Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, released in Japan as Paper Mario RPG, is a console role-playing game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo GameCube. The Thousand-Year Door is the fourth game in the Mario RPG series and the second in the Paper Mario series.

The Thousand-Year Door borrows many gameplay elements from its predecessor, the Nintendo 64 game Paper Mario. These elements include a turn-based battle system with an emphasis on action as well as a paper-themed universe.[1] For the majority of the game the player controls Mario, although Bowser and Princess Peach are playable at certain points.[2] The plot follows Mario's quest as he tries to retrieve the seven Crystal Stars and rescue Peach from the X-Nauts, an alien species introduced in The Thousand-Year Door.

The game was well received by critics, with an average score of 88 percent from Game Rankings.[3] In general, critics praised the game's engaging plot and gameplay, but criticised it for not being a big progression from its predecessor. The Thousand-Year Door won the "Role Playing Game of the Year" award at the 2005 Interactive Achievement Awards.[4]



The Thousand-Year Door has some unique elements owing to its visual style. The graphics consist of a mixture of three-dimensional environments and two-dimensional characters who look as if they are made of paper.[2] At different points in the game, Mario is "cursed" with abilities that enable special moves in the overworld, all of which are based on the paper theme. Mario can fold into a boat or a paper airplane by standing on a special activation panel, and roll up into a scroll of paper or become paper-thin.[1] The game's environments also follow this theme; for example, illusory objects that conceal secret items or switches can be blown away by a gust of wind due to the environment's paper-like qualities. In certain parts of the game, the player controls Bowser in multiple side-scrolling levels based on Super Mario Bros.. Additionally, the player controls Peach in the X-Naut Fortress at the completion of most game chapters.[2]

Battles in The Thousand-Year Door borrow elements from the original Paper Mario and Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.[5] The turn-based system, in which players select an attack, defence, or item from a menu, is augmented by timed button presses that can result in substantial attack or defence bonuses when performed correctly.[6] A similar system was also used in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga.[7] In The Thousand-Year Door, each of Mario's party members now have their own Heart Points (HP) and may receive any attack that Mario can receive. When a partner's Heart Points are reduced to zero, the partner becomes inactive for the rest of that battle and later battles until recovery. If Mario's Heart Points are reduced to zero, however, the game ends.[6] Flower Points—which are required for special moves—are shared among Mario and his party members. Defeating enemies awards various numbers of Star Points to Mario; for every 100 Star Points, Mario is able to level up,[1] choosing between three statistical character enhancements. The battles take place on a stage in front of an audience; if the player performs well in a battle, the audience can assist Mario by replenishing star points, throwing helpful items on-stage, or inflicting damage on the opponent.[2] Conversely, the audience may throw damage-causing items at the player or leave if the player performs poorly in a battle.

Outside of battle, the game contains some strong console role-playing game traditions. For example, Mario's strength is determined by multiple statistical fields and status-boosting items that can be used in and outside of combat. The effects of these items range from healing Mario or his partner to damaging the opponent.[8] Mario can also purchase badges from non-player characters or occasionally obtain them from defeated enemies; when equipped, these badges can permanently enhance a particular skill or aspect.[9] Throughout the game, Mario is permanently assisted by a party member. Each party member has a specialised skill, some of which are required to solve puzzles to advance progression in the game. More party members are gained as the player advances through the game.

Plot and settingEdit

The Thousand-Year Door is set in a paper-based version of the Mushroom Kingdom,[10] although the majority of locations are not featured in previous Mario games. Most locations consist of a set theme; Glitzville, for example, is a floating city centred around a wrestling arena.[11] The enemies and town inhabitants in the game range from recurring Mario characters, like Boo, to characters exclusive to the game, such as the X-Nauts. For many stages in the game, the story is presented in the context of a novel, and is divided into eight chapters.[12]


