Games: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door re-folds origami-inspired Nintendo favourite for modern gamers

Neil evaluates the papercraft-inspired charms of this re-heated RPG favourite from the days of the GameCube

Paper Mario
Mario is back in another re-heated Nintendo adventure, this time in origami form

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (Switch, Nintendo)

THE Switch has had a remarkably good innings. Boasting the healthiest life span of any console in the modern era, it’ll be nearly eight years old by the time its successor hits the market next year.

And, while the blockbusters may be drying up, the nine-and-a-half-incher is standing proud in its final year, with the last true Mario game to grace its screen a remake of a 20 year old role-playing triumph that, for fans, is the series high point.

With a refreshingly un-Mario-like script, Thousand Year Door is one of Nintendo’s funniest games. When full-time damsel in distress Peach is snatched (“I can’t believe I’m kidnapped again!”) by the villainous X-Nauts, it’s up to our favourite plumber to rescue the princess and find Crystal Stars in an irreverent, tongue-in-cheek satire with plenty of fourth wall-breaking.

First released in 2004 on GameCube, the second game in the Paper Mario series mixes classic Mario magic with papercraft visuals for a weird and wonderful origami adventure where Nintendo’s poster boy is poster-thin, folding himself into paper planes and boats to reach new areas – from a high-tech moon fortress to the psychedelic Boggly Wood.

Its central town of Rogueport opens up new paper trails as you unlock fresh abilities: across a 30-hour adventure, Mario will help a gangster capture his runaway daughter, deliver an old sea pilot his dead lover’s final message or even dish out the pain as an unlikely wrestling star.

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Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

But, if the original’s incessant backtracking has been trimmed, there’s still much trudging through previously exhausted areas on wild goose chases.

On top of the usual block-breaking, side-scrolling action, gamers must engage in combat, with encounters taking place on a theatre stage complete with baying crowds. Being Nintendo, its turn-based tussles feature a few twists, like hitting buttons at the right time to maximise damage. Stage lights and scenery can squash fighters, and while Mario’s special moves are fuelled by cheers, disgruntled punters will chuck projectiles at our hero.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Nintendo has ransacked the Switch’s power for a lavish remake, and the original’s paper look has been turned from pound shop-grade bumwipe to fancy three-ply luxury with charm in every sheet. Lighting improvements and a reworked score ensure this is the best looking – and sounding – Paper Mario, though the upgrade comes at a hefty frame rate cost, with the original GameCube’s 60fps dropping to a measly 30fps on Switch.

Twenty years after its original release, Thousand Year Door remains the definitive Mario RPG. It may be nostalgia exploitation, but our plumber’s swansong for the popular portable is a paper quest of the finest stock - and who better to dig the Switch’s grave than Nintendo’s heaviest hitter?

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door