From the very first second of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Yr Door, I used to be hooked. The sport begins with a mild twinkling music and a guide opening to inform you the story of an historical, ruined city misplaced to time, and the fabled treasure buried there; as soon as you have listened to the entire story (and seen Peach herself shopping for a mysterious treasure from a dodgy-looking vendor) then the long-lasting fanfare performs, and the curtains draw again to disclose the title display. That is your journey, now.
It isn’t the type of story that you simply’d count on from a Mario recreation — most Mario video games start with somebody nabbing Princess Peach, or Bowser doing one thing dastardly — however TTYD units its scene as a substitute within the sordid and ramshackle city of Rogueport, constructed on prime of the ruins of that metropolis, whose legend has been lengthy forgotten.
However all that depthy stuff would not make Paper Mario’s second outing right into a severe recreation. Thousand-Yr Door is filled with unbelievable setpieces, bizarre and wacky theming (practice homicide thriller, bottle episode in a wrestling ring, shipwrecks and pirate gold), and character moments that flesh out a good few of Mario’s friends, previous and new.
Luigi, for instance, is off having his personal journey the place he tries to save lots of Princess Eclair, the ruler of Waffle Kingdom who retains getting kidnapped by the evil Chestnut King; the whole story is a spoof of Mario’s personal adventures, leaning closely on the tropes that everybody has come to count on from a Mario RPG.
Mario’s companions all through the sport have fascinating backstories, which is surprisingly uncommon for RPGs on the time — you are fortunate in case your sidekick will get way more than a reputation and a useless father or mother. Vivian is affected by imposter syndrome, no due to her bullying siblings; Admiral Bobbery mainly has PTSD following the dying of his spouse; the unbelievable (secret) companion Ms Mowz is a semi-antagonistic, Robin-Hood-meets-your-grandma type of determine who’s an enormous flirt.
RPGs are normally filled with fight, story, and journey, however the factor that set Thousand-Yr Door aside was its energetic, attention-grabbing solid and the ingenious settings. It is a deal with to seek out out the place you will be going every time, and though TTYD suffers from a variety of the identical issues as most RPGs (backtracking, tedious escort missions, railroading), there’s all the time one thing to be delighted by as you do the boring stuff. TTYD elevates and revitalises a variety of the series-standards, from Toads to Goombas and even Mario himself, giving every certainly one of them character and uniqueness past their common roles as enemies and helpers.
However the fight is not dangerous, both. The addition of timed assaults and parries turns the (for my part) passivity of normal turn-based battles into one thing way more energetic, making that ready time in-between assaults way more important to survival and success. The usage of Flower Factors (FP) for particular strikes and Star Energy (SP) for showstopper strikes made every combat right into a matter of strategic steadiness; outdoors of battle, you may even change how Mario and friends fought with the usage of Badges that modified and added assaults.
Totally different enemies required completely different plans of assault, in spite of everything — spiky shells meant no leaping; sure enemies have been skittish and would run away or explode when you took too lengthy; and proper earlier than boss battles you’d wish to improve your HP and FP as a lot as attainable. Add to that the unusual however alluring Enchantment system, by which the group would reward you with SP and even HP-restoring gadgets, and the slot machine that might come up when you carried out sufficient Motion Instructions completely, and it felt like there was all the time one thing happening.
It is unusual that every one the Paper Mario video games that got here after every tried to re-invent the wheel: Tremendous Paper Mario went with real-time fight, Sticker Star and Coloration Splash used one-time-use battle gimmicks, and Origami King invented the complicated and divisive ring system that turned each battle right into a spatial puzzle. Thousand-Yr Door’s fight wasn’t excellent, but it surely was much more enjoyable than all the opposite makes an attempt in later video games.
I personally assume that Paper Mario: The Thousand-Yr Door shouldn’t be solely the perfect Paper Mario recreation, however among the best video games of all time. I am not alone on this — the boxed recreation hardly ever sells for lower than $100 second hand, and there is a petition with over 50k signatures to get it remastered — however I feel that it nonetheless stands up at the moment on a repeat playthrough, due to how timeless it’s.
TTYD is the Wind Waker of Mario video games: an entry in a beloved sequence that attempted one thing actually new and thrilling, maybe by no means to be repeated. Seventeen years on from its debut, I nonetheless treasure it as a recreation I might come again to at any level in my life and be simply as entertained as I used to be again then. If solely we might get one other prefer it.