Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door review for Nintendo Switch

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Medium: Digital/Cartridge
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E

I feel like it’s committing heresy to say this, but: I felt a little bored playing Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door on the Switch.

I know, admitting that has probably made plenty of people give up on this review entirely. The game, after all, is beloved by millions who have fond memories of playing the original version back when it first came out on the GameCube twenty years ago. If anything, the game’s legend has only grown since then, as those same people have found themselves disappointed by subsequent entries in the series. But if I’m being totally honest, there were times when the game felt more like a chore than anything else.

In my defence, I can even name the specific times when it felt that way, so I’m not just complaining and leaving it at that. The boredom was strongest whenever I was sitting through a cutscene, or whenever I got dragged into a battle – which, combined, make up a pretty big chunk of the game.

What bored me about them? In the case of the cutscenes, it was because the dialogue always seemed to drag on forever, and there was no way of speeding it up. It’s strange that for all the quality of life improvements that were made to The Thousand-Year Door, none of them had anything to do with making the cutscenes move a little more quickly. While the characters are undoubtedly charming, it got to a point where my attention drifted any time a cutscene was triggered. Particularly in the early going, this is because the game has a tendency to overexplain everything, so that even if something is perfectly obvious, you’ll still have to spend a few minutes listening to an overly detailed explanation.

This is unfortunate, since The Thousand-Year door has a very fun cast. While there are plenty of appearances from Mario stand-bys, there are also quite a few characters unique to the game, which means you get a wider array of interactions than you might usually see. There are also plenty of jokes, giving the game a looser feel than you might otherwise expect. (Not that Mario is ever super serious or dark, but the humour feels more prevalent here than in your usual Mario game.)

The other issue is the combat. It just feels clunky and dragged out and repetitive. If I compare the action here to, say, Super Mario RPG, the older game wins out because the attacks there feel a lot more impactful. In Paper Mario, you spend an inordinate amount of time with attacks that only take out a few opponent health points at a time, which makes the battles feel much more drawn out – even if the overall time spent fighting is the same, only knocking a point or two off your enemy’s health with every attack always feels disheartening.

Don’t get me wrong, I can see why people love this game. On top of the off-beat characters (not to mention the game’s world, which seems a little grittier than you usually see in the Mushroom Kingdom), the game allows for a fair amount of customization in how you approach battles. Not only can you play around with Mario’s party (pun not intended) by swapping different characters with different abilities in and out, you can also collect and add all kinds of different badges. With all that customization, you can approach different battles in a multitude of different ways.

But personally, it didn’t quite add up for me. I have no doubt that if you loved Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door the first time around there’s nothing here that will detract from your memories – and if you’re looking to check the game out for the first time, it’s probably aged better than most of its contemporaries, the occasionally slow pacing aside. But throughout my time with Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, I found my attention wandering and my interest waning far too much to be able to say I have the same amount of love for it as others do.

Nintendo provided us with a Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Switch code for review purposes.

Score: 7.5

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Price: $57.50

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