The Thousand-Year Door contains several characters, the majority of whom are not playable. Progression in the game is sometimes dependent on interaction with non-player characters, although many are used in the game's various subquests.[11] In particular, the Goomba Professor Frankly, who knows the most about the mysteries relating to Rogueport, must be visited every time Mario retrieves a Crystal Star. The game continues the tradition of Paper Mario, in which Mario can be accompanied by one assistant character at a set time.[8] There are seven party members in total: Goombella the Goomba, Koops the Koopa, Madame Flurrie, Yoshi (can be renamed), Vivian, Admiral Bobbery the Bob-omb, and Ms. Mowz, who is available as a secret character.[13] All of these can assist Mario in combatting the game's primary antagonist, Sir Grodus, leader of the extraterrestrials known as the X-Nauts.

Mario is the main character of The Thousand-Year Door, although the game will frequently cut to Princess Peach in the X-Naut Fortress. Much time is spent on her interaction with the computer TEC, which has suffered from a glitch and has fallen in love with Peach.[14] The main antagonist of the Mario series, Bowser, tries to collect the Crystal Stars before Mario does instead of directly opposing Mario.[1] Luigi's role in the game consists of recounting his adventure, which also involves the use of secondary characters in the form of party members.



The game opens with an introduction about a seaside town which was damaged by a cataclysm and consequently sunk into the depths of the earth. A town named Rogueport was later built at this site, with the fortunes of the lost kingdom fabled to exist behind the eponymous Thousand-Year Door,[15] located in the ruins of the old town. Mario becomes involved when Princess Peach contacts him about a treasure map bought in Rogueport, but becomes part of a larger adventure when learning that Peach has gone missing.[10] With the help of Goombella and Professor Frankly, Mario learns that the map can potentially reveal the location of the legendary seven Crystal Stars.[12] Under the assumption that Peach herself is trying to find the stars, he uses the map in an attempt to locate her.

In actuality, Peach has been kidnapped by the X-Nauts, a species of alien led by Sir Grodus. While held captive, Peach uses e-mail via the computer TEC to inform Mario about the quest and consequently help him to attain all seven Crystal Stars and locate the treasure.[14] However, the "treasure" is actually the Shadow Queen, the demon responsible for the ancient cataclysm. The X-Nauts had kept Peach so she could be possessed by the Shadow Queen in a bid to recover her full power. This happens, but the arcane power of the Crystal Stars is used to separate Peach from her possessor. The game ends when Mario defeats the Shadow Queen and subsequently returns to his house.[16]

Development and sequelEdit

Nintendo first revealed The Thousand-Year Door at the Game Developers Conference of 2003;[17] before release, the game was known tentatively as Mario Story 2 in Japan, and was revealed to be a direct sequel to the Nintendo 64 game Paper Mario.[18] A preview of the game was available at the E3 of 2004 with the playable stages including Hooktail Castle and a Bowser bonus stage.[19] The game was released on October 11, 2004 in North America.[17] The Thousand-Year Door was met with controversy in 2008 after Morgan Creek filed a lawsuit against Nintendo alleging that they illegally used the song "You're So Cool" from the film True Romance in an advertisement for the game. Morgan Creek dropped the case six days later, after Nintendo revealed that the advertising agency, Leo Burnett USA, Inc., had licensing for the song.[20] A sequel to the game, Super Paper Mario, was developed by Intelligent Systems and released for the Wii in 2007. The game has a stronger emphasis on platforming than its predecessor. Super Paper Mario's plot is unrelated to the story of The Thousand-Year Door, but contains many easter eggs referencing past characters from the previous two games.


Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door was critically lauded by the media.[3] Critics praised the game's plot in particular, and GameSpot's Greg Kasavin stated that "each one provides a thrill of discovery" when referring to the game's individual chapters.[1] Similarly, Eurogamer welcomed the whimsical storyline in comparison to traditional role-playing games, commenting that "[it is] something closer to Finding Nemo than Final Fantasy, which is very much a compliment."[21] The game's characters were also well received, with reviewers complimenting the use of NPCs and text.[2] Despite this, some reviewers did complain that the story developed slowly in the beginning stages of the game.[22][2] Eurogamer also rated the high level of text as "the only major stumbling block" of the game.[21]

One of The Thousand-Year Door's main features, the use of a paper-based universe, was welcomed by reviewers.[1][21] When referring to the paper theme, 1UP commented that "It's a cohesive, clever approach that turns the game's visual style into more than just a look".[23] Despite this, IGN's Peer Schneider criticised the paper themed universe for not truly looking like paper, especially with the graphical capabilities of the GameCube.[2] Critics also commented extensively on the game's battle system, which deviated from traditional RPGs.[1][21] GameSpy praised the use of timing in the battle system, stating that "these twitch elements were designed to be fun and engaging, and they succeed wonderfully at this".[24] Reviewers also praised the concept of having an audience to reward or berate Mario during battle.[1][21]

The game's visuals received a mixed response from critics. GameSpot enjoyed the game's presentation, writing that "it exhibits a level of visual artistry and technical prowess matched or exceeded by few other GameCube games".[1] Conversely, other reviewers complained that the graphics were not much of a visual upgrade from its predecessor, Paper Mario.[2] For the game's use of audio, IGN declared it "game music at its purest", but proceeded to question the absence of voice acting in the text based game.[2] RPGamer commented that the music "for the most part is done very well", but that the perceived repetitive battle music was "one of the biggest flaws" of the game.[22] The game won "Role Playing Game of the Year" at the 2005 Interactive Achievement Awards.[4] The game was ranked 56th in Official Nintendo Magazine's "100 Greatest Nintendo Games" feature.[25]

In its first week of release in Japan, The Thousand-Year Door was the best-selling game, with approximately 159,000 units sold.[26] It proceeded to sell 409,000 units in the country,[27] and 1.23 million copies in North America.[28] The game has since been included in the Player's Choice line.[29]


  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Gamespot_review
  2. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named IGN_review
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Thousand-Year_Door_media_rankings
  4. 4.0 4.1 "8th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  5. Cole, Michael (2004-10-24). "GC review: Paper Mario: the Thousand-Year Door". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Clayman. "Game guide for Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door p. 2". 
  7. Sulpher, Brian P. "Mario & Lugi: Superstar Saga Guide". IGN. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Clayman. "Game guide for Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door p. 5". 
  9. Clayman. "Game guide for Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door p. 7". 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door instruction booklet. p. 4. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Clayman. "Game guide for Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door p. 12". 
  12. 12.0 12.1 Clayman. "Game guide for Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door p. 6". 
  13. "Cheats for Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (GameCube)". Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 Iwasaki, Koji (2005-05-01). "RPGFan Reviews — Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door". RPGFan. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  15. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door instruction booklet. p. 5. 
  16. Clayman. "Game guide for Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door p. 17". 
  17. 17.0 17.1 "GC 2003: Paper Mario on paper". IGN. 2003-08-21. Retrieved 2008-02-17. 
  18. "Paper Mario 2 Official". IGN. 2004-03-31. Retrieved 2008-02-17. 
  19. "Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Preview". IGN. 2004-05-14. Retrieved 2008-02-17. 
  20. Sinclair, Brendan (2008-06-26). "Paper Mario suit turns out Paper Thin". GameSpot. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  21. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Eurogamer_review
  22. 22.0 22.1 Whitehead, Anne Marie. "RPGamer: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Review". RPGamer. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  23. Parish, Jeremy (2004-10-11). "Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Review". Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  24. Lopez, Miguel (2004-10-07). "GameSpy: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Review". GameSpy. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  25. "60-41 ONM". ONM. 2009-02-23. Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  26. "'Paper Mario 2 Dominates charts'". IGN. 2004-08-02. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  27. "Japan GameCube charts". Japan Game Charts. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  28. "US Platinum Videogame Chart". The Magic Box. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  29. "Four Nintendo GameCube Best Sellers Sport a New Price!". Nintendo. 2006-04-24. Archived from the original on January 17, 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 

External linksEdit