Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GameCube)
A proper sequel should do everything better than its predecessor. The Thousand Year Door fails at that because item management is still clumsy and cooking still requires a guide, but it excels so much in all other areas that these shortcomings can be glanced over.
Action commands as well as the new counter ability are available right from the start this time. What's more, Mario's partners now have their own HP and can be swapped into the frontline for more strategical depth in combat. A whole new range of badges that focuses on Mario's buddies embellishes this new premise. The level and stat caps have been removed to build Mario more to each player's liking. Sidequests have improved implementation, there's even an optional dungeon for some extra challenge. Completionists can celebrate the inclusion of a menu section that keeps track of scanned enemies, discovered badges and cooked recipes.
As in the previous game, the individual areas are dense and filled with secrets. The dungeons provide new types of puzzles and challenges, and there is an increased emphasis on Mario's paper nature, both from a visual and a gameplay perspective. Whether you travel to a treasure island, fight your way up the ranks of a coliseum or solve the mysteries of crimes in a luxury train, The Thousand Year Door is consistently entertaining.
|Controls||10||Everything works as it should. Timing for the counter attack
is deliberatly tighter than the timing for blocking.
|Gameplay||Still limited to two party members, but Mario's partners now have
access to many more badges and are more involved.
|Story||Many tropes of the original Paper Mario return, but that doesn't
make it any less entertaining. Luigi tells stories about his own adventure.
|Single-player||Everything that made the first Paper Mario great, plus much more.
One of the finest RPG campaigns in existence.
|Graphics||A clean look for the art style and the technical execution
doesn't lag behind.
|Sound||Plenty of new compositions accompany good remixes of
classic Mario music.
|Value||About 30 hours for the main quest, plus a post-game
to wrap up everything else.
|Replay Value||There are so many options how this game can be played.
EXP that scale according to Mario's level speed up progress.
|Score||10||There's a reason why the first two Paper Mario games are held in
high regards. The Thousand Year Door is a masterpiece.