A Very Ancient Paper Doorway

As a Nintendo fan, I’ll be the first to admit that Nintendo gets away with the concept “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” especially with Super Mario. However, you have to admit that Mario RPGs are incredible. Super Mario RPG is a classic and a phenomenal game that I play frequently. The Mario & Luigi RPGs are equally as awesome although I’ve only beaten each once. But there’s a refreshing Mario RPG franchise I love so much I play the first two installments no less than once a year. One game in particular I have easily spent the most hours on, more than any game ever. Ladies and gentlegoombas, I present to you the dickeating of Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door.

The Thousand Year Door has been my favorite video game ever since the day I beat it. It truly is a great game that I think everyone should play. It’s one of the few shining examples of a true and proper sequel. TYD improves upon all the things that made the original Paper Mario great and it does this without making the same game. A lot of video game sequels are more like updates than a completely new game. They just feel too similar to be a new. Then they’re the game franchises who try something completely new for no reason and then the game loses its heart. It’s kind of what happened with this series. Super Paper Mario and Paper Mario Sticker Star are examples of this. Super Paper Mario still had the soul and sharply written text that makes Paper Mario great but not the gameplay. It was a mediocre platformer but the story was amazing and the game still had tons of awesome characters. Sticker Star had a poorly emulated version of the turned based combat from old, no partner system, a terrible story, no good characters and just did not feel like a Paper Mario game. The upcoming Paper Mario game, Paper Mario Color Splash looks like Sticker Star 2.

But let's focus on the good for now. TYD is the second game in the franchise. It takes place after Mario saves the Star Spirits and defeats Bowser who stole the Star Rod. Thousand Year Door primarily takes place in Rougeport, a run down, sketchy town where Peach gets kidnapped. Mario and friends have to collect the 7 Crystal Stars and go save her. The 7 Crystal Stars will open an ancient door beneath the town. What’s inside the Thousand Year Door?

The gameplay mechanics are really solid. It’s a turn based, role playing game with a twist. When it’s not your turn there are still actions you can take to reduce the damage you take or even counter attack. Pressing the A button right before an attack hits you makes it do less damage. If you press B RIGHT when an attack hits you, you actually perform a counter causing your enemy to take damage instead. When attacking, you can choose a variety of attacks from your Jump, Hammer, Items, Tactics and/or Crystal Stars. But even when you choose a method of attack, the game doesn’t simply do it for you, you have to perform the correct inputs at the right time intervals to make the attacks more potent. These are called Action Commands.

When Mario is going to attack by jumping on his opponent, the player has to press A right before landing on them to perform an extra attack. Mario’s other attacks and partners also have these action commands that differ greatly. So you have to master the various types of commands in order to be effective. In addition to that, this game added the crowd mechanic.  Every battle has a crowd and the better you perform the more support you get from the crowd. Completely mastering your Action Commands allows you to not only do addition damage but perform “Stylish Moves” that excite the people. You need the crowd to help you fill one of the meters called the Star Gauge. Moreover, they'll throw items at you that do damage if you are playing poorly, but will throw helpful items if you are performing well.

The stage also has random hazards and craziness that can help or hinder you. Sometimes both. Sometimes stage fog comes out of nowhere and both sides have a higher chance of missing an attack. Or a light might fall and hit you randomly doing damage but electrifying you (meaning any enemy that physically touches you will take damage). There are status effects and items that do all kinds of insanely cool stuff that the player must learn to use and adapt to.

Every time you level up you can increase your HP (Heart Points), FP (Flower Points) or BP. HP is health, FP is essentially a magic meter and BP are Badge Points. Wearing Badges gives Mario and company access to a large variety of abilities. Enhancing certain attacks, giving them new ones, increasing defense or offense and some are really specific. Spike Shield gives Mario the ability to jump on spiked foes whereas something like the Wario Emblem is useless but give Mario’s clothes Wario’s colors. You need FP to use Badges during combat.

The characters in this game are awesome, fun and plentiful. From Rawk Hawk to The Shadow Sirens all the way back to Bowser, the cast is lively and funny. I love them. My personal favorite character is Vivian who was being bullied by her Shadow Siren Sisters and eventually decided to work with Mario to stop them; because not only were they mean to her, she thinks Mario is doing the right thing. She’s in my opinion the best party member as well. She can attack anyone and everyone at once and even hide herself and Mario from danger. All her attacks burn the opponent as well. Did you know in the original Japanese version of this game, Vivian is born with the body of a boy but identifies as a girl? Technically, Vivian is transgender.

The cool thing about the eight Chapters is that they take place in entirely different environments and have entirely different themes. Chapter 3, Glitzville, is a floating manmade island where combatants battle each other to become the champ. You have to fight from the lowest rank to the highest all while dealing with a shady conspiracy in the Pits. Chapter 6 takes place on a luxurious train where mysterious things keep happening. It’s a mystery drama, where Mario and Sir Pennington (The Penguin with The Improbably Large Brain) have to solve cases. And um, Chapter 7 is on the moon. Yeah, THAT moon. It’s so fun!

The boss battles are the most exciting part about the end of each Chapter. Obviously some are harder and more interesting than others but each boss battle has something fun to offer. My personal favorite bosses being:  Macho Grubba because of the Tubba Blubba homage, Cortez for entertainment and Smorg for being challenging. I love facing the game’s optional boss, Bonetail, because he’s really hard to beat. First of all you have to make it to the end of the Pit of 100 Trials (where you fight 100 battles) and then fight Bonetail. No healing, no Save Block. I’ve beaten him six times for the Return Postage Badge.

One of my personal favorite things you can do in this game is go to Zess T. She cooks items and amplifies their potency. For example, if you bring her a Mushroom (replenishes 5HP) she’ll make Fried Shroom which replenishes 6HP and 2FP. She can even take two items and combine them for some crazy items. They aren’t all food related. Some items she makes are attacks. For instance if you give her a Coconut and a Fire Flower she makes a Coconut Bomb. If you give her an Egg and Fire Flower, Egg Bomb. If you give her both those items she makes Zest Dynamite! 

The various references and callbacks to the first Paper Mario also help make this game feel more enjoyable. Not only does it directly connect the two series, it’s nice to see. It tickles that nostalgia bone a little. One of the coolest is that both Chapters 3's make you face a massive Clubba. Also there being someone in town named “Zest. T” (the Tayce.T of this game) who cooks for you. ALSO LADY BOW AND BOOTLER IN CHAPTER SIX (Lady Bow was of the partners you received in Paper Mario)!

Listen, I could go on all day about why I love this game. It’s fun, got a solid story, tons of content, lasting appeal, replayability, great characters, a compelling world and great dialogue. I think this is why I've been increasingly more frustrated with the latest "Paper Mario" installments. I have no issues with the first two and I still like the third one for everything besides the combat. Sticker Star and Color Splash are not Paper Mario games, they only look like they are. I'm hoping that for the NX, Nintendo revives the original Paper Mario formula and make the Paper Mario game we deserve. With that being said, I definitely recommend the first three game in the series ... ESPECIALLY, the Thousand Year Door.

Written by: Nya Hemmingz
Follow me on Twitter: @LolitaZenpie

A Very Ancient Paper Doorway A Very Ancient Paper Doorway Reviewed by Unknown on Monday, March 14, 2016 Rating: 5


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