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Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door review: A deserved remake

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In an era of high-profile AAA remakes, our review finds something heartwarming about seeing a cult classic like Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door receive the full remake treatment. While it’s by no means a “hidden gem” given it sold millions of copies in its original run, it’s not exactly the first game people would think of getting a remake.

Many fans felt The Thousand-Year Door didn’t even need a remake. They would have been happy with a simple remaster or enhanced port for the Nintendo Switch. The core of the classic RPG is so solid that there wasn’t much fault that fans could find in it.

And yet, Nintendo put out a remake that satisfies old fans and attract new ones.

The Good:

  • The remake enhances the visual presentation from top to bottom.
  • Several quality-of-life reducing unnecessary padding and grinding.
  • The updated English localization is mostly more faithful to the original script.

The Bad:

  • The change to 30 FPS is sometimes felt during hectic battles.
  • Little in the way of new content, and some existing content can still be a grind.

Review Details:

  • Platforms available: Nintendo Switch
  • Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
  • Official release date: May 23, 2024

Paper Mario remains witty and wholesome

For those unfamiliar with the original, here’s a quick breakdown of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door’s story. Mario visits the shady town of Rogueport while following a mysterious treasure map from Princess Peach. When Mario gets there, he finds no princess. Instead, he uncovers an ancient mystery spanning multiple continents, forcing Mario and friends to save the world (again). Keep in mind that this summary doesn’t do justice to just how crazy Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door gets.

From goomba gang wars to tyrannical shadow queens, our review found that Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door’s remake stays true to all the elements that made the original so effective. Sticking to what works, instead of unnecessarily changing things that need no changing, makes the remake more faithful than most. Some fans would have liked a little more ambition from the story, but they’ll likely find it elsewhere.

One of the biggest changes, at least for English-speaking audiences, is the proper localization of Vivian’s status as a trans-woman. During The Thousand-Year Door’s original release in 2004, LGBTQ+ issues were often treated differently,Vivian’s queer identity was removed from the English localization.

The remake rectifies this with simple acknowledgment of Vivian’s gender, with no ambiguity or room for interpretation. Changes such as this one show how the remake’s localization is more faithful than the original.

A high-quality reprint

The presentation remains as gorgeous as ever. The new aesthetic feels shiny and stylish, and retains most of the original’s charm through its expressive characters. The dynamic soundtrack continues to make The Thousand-Year Door a bop to explore, particularly in themed locations such as Glitzville.

As for the gameplay, developers at Nintendo focused on what makes Paper Mario truly fun: its combat. Although there are a few moments of mild slowdown resulting from the change to 30 FPS, the core combat loop remains snappy for the most part. Few other RPGs before or after feel quite as fast as The Thousand-Year Door does, and the remake maintains that fast-paced spirit.

Badges, tools, and partners make combat a dynamic experience. Players can experiment to their heart’s content, and each build feels different from the last. Adding to the experience is the literal stage for the battle, wherein perfect hits can give Mario some extra oomph from the crowd. 

Hecklers like the X-Nauts or Bowser can ruin the show by chucking rocks at Mario, though players can eject them with ease. Partners have their strengths and weaknesses, which encourages players to try different team compositions for each area. These are just a few of the many ways our review found combat to be kept interesting in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.

Part of why the remake feels better minute-to-minute than the original is the streamlining of travel between worlds. Instead of long, monotonous walks, developers have made locations smaller to reduce backtracking. If that’s not enough, particularly grindy sections also feature warp pipes to speed things along. Overall, the remake enhances its strengths and cuts out most of the weaknesses of its predecessor. 

gameland.gg’s bottom line: Whether you’re a nostalgic fan or new to the adventure, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door’s remake is a worthy way to experience this classic RPG.

Score: 9/10 

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Written by Gab Hernandez

Gab Hernandez has a particular love for video games that give players control over the narrative direction, such as Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Disco Elysium. Gab spends just as much time playing games as they do gushing about them online to anyone who will listen. Their work has also been seen on TheGamer, Gfinity, and Wargamer, and you can follow them on Twitter / X at @HardlyWorkinGab.

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