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Welcome Back, Mario
This latest rendition of the Paper Mario games, The Thousand-Year Door is another hit for fans of the tough little plumber. Mario is off once more to save the princess, pick up some rewards, and make some new friends along the way. If you haven't experienced a Paper Mario game before, this is definitely one to check out. But what specifically makes this a worthy title? Lets take a look at what this fun game has to offer.
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Paper Mario's Story
Not just satisfied to play around in the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario is off to Rogueport to save his bonnie lass...er, princess. This is where the storyline of the game begins, and it continues to be interesting throughout the entire thing. Fans of the Mario genre will find new and interesting things - and there's obviously a lot of fans, given the number of Mario games out there. But even if you're new to the Paper Mario type of game, you'll still get a kick out of where this game will take Mario to. He has to seek out these seven stars - powerful artifacts actually - and all of them are hidden in different areas of the gameworld. The characters in this game are all recognizable, and yet they all display normal - or abnormal, depending on your perspective - lives that they walk around working their way through. If you pay attention, you'll easily get enraptured by the depth of the storyline here. One thing to note - this game is huge. You will be hard pressed to finish this title in less than 30 hours, unless you are really rushing through and intentionally skipping anything possible - which would really be a waste of a good gaming adventure.
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Folding The Paper Mario Plane
Paper Mario - for those who have never experienced it - offers some unique and interesting gameplay elements. The gameworld in The Thousand-Year Door plays off this idea throughout. Mario is learns how to use his "paper-like" abilities at various points for things like fitting through a grate or becoming a paper Mario airplane. Even wind is used to good effect in a manner that follows along with the idea of a 'Paper Mario'. Not every use for Mario's new abilities is exactly obvious either, which allows for the player to explore the environment and find all those hidden rewards that we've become accustomed to in Mario games. The whole idea is very unique and interesting for those new to it, and even if you've played a Paper Mario title before, you'll still enjoy the way it's implemented here.
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Fighting In A Mario World
Combat deserves special mention here, because its a bit different than one would expect for an RPG. Unlike most RPGs, you don't just get battles randomly as you walk around. You'll generally be able to spot an enemy way before you get to them, and then its a matter of timing to see if you get the first hit. Once combat begins - a turn-based affair - Mario and a friend (you only get one at a time) can give their best to take out the enemy. Its pretty much a matter of timing to be truly effective in combat, rather than just a simple button or combination of buttons pressed together. Using defenses also requires a bit of careful timing. With a little practice however, Mario can defend against attacks easily enough. One other funny part is that combat takes place on a stage - literally. There's an actual audience sitting in a theater of sorts, watching as Mario either gets slapped around or defeats his enemy. This is an interactive audience as well, that will either help you perform special moves or possibly throw things at Mario or his foe. While the "audience" aspect is apparent throughout the game, combat is definitely where you get to see the audience you're "performing" for. Its a really unique and neat touch.
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A Mario Ditty
If you've never played a Mario game before - I know, I speak heresy here - then you'll have to understand that sounds and music are meant to be lighthearted and fun. Even the spooky parts of the game, while definitely designed to put you into the mood of the game, aren't really that dark. But this is really what most people expect from a Mario game, and this particular one does not abandon a tried-and-true formula for drawing you into the world of Mario. The theme music for each character or area is appropriate, the sounds of combat is what one would expect. Its done well, it fits the style of the game, and its good enough.
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What A Looker
Mario's looks have changed a bit over the years, or at least the way he is rendered. In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the images are very cartoony. But this isn't really a detraction, as Mario has always been somewhat cartoony anyway. What's interesting however, is that the images look like they really are made of paper, continuing the theme of the game. In the same manner that the music, storyline, and gameplay follow a theme, the visuals also contribute to this whole idea in a grand way. Despite the fact that it looks like this however, it really is a game that will blow you away visually. Its not exciting, but it is well drawn and all of the elements on-screen work well together. It could even be said that this game is one of the few that really shows off the abilities of the Gamecube in an appropriate way.
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Now Get Yer Paper Mario On
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a must-have title. Whether you're a fan of Mario games or not, this title has a lot of good things to offer. The storyline is engaging, the gameplay is fun, and everything throughout falls into line with one central theme. The music, sounds, and visuals are well done, and combat - although slightly tricky with the timing - is enjoyable and challenging enough. Finally, this is one title that will keep you playing long after many RPGs have ended. If you haven't played a Paper Mario game in the past, you're really enjoy the uniqueness of this game. And if you have, you'll still see new fun around every corner. Pick up your copy today; it truly is a worthwhile gaming experience.
A collection of articles about Paper Mario.