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Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Review | The Original Outdone

86
Story
9
Gameplay
7
Visuals
10
Audio
9
Value for Money
8
Price:
$ 60
Clear Time:
30 Hours
Nintendo has achieved the unthinkable with the Switch remake of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door—it managed to take a well-loved game with a thriving community and turn it into an experience that’s both steeped in nostalgia and appropriate for the modern audience. Better graphics, nuanced writing, and exemplary music came together to create a game that could be loved and celebrated by the Mario RPG community all over again.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a remake of the original GameCube RPG that’s been 20 years in the making. Read our review to see what makes it great, what it could improve, and if you should get it for yourself!

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Review Overview

What is Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door?

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a remake of an RPG of the same name originally released in 2004 for the Nintendo GameCube. Remade for the Nintendo Switch this time around, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (TTYD) is a turn-based RPG adventure game following Mario and Peach’s quest to find a legendary treasure hidden behind the titular door.

This adventure takes them across the various areas of Rogueport, meeting new friends and battling new enemies along the way. With a fun, turn-based combat system filled with minigames and wacky abilities, there’s no telling what will happen next in the papercraft-styled world of Paper Mario.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door features:
 ⚫︎ 25-30 hours of turn-based Mario RPG fun
 ⚫︎ Plenty of old and new Mario characters to interact with
 ⚫︎ Myriad platforming puzzles with a papercraft twist
 ⚫︎ Massive papercraft world to explore with unique mechanics
 ⚫︎ Deep and surprisingly fresh narrative

For more gameplay details, read everything we know about Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door's gameplay and story.

xxx Platform IconNintendo eShop $59.99

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Pros & Cons

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Pros Cons
Checkmark Fresh and Modern Story
Checkmark Best Graphics Paper Mario Has Ever Seen
Checkmark Speedrun Potential is Insane
Checkmark Gets a Bit Grindy
Checkmark Forgettable Boss Fights

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Overall Score - 86/100

Nintendo has achieved the unthinkable with the Switch remake of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door—it managed to take a well-loved game with a thriving community and turn it into an experience that’s both steeped in nostalgia and appropriate for the modern audience. Better graphics, nuanced writing, and exemplary music came together to create a game that could be loved and celebrated by the Mario RPG community all over again.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Story - 9/10

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door’s story is an oddly satirical and rule-breaking entry in a franchise filled with family-friendly, dime-a-dozen adventure stories. Although it’s still rife with Nintendo’s love of MacGuffins, this game’s story isn’t just a rehash of the franchise’s greatest hits, featuring obscure characters and a uniquely modern dialogue you won’t find anywhere else. It’s fresh, but not at all alienating.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Gameplay - 7/10

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has Nintendo's usual high-quality polish, though its game design isn't flawless. The game suffers from repetitive combat and mediocre puzzle platforming, but the quality of life improvements and the brilliance of the original mechanics help elevate the remake's experience. Despite its shortcomings, this remake stands out as a solid effort, and you could honestly do much worse.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Visuals - 10/10

Say what you want about Nintendo but they know how to sell a theme. This game’s visuals, art direction, and style all share the honor of being the pinnacle of the original Paper Mario design. No longer is it just a novel stylistic choice, it is now a testament to the beauty of the 2.5D style.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Audio - 9/10

You can always count on Nintendo to create a banger of a soundtrack, but this game’s music is something else. I always thought nothing could beat Origami King’s soundtrack, especially with the Autumn Mountain Battle theme on that list, but The Thousand-Year Door came with the Petal Meadows theme and promptly proved me wrong.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Value for Money - 8/10

$60 is a lot of money to spend on a remake but trust me when I say it’s well worth it. Not even factoring in the nostalgia, this game has a 30-hour runtime filled to the brim with Mario RPG goodness. Factoring in the nostalgia, you’ve got yourself an absolute steal.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Review: The Original Outdone

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There's something undeniably magical about Nintendo’s Mario RPG series. Whether you're a speedrunner aiming for the fastest clear time or a devoted fan playing your hundredth playthrough, these games possess an enduring charm beyond simple nostalgia.

