Tag Archives: Paper Mario

Aged Like Fine Tasty Tonic: 10th Anniversary of Paper Mario: the Thousand Year Door

I wanted to write this before the year was up but let’s talk about Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door.  Specifically, happy birthday to it!  It was released ten years ago on the Nintendo Gamecube and is by far one of the best games on the purple lunchbox.  After playing it again this year, I have to say that it has aged like Tasty Tonic indeed.

For the unenlightened, Thousand Year Door is a sequel to the RPG game, Paper Mario on the Nintendo 64.  Debuted in 2004, many of the original features of the game, such as partners, star special attacks, star pieces, and more have been retained if not enhanced.  Many new features were added as well including audience interaction and the ability to turn into a variety of paper-themed objects such as airplane, boat, and paper tube.

One of the main things people will talk about in this game is the humor.  TYD proves you can be funny without being crass.  Fourth-wall-breaking, slapstick, visual gags, and more makes TYD funnier than its prequel.  The game’s heavy use of humor does not distract the player from the overall story and can even enhance it such as the boss Doopliss.

It’s safe to say that with the improved humor comes improved characters.  Mario may be as flat (PUN) as ever but his partners have more depth in them compared to his N64 partners.  It’s almost tempting to reset certain scenes just so you could hear how your partners react to certain weird scenarios.  Intelligent Systems also made sure the partners didn’t become useless after their introductory chapters.  Because of the more complex puzzles, I was using them up until the end of the game.  I especially like Goombella who is far more useful to you than Goombario and more hilarious (especially when she’s telling male Goomba creeps to go stuff themselves).  It is truly sad when you say goodbye to them at the end of the game because they help make the game so memorable.

As a side note, it’s fun trying to get all the enemies in the game into her journal. GOTTA ANALYZE THEM ALL! Image from http://papermario.wikia.com/wiki/Goombella

Because of the cartoony (dare I say…papery?) design, the graphics have aged as well as the humor.  The animation runs fluidly even when a lot of enemies are on the screen.  This is especially nice when you are performing to an audience of a 100+ individuals.  The background models may betray the game’s age but the character animations themselves are pretty slick.

The story itself may at first seem just like the N64 version (i.e., collecting 7 powerful stars) but the few crucial differences make it stand out.  For one thing, Mario is not defeating Bowser and relinquishing his control on the Mushroom Kingdom.  In this game, Mario is fighting the X-Nauts for possession of the Crystal Stars in the land of Rogueport.  The Crystal Stars can be held by bosses who have no relationship with the X-Nauts and sometimes they are held by kind (albeit strange) characters!  This means that the story is not constrained to a formulaic plot and instead is more open to what it can do.  This is why we can get such memorable chapters like of Glitz and Glory, 3 Days of Excess, and especially For Pigs the Bells Toll.

I think of Glitz and Glory is my favorite chapter due to its setup as a gladiator setting but with a mysterious undertone.  It’s kind of cool how one chapter built up a lot of story just from talking to all the side and background characters.  The baby-Yoshi partner is also a nice especially how you can name him and get a variety of colors (I named mine “Tyson” cause I just watched Cosmos that week…).  The game’s intermissions can also be very entertaining as you control both Peach AND Bowser (as seen below)!

The game for the most part is relatively easy with a few challenging moments (especially the end boss) so you can get through it without having to stress out too much.  Grinding is actively discouraged as the amount of star points you get from an enemy goes down as you level up.  If you were looking to challenge yourself though you should try out the The Pit of 100 Trials.  This is by far the hardest part of the game as you have to go through 100 levels of enemies with no hopes up resting.  The last time I went through it I got up to about level 85 or something before I finally fainted.  I’m going to attempt it again but this time with more life shrooms.  I also recommend to equip the Happy Heart and Flower badges along with the Heart and Flower Finder badges as they can definitely aid you in the long run.

Thousand Year Door is one of the best sequels you can have for a game.  Not only does it retain the original premise and game mechanics from the prequel, but it enhances them and adds additional features as well.  If Paper Mario on the N64 was a 9 then the Gamecube version is a definite 10.  This game was fun to play 10 years ago and its just as fun now.

Paper Mario vs. Super Mario 64

The era of the Nintendo 64 would be remembered for a host of great games that are still enjoyable to this day.  From the very start, we were given one of the most revolutionary games of the time, Super Mario 64, released in 1996.  This game revolutionized 3d platforming and served as a basis for the future in 3d gaming.  Four years later, Paper Mario was released in 2000 and some have consider it the spiritual successor to Super Mario RPG.

Both of these games are considered to be “must-haves” in the N64 line up.  But which game is the best?  Which game is in general, more fun to play?

Considering that these two games occupy different genres, this question can be hard to answer.  SM64 is a platforming game.  It has a non-linear progression in the story and you don’t have to acquire all of the stars in order to fight Bowser. PM, on the other hand, is an RPG.  It has a strictly linear storyline and you are required to collect all seven stars before taking on Bowser.  Nonetheless, both of them are, at their heart, a Mario game.

