Paper Mario 2: The Thousand-Year Door

by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 95/100

Paper Mario 2: The Thousand-Year Door Review
Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Intelligent Systems
Format Reviewed: Gamecube
Review by: Wencke Schuncken

Not many Role Playing Games are available for the gamecube. Okay, we got spoiled with Tales of Symphonia but where was Mario? Is he hiding for us gamers who want him badly? It really was time for a new Mario game after Super Mario Sunshine had been released in 2002! Nintendo opened their doors and presented Paper Mario: the thousand-year door. It's a sequel to the original Paper Mario which was released on Nintendo 64 and it's a RPG which can be played by everyone. Don't sigh or turn your back on Mario when you discover that Princess Peach has been kidnapped again. I know it's not an original plot and has been used by Nintendo over and over again. But it's almost the same with the Zelda games but it's the game play that counts to free the kidnapped female character eventually.

Paper Mario 2 Review

Story:The story starts in a small town called Rogueport. It seems to be hiding a legendary treasure deep under the ground. Mario needs to discover this treasure which is hidden behind the thousand-year door by collecting Crystal Stars. Princess Peach intention was to search together with Mario for the Crystal Stars but she disappeared in a mysterious way. But she was able to provide Mario a map which contained the Crystal Stars locations, which is quite handy. But Mario has some competition as a new enemy called X-Nauts is also trying to gather the crystals and they are also responsible for the disappearing, kidnapping of Princess Peach. The X-nauts try to disturb Mario's quest for collecting the crystal in every single way possible. But you'll get some help from partners during the game such as an intelligent Goomba, an insecure but friendly Koopa, the cheeky Yoshi and the other partners are totally new and never seen before in a Mario game.

Graphics:The most striking aspect of this game is the graphical style. It's more old-skool like and it seems that everything is as flat as paper. Just like the game title refers to. Don't get me wrong, it's a 3D world but all characters are as flat as a penny. Do you remember those shoeboxes where you had to place paper objects in and through a hole you could peak into the box? That's the kind of style I'm talking about. It gives you a unique feeling which can be experienced a little bit strange in the beginning, but as soon as you got used to it, you're hooked as it really has its charm. The graphics are very colorful with a sharp and bright perception.

Humour:Don't expect a profound or epic storyline. Nintendo kept it simple but included successfully a lot of humor and derision in the game. I guess most gamers will appreciate this humour although it sometimes is really cheap and simple. Also some funny references to the real world are included such like a discussion about fossile fuels, lost credit cards, lost and trampled contact lenses and so on. Mario is also equipped with a mobile mailbox to receive and read messages from Princess Peach and other characters. I know these are elements which you shouldn't expect in a Mario game but that are extra's which makes the game more attractive and funny to play.

Paper Mario 2 Review

Let's have a fight:What is a Role Playing Game without any fights? Boring! Another great aspect of Paper Mario is the good old fashioned turn-based battle system. Whenever you run into an enemy, the screen turns into a theater with Mario on stage with a selected partner and the audience is waiting for the show. Most visitors are friendly and if you give a good show they will reward you with extra items or many star points which are needed to level up Mario! But sometimes you also have to knock out a visitor as he or she wants to throw a bad item on you or your partner. This can be a hammer, a stone or a bucket for example. Star points are very important; not only to level up but also to make some powerful special moves to drive the crowd crazy and more people will attend on your future battle shows.

To start a fight you need to choose if you're going to use a special item or a special ability and you even can run away. The attacking power depends on the way you push certain buttons, timing or in which way the controller stick is directed. Of course you can always choose to block an enemies attack or even make a counter attack if you time correctly. If you want to upgrade your partners to make them stronger and giving them more special attacks, you need to collect badges and select them for your partner. Minus is that only a certain number of badges can be selected, depending on which enemy to defeat. The fights don't take much time to complete and during the game you can avoid enemies by sneaking around them, so you don't have to fight them all! Also if you run into an enemy and you hit it first (hammer, jump on it) you can deal the first strike in combat (in the theatre). That's a big advantage and a good way to start a fight.

