Paper Mario: the Thousand Year Door
Date: Sunday, June 07 @ 16:16:58 EDT
Topic: RPG Reviews
WTF, a review of a Gamecube title on VGS? And a Mario game to boot, call the asylum and bring on the straitjacket! OK, this is a Mario game, but it is no platformer for little kids. It is way too complex for little kids and contains no silly jumping puzzles. It is actually a full fledged RPG with stats, a party, XP, magic, augmentation cannisters, you name it (only the terminology is different in this game: I translated it into PC-gamian). It has turn based combat that requires a bit of strategy and is actually great fun to play. And yes, it is a Gamecube title so only 5 people in the world actually played it, but Gamecubes are really cheap second hand now, and this game alone is more than worth buying a Gamecube for.
Graphics: THE GRAPHICS OF THIS TITLE PUT CRYSIS' GRAPHICS TO SHAME! OK, I might have exaggerated that just a little bit but the graphics are fitting. Being a 2004 Gamecube title, the graphics are obviously not what we'd expect from PC titles of the same era (like HL2). So no mind blowing graphics or high res textures here. Instead, you get varied, colourful, stylish, cartoony and nice graphics. It's a pretty unique mix of 2D (basically everything in the game is made of paper, including Mario and all other personalities in the game) and 3D that does not really make any sense but allows for some unique and funny effects and fun gameplay. I know this is not the first Paper Mario game, but I found the paper world idea refreshing and original.
The cut-scenes are rendered by the in-game engine (SUISLIDE BEWARE, AVOID AT ANY COST), so they do look exactly like the game itself. For a game like this, that's not a bad thing at all. However, they probably figured the cut-scenes were so good that they should not be skippable. Well, the cut-scenes may be fun, but being required to watch them more than once is just as annoying as playing any modern Ubisoft game. Luckily this problem occurs not too often (only with boss fights actually).
Sound: the sound is OK I guess, just some generic Nintendo music / sounds. Mario is a sort of Gordon Freeman (without gravity gun, health suit, crowbar etc) in the sense that he does not speak. In fact, there is no voice acting in the game at all. You get speech bubbles for communication, and lots of it indeed (not as much as in Planescape Torment though). BTW not only Gordon is there, Alyx is there too, in Mario's party, only here she is called "Boombella" and looks a bit less hot: http://www.mariowiki.com/Goombella. There is also a guy in Mario's party who is actually the WORST SUICIDE BOMBER EVER. He drags (no need to run, since it is turn based combat, he's not stupid) himself to the opponents and then blows himself up, but somehow never actually manages to kill himself. Allah would disapprove of him!
Gameplay: This game has turn based combat that works really well. The combat is made interesting by requiring you to time your attacks and defense just right. If you do it right, you deal additional damage, get additional XP, etc. So no button mashing here. This game contains the most gruesome violence since Postal and Manhunt. Mario smashes heads with enormous hammers, stamps on heads repeatedly, and his party contains quite a few sicko's too (like the pathetic suicide bomber I just mentioned). So this game is not for the faint of heart. But there is no blood of course, so the message games like this convey to the kids is: it is OK to smash people's heads with huge hammers, as long as there is no blood.
Story: as in any Mario game (so I am told, this is my first and maybe last Mario game) Princess Peach has been kidnapped and Mario has to rescue her and in order to do so Mario has to defeat THE SCARIEST DEMON IN THE EXISTENCE OF GAMING in order to rescue the princess and save whatever world this game plays in. Even after the end boss has been defeated, there are still many hours to be wasted on additional quests in the trouble center, the pit of the 100 trials etc.
This is actually the only console game I have ever played for a longer period than 30 minutes. In the end I spent > 75 hours on this game, and loved it. If you like RPG's you should definitely give it a try if you can find a copy. I'll give it a 9/10.