Both of these games also rank high on the nostalgia meter for me.  If you were my age plus or minus a few years, it’s somewhat likely you played these games growing up at your house or at a friend’s house.  I remember the first time I played SM64 and was astonished by the colorful graphics, the music, the world, and of course, the flying.  Putting on the flying cap and soaring through the air was amazing and it was real treat to wear that cap.  PM was a different sort of nostalgia as I especially loved the humor, the art style, and again, the music.

However, to cut right to the chase, I think the better game in the series was PM.  PM has several things going for it that make it the better game.

The first reason why was the world of the game.  Though these games were on near equal footing, PM’s world felt realistic.   We saw it not as stages but as actual places where you can walk from the Goomba Village on one end of the world to the Koopa Village on the other.  True the SM64’s paintings and castle were very well fleshed out, but I found it a real treat to explore the Mushroom Kingdom and talk to its denizens.

paper mario map

Speaking of which, that’s the second thing PM has over SM64.  SM64 felt so lonely to me as you could only speak to a few characters (mainly toads).  PM had tons of characters with varying personalities, many of which weren’t just one-note characters that said the same thing over and over.  This becomes apparent after you defeat the boss of the chapter.  The characters express gratitude for saving them and they can later be involved in certain sidequests.  Your partners also had personality, especially Bow.

Finally, it wasn’t just the characters but the game itself that had personality.  Humor filled PM through dialogue, battles, and scenery.  The Koopa Bros and their Bowser Machine, the Crystal Palace and its kooky puzzles, and Bowser and his hopeless infatuation with Peach.  And when you combine this humor with the tight RPG system, you have an amazing Mario game.

Paper Mario, Crystal Palace, Kooper

This was an especially great moment in the game. Gotta love the Crystal Palace. Image from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Bl5hGsU54k

Regardless, SM64 still does things right that PM just couldn’t achieve.  The tight controls are amazing and lend itself incredibly well to the ample wall jumping and backflipping you do in that game.  The game is also a step more difficult than PM and thus when you acquire each of those 120 stars, you feel gratified in accomplishing a difficult or long winded feat.   The open world system that I mentioned before is also nice as you can pick and choose what stars you want to get instead of following a direct path.  Because of which, I have played this game more often than PM.  If I want to kill five or ten minutes of my time, I can turn on the game, play a random stage, get a star, and continue doing on other things.  Sometimes, I get the same star twice because they’re hella fun!  Especially the Boo Mansion and Bob-omb Battlefield stars.

But even so, PM is one of my favorite Mario games.  It was only topped by one other Mario game, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, which took everything that I liked about PM and made it one step better.  But my gushing for that game will be for another time.

Possible New Super Smash Bros Characters

With the new Nintendo Direct approaching soon, I thought I would offer my thought on possible characters that Nintendo might be introducing in the new Super Smash Bros games.  I’m already happy that one of my favorite characters, Little Mac, got in.  However, there are still other characters who I would like to see as well.  Who would be added to the roster as well?

Masahiro Sakurai, creator of SSB, has said when concerning characters “When we’re looking at candidates for new characters, we get a list of characters that people are interested in and we go through those with a fine tooth comb. The biggest feature we look at in Smash Bros is, what does this character bring to Smash Bros that other characters don’t?” (http://www.nowgamer.com/features/2034386/super_smash_bros_sakurai_speaks.html).  As such, here is my list of characters I think are very likely to be picked in the upcoming games based on SSB history and on what they would bring to the overall roster.  It’s entirely possible that NONE of these characters will be chosen, but I’m hoping at least one of them does.  I go from most likely to least likely, enjoy.

Mii

Mii:  The Mii character is perhaps the most likely character to be included in the new SSB game.  With the Mii available for both Wii U and 3DS, personalizing your fights has never been so easy.  Also, the Mii has already been used in the Mario Kart games so it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to include him in SSB as well.  His attacks could include tennis racket, golf club, baseball, and other wii sports and 3ds mini games that he has done.

Why it wouldn’t happen: the Villager is already the “everyman” type of character, do we really need a second similar character as well?

New Challenger Approaching?  Very Likely

Chrom_(FE13_Artwork)

Chrom:  Chrom is an obvious choice as well for the next SSB game.  Since Melee, we have had a Fire Emblem character that was featured in a recently made Fire Emblem game.  With Marth making a return as usual, it stands to reason that this time, the unique Fire Emblem character will be Chrom.

Why it wouldn’t happen: Another sword fighter will bring down the uniqueness of Chrom.  Chrom’s character needs to have a different approach to fighting with his sword if he wants to stay in.

New Challenger Approaching? Very likely

Tails

Tails: Tails is definitely a character that the new SSB game will benefit from.  Tails can be a combination of Sonic and Diddy Kong; light and fast, with use of gadgets to help him in a fight.  The Deathbattle Youtube series definitely highlights Tails’ fighting diversity, check it out.

Why it wouldn’t happen: Sega already has Sonic which more than covers the Sega franchise.  Why need another character?