Super Mario RPG may have been the original Mario RPG, but it’s Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door that truly captured everyone's hearts. Once, the idea of remastering such a beloved classic seemed unthinkable, but now, with its re-release on the Nintendo Switch, it's clear that these worries were unfounded.

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This nostalgic juggernaut shines brighter than ever and I am beholden to its splendor. All the praise for the original has been perfectly captured and transformed in this remaster, creating an experience that feels both faithful and refreshingly new.

So grab your maps and lace up your shoes, because it's time to dive into our review of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door! Be mindful of papercuts.

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As always, let's start with what the game excels at: visuals and audio. The papercraft style has always been the hallmark of the Paper Mario series—it's right there in the name! While the original Paper Mario games nailed this aesthetic, The Thousand-Year Door takes it to a whole new level, leaving its predecessors in the eraser dust.

Beyond the signature white outline around each character, the paper-ness of the entire world has been dialed up to 11, delivering an experience that feels surprisingly tactile despite being on a flat screen.

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Bushes crumple, characters fold their bodies like paper, and houses open up like dioramas when you enter. You can even turn perpendicular to the POV and become a flat creature in a 2.5D world a la Flatland.

This is, without a doubt, the best the Paper Mario series has ever looked, even with the frame rate intentionally capped at 30.

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The game's audio is no slouch either, boasting an earworm of a soundtrack and robust sound effects for the various attacks, abilities, and UI interactions. With industry veterans like Yoshito Sekigawa and Yuka Tsujiyoko, known for their work on the Paper Mario and Smash Bros. series, leading the music department, such quality is to be expected.

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Moving on to the game’s story, The Thousand-Year Door offers a surprisingly fresh narrative that breaks away from the standard Mario formula of saving Peach and collecting colorful whats-its.

I mean, sure, we’re still on the hunt for said colorful whats-its and rescuing Peach, but that’s just the tip of the pencil now. The Thousand-Year Door’s story unfolds into a genuinely thrilling adventure packed with danger, excitement, and surprisingly emotional character moments that you wouldn’t typically associate with a Mario game.

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The dialogue in this game is a delightful surprise too—well-crafted and endearing, with a satirical and occasionally sharp edge that sets it apart from the typical cheesy banter we’ve come to expect.

The narrative’s themes delve into unexpectedly complex and nuanced territory, touching on profound topics like death, loss, determination, acceptance, and, believe it or not, the true meaning of love.

The game also earns extra praise for introducing a genuinely menacing antagonist who isn’t just some odd variant of Bowser. While this is mostly a carry-over from the original Paper Mario, the dialogue has been transformed into an unforgettable, villain-worthy tirade.

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Moving on to gameplay, we encounter the first few bumps along the road. While the game remains a mostly faithful recreation of the original, enhanced with a few quality-of-life improvements, it can feel a bit grindy and monotonous at times.

Don't get me wrong, it’s just as fun, if not more, than the original. However, encountering six of the same enemy in a short stretch or dealing with puzzles reliant on tiny buttons or gadgets dragged into the sunlight can get a bit grating.

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The puzzles themselves are classic Nintendo—complex enough to be engaging but not so difficult that they become frustrating. The issue lies more with the pacing of some puzzles, although most of them are extremely enjoyable and creative. I definitely didn’t expect a gameshow segment in a ruined castle, of all places.

Diving into specific gameplay elements, I found the Badges particularly enjoyable. Serving as the game’s equivalent of equippable weapons and armor, they’re not only useful but also allow for some creative gameplay, which I find neat.

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Action Commands are also fun—just look at how well they worked in Super Mario RPG. However, the minigames tied to every attack can become repetitive.

Some mechanics, like the roulette-style bonus, are also poorly explained, adding to the confusion. Worst of all, the progression can become quite the slog, especially if you’re quickly bored like me.

Despite these critiques, however, the game remains perfectly fun. These issues don’t overshadow the overall experience, but they’re worth mentioning and could be a genuine concern for some players.

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And that’s essentially what Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is. It’s an imperfect game, like many others, but it shines with its fun narrative moments, stunning graphics, amazing music, and thoroughly enjoyable gameplay—all elements that more than compensate for its flaws.

