Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door surprised me when I first picked it up. I remembered how much I loved the original game, but was unsure if Nintendo and Intelligent Systems could pull the same effect off again. I bought the game, got home, and put the disc in the Gamecube. The title screen was welcoming enough. There was a host of colorful characters, with Mario in the center. "Here we go," I thought to myself.
Sure enough, Paper Mario immediately delivered. As is par with most Mario games, Princess Peach has gone missing, and it's up to Mario to find her. Mario immediately heads to Rogueport, a mischievous town with a reputation to match where Peach was last seen. The game's wittiness begins almost immediately. In the span of just a few minutes, the game is set up when we learn of seven legendary "Crystal Stars" scattered around the Kingdom.
The battling is slightly different from the original, too. The system is made up of the same basic principles as the first game, but instead of it just taking place on the land, Paper Mario 2 stresses the "play" part of the game by setting it up on a stage. Each environment you travel in has its own unique backdrops for the stage. Probably one of the most interesting features, though, is the audience. When you begin the game, you only have a few people in the audience, but as you progress, you get as many as 50 people to fill the seats. They interact with you, too. If you lose a battle or flee, a few members will leave. If you do well in a battle, a few come in. Boss battles can even fill the room! The audience can also throw you helpful items, or, in the worst case, throw rocks and heavy objects that do damage if you don't catch them in time
Unfortunately, Paper Mario 2 does have just a few shortcomings. Often times the battles will get very repetitive. Once you know how you should beat a certain type of enemy, the challenge is removed from fighting them. Also, there is a lot of travelling back and forth and back and forth from place to place, which seems to detract from the gameplay and gets me more frustrated than anything.
All the same, Paper Mario 2 delivers for young and old alike. While I may understand some more of the humor than littler ones, they can still get a kick out of the cartoon-like graphics and sound effects. For any Mario or RPG fan with a Gamecube, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a must-have.