Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (Switch) Review: Another Door Opens

Our review of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, developed by Nintendo. Available now for Nintendo Switch.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (Switch) Review: Another Door Opens


A twentieth anniversary remake of a semi-forgotten GameCube classic.


It’s the best way to play one of the best non-platformer Mario titles.


Parappa the Rapper.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (Switch) Review: Another Door Opens


You’ve got your Golfs and your Karts, your Parties and your Paints. You’ve even got, if you’re so inclined, some Mansions and Showtime!s to play around in.

But of all the various and sundry Mario spin-offs over the decades, there has been none so offbeat as the Paper Mario titles. The original, released in 2000 on the Nintendo 64, was a surprise hit, borrowing elements from both the main Mario run-and-jumps and the Square-developed Super Mario RPG, to tell its own, wholly unique story. Combining role-playing games, puzzlers, and adventure titles, Paper Mario charted a new path for Mario, one that continues to surprise and delight players to this day.

With its paper cut-out aesthetic, Paper Mario was also startlingly beautiful to look at, and, it must be noted, very funny, with a cheeky sense of humour about itself. Four sequels followed – I’m partial to the underappreciated Wii title Super Paper Mario (2007) – but consensus is that the best of the bunch remains 2004 GameCube title Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.

Which, hey, is the reason we’re here today. Thanks to a lovingly realized remaster with all the bells and whistles – and quality-of-life improvements – you could hope for, this brand-new Switch remake is the best version of the best game in this cult classic series.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (Switch) Review: Another Door Opens


Paper Mario has always been about reinvention, each new game spinning off in wildly new directions, even as the cartoonish aesthetic and RPG backbone remain.

With The Thousand-Year Door, the series is at its peak Action-RPG form, centering the action around a new rhythm/timing-based mechanic which improves upon the more traditional turn-based combat of its predecessor. (After TTYD, the series would stray further and further from its RPG roots, morphing into more of an action-adventure title.) This time out, Mario and some occasionally playable allies take on the new threat of the X-Nauts, alien invaders who have – wait for it – kidnapped Princess Peach.

TTYD is infused with this series’ trademark self-aware humour, with self-deprecating jokes at the expense of familiar Mushroom Kingdom characters, and a willingness to poke fun at the trappings of gaming itself. While the story it tells is a compelling one, the game’s winks and chuckles make it clear that these are decidedly lower stakes than, say, the fate of the galaxy.

TTYD‘s remake does all the right things: it’s easier to collect and carry around items thanks to an expanded inventory; there’s an improved fast travel system to take you from one area to another; you can switch between the original and remastered soundtracks more or less on the fly. TTYD looks and sounds better than it ever did back on our CRTs, and that’s exactly what this type of remake deserves. While the game is structurally largely the same, there are some new additions, tweaks, and at least a couple secret bosses to make this distinct enough from the original.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (Switch) Review: Another Door Opens


After so many decades of explosions and epic dramas and everything else, sometimes you just need a healthy dose of high-concept, low-stakes fun. Paper Mario: TTYD is brilliant in that way: deceptively simple on paper, only a few minutes with TTYD shows that this game – and series – offers more than just a simplistic journey from point A to point B.

At some 30+ hours of playtime, it’s also a far meatier adventure than one might expect, encouraging players to explore its every corner, follow through on every (generally hilarious) NPC conversation, and complete its many puzzles.

A delight from top to bottom, it’s easily the best Mario game this year, and one of the finest RPGs on the Switch.

Final score: 9/10 origami mushrooms.

Visit the official website for Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door here.