While on vacation, Princess Peach has a chance encounter with a strange merchant, who provides her a mysterious treasure map. She mails it to Mario, who follows her to Rogueport, only to discover that she's gone missing! With the only clue to find the Princess being the map itself, Mario sets forth, meeting a charming collection of friends (and foes) along the way. Learn how the story unfolds in this grand RPG adventure, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door!

Faithful in its 20-year-old story but with improvements for the modern age, this remake on the Nintendo Switch features greatly enhanced visuals, a warp-pipe room for fast travelling, and more!

Release Date: July 22nd, 2004 (Original), May 23rd, 2024 (Remake)
Developed by: Intelligent Systems
Published by: Nintendo

Return of a Classic

My first impression of this remake was just how pretty the game is now! There's so much more detail than the original version on the Gamecube could hope to provide. All that good stuff like improved lighting and shadows help the game pop; the younger me didn't care 20 years ago - TTYD looked just fine for its time - but by comparison the Switch remake has gone above and beyond in making it appear that much better. This isn't just a nice sheen on the original, either: environments were remade from the ground up to capture the intended vision and spirit of the game world.

These improvements came with a technical price, though, as the Switch version is only 30 FPS (frames per second) versus the Gamecube's 60. There's a grand, ongoing debate as to whether or not that actually matters to people, but I personally noticed zero difference in the feel of the game. Timed hits during combat (better known in-game as "Action Commands") could possibly be different than before, in the direction of being more generous, and yet Nintendo presumably took that into account and adjusted the timers accordingly. The end result is that the game looks amazing while the gameplay didn't seem to suffer in the slightest.

So what is the gameplay of Paper Mario: TTYD exactly? For those of you too young to remember, those that didn't own a Gamecube at the time, or whatever other excuse you have for missing out, The Thousand Year Door is an Adventure RPG that has you exploring places and dungeons, helping those in need, and engaging enemies on the overworld in turn-based battles. Along the way you'll earn experience (in the form of Star Points) to increase your Health Points (HP), Flower Points (FP, for using moves), or Badge Points (BP, for equipping moves and/or passives). All the while Mario and his growing-collection of friends will use their abilities to traverse the environment to find new upgrades and proceed.

What that oversimplification leaves out is the sheer variety of locales you'll visit, people you'll talk to, and situations you'll encounter. While Chapter 1 may have you do battle against the dragon Hooktail in her castle (seen above), in classic RPG fashion, that ignores how Chapter 3 finds Mario looking to become champion of a wrestling arena that floats in the sky, or how Chapter 6 has you riding a train whilst solving mysteries. Even in Chapter 1 you square off against a trivia-loving Thwomp barring passage to a fortress, so the game isn't lacking for fun - sometimes even goofy - moments.

Your partners all have their times to shine, as well, using abilities both in and out of combat: for example, while the sassy Goombella can Tattle on enemies to learn their strengths and weaknesses, the actress Madam Flurrie can create a gust of wind in the overworld to blow away barriers and find hidden secrets. What holds it all together is the strong writing and the emphasis on having a good time.

Better Than Ever

Beyond the improved graphical quality, Nintendo decided to include a number of improvements to enhance the game further. These range from small bonuses, like the Battle Master NPC for learning combat tips, to a new room filled with unlockable warp-pipes to reduce the game's backtracking. Even in the combat image above, there are two additions you might not be aware of: the box in the bottom left for reminding you of the fight parameters during Chapter 3, and the "Tattle Check" in the bottom right, for reviewing Tattles you've collected so you don't have to waste a turn doing it again. These things add up to improve upon what is already a great experience.

Going mostly off of my memory, here is a complete(ish) list of the other new additions:

  • The soundtrack has been completely updated, with some new tracks as well for situations that didn't originally get one,
  • Two new superbosses, one in the Glitz Pit and one in the Pit of 100 Trials (after subsequent delves),
  • There's a new "Try Again" function when you die,
  • New galleries for music and concept art,
  • A new NPC in the Trouble Center for helping you glean how to complete Troubles (sorta useless when the internet exists),
  • Two new badges - one for switching to the old soundtrack, the other as a reward for 100% - plus a new Zess T recipe,
  • There now exists a warp-pipe in Twilight Town leading back to the Creepy Steeple,
  • You can swap between partners on the fly with the L button,
  • By pressing ZL your partners can give you a hint on what to do next,
  • You can initially hold 15 items at the start of the game, up from 10,
  • You earn free coins after defeating a boss (either 50 or 100),
  • Coin limit is now 9999, up from 999,
  • Important characters make sound chirps while talking which are more unique to their person,
  • Cleaning up the dialogue, to remove potentially...problematic moments while enhancing others.

