Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has been held as the standard for Mario RPGs for 20 years. It, alongside its N64 predecessor, captured what fans wanted from their turn-based, plumber-starring adventures – silly humour, epic adventures, fantastic combat, and charm. Purists often view the GameCube original as the end of the 'true' Paper Mario style – a little bit unfair, perhaps, when Super Paper Mario and The Origami King are both great, if undeniably different from that original formula.

It should be no surprise that the Switch remake of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door was celebrated upon its announcement. Even if you like other Paper Mario titles, it’s hard to argue that Thousand-Year Door wasn't a high point for the plumber, not just in the RPG space but in Mario’s wider canon. Two decades later, that still holds true, and now the best Mario RPG is finally more accessible.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

What sets Thousand-Year Door apart from other Mario-starring RPGs is, well, everything. It expands on what the first Paper Mario did in every single way, giving you more options in combat, a much grander story where each chapter is connected to the larger narrative, and a bigger world to explore. Rogueport alone is one of the best hub towns in any game we’ve ever played: teeming with seedy individuals and packed full of lore and history that the game fully explores. Thousand-Year Door also feels and plays like an excellent RPG, with wrinkles appropriate for a Mario game, like dogeared walls waiting to be torn, hidden pipes waiting to be unfolded, and playable Peach and Bowser sections that add to the charm and humour.

The story is unchanged from the original GameCube version, besides a refreshed, revamped localisation. Things start when Mario receives a treasure map from Princess Peach, who is visiting the shady town of Rogueport. Mario follows the map only to find that Peach has gone missing. Thus, he stumbles into the myths of Rogueport, the titular Thousand-Year Door, and a dangerous adventure to collect the Crystal Stars that will span the world.

Thousand-Year Door is packed full of twists and turns, and there’s a real mix of spectacle and silliness throughout. From Hooktail’s grand entrance at the top of the game’s first dungeon to the hilarious ‘whodunnit’ on the Excess Express, it's bursting with personality. What other Mario game has a Pianta mafia who runs a casino? Or a flirtatious mouse thief who is willing to get a bit cheeky with Mario? Perhaps the silliest, and best, example of the writing involves Luigi, who is on his own little adventure. We insist you talk to him every time you see him; you won’t regret it.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

The real star of Thousand-Year Door has always been the combat, and thankfully, the gameplay is the same here as it was on GameCube. Mario and one of his partner characters will take to a literal stage to fight enemies in turn-based combat. Using timing-based mechanics, you can do more damage, defend from damage, or counterattack with a superguard. It builds on the basics laid by Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario, giving you more tools, enemy variety, and partner versatility. Badges also return, some of which give Mario new attacks like Power Hammer or Multibounce, while others can boost his health, Flower Points (magic), or stats. Mario feels endlessly customisable, and you can go to town and experiment with the playstyle you want.

You also need to play to the crowd by using the Appeal command, landing perfect hits, and sometimes even adding an extra flourish mid-attack to wow onlookers, all to generate more Star Power to use Specials. The crowd can throw helpful healing items at you, although at other times the X-Nauts or some of Bowser’s minions can throw rocks, and you can eject them from the audience. Other times, they’ll invade the stage and drop items on either you or your enemy. It's simple, but every single battle is incredibly fun.

Each partner character has their strengths and weaknesses they bring to the table, too. Goombella, the sassy university student, is a solid offensive and defensive option who can tell you an enemy’s weaknesses or attack for multiple hits. Everyone loves Yoshi, but how about a newly hatched baby Yoshi that dons a mohawk and tons of attitude to go with it? Physically, he might be the best character in the game, with fun button-based commands that make him a powerhouse.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

These are some of the best Mario characters ever — some are just outright funny, while others have sob-worthy stories. But we want to focus on Vivian, a fan-favourite and member of the Three Shadows who eventually joins Mario. We adored her in the original, and she’s just as great here, with fantastic battle prowess and a heartwarming story arc, made all the better by the updated localisation. In Japanese and several other languages, Vivian was always a transgender woman, but in the original English script, this was omitted. Now, in English, Vivian talks about accepting her true identity – specifically, her gender. It’s just one or two scenes, but it’s a pivotal moment that should have always been there, and we’re glad it was 'restored' for the Switch version.

The characters are great, but so is the world, and the beautiful new visuals, redone for the Switch version, really help bring areas like Boggly Woods and Pirate’s Cove to life. Even at 30fps, this is a beautiful – and smooth – game, and we only experienced frame drops once or twice, when there were many characters on screen during cutscenes. There’s also a completely rearranged soundtrack, which takes a leaf out of The Origami King’s book, and now every single location provides a unique twist on the main battle theme — Glitzville gives you a rock-heavy rendition, while Hooktail's Castle delivers something a bit more sinister. Rogueport even has multiple variations of its theme, with a sea shanty at the port or a jig inside the inn. We cannot praise the new music enough, and it breathes fresh life into the adventure.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

The locations are a bit smaller than those in the N64 original, but one of the biggest criticisms of Thousand-Year Door was the amount of backtracking required. This is still a small issue in some places, like Chapter 2, but in other instances – such as Chapters 4 and 5 – a new warp pipe has been added to the Creepy Steeple and a spring on Keelhaul Key to ease the process. Along with the revamped warp pipe hub in Rogueport Sewers, these help out just a tad.

Ironing out the creases is the name of the game with all of the Switch version's additions. Mario's partners come with overworld skills – Koops, the shy Koopa, can hit switches and grab items from a distance, while Admiral Bobbery can be thrown forward and blow up walls with cracks in them. These skills are required to progress and uncover secrets, but previously, you had to pop into the menu to swap these characters around. Now, you can access the Partner Wheel to flip between partners at the drop of a hat. It saves one or two clicks, but it also just helps make exploration much smoother.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

There are lots of small things like this throughout. The new hint system helps you figure out what to do next. Separately, when taking on Trouble Center requests, Ian Foomus (a new NPC) can give advice on how to complete that request. If you die during a boss fight, you’ll have the opportunity to start again from the boss room and skip the cutscenes – and this works for that infamously long final boss, too. Other things that have been added or tweaked include a couple of new save blocks throughout the game, a slightly bigger inventory, and an unlockable art and sound gallery.

However, our biggest gripe remains the Trouble Center. This is Thousand-Year Door's way of handling sidequests, and they gradually unlock as you progress through the game. The problem is that you can only take on one of these at a time, and you have to return to the Center in Rogueport to pick up another quest. This felt like an obvious fix to us, particularly as you have a journal where Mario stores hints for the collectible Shine Sprites or Star Pieces. It’s a minor blemish, however, particularly given the newer backtracking system.

If there’s anything else we’re slightly disappointed with, it’s the lack of new content. The Super Mario RPG remake from last year certainly didn’t add a ton, but it added just enough – and made it more challenging. We can’t go into specifics, but players returning to TTYD for the first time in years might be a bit let down, despite everything else this remake does so right.


For 20 years, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has been held as the best Mario RPG of all time, and the Switch remake proves it has earned that title. This is a fantastic RPG adventure, whether you’re a Mario fan or not, with some best-in-class combat, brilliant writing, and a few little creases ironed out to make this the definitive way to play Thousand-Year Door. We wish there was a little more to do post-credits, but there’s no doubt about it, this is a beautiful-looking Switch remake and a must-play RPG.