Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a fantastic and faithful remake of the beloved GameCube gem with enhanced visuals, reworked music and quality-of-life improvements elevating this classic to the same standard as modern Switch games. Whether you’ve never played it before or you want a dose of nostalgia, The Thousand-Year Door is an essential purchase for Mario fans.


Dazzling new visualsEntertaining and whimsical storySimple yet effective RPG systemQuality-of-life improvements


Backtracking can be a chore

Key Features

Genre: Role-playing game

Release date:Available from 23 May 2024

Platforms:Nintendo Switch


Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is widely regarded as one of the best titles of the GameCube era, so it’s no surprise to see it selected as the next game to get the remake treatment for the Nintendo Switch

A new lick of paint and revamped music have helped elevate this classic gem to a modern standard, while minor quality-of-life tweaks help newcomers ease into the accessible RPG system that strays from the simple platforming of more classic Mario ventures. 

After completing the 30-hour campaign, I can now see why this game is held in such high regard. Not only is The Thousand-Year Door an example of Paper Mario at its finest, but it’s one of my all-time favourite adventures of the moustached plumber yet.

Graphics and music

New visuals look fantasticReworked instrumentals Drop to 30fps isn’t an issue

You could easily make the case that the GameCube version of The Thousand-Year Door didn’t necessarily need a facelift, as the creative paper-style visuals have aged like a fine wine in the 20 years since launch. 

Nevertheless, Nintendo has still been able to provide a substantial visual boost, with more definition added to each character and object, while still retaining the charming spirit of the original. The brighter, bolder colours are now more capable of making everything burst out of the display like a pop-up storybook, while there’s also improved dynamic lighting that really helps the diverse environments spring to life.

Credit: Nintendo

Mario and his crew feel more expressive this time around, which is important as there are a lot of slapstick gags such as Mario’s amusing gawks, wails and enthusiastic nods. These new emotive designs also help to give each character far more depth than their two-dimensional builds imply. 

Despite concerns of the drop from 60fps to 30fps, I’m happy to report that I didn’t notice any issues. In fact, it all runs wonderfully smooth, even with the paperfied plumber bopping on enemy heads at speed. If I hadn’t known of the existence of The Thousand-Year Door beforehand, I would have genuinely believed that this game was built from the ground up for Nintendo Switch given the level of polish at play. 

Credit: Nintendo

As with most Nintendo games, the music and sound effects here are positively delightful. The music has been rearranged with new instrumentation to bring it up to the standard of more modern Paper Mario entries. I particularly love Bowser’s iconic theme during the story cutscenes, perfectly encapsulating the comically cheesy evildoer. If you’d prefer to listen to the music from the original GameCube version then that’s also possible once you obtain a specific in-game item. 

Such is the attention to detail that even sound effects have been enhanced, from the ding when collecting coins to the unique squeaky mumblings of each character. These may sound like subtle improvements, but they do a great job of bringing The Thousand-Year Door up to the same standard as other Mario games on Switch. 


Highly entertaining and amusing storyFantastic cast of charactersEach memorable chapter feels unique

It’s almost become a habit for me to say that Nintendo games have a paper-thin story, but with plenty of charm and humour to keep players engaged from start to finish. That’s not the case with Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, as I instead found the story to be one of the main highlights. 

Nintendo doesn’t stray too far from the basic blueprint for the game’s main plot, as Mario is tasked with thwarting another evil force from taking over the world. Instead, it was the many short stories in between that impressed me the most.

Credit: Nintendo

Each chapter features its own unique storyline, preventing one of Nintendo’s longest ever Mario adventures from ever feeling that it’s outstayed its welcome. My personal highlights include a town where all the residents are mysteriously transforming into pigs, while another sees Mario attempt his best Hercule Poirot impression by solving a series of mysteries onboard a luxury steam train. 

The Thousand-Year Door features many original characters too, with some having a surprising level of emotional depth despite their colourful designs. This is especially true for Mario’s many companions, including Admiral Bobbery who has retired from seafaring following the death of his wife. Don’t expect The Last of Us levels of character development, but I was still surprised by the extent to which I grew attached to Mario’s sidekicks. 

Credit: Nintendo

A few Mushroom Kingdom favourites also make an appearance, mostly in humorous story cutscenes that segment each chapter to offer a respite from Mario’s latest heroics. Peach is given a greater platform than usual as she forms a relationship with the AI computer that holds her captive, and while Bowser isn’t the main villain this time round he nevertheless steals the spotlight with his amusing failed attempts to cause mischief. 

With so many memorable story moments and endearing characters, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door features one of the very best stories from Nintendo yet. Even if you aren’t interested in the RPG system at play, the game is worth playing for the story alone. 


Simple yet effective RPG system Huge variety of companions and enemiesGreat progression system keeps combat fresh

While Mario is renowned for his Goomba-bouncing platforming, the Paper Mario series instead sees the plumber embrace a turn-based RPG system, falling more in line with popular game franchises such as Pokemon, Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy

Don’t expect the same level of depth as those aforementioned series though, as The Thousand-Year Door is a simplistic take on the formula, made accessible enough for both young children and newcomers to the genre. Yet in spite of its simplicity, The Thousand-Year Door does a fantastic job of keeping combat enjoyable throughout. 

