Currently Playing: Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door (GameCube)

Paper Mario from the N64 was one of the few great games from console that was never really caught on in the Philippines because it was released in a console a few really had a chance to get a hold on. Even though, it was one of the best games out there if you have an N64. Paper Mario is basically a game that re-imagines the world of Mario… in paper, or in flat drawn objects. Anyway, will this game stand out from any RPG game out in the market? With so many RPG games out there, Mario is not a new comer in this genre. Nintendo did come out with great RPG games in the SNES, N64, GB and GBA which includes Mario & Zelda. It’s not surprising that they would continue the interesting visual style they made in Paper Mario.

The game starts out with Princess Peach roaming through Rogue Island; she meets a street vendor and gives her a box that contained a magical treasure map. She sends it through mail to Mario to help her find the treasure. Mario follows her; unfortunately Luigi has other chores to do so he couldn’t come. There you discover that the princess is unfortunately missing again. So you as Mario are now forced to find the treasure in the hopes in finding Princess Peach into safety. Then the adventure starts and the fun gets better.

The paper concept in Mario has been unique and hasn’t been imitated by any other game developer. It has this unique look gives the game the fresh looking experience it needs to keep you entertained through the game. It’s interesting to see that they really emphasized on keeping the paper concept. Mario and most of the characters in the game are plainly flat which could be seen if they turn around. Buildings fold like paper when you go in and out of them. Large characters have multiple folds like a paper toy. The game doesn’t have extreme special effects like in Crystal Chronicles where they did take advantage of the system hardware. Here they really kept the game from getting too fancy but keeping the games look and feel intact and nice to look at.

The game is an RPG game, where you have to travel around discover things on your own and develop from there. As with most RPG games, this game has lots of dialogue and I mean a lot. This game doesn’t have speech only cute sound effects so; you really have to keep on reading to understand the story and instructions of the game. If you’re not a reader, you’re eyes are going to be tired soon, but if you don’t read it, you’ll miss a lot of the great parts in the game since they have interesting comedy and characters that seems to be very memorable. Through out the game, you’ll be given a curse, which turns out to be more of an advantage like turning into a paper airplane or turning yourself flat or turning into a paper tube. These paper abilities make the game’s look and feel more fun to play. As most RPG games, you’ll discover places that you have to go back to each time you get a certain ability and try out if you’ll discover new locations.

Interestingly the game’s combat basically plays like a Final Fantasy game where you get a turn to do your moves. Mario has a selection of jump attacks, hammer attack, items and special. Other characters have pretty much the same options but no special menu. Badges which you get through out the game gives Mario more abilities like more special jumps and hammer attacks, badges also has more abilities that help you in combat and in more of Mario’s adventures. Timing really matters in this game because most of your moves from Mario and other characters require some timing on when to press this and that. It’s not really complicated because it’s always shown on the screen on what you need to do, which is pretty simple enough. The only thing that is not shown is the ability to time your jumping attack.

What’s interesting in the combat system is the need for an audience. In every battle, you are required to battle out on stage, at the start of the game, you usually have a few interested people watching, but it gets interesting when you get really good in battle. The more fans that you have in the game, you get more star power. Star powers give you special abilities which will be given to you as you discover more of the adventure. The audience reacts to your game too, if they don’t like you they’ll throw trash at you, but if they like you, they’ll through power ups for you to use. The audience reacts in real time so during a turn it doesn’t matter if it’s his or your turn, the audience may throw something at you, and you have to react as fast as possible when that happens. You can stop the person throwing the item or you can just do nothing and get the item which can be good or bad for you.

The game plays very well at a moderate level. It’s not really complicated to play the game since it teaches you along the way. This means you don’t have all the abilities at the start of the game. You have to gain them. At the start you’re only given certain moves which you could play the game properly, but as you get farther, you tend to discover more controls on how to play the game. The game is easy to control and gives you enough time to practice each new move so that you can get used to the controls better.

The music is really refreshing to hear, nice and simple, every location has its own theme, and even some of the characters have their own theme music. The tones are simple something I’d listen over and over, I can’t wait to get a copy of this soundtrack. The sound effects again are great and Mario’s voice is back too, which reminds me of the first time I ever heard of Mario from N64.

The game will remind you of what you need to do within the game. There are several ways to figure out what to do so that you won’t get lost. You can ask a fortune teller, he can give you clues on what to do. You could talk to people around the town, a few will eventually tell you or clue you in on what you’re objectives are. There’s also EMAIL, where you get email from people you’ve met in the game. There will be difficult times ahead but as most RPG’s are, take you’re time, don’t rush into things and you’ll get through it eventually. It’s not impossible.

There are also mini side quests in the game which can divert a little of your attention. This game is not like Fable where you are given several quests to build up, this is a story oriented game which doesn’t divert too much of it’s attention. You’ll be given small quest which some are easy some seem impossible, but give yourself time to build up and you’ll be able to easily finish the task in no time.

The story progresses quite nicely and this RPG is really story oriented while balancing a lot of fun game play. The battles are traditional but refreshing because of the real time element of the audience. Would I be playing it again after I’ve finished it? Not really since it’s a story oriented game, but the game is worth owning because of the unique look, style and fun game play for several hours to days.

Review by Edwin Francisco
2004-11-04

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