Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Is a Gut-Punch of Nostalgia

Return to Rogueport.

Besides knowing how to jump, Mario can also weave a good yarn, and he has plenty of lore to explore in the Paper Mario franchise. This 2D role-playing series first graced the Nintendo 64 in 2000 before returning with the widely beloved GameCube sequel, The Thousand-Year Door, a game that’s both heavy on narrative and funny characters.

Next month, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door returns with a polished remake for Nintendo Switch. It’s an updated version of a 20-year-old game, the one that gamers love the most out of every title in the series. The graphics and audio have all been revamped and enhanced while the wit of the original 2004 GameCube title is kept intact. However, Nintendo did update some of the language to suit modern tastes, a representative said during a media preview.

Besides knowing how to jump, video game plumber Mario can also weave a good yarn.


The 2024 remake largely keep things the same. The premise is simple: Mario gets a letter from Princess Peach telling him to visit the robust little town of Rogueport. But, as per usual, Peach is captured by a bunch of enemies and requires rescuing. Mario is then oh-so-unluckily cursed with the power to turn into a paper airplane and boat. He uses these newfound powers to fly and sail through the world, collecting crystal stars so he can unlock the eponymous Thousand-Year Door and save Peach.

Despite being a game about paper and glue, Thousand-Year Door upgrades the graphics so you’ll more clearly see light streaming through a dragon’s castle, while the shadows look just right. Small quality of life improvements like adding a button to easily toggle which partner is currently helping Mario in combat help give the game more of a modern sensibility. You can also equip a badge to hear nostalgic old tunes, instead of the more updated soundtrack that plays by default.

As for the current unknowns, Nintendo wouldn’t tell me whether the remake is longer than the original game and what specifically may have been changed about the ending. The original game contained one of the first LGBTQ characters in video games, so it remains to be seen how her representation is handled in the remake.

The original game contained one of the first LGBTQ characters in video games, so it remains to be seen how her representation is handled in the remake.


I first tried my hands at the Paper Mario series with 2020’s The Origami King on the Nintendo Switch and fell hard for the gut-wrenching storyline that gave a common Mario enemy a touching dash of humanity. While critics of The Origami King decried its puzzle-centric combat system, I found it fun enough and certainly not much of a detraction from the scenic gameplay that felt like taking a vacation within my Switch. In contrast, The Thousand-Year Door presents a more basic approach to combat that long-time Paper Mario fans will likely appreciate.

I’m mere hours into the world of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, meaning I’ve only seen glimpses of the charm of Rogueport and shady NPCs lurking in corners, but it already appears to be a well-worn setting worth visiting and staying a while. Like the kind old innkeeper who beckons for Mario to take a nice rest, so Paper Mario beckons toward the gamer. Come frolic for a bit, it seems to be saying. The frighteningly naïve characters might easily get cursed into becoming paper airplanes, but it’ll do wonders for your spirits.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door launches May 23 for Nintendo Switch.

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