Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door review

by on May 21, 2024
Reviewed On
Release Date

May 23, 2024.


It’s difficult to think of a more deserving game to be remade than Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Widely regarded as one of the best games of the era, and in some quarters it’s even thought of as one of the greatest games of any era. Thankfully, the 2024 remake does that marvellous thing of making you think the game always looked this way, and feels fresh, modern, and like a new game. Make no mistake, The Thousand-Year Door has lost nothing over the years, and remains a breath of fresh air.

Story-wise, there’s little ground being broken. Princess Peach has travelled to a place called Rogueport following a treasure map, but in the process she’s been kidnapped by a gang that, unless you played the original, might be new to you. Mario has followed up, and ends up trying to find seven crystal stars in order to stop a catastrophe. Despite the game’s age, there’s so much going on, and while you play most of the time as Mario, there are moments where you’ll switch to Peach, and indeed to Bowser, and developer Intelligent Systems is masterful about the pacing and way these alternative sections are offered out.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

I’m tiptoeing around spoilers because while the original is twenty years old, every game is someone’s first game, and while the narrative isn’t particularly unique, the dialogue and characters are. It’s no secret that the Mario RPG and Paper Mario games have long been a source of cheeky humour, but there’s some really excellent writing throughout Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Some of it is so incidental, but that’s part of the magic. Tiny one-liners that make you smile or chuckle, that add flavour to the world and make it feel lived in.

Every character has a personality, and the main heroes all have their moments. Even Luigi appears, and while it feels like the developer is almost poking fun at the game itself, the audience, and everything else with him, I challenge anyone to not read his lengthy diatribes about what he’s been up to. Even the villains are interesting, offering comedy and tragedy in equal measure.

The visuals are absolutely gorgeous, and this looks every bit like a 2024 release. The Thousand-Year Door was ahead of its time in so many ways, from the way the paper aesthetic would transition to reveal secrets, or the clever way you would use the abilities inherent to being made of paper to get around the world. Likewise, the soundtrack is memorable and on point, and you can even use a badge to bring back the old sounds if you like.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Speaking of badges, the combat almost feels peerless. Despite modern takes on the Paper Mario series, playing this again makes you feel like you’d just want another game with these systems. As you’d expect, you take turns in fights, but can gain an advantage using the badge system. This can be upgraded when you level up, though you can also choose to bolster your magic (FP) or health points instead. Every enemy you defeat gives you points towards levelling up, and even beating fodder enemies is worth doing to become more powerful.

The badges themselves offer buffs that cost a points value. You might want to equip one that makes your partner character more powerful, but it could be a high-value badge that means you might not be able to equip some special moves. Every attack is timed, but not just in a simple way. You time an attack to add more damage to it, but you can also time your landing or recovery from the move to gain a stylish award, which makes the on-watching crowd cheer and you’ll gather power to activate a special move. Defending requires a timed button press, and you can even “parry”, so to speak, with a different button to hurt the attacker with your block. Special moves each require a different button input, too. What this all means is that no fight is ever boring, because you’re always doing something more than selecting a menu option, and watching it happen. Whichever character you’re using will have different inputs, and you are always actively engaged in every single fight.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Of course, this is a remake, but it’s fair to say Nintendo has been cautious in changes made to such a beloved title. The biggest difference is that you can now select partner characters via a quick menu. Out in the world, each partner has a special move that can interact with the overworld areas, and the chore of entering menus to switch between, say Goombella and Koops, early on, is completely eradicated.

Some of the more obtuse side quests in the Trouble Centre have been made slightly easier too. Now there’s a character who will give hints, and on top of that, you can now ask Goombella for hints at any time when she’s with you, at the touch of a button. There’s another new character who appears at each major location who will let you practice moves, and the warp pipe room that lets you revisit older areas has been tweaked so you know which pipe goes where, thanks to a number on each one.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

There are other changes that are more subtle, like tweaks to dialogue that just make it a more well-rounded game, but the truth is that very little really needed doing to the original, as it always felt ahead of its time. In the cold light of day, there is an argument to be made that sometimes there is a touch too much backtracking in some areas. While slight adjustments have been made in some (Great Boggly Tree I’m looking at you) they still are what you’d called perfect. But really, in a thirty-hour game (which would probably take first-timers longer) it’s not that noticeable.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a masterpiece. It was when it hit GameCube, and it remains so in 2024. Whether you’re being awed by finding a pipe that takes you into the background, or being impressed at the depth of combat, character personalities, and stunning audio and visual revamp, it’s hard to see anyone being disappointed with this remake. It might be too easy for series veterans, but every hour you spend feels like time well spent in this one, and whether you’re replaying for the visuals, or a very lucky first-timer, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is one of the best RPGs ever to come out of Nintendo, and remains a classic, timeless title.


Stunning audio and visuals
Excellent quality of life changes
Funny, enjoyable story


Might be too easy for some

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Whether you’re replaying for the new visuals, or a very lucky first-time player, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is one of the best RPGs ever to come out of Nintendo.