I've already talked about the awesomeness that happens when Mario meets the role-playing genre. Super Mario RPG was so enjoyable to play that it seemed almost impossible for another Mario RPG to top it. Paper Mario for the N64 was good, but not as good as Super Mario RPG. Then came Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, which still remains as one of my favorite RPGs ever. Read on to find out why.
Title: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Console: Nintendo Gamecube
Release Date: 10/11/04
Genre: Role-Playing Game
My Ranking: #29
It's rare that a single-player video game makes me laugh out loud. Paper Mario 2 is now always the game I think of when thinking of a legitimately funny game. There is an absurd amount of text in this game, even for an RPG but, you can see why there is. The dialogue is fantastically cute with Mario only making facial and body reactions to what characters say to him. I especially loved the bomb-omb town where the bomb-ombs have a pseudo-Tourette's syndrome, and randomly say BOOM when they speak. See the video below for an example.
The humor isn't the only aspect that makes this game great. The battle system was astounding and a huge improvement over the simplistic Super Mario RPG timed hit system. In addition to having to time your attacks correctly as the hit animation ensues, you also have to press A at certain times to gain stylish points. The more stylish moves you do, the faster your star gauge fills up, and your star powers are extremely powerful.
Even action you take in battle requires the player to do some correct input in order to get a good attack-including the star powers. For example, one star-ability called Sweet Treat puts you in a minigame where hearts, flowers and poison mushrooms fall from the sky. You have to aim and shoot properly to pick up health and flower bonus while avoiding the poison mushrooms that stun you. Instead of most traditional RPGs, Paper Mario 2 keeps you busy even during the attack animation.
The battle system doesn't stop being creative there either. With every battle you go into, you have an audience watching you. By doing the stylish moves I mentioned before you can impress your audience and they give you star power. They may also even throw items to help you out or throw blocks to try and hurt you. If you catch a bad guy trying to throw a rock at you, you can jump into the audience and beat him up, if you so wish.
On top of all this you have a badge system, which is just a glorified ability system. By collecting different badges and spending badge points to equip them you can have abilities that make you have a electrified shield around you, a multi-jump attack, a health point increase, etc. Depending on the boss fight or dungeon you are in, these badges can make or break the battle for you and require some strategic thinking to use them effectively.
I remember running through this game pretty quickly, but I don't remember it being incredibly easy or insanely difficult. The Pit of 100 trials was a bit crazy, as you had to go through endless amounts of battles getting no break to go an inn or save point, only to face a really hard boss after travelling 100 floors to get there. Albeit this was optional, but to have the opportunity to partake in this hardcore challenge was appreciated.
Lastly, what I really enjoyed about Paper Mario was that they made good use of the "paper" concept. Mario and all the characters are 2D living in a 3D world. And since Mario looks like he's made out of paper, he gets to use paper like abilities when not in battle. Mario can turn into a paper airplane to fly over large gaps or turn into a paper tube to fit into tiny tunnels. The first Paper Mario didn't make any use of the paper concept, but this one did.
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is an all-around solid RPG. If you like humorous storylines, engaging turn-based battle systems and creative abilities, you're guaranteed to enjoy this game. There's a lot of text and the story is very similar to Super Mario RPG, but trust me, you won't care about these minor flaws.
My Top 52:
#52 --- Star Fox 64 (N64)
#51 --- Kirby's Adventure (NES)
#50 --- Roller Coaster Tycoon (PC)
#49 --- Grand Theft Auto III (PS2)
#48 --- Metroid Prime (GC)
#47 --- Halo 3 (Xbox 360)
#46 --- Bomberman 64 (N64)
#45 --- Guitar Hero II (PS2)
#44 --- Super Street Fighter II (GEN)
#43 --- Pokemon Puzzle League (N64)
#42 --- Soul Calibur II (GC)
#41 --- Gears of War (Xbox 360)*
#40 --- Elite Beat Agents (DS)
#39 --- Call of Duty 4 (PS3)
#38 --- Super Metroid (SNES)
#37 --- The Orange Box (PS3)*
#36 --- Metal Gear Solid (PS)
#35 --- Doom (PC)
#34 --- Super Mario Kart (SNES)
#33 --- Mischief Makers (N64)
#32 --- Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)
#31 --- Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES)
#30 --- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All (DS)
#29 --- Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (GC)