Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

released on Jul 22, 2004

What sleeps behind the door?

Time passes, the pages turn… and a new chapter unfolds in an unfamiliar land! Get ready for a two-dimensional role-playing adventure for the ages as Mario returns to paper form to discover a mystery that sleeps behind an ancient, legendary portal called the Thousand-Year Door. The quest is long, the dangers many, and this time, Mario will have to make full use of his papery qualities just to survive.

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I absolutely adore this game. I already loved the original Paper Mario, so I knew that whenever I actually got around to its sequel, I would love it even more. And of course, that's just exactly what happened.
Everything feels upgraded from the original game. Combat, story, characters, puzzles, etc. Every aspect of the game is truly and wholly better than the original.
Combat and battles were already really fun in the original game, but it's downright addicting to me in this one. Action Commands being given from the start is perfect, and every single mechanic with the stage is so fucking good. I really felt like I was actively learning and getting better as I played. On top of that, all of the partners you can get are really fun to use. I found myself actively switching the partners to adapt to the enemies I was facing, which I loved.
I really love how this game leans a bit more into the "paper" aspect of the name. Many of the bosses feel like 3D cutouts, and mario gaining abilities to fold into paper airplanes or boats. I absolutely adore it! On top of that, the unique partner abilities outside of battle allow for a ton of fun puzzles.
Finally getting to them, I really love the characters met throughout the game, especially the partners. I feel like a lot of the characters left a much stronger impact on me than in the first game. And same with the story too! I loved going around rogueport, searching for the crystal stars, and stopping this convoluted end-of-the-world plot. I adore it all.
There's so much in this game that I absolute love. It'll probably end up being my favorite of the Paper Mario series, but I've yet to ensure it. I'm glad I finally got around to playing it.

This review contains spoilers

Chapter 1: Go through the narrow hallway multiple times until the game asks you to go to a castle and sniff a dragon's feet.
Chapter 2: Go through the narrow hallway multiple times until the game asks you to go to a tree and play Satan's Pikmin.
Chapter 3: Fuck you, it's WWE time.
Chapter 4: Go through the narrow hallway multiple times until the game asks you to go through the same narrow hallway multiple times but you're purple now.
Chapter 5: Go through the narrow hallway multiple times until pirates attack eek
Chapter 6: This one is on a train so it gets a pass.
Chapter 7: Skip.
Chapter 8: Peach turns into a goth and I distinctly remember biting my controller as a child because I couldn't beat her.
Exaggerating for comedic effect, this game is fine, but I'll always be a PM64 kind of guy.

I'd love this if I played it while growing up. But I didn't. It's just a solid RPG with some nice combat and a lot of personality, but it doesn't have a lot of real meat to it. NPC dialogue is infuriatingly short and unchanging, there's no reason to use most of the partners, and the narrative felt skin deep most of the time. At least it never outstays its welcome.

I LOVE THIS FUCKING GAME. best game in the fucking world i wish everyone plays this game. such good characters, writing, playstyle, story, FUCKING EVERYTHING IS SO GOOD. it covers so many genres and keeps it interesting in everything chapter, and the ending is sweet but not too cheesy... dark humor usage here is so good, and designs for every character, returning species or something completely new to this game, is fucking amazing. BEST GAME LITERALLY EVER.

Yeah, it's as good as everyone says it is. Still not my favorite in the series IMO. There's a few things that make it slightly worse. The backtracking in some areas is brutal; chapter 4 is actually so mid. I also lowkey miss the spin dash from the original; ik yoshi is the replacement but it doesn't hit the same. I mean regardless of these minor little problems this game is so awesome. Can I also just say how well this game holds up visually? Shit was made in 2004 and legitimately still looks great.