The Thousand-Year Door: A Decade Long Journey

The GameCube’s Paper Mario sequel is now ten years old! Do you remember Rogueport?

By Kyle England. Posted 10/11/2014 09:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Everyone has fond memories of the day they first got a game that would become one of their favorites. Whatever game that was for you, do you just remember only the game itself? Do you associate it with a holiday or birthday, or has it become a distant and blurry thought of nostalgia? I remember the exact date, place, and time I got my game– it was Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, my most anticipated game of all time. It first released for the Nintendo GameCube in the US exactly ten years ago today on October 11, 2004. This second Paper Mario is one of the best role-playing games Nintendo has ever released, and can stand alongside many of the greatest games from the genre.

Paper Mario for Nintendo 64 is my favorite game ever, so it’s understandable how excited I got back in 2003 when Nintendo revealed there was going be a sequel. Perhaps it wasn’t that long ago, but many people learned about games differently back in the early 2000s. As a young lad I didn’t browse gaming news websites, and I was only loosely aware of events like E3 from magazines. So of course, I was introduced to The Thousand Year Door by a blurb in a gaming mag (it was either Nintendo Power or Game Informer). “Paper Mario 2” was coming for GameCube! This was also corroborated by some kid at my school, so you know it had to be true.

I starved for information about the new game, imagining what sorts of new partners Mario would have, and what sorts of awesome places he would go. I remember being thrilled when screenshots started to come out in magazines (One in particular I must have looked at every day for months was a shot of Mario and Koops in Petalburg). Fall 2004 was way too far away! I made my first ever pre-order on this game, proudly placing five bucks down several months before release when it was still just called “Paper Mario 2.”

Finally, the day came. After some amount of turmoil, I had soldiered through the march of time and other obstacles to claim my brand new GameCube disc. I was consumed for weeks. But we’re celebrating the game’s 10th anniversary today, not telling the story of my life and my neurotic tendencies when it comes to my old game release rituals. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a shining jewel in the library of the Nintendo GameCube, and I dare say that it is the console’s best title.

The traditional Paper Mario games put Mario in a world that needs saving, and he teams up with various partners to tackle baddies and rescue whomever it is that needs it. Through overworld puzzles, character quests, and timing based battles that test your reflexes, Mario embarks on a long and eventful journey.

TTYD took many of these great facets of Paper Mario on N64 and enriched them immensely. Developer Intelligent Systems introduced a battle system with extra layers, more badges to collect, more powers to use, more characters to meet, and deeper gameplay all around. This sequel even took one step further than Paper Mario and integrated the world’s craft-work qualities into the gameplay, giving Mario various power-ups that enabled him to slip through cracks, glide as a paper airplane, and curl up into a tube.

Most of all, The Thousand-Year Door kept up the spirit that makes many of the Mario RPGs unforgettable– the world and its denizens are teeming with wacky flavor and hilarious dialogue. This makes the game both endearing and enduring. Once again, it’s got that “soul” that really manages to catch players’ hearts. I really enjoy games like that.

The Thousand-Year Door is packed with amazing stuff, including a train murder mystery, an arena competition, a mobster casino, a hidden civilization, Soviet Bob-ombs, a rockin’ hawk, swarms of enemies, origami dragons and battle mechs, literal identity theft, a moon base, a robot in love, sidescrolling Bowser gameplay, a sprawling tale of Luigi’s supposed adventures, tragedy, heartbreak, legends, nihilism, thievery, mystery, and loads upon loads upon loads of references and callbacks to every Mario game in the book. While the past few Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario games are good fun, they can’t touch the greatness of Thousand Year Door, Mario’s last true console RPG.

This is just a general overview; I could go on for ages about the minutia of this grand world, but I’ll cut myself short and just let you all know that this awesome game is now ten years old. This milestone is very much worth celebrating, so I hope you’ll join me in remembering Intelligent System’s masterpiece. Perhaps this game is as personally important to some of you as it is for me. Until we get that GameCube Virtual Console on Wii U everyone is clamoring for, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door still sits on the original miniature optical disc, just beckoning for you to play it. Pour yourself some fine Chuckola Cola and take a trip back to the city of Rogueport, which will never get old despite its age. We’re counting on you, Mario!

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