It's that last one that has spawned some controversy. You can make your arguments about "censorship" or "the intent of the original script", or even complain about the power of localizers; I'm not gonna get too involved in that here. As far as this reviewer is concerned, the goombas catcalling Goombella during the Prologue didn't need to be in there, nor did they need Goombella misgendering Vivian in her Tattle (whether on purpose or otherwise). The game is better off without such gross situations being available for all to see.

On the subject of Vivian, TTYD (and by extension Nintendo) has put its foot down and made it clear that Vivian is transgender. There was some debate about whether or not it was ever intended - if I recall correctly the US/English script of the original said she/her for the most part - but that conversation has been put to bed. Vivian is a transgender girl...shadow being and that is that. And in case it wasn't obvious enough, they tweaked some of Vivian's dialogue to emphasize that part of her trauma and psychological torment at the hands of her sister Beldam is due to this.

I for one appreciate this. We exist in real life, after all, so why can't we exist in video games? When mean people proclaim "go get your own LGBTQ characters" but subsequently get mad when such characters are created, the truth is revealed about their real intentions. They just don't want people like me to exist at all; therefore, when we see major companies like Nintendo go "no really, Vivian is trans and that's the truth of it", we should celebrate those victories of inclusion and representation.

I wasn't gonna get too personal about this, but I guess I did anyway. I digress...

A Flawed Masterpiece?

Unfortunately, the game is not perfect, and some aspects of the original continue to sully the remake in the present. You can only work on one Trouble at a time, for example, and while the warp-room exists now to alleviate backtracking, there's still a lot of it going on. A good example of both of these coming together in a particularly egregious manner can be found after Chapter 7, in the delivery Trouble for Goldbob. In order to complete his task and be rewarded 64 coins, you need to:

  1. Go to Poshley Heights to talk to Goldbob and acquire the Package,
  2. Travel to Fahr Outpost to find General White, only to speak to a Bob-omb in his house telling you he left,
  3. Travel to Rogueport and speak to the tavern keeper Podley,
  4. Travel to Glitzville and speak to the juice bar owner Podler,
  5. Return to Poshley Heights to talk to Goldbob,
  6. Return to Fahr Outpost to finally locate General White,
  7. Jump on General White like 8 times in a row to wake him up and finally deliver the Package,
  8. Return to Poshley Heights yet-again to tell Goldbob and get your reward.

In the original version, this would have involved five rides on the Excess Express train (to get to Poshley Heights and back repeatedly), two rides on the Cheep Blimp (for a 5-second conversation in Glitzville), and four traversals through the snow to get to and from Fahr Outpost. And by not allowing you to stock up on different Troubles, you're left to visit and revisit these locations again and again for simple tasks. The warp pipes definitely help with this issue, but the requirement of warping around to find General White in the first place is an annoying time-sink, of which there are plenty of them. For another example, Frankie still has to say "I love you!" 100 separate times to Francesca on Keelhaul Key...which you have to sit through, mashing the button to progress dialogue while the game seems to cackle at how well it is wasting your time. These are frankly stupid moments, and while they don't ruin the game, they didn't need to be in there originally, and they certainly could have been made better in the remake.


Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is, in my opinion, the best Mario game period, outside of maybe Mario Kart: Double Dash (coincidentally also from the Gamecube). The game is quite simply a treat, one that could easily be found on Zess T's recipe list (it would, naturally, Restore 20 HP and FP). With a colorful cast of characters, plus a story that hits a variety of fun beats, quality permeates throughout the game in its writing (and soundtrack, too!). The remake only furthers that vision, adding more content whilst trimming down on the biggest concerns that chaffed many a player 20 years ago. Some little niggles remain, but one could argue they add to the charm of it all.

All-in-all, I would recommend The Thousand Year Door to any fan of Mario or RPGs, and doubly so for fans of both. I waited patiently for months after the remake's reveal to get my hands on the game once again, and it definitely did not disappoint. Call it nostalgia or whatever, but in the eyes of one reviewer, this is a can't-miss title for users of the Nintendo Switch!

Bonus Gallery

I took a lot of screenshots - well over 100, in fact - so if you didn't get your fill and would like to see more, then look no further. But you've been warned: within there be spoilers!

Are you interested in picking up the remake for Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door? Ever play the original? Do you think the new version justifies its existence? Let us know in the comments below!