Paper Mario: Millennium Gate Review – Back and Forth

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    The Mario brand of RPG represents some of my favorite adventures in the genre. The humorous tone, inviting art, and active combat system have always stood out to me, but Millennium Gate was a personal blind spot. I’ve played Mario RPGs before and after, but I gave up when the original was released in 2004, and wasn’t particularly into it until now. Sports Informer On time. With Nintendo remastering the popular RPG for the Switch, I welcomed an excuse to finally play it. I’m impressed by how much the visuals and music have improved two decades later, and I feel that much of the comedy remains intact. I now fully appreciate and understand Millennium Door’s reputation as a classic, but it’s not without its 20-year headaches. It arguably offers the first signs that the series will become less interested in being an RPG in the years to come, and will ultimately suffer as a result.

    Millennium Door has always been an attractive game. Nintendo is practiced at prioritizing an evergreen art style over fidelity, and Paper Mario is a poster child for this approach. The lighting effects are a major improvement for the Switch version, and they make a huge difference – the game looks stunning and modern throughout. Beyond the look of the game, a number of small changes (like faster partner switching and shortcut keys) help streamline the experience and remove commonly annoying glitches.

    Combat is also enjoyable without the need for modernization. I’m a fan of timed button presses in any RPG, and I welcome it here, but I was surprised to see that there were hints of execution throughout the game. I assumed they would disappear after the lesson, and was annoyed to find that they never did. And while necessary and strategically useful, special abilities are time-consuming, and I dread engaging them. This feeling extended to partners as well, and I used people whose attacks could be executed quickly, even if they didn’t do much damage.

    Over time, the Mario RPG series has vacillated between being an adventure game and an RPG, and this is where the paper branch of the tree begins to grow more in the adventure direction. Subsequent games, such as 2020’s The Origami King, omit leveling mechanics entirely, which is a mistake. I like to have a sense of progression, and enjoyed it here even if I felt like I was going back in time to see his finale.

    Where adventure game mechanics work in game worlds and characters. It’s a breath of fresh air to see completely new characters in a Mario game, especially on occasions when they feel out of place with the Mario aesthetic. I looked forward to seeing every new place and oddity I lived there and was never disappointed.

    But the desire to be an RPG-like adventure game that Paper Mario has always struggled to reconcile has a lot of backtracking at the millennium door. Almost every point in the game involves going to the end of an area to get something, taking it back to someone, and then going back to where you were and redoing every fight along the way. With limited options for fast travel, the process was often tedious.

    Sequences where you’re not playing as Mario are similarly uninteresting. Patch has fun dialogue with an AI that struggles to understand emotions and fun puzzles to solve, but if Bowser had been completely cut out of the game, I don’t think I would have liked it. would have paid attention to or cared about. In the end his meager payment wasn’t worth checking in with him between each chapter.

    For all its problems with repetitive areas and slow (but engaging) combat, Millennium Gate is now a series highlight. This marks the first instance where I didn’t want to go to a Mario RPG (I usually prefer the Mario and Luigi direction), but the constant breaking of the fourth wall, the myriad of colorful and unique characters, and its Desires lead to an enjoyable journey of just being weird. I’m thankful that this polished version of the Gamecube classic that I missed is finally available on a contemporary platform.

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