Paper Mario TTYD Review wallpaper
June 27, 2024

Unfold an adventure full of character(s) in our Paper Mario TTYD Review!

Originally released in 2005, The Thousand Year Door quickly became one of the GameCube’s most highly regarded video game releases. Fans have long used it as the measure of which new entries should meet and surpass, with few managing to meet those lofty expectations. Nintendo have recently entered a window of time where they are releasing remakes/remasters quite often and to a high standard. So, how will this entry fair in this remaking process and can Intelligent Systems match the quality of previous remasters? Find out in our Paper Mario TTYD review!

Paper Mario TTYD Review Title boat

The adventure begins, lets hope it’s not tearable…

Paper Mario TTYD Review – Story

Princess Peach makes a stop in Rogueport, a rough and disorderly town full of scum and villainy, with a nice little gallows at its centre. A mysterious figure awards her with a strange map and a tale of treasure which inspires her to get in contact with Mario. She asks for his help and to meet her in Rogueport, however, she is missing by the time Mario arrives. This sparks an interesting adventure told from many different characters’ perspectives. For fear of sounding pretentious, the excellent writing is the reason this game is regarded so highly in the gaming community. Like Mario RPG before it, TTYD features quite a lot of darker moments, never overbearingly or surprisingly so, but enough that it stands out.

Paper Mario TTYD Review Hooktail flying off to her castle

Hooktail the dragon flying off to her castle.

When Mario arrives at Rogueport the game begins in earnest, with an immediate presentation of important characters. Within the first 10 minutes of the game he encounters; the X-nauts, Goombella, Professor Frankly and Toadsworth. This pace is kept up over the entire title with new and returning characters busily hopping in and out of the narrative when needed whilst only a handful of constant companions are available at the click of a button. Each character has a small backstory, including many of the random NPCs, that can be discovered using Goombella’s special ability, which adds a much deeper layer to the denizens of the world.

Paper Mario TTYD Review cutscene map

The magical map that shows Mario where to fid the Crystal Stars!

As the story progresses and Mario begins hunting for the Crystal Stars it becomes clear there are multiple factions interested in acquiring them, the X-nauts being one of the bigger threats. However, series favourites like Bowser are simply looking for Peach when they set out. With Bowser being playable at times and lagging behind everyone else in his quest, this makes him the butt of many jokes. Luigi also has his own adventures which are presented by him as stories, which are so long they leave Mario dozing off, and the writing is hysterical the entire time.

Paper Mario TTYD Review Peach showering

Peach taking one of her many showers…

One of the more interesting story elements is Peach’s side of the story. Here players take control of Peach while she interacts with the base she has been imprisoned in. She uses her smarts to get word out to the others about her situation, all while dealing with her own conundrums, such as being asked what “Love” is and having multiple showers. It’s very unusual but again that script writing really does much of the heavy lifting needed to get players invested in each of the characters and their plights. It’s a really fun world to partake in with even things like small choices resulting in changed dialogue adding a bit of player agency to proceedings.

Paper Mario TTYD Review – Gameplay

Those familiar with other entries in the Paper Mario series (except maybe Super Paper Mario) will know roughly what to expect when it comes to gameplay structure. However, TTYD is focused on the hub town of Rogueport. This hub is designed with return journeys in mind and features many areas that make use of each side character’s special abilities to open up the next location, as well as some nice environmental puzzles for treasure or items. Traversal is also enhanced by paper abilities which allow Mario and friends to transform into helpful shapes by way of folding, rolling and twisting themselves. The first ability you receive is a turning into a paper plane on specific platforms and floating across gaps to new ledges, which controls oddly but is easily learned.

Paper Mario TTYD Review Boggly woods

Arriving at the Boggly Woods via the always useful pipe!

