A long-awaited Paper Mario game finally arrives after decades of anticipation.

20 years after its original release on Gamecube, Paper Mario's best and darkest story is now available on the Nintendo Switch, and it's even better.

May 22nd 2024.

A long-awaited Paper Mario game finally arrives after decades of anticipation.
I have been eagerly anticipating the chance to play Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door for decades. As a fan of Super Paper Mario, which came out on the Nintendo Wii in 2007, I was excited to try out this new installment in the series. Despite hearing some mixed reviews about the game's departure from turn-based combat, I was still eager to give it a try.

However, as subsequent Paper Mario releases like Sticker Star and Colour Splash began to receive criticism for their lack of creativity and storytelling, I started to understand the concerns of longtime fans. Popular YouTubers like Arlo have even made a name for themselves by voicing their disappointment with Nintendo's attempts to shake up the combat system and calling for a return to the franchise's roots.

While I personally enjoyed 2020's Paper Mario: The Origami King, I could see why some fans were put off by its unconventional combat and limited roster of characters from the Mushroom Kingdom. That's why the remake of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door for the Nintendo Switch is such a highly anticipated release for longtime fans. After two decades, this Gamecube classic is finally getting the recognition it deserves, and fans are hoping that its success will pave the way for more great Paper Mario games in the future.

It only took me five minutes of playing to understand why this game is so beloved. Unlike any other Mario title I've played, The Thousand-Year Door has a darker and more complex storyline. Yes, there is still a princess to rescue, but this time it's a race against time to prevent an impending apocalypse that threatens the town of Rogueport and its inhabitants.

The town itself is a fascinating and seedy place, full of ruffians, pirates, and thieves. In the town square, there is even a hangman's noose looming ominously. But amidst the chaos, there are also friends to be made. Mario quickly meets Goombella, a female Goomba with a knack for research, who becomes his guide on a quest to collect seven crystal stars from different parts of the world. These stars are the key to sealing away the Thousand-Year Door and the demon behind it.

Rogueport is just the beginning of Mario's journey, as he travels to memorable locations and encounters interesting characters along the way. In Petalburg, he helps a shy Koopa avenge his father's death at the hands of a dragon. In Glitzville, he must rise through the ranks of an evil promoter's fight club. And on Pirate Island, he helps an old captain overcome his grief with a love letter from his late wife. These are just a few examples of the fantastic subplots that make up the heart of The Thousand-Year Door.

In addition to these engaging storylines, Mario also gains partners along the way to help him in battle and solve puzzles. Each of these partners has unique abilities and personalities, making them useful additions to your team. For example, Koops can absorb damage with his tough shell and be kicked to collect unreachable items. Flurrie, an inappropriately busty cloud spirit, can summon winds to send enemies flying and uncover hidden passages. And Vivian, a former member of the evil Three Shadows, can help Mario hide from enemies. These partners are crucial in both exploration and combat, and the game does an excellent job of balancing their abilities.

Speaking of combat, The Thousand-Year Door offers a refreshing take on turn-based strategy games. Each battle takes place on a theater stage, and Mario must not only choose the right partner for each enemy but also win over the crowd with flashy moves and perfectly timed attacks. Mario also has Flower Points and a Star Meter to manage, allowing him to perform special moves and unleash devastating attacks if the audience is on his side. With over 80 badges to collect, there is plenty of room for customization and creativity in battle.

While The Thousand-Year Door is an exceptional game, it's not without its flaws. Some parts, like repeatedly traveling on a train to solve mysteries or grinding through multiple battles for a shot at the heavyweight title, can feel tedious. The game's abstract puzzles can also be frustrating at times, and without a clear set of instructions, players may need to seek outside help. However, these moments are few and far between, and the game's excellent challenges, engaging characters, and fun power-ups make up for any minor shortcomings.

In conclusion, The Thousand-Year Door is by far the best Paper Mario game I have ever played. Its engaging storyline, unique combat system, and lovable characters make it a must-play for any Nintendo fan. I hope that the success of this remake will inspire Nintendo to continue creating games that stay true to the franchise's roots while also pushing the boundaries of creativity and storytelling.

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