The second Paper Mario game is another fine addition to the Mario series.

User Rating: 9.4 | Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door GC
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is, if nothing else, another incredibly strong entry in the Mario RPG series. While it may be the fourth RPG starring Nintendo's famous plumber to be released, it is by no means the least in the series. Nintendo and developer Intelligent Systems still seem to be able to find ways to innovate on the franchise and keep it fresh after all this time and all these new additions to it, making this another must-buy game. The game centers around Mario's quest to locate the Crystal Stars, which are believed to open the legendary Thousand-Year door which lies beneath Rougeport. Mario's long quest will take him to all sorts of unique and interesting locales in the game's incredibly interesting world. The second Paper Mario plays almost exactly the same as it's predecessor. Everything takes place in a full three-dimensional world that is filled with two-dimensional characters, as odd as that might seem. Everything in the game is viewed from a single fixed camera angle, meaning that the entire game world can be viewed as a sort of stage. On the over world, Mario can jump and use a hammer to travel around the world and pass different obstacles. The game plays a bit more like a standard Mario game than an RPG, but you'll discover that a great deal of your time in the game will be spent reading the mountains of dialogue that many of the most important characters have with them. Its a bit of a godsend that everything is so well-written, otherwise this might become tedious. The game's writing is top-notch, and its very easy to enjoy all of the different conversations that you'll have to read through. You take control of Mario and one partner of your choosing as you cross through the over world. Each partner has a unique ability that can be used in the over world to solve puzzles or attack enemies. Every ability has a specific use that you'll need to learn to control properly to make progress through all of the different puzzles that you encounter. Sometimes you need to find a hidden object, other times you need to trip a switch that is located out of Mario's reach. Either way, there's always a way to get through an area with the help of your traveling companions. You can switch between partners at almost any time, and as the game progresses you may need to use the skills of more than one of them to solve a puzzle. Mario will learn a few new moves during his adventure that will twist his paper like body into all sorts of different shapes. He will learn how to turn into a paper airplane, a boat, and even roll himself into a tube to roll around the game's different areas at higher speeds. Each of these transformations is hidden in a different area to be found at the exact time when you will need them, and once you acquire a new move you'll find yourself using it quite often. These moves add an interesting twist to the game by taking advantage of the game's papery theme. Combat is just as action-oriented as it has been in any of the other Mario RPGs. You begin every encounter by running into an enemy character on the over world. Depending on how you contact them, you may end up either getting an extra strike on the enemy when the battle begins or taking an additional hit from your foes. Learning to anticipate where you will meet your enemies so that you can get the first strike in on them becomes an important part of the game, and actually making the first attack often determines just how smoothly each fight will go. Once you are in a fight, you will notice that combat always takes place on a stage. Each battle is observed by a crowd of different characters from the game, and depending on how well you fight, they can affect the battles in different ways. When you perform well in battle, the spectators will reward you with more star power, which can be used to perform some very special moves. However, if you do poorly, audience members will quickly leave and you won't be able to earn as much from them. Sometimes enemies in the audience may throw objects at Mario and his partners to do damage. You do have the ability to stop an enemy from doing this if you spot them before they make their move. However, sometimes a friend in the audience may throw an item for you to use, so it is important to check before you do anything. Parts of the stage itself also interact with you during the fights. Sometimes a stage light will fall on one of the combatants, other times the scenery itself will fall and damage all of the fighters. The way that the environment itself affects battle is a very welcome innovation, and it makes the combat even more exciting than it was in previous games. Battling is very action-oriented. When you attack an enemy, you have the ability to make a timed strike which will increase the amount of damage that you do. At the same time, when an enemy attacks you, you can time a button press so that their attack does less damage. The game even includes a new option to allow you to counter an enemy attack by pressing a button at the exact moment that a move makes contact, although this is much more difficult to do than simply defending. Your partner also fights with you. When you're in battle, you have the option to allow either yourself or your partner to attack first. Usually, the character that is in front of the formation receives the bulk of your enemy's attacks, so it becomes important to decide weather or not you want Mario to take the lead in a fight. Certain partners have abilities that can be crucial to winning a specific fight, so its often important to plan on taking a certain friend into battle with you. You can switch to a different partner at any time during a fight, but doing so costs you a turn that could be very important to the fight. Overall, Paper Mario's combat system still feels fresh and exciting after all this time, and it makes battling your enemies just as entertaining as it was before. Paper Mario takes it's theme to incredible new heights in the graphical department. As mentioned before, every single character is two-dimensional, as though they were made of paper. When you enter a building, it unfolds as though it was part of a pop-up book. Different pieces of scenery flip onto the screen like the pages of a novel. There are even a few places where characters rip through the scenery as if everything literally was made out of paper. All of the different characters are brightly and attractively colored. There is a lot of attention to detail in how everything in the game is displayed. Many of the game's secrets are hidden in it's storybook-like presentation, and its very hard not to love how everything is set up. The game's sound is also quite well-done. Most of the music is done very well, although you may find some of the songs to be somewhat forgettable. There is a nice variety in the different styles of music that are played, and every tune does fit it's scenario quite nicely. Oddly enough, given the amount of dialogue in the game, there are very few voice samples to be found during Mario's quest. Almost every word is in text-form, leaving Mario just a few vocal expressions to let out at a few points in the game. Some might think that the game could have used a bit more vocal dialogue to do away with all of the reading, but the game really works better with less sound. Overall, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is definitely a high point in the Mario series. Its a very unique RPG that should be enjoyed by almost anyone who plays it. Once you start playing it, its very hard to stop until the end. And even after that, there are still plenty of secrets to be discovered within the game's large world. To conclude, Paper Mario is one of the best games available on the GameCube, and one title that every owner of Nintendo's latest console should buy.

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