Each level of the main quest takes Mario to a new setting, each has unique visuals but between the more interesting segments there are long stretches of walking from point A to point B, which can drag a little. Traversal in these longer segments is mostly based around jumping, solving small skill puzzles with your partners abilities and avoiding or fighting enemies. It’s always fun to explore an area for the first time as most of them introduce a space to use a power or show players a potential reward to be accessed after aquiring a new ability. Petalburg or the Puni Tree are some of the more unique areas are where TTYD shines, full of interesting characters who usually have something to say that adds some extra flavour to that area of the world or the story.

Paper Mario TTYD Review Boggly Woods tree

A tree that is anything but Puni.

Combat unfolds in a small stage themed arena and features a simple to learn yet hard to master system. Battles can be started from the overworld by either hitting, being hit by or simply walking into an enemy, with each method of beginning the battle in a different way. Hitting the enemy first opens the fight with a free attack for the player, adversely getting hit by an enemy gives them an advantageous opening attack and just walking into an opponent starts the battle in a default state with the player acting first (in most cases). Once players dive into the fight they are greeted by a small selection of options to pick from, above the active character’s head, with basic, special, tactical and more, each with sub options. With the exception of certain special and standard moves the repertoire of attack choices is expanded by equipping badges but more on them later!

Paper Mario TTYD Review Boss fight

Bosses tend not to be paper thin…

All attacks and defences have a small extra engagement element by getting the player to press the A button at certain times to improve or reduce the damage of various battle actions. This element is slightly affected by the move to 30fps that was made to increase the developer headroom to make the visuals shinier. This does mean that the response to the button presses are a little slower than expected so adjustment time is needed. However, regardless of that slight issue the moment to moment reaction based turns really makes the player feel involved in proceedings unlike in a static turn based system.

Paper Mario TTYD Review cutscene DS

This Gamecube remake on the Switch features a Gameboy SP that Mario receives emails and a GBA screen later on!

Each attack also features a custom mini-game to pull it off, like the hammer where players have to hold down the left stick for a certain amount of time and let go at the end of the countdown or pressing A on contact with an enemy to do double damage. One thing yet to be mentioned is that the stage theming isn’t just visual, it includes a functioning crowd! This crowd mechanic is yet another strategic angle for the battles. The crowd will sometimes throw helpful or damaging items at the characters on stage, with a simple press of X the player can chase them away. The crowd also award the player star points to use special abilities so playing well is rewarded properly in a fun way.

Paper Mario TTYD Review cutscene

It’s not all SUNSHINE and rainbows!

There is quite a lot of strategy in managing things like flower points and badges. These systems play off of each other with badge moves typically using flower points, sometimes a lot of them, but offering vastly superior effects and damage vs the basic moves. This element gives the game a deeper amount of strategy that it would otherwise have had, meaning it’s possible to really dig in and personalise a Mario that is almost entirely unique. Honestly it’s easy to see why people remember this title so fondly and it really does have a certain feeling that the other games in the series don’t quite stack up to.

Paper Mario TTYD Review gameplay bowser

The Bowser gameplay segments play like a short level of classic Mario and it’s just perfect!

Paper Mario TTYD Review – Visuals

Some things look better in our memories and so with recent GameCube to Switch conversions Nintendo’s development teams have been putting in the extra time to overhaul these older titles visually. Now, the original Thousand Year Door looked great and still does in many ways but some of the less paper-y items have a very GameCube era 3D geometrical look that doesn’t play nicely with character art or user interface. This time around almost everything has been converted to being made of some sort of craft, with even grassy ledges having curls of paper and trees no longer being typical 3d models and instead featuring a cardboard like appearance.

Paper Mario TTYD Review Mario's house

Pretty sure Luigi doesn’t even have a house in TTYD.

It’s amazing the legwork this overhaul does in making the game feel fresh, there are basically no untouched assets and they all benefit from the increase in fidelity. Interestingly, the game also heavily uses reflective materials which are usually pretty interesting and allow for reflections on water and other shiny or smooth surfaces. Strangely this also applies to things like grass which can be a little odd looking but still welcome overall!

Paper Mario TTYD Review Goombella

Unchanged but clearer character art!