More action:Besides the fights there's more then just running around. Grab your hammer to smash things up, jump around and use items in Mario's environment. Also you need to use your partners' abilities to solve the puzzles or to find secret places. Let's give an example; a partner called Flurrie has some pretty strong lungs and can blow some hidden pages in a level which are hiding secret passages to enter a new level! Or what to think of Koopa's shield which can be used to hit some blocks from a distance to open Mario a door! The most funniest and original things can be done by our lovely Mario. He can turn into a paper plane or a paper boat but you can also turn him into a toilet role or turn him 90 degrees and he will get as thin as a paper and can sneak into cracks in the walls. All of these special abilities make the environment extremely interactive and secret treasures can be found!

Paper Mario 2 Review

Sound:The sound is pretty ok and not annoying at all. It's just a perfect match; sound and graphics. Before you know it you're humming along with the soundtracks. As Mario fan you should know that the characters talk in text and don't use their voices. This is also in paper Mario the case and fits perfectly to the retro feeling but takes a lot of time to read all of it. Talking about retro, sometimes you'll hear familiar sounds of older Mario games which made me smile.

Female Gamer Angle:Many men would state that Mario is a typical female game. Some even state that if they have a collection of games (Mario included) and you have a girl / woman over, she probably wants to play Mario as it sounds familiar. I have to agree with this, but I don't make fuzz over it. Neither do I care about the complaints over the non original concept of Princess Peach being kidnapped again or the difficulty level vs female gaming attitude. No let's take it from a female positive site; besides Princess Peach there are dozens of female characters in the game in all shapes but my main focus is on the female partners who will join in Mario's quest.

GoombellaShe's a tiny student of the Goomba University and people say that she's a bit of a sass but with her smart mouth she'll guide Mario as a partner on his adventures. Her best quality is the headbonk attack; she jumps with her iron hat on the enemies head. Her intellect is most valuable to Mario in his journey as Goombella provides very useful information about the area, people and even enemies.
FlurrieOur cloud-like friend is in attempt to regain her fame, but is swayed by Mario and his manly Mustache. She joins the party simply to protect Mario. Flurrie uses her mass in battle to do hefty damage. Her ability to blow things around is rather helpful outside of battle and in battle it can blow the enemies away. She's funny but also vain. First she needs a necklace before she will show herself to the public!
VivianDuring the early stages of the game she is a Shadow Siren, loyal to Sir Grodus and in charge of getting Crystal Stars, stopping Mario, and his team. Treated harshly by her partners, she sides with a Shadow Mario and then decides that he was the only person who was ever nice to her and tags along. She is very useful in battle as she can help in any situation and for a low FP cost. Her Fiery Jinx and Veil abilities prove vital when Mario is in need.
Ms MowzTake on the trouble and complete it, Ms. Mowz then joins the party. She joins to find more badges, but from Mario's previous encounters with her it's easy to tell that's not all she joined for. Ms. Mowz has various attacks that contribute in battle, especially since all of her attacks disregard defenses. She can also steal enemies' coins or items if they have any.

Conclusion:Besides the main quest in Paper Mario, which keeps you busy for a minimum of 40 hours, there are also side quests to do. A Trouble Centre is based in Rogueport; a place where people can ask for Mario's help. If you can solve their problems you'll be rewarded. Another side quest is completing the inventory list of badges. And pssssst it seems that a secret character can be unlocked in another sidequest. All in all the gameplay is excellent and complete, especially with the battle system.

It's charming, it's funny, it's colorful, I'm hooked and so should you! It's every pound, dollar or euro worth! It's one of the best games I've played so far on the gamecube. Even if you're not a RPG lover, I'll bet you won't regret playing this top title. A real must have game for every gamecube owner!