It's games like this that are the reason why I love Japanese games and JRPGs.
The story for the game is about how a seaside town sunk and stories tell of a door(the thousand year door)which is the passageway to a great kingdom filled with treasure and the thousand year door is supposed to be in the ruins of the town that sunk.
Princess Peach goes missing again...But this time the reasons as to why she has gone missing are a mystery at first and I don't want to spoil the story for you but I'll say it's quite entertaining.To make things more interesting,7 crystals are required to open the thousand year door and the story is shown from the perspective of other characters(not just Mario).
I like how the story has a bit of romantic inclination that's not only between Mario and Peach.
The story might sound simplistic but it's story is very good because it's creative and presented well but like I said I don't want to give away spoilers and the story has lots of charming characters and charming side stories.
As for the game play,well the battle system is turn-based but has action commands which depending on how well they're executed will effect the amount of damage your attacks do and the amount of damage enemy attacks do.Also,there is mini games during battles which effect stat boosts.These elements make battles more unpredictable and interesting.
What I like about the battle system is how it incorporates Mario universe and RPG style battles together.For example,shells are effective against rows of enemies and spiked shelled turtles are vulnerable to shell attacks but less vulnerable to jump attacks.Some enemies are more vulnerable to jump attacks and you'll want to utilize the abilities of Mario and his party members(he can only have one party member accompanying him per time though)for example some party members can heal you or cause status effects on enemies and different attacks are more/less effective against different types of enemies.You can use Yoshi to swallow enemies and spit them out to do damage or use certain party members to punch enemies or burn enemies etc.
Being an RPG you'll be able to level up Mario and his party members can increase their rankings.The difference between level up and ranking up is when Mario levels up you can choose whether to upgrade his HP,FP(mana)and add BP which allows him to equip badges for special abilities where as when your other party members increase in ranking,their HP and attack power becomes more and they can learn a new ability but you can't customize their HP,FP or BP and they can't learn as many abilities as Mario can.
During battles the environment changes to a theater stage type of environment where people will watch the battle and cheer and will even do things to help your characters or the enemies during battle such as replenishing star power(star power can be used to heal or for stat boosts)and will throw useful items to you or will even heal the enemies or damage your party members.Whether they help you or the enemy depends on the types of enemies and if you do a stylish move by pressing up at the correct time during attacks.
Star power comes into the equation during battles because it can heal your party members or do stat boosts when it's full and star power builds up over time and if the audience during battles are happy with how you're fighting in the battle they will increase your star power quicker.
The game play has puzzle solving that requires Mario or his party members to use various abilities to solve puzzles such as blowing up walls,turning into paper boats to sail across water,doing a hovering jump with one of the Yoshi's which is kinda neat and I love exploring the towns and environments and the fact in certain places Mario can turn into a paper airplane or become flat like paper to get into hidden areas.The game play has platforming sections too.
The game will probably take you between 30-40 hours to beat but if you want to find all the secrets and do all the side quests it will take much longer.The game's difficulty is quite easy/moderate if you do a bit of level grinding but there's a big spike in difficulty towards the end of the game.
The environments consists of types such as tropical with seaside villages,high tech/futuristic locations,areas with lovely looking snow,castles/dungeons,creepy looking areas,lush grassy fields and beautiful lakes,carnivals etc.
The arts styles and designs for the environments are lovely because of their detail and use of colors and atmospheres they give.For example,the carnival atmosphere has colorful balloons and bright colored buildings and tropical scenery.The creepy environments have dead trees combined with a purple sky.Some tropical environments show beaches with sand and palm trees and towns near beach side and it's lovely.Even the normal looking towns have quaint looking buildings and nicely paved roads.I like how the characters look like they're paper cut outs and colorful.I also like other little touches such as seeing Nintendo related objects in the environments such as a giant Gameboy or beautiful views of the ocean and beautiful sunsets and during battles the environment changes to a theater stage type of environment where people will watch the battle and cheer and will even do things to help your characters or the enemies during battle such as replenishing star power(star power can be used to heal or for stat boosts)and will throw useful items to you but if they're unhappy they will do things to damage the health of your party members.
I also like how the game has environments influenced by the classic 8-Bit Super Mario games.
The music for the game is very good too and gives an epic type of adventure feeling to go along with the charm of the game play and visuals and it's a nice combination.
There is nothing really negative about the game to speak of,I guess the reason I didn't give the game a higher score is because it's story isn't memorable despite it being good and an enjoyable experience.