Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (GameCube) Review

By Adam Riley 17.01.2005 21

Review for Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door on GameCube

Paper Mario came out on the N64 in Europe during 2001 and unfortunately never reached as many homes as it should have due to the death of the Nintendo system at the time. However, with the same name popping up on GameCube release lists, many believed a remake was in the works. This proved to be false information, however, and finally the truth came out as Paper Mario 2: The Thousand Year Door. How does it compare to the whole Mario RPG series? Let me tell you...

As is quite the norm for most of the Mario RPG series, it is not actually Bowser who is the low-down, dirty rat (koopa?) behind the dastardly kidnapping of Princess Peach. The foolish woman has managed to get herself embroiled in a quest for treasure. Obviously on her own she is rather hapless, as has been proven in the past, and when Mario comes to meet her in Rogueport he finds she is not anywhere to be found. If Mario can collect seven secret stars to open the mystical Thousand Year Door that leads to the treasure, then perhaps he can reclaim his Princess...

Let us quickly move on from the weak storyline...Think back over the years...Super Mario RPG wowed many by having arguably the best graphics on the SNES, taking Rare's Donkey Kong Country ACM trick and bumping it up a notch to look like next generation stuff. Then there was Paper Mario on the Nintendo 64, another late-in-the-day game that took advantage of the 64bit power like no other game had ever done, but not in the traditional way, but a Nintendo-centric one. Finally there was AlphaDream's completely wacky, yet pure genius Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, which went down the cartoon route, with eventful moments like Luigi being turned into a surfboard! But now Intelligent Systems has picked up the mantel once more and reverted to the paper-esque style that impressed us back in 2001. But is it really the look they should have stuck with?

Screenshot for Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door on GameCube

For the most part, the answer is definitely yes. There is no doubting how beautiful this game looks. The flat characters are so brightly coloured, have so much personality to them and look so damn like a real cartoon it is actually quite scary at times. Then, thanks to the power of the GameCube, we get all of this, plus the chance to witness so many enemies on-screen at once that things become extremely daunting (witness the early fight against 'Gold Fuzzy' who surrounds himself with about a hundred bouncing regular Fuzzies and you will see exactly what I mean!). Yet the paper effect is not quite...'paper' enough in all honesty. Yes, there is the story-book effect of bridges building in layers and Mario turning into a paper aeroplane. But paper crumples and tears, and when reformed still has creases present. This sort of detail could have been implemented, but clearly IS wanted to go for the smooth paper look. A technical marvel none-the-less, although a change next time would be appreciated...

The regular battle theme you encounter time and time again is always a stickler for RPGs – if a developer gets it spot on then there will never be any quibbles with prolonged fights. However, should the tune prove to be too repetitive and you can kiss the game's longevity goodbye! Thankfully Paper Mario 2 hits the nail on the head, sampling the string section of the traditional Super Mario tune and mixing it in with some suitable new music. Then there are the little ditties that are played whenever a new character, such as Koops the Koopa, joins your team – a happy, bouncy little tune that lifts the spirits after a particularly nasty section of the game. As well, the general music played throughout the main playing fields, dungeons and towns that you pass through is a complete joy to the ears. Intelligent Systems certainly know how to take classic tunes, shake them around until all the dust is removed and then sew in a few ‘chords’ of its own!

The Mario RPG series has never been a serious one, rather a pastiche of all Mushroom Kingdom-related paraphernalia, culminating in an enjoyable 'RPG Lite' experience that includes little platform sections (in this case you control Bowser of all people!), action elements such as your hammer to hit trees to uncover hidden items and the whole 'First Strike' idea, where jumping or hammering an enemy that is wandering around gives you a major advantage in the battle arena. But just as the turn-based fighting begins and you think everything might become slightly more serious, the game progresses to somewhere like the fight with a large Thwomp. The ominous scene quickly turns 180 into something quite comedic, and the pattern continues, making this not only a strong game to play through in terms of great mechanics, but also one filled with hilarity most of the time!