Was it worth waiting 20 years for? Absolutely, though I didn't have to wait that long myself. I still think that a fan of the original will consider this a fitting remaster, however, one that has proven itself to be far and above mere nostalgia bait.

Pros of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Things Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Got Right
Checkmark Fresh and Modern Story
Checkmark Best Graphics Paper Mario Has Ever Seen
Checkmark Speedrun Potential is Insane

Fresh and Modern Story

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I'll be honest, fresh and nuanced storytelling isn’t exactly Nintendo’s forte. For the longest time, they’ve stuck to what’s most effective: bog-standard adventure stories with stale characters and predictable outcomes.

They didn’t completely break that mold with Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, but they did make baby steps towards creating a more interesting story by tweaking their formula.

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The dialogue in this game is noticeably more emotional, capturing true rage, sadness, apprehension, and even genuine confusion, all without the support of voice acting.

One of the standout aspects of this game’s story is Princess Peach’s newfound voice. Here, she speaks with agency and purpose, driving a significant portion of the narrative herself in a performance that surpasses even her standalone game.

Best Graphics Paper Mario Has Ever Seen

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I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is the best the Paper Mario series has ever looked. While it may not be visually distinct in terms of style, the graphical quality of this game is undeniably impressive.

Granted, there's a limit to how good a game can look on the Nintendo Switch, but within those constraints, this game offers an extraordinarily rich sensory experience.

Speedrun Potential is Insane

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Some might see this as a minor accolade, but this game has fantastic speed-running potential. The ability to avoid overworld enemies and fast-track fights through sheer skill is a major advantage.

Plus, the original game has fostered a rich and active speed-running community over the decades, with some entries reducing the 30-hour runtime to just two. This legacy certainly adds to the appeal for speed-runners.

Cons of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Things That Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Can Improve
Checkmark Gets a Bit Grindy
Checkmark Forgettable Boss Fights

Gets a Bit Grindy

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The game's narrative pacing is solid, but the fights and puzzles in between can become grindy and tedious in certain chapters. This is mainly due to the high number of enemies per zone and the lack of variety in the fights. Additionally, the platforming puzzles often boil down to fetch quests between zones, with the occasional time attack sprinkled in.

It's a noticeable downside in an otherwise excellent game, but it's still manageable.

Forgettable Boss Fights

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Platformers rarely excel in delivering compelling boss fights, and despite its many merits, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is no exception. The boss battles follow a turn-based RPG format, but without the depth and complexity typically needed to make these encounters truly engaging.

Unfortunately, the game's RPG elements fall short in this regard. While adequate for general gameplay, they lack the necessary structure to support memorable and challenging boss fights.

Evidently, you can’t have it all.

Is Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Worth It?

Yes, Especially if You’re Feeling Nostalgic

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If you were surprised by the $60 price tag on a Nintendo release, then you might have had unrealistic expectations. As a remake of a beloved classic from a major industry player, it was inevitable that this game would come with a premium price. You might as well have sent $60 to Nintendo the moment it was announced.

That being said, this isn't just a cash grab. Nostalgia certainly adds to its value, but even newcomers to the Mario RPG fandom will find its 30-hour runtime worthwhile. The game boasts impressive visuals, a fantastic soundtrack, and smooth performance, backed by a dedicated community. You'll definitely get your money's worth on way or another.

Platform Price
xxx Platform IconNintendo eShop $59.99

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door FAQ

Is Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door a Remake or Remaster of the Original?

The Nintendo Switch release of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a remake of the original game of the same name from 2004. What distinguishes this remake from a remaster is the inclusion of new storylines, features, and graphical improvements.

For more information regarding the differences between remasters, remakes, and reboots, check out our article discussing the matter.

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Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Product Information

Paper Mario The Thousand-Year Door Banner
Title PAPER MARIO: THE THOUSAND-YEAR DOOR
Release Date May 23, 2024
Developer Nintendo
Publisher Nintendo
Supported Platforms Nintendo Switch
Genre Adventure, RPG
Number of Players 1
Rating ESRB E
Official Website Paper Mario The Thousand-Year Door Official Website

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