Character designs are untouched but do seem to be presented in a higher resolution texture so they look smooth and clear on both docked and in handheld mode. In fact the game’s presentation is practically perfectly scaled between devices and the frame rate never shifts from that 30fps, so it all feels very stable and tangible. It’s hard to think of anything that could have been done differently to make this any better than it came out, even the old grass sprites have been replaced by wavy interactive paper flowers that can be hammered flat, which is a very cool touch!

Paper Mario TTYD Review – Sound

Nintendo games are really well known for their memorable music and I doubt fans of TTYD have forgotten the iconic battle theme. In this remake we are treated to a significant amount of remastering and remixing of the soundtrack which results in some real bangers and some possible slips from greatness. Much of the music feels as it did before but has been rearranged to really hammer in the feeling of each location with the town or Rogueport as the example. Rogueport’s original music was a little subdued but somehow presented the chaos and villainy of the location, which has now been really amped up with heavier guitar sounds and an almost overwhelming, verging on grating, version of that original melody.

It can be unpleasant to stay in Rogueport for more than a couple of minutes at a time. However, after Chapter 2 the player can acquire a cheap badge that swaps the music back to the Gamecube original soundtrack that makes for interesting comparisons. Conversely, battle benefits from the re-arrangements with riffs on the tune that change in each area of the world or in certain story moments. It never changes the melody but it adds some extra life to a track that could become tiresome in a longer set of battles. Other than the music, the general soundscape is unchanged with characters retaining their almost Animal Crossing style burbling dialogue sounds and sound effects having the same general feeling and impact as they did before. Overall the sound design is fantastic despite a couple of small drawbacks.

Paper Mario TTYD Review – What else?

Now an RPG might feel paper thin if it lacks side content and TTYD is aware of this. After a certain point in the game the player gets access to some side jobs helping various people across the world solve issues. Many of these are small things like finding a missing key but they give the player a good chance to go back and explore the areas of the world that might otherwise be one stop shops. They’re far from perfect but nice to have in terms of filling out the game world and again adding a little more to some of the side characters.

Paper Mario TTYD Review Quiz

Lock in 8 Blockie!

The other main side activity is the pit of 100 trials where Mario and his friends can partake in a string of arena battles. This is where the battle music might become tiring… Each ten or so floors the player receives a small prize so it’s worth coming back frequently throughout the adventure to conquer the challenge and earn the helpful loot it offers as well as levelling up a bit!

Paper Mario TTYD Review Star Points

Star points replace basic EXP stats, backtracking is not quite as rewarding

The final negative point is that backtracking and grinding is rarely rewarded in TTYD, this is likely by design so it’s in no way a deal breaker but it’s still a little strange for an RPD. It means that players who are struggling due to bad level up choices might find themselves put off continuing or pushing through a harder part of the title.

Paper Mario TTYD Review – Conclusion

Paper Mario The Thousand Year Door on Nintendo Switch is a fantastic game. It breathes new life into what is widely considered the best entry in the series with a very tasteful graphical overhaul. While the main mechanics of the game remain unchanged, they were not broken or in need of any particular tweaking to begin with so it’s really a win-win for those purests out there with their 5HP Mario runs. This is also the first time TTYD has been available as a portable title so no matter what, this is a must have game for fans of Paper Mario or even just RPG fans. They really hit the right notes for this reviewer!

Paper Mario TTYD Review Gameplay woods

Are they reacting to Mario or the review?

Why you should buy Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

  • The simple turn based battles are a lot of fun.
  • Mario and friends are at their most adorable in their paper forms.
  • The script does things no other Mario titles would even think of.
  • It’s also just absolutely hilarious, excellent writing throughout.

Why you shouldn’t buy Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

  • There isn’t really any platforming in this Mario game.
  • The overall game mechanics are quite simple.
  • Some levels make backtracking necessary which can be boring.
  • Timing button presses in battle might not be everybody’s jam.

A review code was kindly provided by Nintendo for the purpose of our Paper Mario TTYD review.  You can check out our latest reviews here and if you haven’t already, be sure to join the Qualbert Discord to find out about the latest game and review updates!

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