New Challenger Approaching? Likely

Simon-belmont-captain-n

Simon Belmont: Whip it!  WHIP IT GOOD!  With Mega Man and Little Mac joining SSB, Simon Belmont would round off the classic NES characters and create one Hell of a nostalgiafilled roster.  A variety of attacks would make him a unique and interesting fighter who could kick balls and take names.  Also, Snake was from Konami, so we know that Konami isn’t a stranger in allowing Nintendo to use their characters.  Do it Nintendo, do it for the fans!

Why it wouldn’t happen: It’s just too good to be true.

New Challenger Approaching?  Likely

bomberman

Bomberman: Bomberman has been a recurring character in Nintendo history ever since the NES days and has appeared in almost every major Nintendo console since.  He is also very different at what he does which is BOMB THE HELL OUT OF EVERYTHING.  He can kick bombs, throw bombs, make bombs bigger, throw even more bombs, and…ride kangaroos??  Regardless, Bomberman is awesome; he’s a unique fighter who would be a welcome addition to the roster.

Why it wouldn’t happen: At this point, he’s been snubbed so many times that it just makes you wonder why Bomberman has not been recognized at this point.  Plus, if Konami had to go for one character, they probably would choose Simon over Bomberman.

New Challenger Approaching? Likely

Paper Mario

Paper Mario: If Dr. Mario was in SSBM, why not Paper Mario?  However, unlike the good Doctor, Paper Mario has skills and equipment that regular Mario doesn’t have.  Hammers, stickers, badges, partners, the list goes on.  His main draw though would be his paper powers like paper airplane, paper tube, and other papery gimmicks.

Why it wouldn’t happen: Mario is already in the house so Paper Mario’s chance is kind of low.  However, if Toon Link is making a return, why not Paper Mario as well?

New Challenger Approaching?  Likely

250px-150Mewtwo

Mewtwo: I know I’m not the only one shouting this Legendary Pokemon’s name, many people want him back.  His chances of coming back would be really low if it wasn’t for Pokemon X and Y.  The return of Mewtwo in the recent movie and in the game has brought a popularity surge for him.  Also, his Final Smash attack would obviously be his Mega form, either X or Y.  If there was a chance for him to return, it’s now, or never.

Why it wouldn’t happen: Freaking Lucario.  With Lucario returning, Mewtwo’s chance has plummeted.  Nintendo can’t have too many characters from one franchise and they have to pick carefully who they want to fight.  Perhaps if they got rid of Pokemon Trainer?

New Challenger Approaching? Somewhat likely.

225px-Ryu-tatsunoko

Ryu: HADOKEN!  Street Fighter may not be popular with Nintendo as it once was, but that shouldn’t stop Ryu from joining up with SSB.  One of the best fighters in the Street Fighter universe going toe-to-toe with Mario and co. would be fantastic.  And since CAPCOM already has Mega Man, why not Ryu as well?

Why it wouldn’t happen: CAPCOM may decide to stick to just Mega Man.  Also, Ryu may be too similar to Mario or Little Mac.  But Mario’s fighting style has been changing these last few games so Ryu might stand out more as such.  Aw well, there’s always Blanka.

New Challenger Approaching? Somewhat likely.

KingKRoolDKJC

King K. Rool: More enemies!  We need more enemies!  GET KING K. ROOL!  The different outfits for him would be hilarious.  His attacks would be just as diverse as well; crown attack, blunderbuss, boxing gloves, body slam, and so forth.  They can definitely play around with him since he’s not very restricted at what he does and how he does it.  Many people have been calling for Ridley but I don’t see it happening, I’m putting my money on the King.

Why it wouldn’t happen: There’s already a lizard King on the battlefield.  Plus, King K. Rool may be a little out there.  I don’t know, he just doesn’t strike me as someone Nintendo will be like, yeah, let’s choose him on our roster!  Fingers crossed though!

New Challenger Approaching?  Somewhat likely.

Phoenix Wright and Professor Layton

Phoenix Wright and Professor Layton:  These two sleuths go hand in hand.  Both of them are featured prominently in Nintendo’s handheld consoles by consistently chugging out great hit after great hit.  Their crossover game also showed that their parent companies aren’t afraid to lend their characters elsewhere.  They don’t traditionally fight in their games though Layton isn’t afraid to swing a sword and Phoenix has gotten his hands dirty in a recent Capcom vs. Marvel game.  Nintendo may have to think a bit on how they fight but if the Villager can get in, why not PW and PL?

Why it wouldn’t happen: Unfortunately, as stated before, they aren’t really fighting characters so that’s a barrier they may have to overcome.  Also, both of them may even be the other’s worst enemy as their brains over brawn manner may eliminate the other character’s chances.

New Challenger Approaching?  Somewhat likely.

banjo_kazooie

Banjo-Kazooie: Holy crap, yes.  They starred in two of the (arguably) best platformers in the N64 era.  Their fighting would be similar to Ice Climbers but probably with the two characters more closely tied to each other and less independent.  Unfortunately, I haven’t played any of their games yet but from what I have seen, not only would they bring their own unique style to SSB, but they would fit in extremely well with the rest of the crazy cast.

Why it wouldn’t happen: Microsoft currently owns Rare, as such, any chances of getting B-K are extremely low.  Aint gonna happen.

New Challenger Approaching?  Highly unlikely.