful cast, and its overall weirdness make it such a joyful journey.

I’m so glad this polished-up version of the GameCube classic is now available on a modern platform.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Review
Final Score