Screenshot for Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is a major triumph all around. Intelligent Systems has taken its amazingly solid base foundation from the Nintendo 64 and managed to craft a title that fits in perfectly with the level of quality found in other Mario RPGs. Make sure you do not miss this like Metroid Prime 2: Echoes was overlooked!


Intelligent Systems




Turn Based RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (20 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


A real shame this didn't do too well in the UK...but sales in the US were HUGE, as were Japanese sales, so I think the Mario RPG series is definitely safe for the time being.

Apologies for the delay on this UK review...I was too engrossed playing it! :Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses


A bit damn late though Jesusraz!

I've already written my own review! :lol:

Good game, but the N64 version was better IMO, a lot better.

The graphics are so cute on this game!

Cuter than kittens?

This game is great and I'd say I'm a FF enthusiast, its not as grand but it is intuative and interesting.

Not as good as M+L on GBA but its worth playing just because its full of Nintendo magic.

Guest 17.01.2005#7

Yes, one of the greatest games on the gamecube!

Must start playing this game!

blizz - complaining that I'm late with a review? :sarcy: Some people are just never happy! :tongue:

Chris, I'm a huge FF fan as well, but this is a brilliant breather from the heavy stats-based, levelling-up nature of Square's games. However, I would still love to see Nintendo team-up with them again for a true Super Mario RPG 2!

Bartholomeus: I'd probably have to agree with you there. Top Ten GC games of all time, I reckon...which make me think of a new feature! Thanks! :-D

Sharp - you've got so many games on your plate, mate (see my wonderful rhyming skills? Hehe! :roll:Smilie. Everytime I see you post on a review you've got so many 'to play' on your list! I know exactly how you feel...especially as I don't get to play single games as much as I would like as I've deadlines to keep (i.e. UK release dates). This was an exception, though. I know everyone's had to wait - but I really wanted to immerse myself in the game and enjoy it properly... Smilie

Anyone else played this and have thoughts? Or are now thinking of buying it?

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

I really love the humour and narrative in this game. I grinned multile times watching a trailer off the NOM DVD! :lol:

HELL YEAH jesusraz about "Super Mario RPG 2"! :-D

I think that currently it won't happen since Intelligent Systems is doing such a fine job with the home console versions and AlphaDream did a superb job with Mario & Luigi (damn I LOVE that game!).

But there's always been talk of Super Mario RPG being ported to the GBA, so you never know what's going to happen...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

It's a pity we are the only ones who will get to play it... I think I will have to resume my hatred of casual gamers!

Yeah, to be honest the title doesn't help. It doesn't exactly shout 'RPG'...My friend thought Paper Mario was some sort of crap puzzle game because of its name! :sarcy:

The original 'Mario Story' name from Japan would have been better in my opinion...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

This is the cubes best game <-- Tells some truly terrible tales.
Last update; Mice,Plumbers,Animatronics and Airbenders. We also have the socials; Facebook & G+

That's a tricky one Darkflame - you only have to look at how the C3 readers voted for GotY 2004, with MP2: E winning be a league, and PM2 coming second...

Have you played any of the other Mario RPGs? If so how do you think this compares to the others? Same goes for anyone else...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

I liked "Super Mario RPG" on SNES but didn't like how you could only get up to level 30! :-(

Otherwise the BEST Mazza RPG so far! :-D

Well, I know that level caps are a cheap way of trying to dictate the length of an RPG, but if they'd not been imposed in SMRPG it would been far too easy a game, no?

It wasn't exactly overly taxing...damn I miss the SNES! :cry:

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

wow, nice review, havent got the game, but i might later :P

but yea, took a while didnt it :P

excellent game - both me and my son love this

Yes, it's definitely one for the family - my wife loves it because it's so easy to get into.

And howzy, thanks for the double-edged comment! :sarcy: :lol:

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

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