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Intelligent Systems
October 11, 2004

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.

The name belies the fact that the game is a sequel, a follow-up to the critically acclaimed Paper Mario.

Like The Thousand-Year Door, the original was a role-playing game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by, naturally, Nintendo. It was, however, released while the console on which it ran settled into its deathbed (in February 2001, only one game was released for the Nintendo 64, and that was Paper Mario). Truly a trying time -- for owners of a Nintendo 64, supporters of Nintendo and, undoubtedly, Nintendo.

Then again, perhaps it’s best that there’s no “II” or “2” in the title of the GameCube’s Paper Mario; perhaps it’s best that the Nintendo 64’s Paper Mario (great as it was) and the period of its release are forgotten.



Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is reminiscent of, but not identical to, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga.

Unlike the Game Boy Advance title, The Thousand-Year Door features a side-scrolling perspective, not a top-down perspective. Also, Mario isn’t accompanied by his brother, but by – at one time or another – Goombella (she of the Goomba clan) and Koops (he of the Koopa clan).

Like the Game Boy Advance title, however, The Thousand-Year Door is a platformer-RPG; the game plays like a platformer (Mario jumps into the air to break open “?” blocks, hops onto and plunges into green pipes, uses his hammer to pound switches), but has the familiar markings of an RPG (hit points (HP) and flower points (FP), leveling up).

The Thousand-Year Door most resembles Superstar Saga, though, in its battles.

Turn-based, the battles place Mario and his comrade on the left side of the screen and the foe(s) on the right side. As one might expect, each member of Mario’s party has a range of options available.

Mario, for instance, possesses five options:

  • Jump: Normal Jump or Power Bounce (requiring three FP)
  • Hammer: Normal Hammer or Power Smash (requiring two FP)
  • Items: Mushroom (“A feel-good mushroom that replenishes 3 HP”), POW Block (“Attacks all ground-based enemies”), Fire Flower, Shooting Star (“Drops shooting stars on all enemies and confuses them”), Thunder Rage (“Drops lightning on all enemies and stuns them”)
  • Special: Sweet Treat (requiring one star point), which purges poison
  • Tactics: Appeal, Defend, and Run Away

Mario’s ally, meanwhile, possesses three options:

  • Attack
  • Items
  • Tactics

Now, some notes on a couple of the above options.

One may increase the strength of an attack by performing certain actions. Take Mario’s Normal Jump attack. If the player presses the “A” button just before Mario stomps on the targeted foe, then the attack will inflict an additional point or two of damage.

The Appeal also deserves attention. First, one must understand that all battles occur on a stage in front of an audience, a la a musical performed at the local high school. That said, if the player appeals, then the camera will zoom in on the character that asked for it, and the character will do something “precious” for the audience.

Mario flashes a smile and waves.

Goombella bats an eye.

It’s cheesy and chuckle-inducing, even after the sixth time.

word on the street

Famitsu Weekly, Japan’s premier gaming magazine, scored The Thousand-Year Door (well, “Paper Mario RPG”) 33/40, a tally that earned the title a Gold Award.

press release notes

Time passes, the pages turn ... and a new chapter unfolds in an unfamiliar land! Get ready for a two-dimensional role-playing adventure for the ages, as Mario returns to paper form in pursuit of a threat unlike any he's ever faced.

  • Take to the stage! Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door builds on the action-packed battle system of the original RPG with the addition of audience participation. Not only will timing Action Commands help you dodge or inflict damage, but impressing the crowd will help you build power for super attacks! Try not to disappoint the audience, though, or you'll pay!
  • Don't fold under pressure! This time, Mario will have to make full use of his papery qualities to survive. Fold into a paper airplane and take to the air, turn sideways to slip through narrow passages and roll into a tube to bounce to safety.
  • No need to go it alone! Many strange friends will join your party, and you'll have to rely on their skills to survive. Even former enemies may bail you out, so keep an open mind!


No “II." Or “2.”

No matter. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has the makings of a must-own. Aside from Metroid Prime II: Echoes, it's also the only GameCube game we'll be getting from Nintendo this quarter.

Staff Avatar Brett Fulesday
Staff Profile | Email
"Knowledge is the key to success."

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