Credit: Nintendo

Mario is able to use either his oversized mallet or his iconic jumping ability to defeat enemies. However, the impressive variety of villains forces the player to consider slightly different tactics for each contest. For example, villains with spiked helmets will cause damage to Mario when hopping atop their head, while airborne foes are too far away for his hammer to reach. 

Mario is also provided a companion to aid him in battle, with the roster growing larger throughout the story. This gradually widens the number of attacks at Mario’s disposal, from Koop’s spinning shell barrage to Madame Flurrie’s life-sucking smooch. You’re also able to unlock new abilities by collecting hidden collectibles, as well as obtaining badges that can bestow your attacks with increased damage or handy side effects. These upgrade systems help to keep the combat engaging, and they make a big difference compared to more shallow experiences such as Super Mario RPG.

Credit: Nintendo

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door on Nintendo Switch is a faithful remake of the GameCube original, so there aren’t a great number of new additions. The new Battle Master character acts as a useful tutorial for newly gained weapons and abilities, while a few quality-of-life improvements have been made such as making it easier to swap between companions and reducing the time it takes to save your progress. The most useful upgrade is probably the max item limit being raised from 10 to 15, yet I still found this restriction frustrating as someone who likes to stock up for boss encounters. 

Overall, I don’t think Nintendo needed to make grand scale changes to the combat as it’s aged incredibly well. The Thousand-Year Door strikes a perfect balance between keeping the mechanics as simple as possible, yet still being challenging and engaging enough to keep players of all ages entertained. 

Platforming and puzzles

Lots of useful collectibles to findCompanion abilities make exploration funBacktracking can feel like a chore

One of the biggest strengths of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is its knack for varying up the gameplay to prevent it from ever becoming stale. Combat is frequently segmented with platforming challenges and perplexing puzzles, requiring the player to keep a keen eye on their environment for hidden pipes and items. 

There’s a minor Metroidvania influence here, as Mario will gain access to new areas as he unlocks additional abilities. Unlocking the Yoshi clone allows you to flutter jump across wide gaps, while Madame Flurrie is able to blow down sheets of paper to unveil hidden items. 

Credit: Nintendo

The Thousand-Year Door takes full advantage of the paper art style too, allowing Mario to squeeze through tight gaps, squash himself down to increase the distance of his jumps and even take the form of paper aeroplanes and boats to bypass obstacles. It’s these kinds of elements that really help the Paper Mario series to shine, and develop a more distinct identity compared to Mario’s many other outings.

Nevertheless, any Mario game would be incomplete without some kind of platforming challenge, so The Thousand-Year Door fittingly adds several stages that sees Mario resort to his 2D roots, requiring well-timed hops to reach the end goal. Platform segments in the 3D world can feel a little clumsy though, as it’s often difficult to judge whether Mario’s 2D sprite is correctly lined up before jumping.

Credit: Nintendo

Scouring the world for collectibles is a Super Mario staple, but the reward doesn’t always offer any long-term benefits beyond self-satisfaction. That’s not the case here, as The Thousand-Year Door excels at incentivising the player to explore every corner of the map, with each item and badge proving incredibly beneficial in combat. 

With that said, backtracking to old locations can feel like a chore at times, as the same enemies that you’ve already defeated will spring back to life. This is especially frustrating in the final third of the game when Mario is asked to go on a wild goose chase to locate a couple of characters. There are at least warp pips that allow for fast travel, while striking low-level enemies with a hammer can down them without forcing Mario into turn-based combat – both are welcome features, but still fail to completely wipe away the tedium. 

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Should you buy it?

You should buy for one of the best Mario stories 

I genuinely can’t think of a better Mario-themed story than The Thousand-Year Door. The main plot may be basic, but there are plenty of memorable story moments and characters that had me laughing all the way to the end.

You should not buy if you want a deep RPG system 

This shouldn’t come as a surprise but the RPG system here is designed for a wide audience, including young children. It’s still very much enjoyable, but those looking for complex RPG systems are better off with something like Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy

Final Thoughts

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door may not be anywhere near as ambitious as other modern remakes such as Final Fantasy 7 and Resident Evil 4, but it didn’t really need to be. This is a fantastic and faithful remake for the Nintendo Switch, with enhanced visuals and reworked music breathing new life into this GameCube classic. 

The turn-based RPG system has aged like a fine wine, remaining simple enough to be accessible to a wide audience, yet with a varied enough roster of companions, villains and power-ups to keep players on their toes throughout. It feels like a big leap forward compared to older Nintendo games such as Super Mario RPG.

Whether you’re itching to play this GameCube gem for the first time, or fancy a trip down memory lane, The Thousand-Year Door is an essential purchase for the Nintendo Switch. For more options, check out our list of the best Nintendo Switch games.

Trusted Score

How we test

We play every game we review through to the end, outside of certain exceptions where getting 100% completion, like Skyrim, is close to impossible to do. When we don’t fully finish a game before reviewing it we will always alert the reader.

Completed the story campaign

Tested on the Nintendo Switch OLED


Is The Thousand-Year Door a remake?

Yes, The Thousand-Year Door is a remake of the GameCube game that first launched back in 2004.

How many hours of gameplay is Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door?

It took us just over 30 hours to complete the main story of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, while also completing a couple of side quests.

Full specs

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