Some games have more lasting power than others. While your yearly Call of Duty release may be popular for a few months, it loses its luster after a while. They may be highly rated and they may receive a ton of fanfare. But the games that are truly great are the ones that have people talking about them many years later. My first Retro Review will be one of my personal favorite games, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door.
Presentation: Paper Mario is all about presentation. It takes our already established character of Mario, and turns his world into a completely new experience. The charm of the paper theme is even more prominent in The Thousand Year Door than it was in the original Paper Mario game. Not only does everything and everyone adopt the paper style, but now Mario has moves based off paper airplanes, paper towel rolls and paper boats.
The attention to detail when it comes to the paper theme is visually spectacular. The way Mario flutters and bends, the way the menus crumble like paper balls, it all comes together to give an incredible mood and storybook atmosphere. To say that The Thousand Year Door is one of the most creative Gamecube games is an understatement.
While the game certainly looks great and immerses you inside a paper universe, it shines even brighter with its dialogue. The plot is nothing to write home about, Princess Peach is captured and Mario has to save her. But the way the story unfolds is incredibly entertaining. The conversations are clever and at times incredibly hilarious. Elements of the story shift from a penguin that claims to be a detective to a hawk who thinks he's Hulk Hogan. And all of it, despite its ridiculousness, somehow feels so right.
Gameplay: The Thousand Year Door, like its predecessor, is a very simple RPG. You get seven partners and several upgrades to your hammer and boots. Each partner can also be upgraded twice, giving you an array of moves to choose from. The badge system is improved upon from the first game, giving you a few extra choices in customizing Mario.
While basic, it is also fun. You never really get bored during battles as there are a ton of different enemies to fight. Nothing really gets stale, the fights get harder as you get stronger and there are times where you can find yourself getting a "Game Over." Straightforward yet effective, the battle system is fun and colorful enough to keep you entertained.
The battling is fun and the dialogue of the game is phenomenal. With that said, there is one part of the game that hinders it from being perfect. Backtracking does occur, especially towards the end of the game. You'll have to travel all across previously explored areas while getting very little reward out of it. It is a bit tedious, but it is far from something that should ever prevent anybody from playing the game.
Final: It's fun, it's engrossing and it looks great. The paper theme is more prominent in The Thousand Year Door than it is in any other Paper Mario game. Everything great about the first game was improved upon and all the weaknesses of the battle system were fixed. Its charm is enough to give you positive feelings just thinking about it, and despite some minor hiccups it easily earns itself a 9.5/10