RPGs are enjoying their time out under the sun and so are some of the classic Mario games—everything feels right in the world again. It’s been 20 years since the original game was released, which makes our Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door review late by many standards. Thankfully, now that Nintendo has remade Paper Mario for the Switch, we have another chance to tell you how much we love the game. A Paper Mario review poll by Nintendo Life is live right now and 45 percent of votes give it an outstanding 10 score. 35 percent of voters call the game excellent. They’re not the only ones with positive Paper Mario reviews either. The game has a 9/10 IGN rating, 88 percent on Metacritic, and GameInformer gives it an 8.25.

Nostalgia has a lot to do with the excited flood of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door reviews, but there is more to it than just that. The game is exceedingly skilled at playing with innocence and creativity, giving you permission to let your imagination go wherever it wants, and that makes it a truly magical experience. 

Paper Mario Thousand-Year Door review

Image: Still from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Paper Mario Review—Sheets Packed With Novel Experiences

Nintendo has been reviving a lot of its classics that we had previously thought were lost to the dusty pages of time. Three Game Boy titles were recently revived for the device’s 35th anniversary and are now available on Nintendo Switch Online. Super Mario Land, the first game to introduce Princess Daisy, was among the titles that were saved. The Thousand-Year Door re-release is just as exciting, the revival of an RPG game that was released in 2002, originally meant for the GameCube. 

Where Did You Go, Princess Peach? Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Review

As you’d expect, our lovely Princess Peach is caught by the bad guys once more in this Paper Mario game, but this time, Bowser is not to blame. He’s not too far from the story either though, waiting on the sidelines to seize an opportunity to kidnap the princess himself. The actual kidnappers happen to be the evil alien secret society X-Nauts, and Mario wastes no time in giving chase. Mario begins his journey from Rogueport this time, a town he had traveled to after Princess Peach had uncovered a map to a mysterious treasure preserved behind the Thousand Year Door.

The basic premise of rescuing the princess remains the same in this game, but the atmosphere and gameplay are quite different from what you’d typically expect from a Mario game.

Paper Mario Nintendo Switch

What Does the Game Design Look Like with The Thousand-Year Door Re-Release?

If you’re unfamiliar with the original game, you might wonder why it’s called “Paper” Mario. The answer is quite simple—it’s due to the art style introduced by the game’s art director Naohiko Aoyama, which makes the characters and other details look like paper cutouts laid over the game’s background. It takes away from the iconic pixel style we traditionally associate with Mario and brings us another art style that’s just as memorable. The “paper” feature is more than just a design choice and gets incorporated quietly nicely into the gameplay, allowing paper-thin Mario to slip in between buildings and roll down slopes.

The characters’ designs are just as important to the game’s aesthetic. Madame Flurries knows she’s a show stopper and she owns it like no one else, and the three shadows—Beldam, Marilyn, and Vivian—are very crucial to the game. They make it hard to be mad at how much text keeps appearing on the screen when the blocks are separated by such fascinating graphics. It’s hard, not impossible though, because you will find yourself momentarily annoyed by the text that arrives to tell you how the story is proceeding. The lighting in the scenes adds to the storybook aesthetic to make things look more life-like without looking realistic. This may be a complex idea to wrap your head around, but you’ll understand what we mean when you see the game. 

We could spend all of our time in the Paper Mario review talking about how the designers managed to retain very identifiable elements of the originals without playing it safe and giving us the same graphics all over again—but then we wouldn’t have time left to address the rest of the gameplay.

Thousand-Year Door rerelease

Paper Mario Gameplay: What Do You Have to Do To Save the Day?

Just like the original, the Thousand-Year Door re-release is a turn-based RPG game instead of a 2D side scroller. There are a few levels with Bowser and Princess Peach that use the side-scrolling format and give you an opportunity to navigate through hurdles and reach your destination, but that’s only a small segment of the game. For the most part, when an enemy appears, the game shifts into a turn-based combat system in which Mario fights the enemy one step at a time, accompanied by a character of your choice. With every turn, you have the ability to strike your enemy or even swap with your partner and give them a go at taking your opponent down. The combat takes place in a theater with a live audience watching the game unfold, and if you impress them enough, your star power shoots up and unlocks special moves.

For the most part, the aim of the Paper Mario Nintendo Switch game is to follow the treasure map and collect Crystal Stars before the X-Naut aliens as you make your way to the Thousand-Year Door. These stars unlock unique power moves that will see you through the battle much more quickly. 

As you complete specific segments of the game, you get to add more characters to your roster, giving you a wider range of options on who will accompany you on your journey. Earning badges gives you more control over your abilities and blocking chests gets you “cursed” with amazing abilities like turning into a plane or a boat. It’s like a dream come true. You can also unlock concept art and music by collecting specific items which is quite a random reward but useful nonetheless. You may have started to see why the Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door reviews are so satisfied with the game. 

Paper Mario Thousand-Year Door reviews

Final Thoughts to Bring Together This Paper Mario Review

Your biggest takeaway from this Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door review should be that the storybook, turn-based RPG is a game with personality. Not only is the design a very alive part of the gameplay, but the characters in this one are really fleshed out, with humorous dialogues and interaction throughout the game. Each new partner in the game arrives with their own history and an individual goal that drives them to help Mario.

The battle sections may have become repetitive but the game adds different combat mechanisms and even leaves room for the audience to interfere with Mario’s big battle on the stage. There are a lot of little details across the game the Paper Mario RPG that make it a truly well-designed experience and if you’re considering purchasing a new experience for your Switch, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a good option to consider.