Paper Mario - The Thousand Year Door

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is the GameCube sequel to Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64. It's a wonderfully deep tale about Mario and the friends he makes collecting the seven Crystal Stars to open the thousand year door, located underground. It expands upon the mechanics established from the first game while also adding its own unique additions. You may know this game as the one Mario game with a noose in the middle of it's hub town.

If you haven't played it, I highly recommend it. It's a wonderful experience that is worth seeing through. As it is an RPG, its playtime can be about 24 hours aka a day.

Warning: There are spoilers for the game ahead. Read with caution.


Before Sticker Star, Paper Mario was known for its characters and their liveliness. Each person was defined, even Mario, and they all had their own histories, relationships... and I can't help but fall in love with each new face that appears on screen. They're all so special to me. Friends of mine all know I struggle with picking just one favorite character, so... here's my favorites! Plural!

Mario Mario

Despite Mario being silent in the RPGs, he has quite a lot of characterization here! While a lot of how he's portrayed is up to the player, in that sense it still gives him a unique character. As silly as this comparison might sound, it reminds me of how Frisk in UNDERTALE is portrayed through choices rather than direct spoken dialogue. The way your Mario might act could be different from how mine may act. Yours could actually take up one of Hooktail's offers, hopefully not that last one they offer, while mine is more stubborn about not believing it. I already like Mario as a character outside of the RPGs, so seeing him here with a slightly more fleshed out character is always fun to see.

No matter what, one thing is consistant amongst all Marios: he gets kissed way too often and doesn't know how to exactly deal with that. Have you seen how many women give this man a peck on the cheek??? Goombella, Flurrie, Vivian... actually, that's ALL of his female partners. All he did was just exist??? Poor guy.

Goombella Goombella

When I initially played TTYD as a kid, I honestly didn't care for Goombella. She was the "typical girl" of the party, and before I realized I was genderfluid, I didn't know why, but I hated characters like that. These days though, I'm able to appreciate that she's more than just that.

As a university student, she's incredibly knowledgable. She knows everything about everything, and that means she also has opinions on everything. When replaying the game, I was ready to not really care about how she thinks, but again I find myself surprised and wanting to hear about how she percieves the world around her. When she's reading the tattle on Vivian, she gets hung up over the fact that she finds Vivian cute (and maybe more cute than her, in her opinion) before quickly dismissing it, and I found that really silly. Is that gender envy, Goombella?

She might be a little catty, but she's a headstrong Goomba (literally) that's got a bright future ahead of her. I hope she does well at university.

Koops Koops

I have always loved Koops, even as a kid. This guy is a total shy clutz and I love him for that. Also, his outfit is the most memorable to me compared to any Koopa I've seen so far, so bonus points there. I know a hoodie and pants/shorts is kind of boring, but when Koopas normally are naked and maybe wear only one accessory, it's gonna make a guy stand out if he has clothes. And honestly, the blue matches wonderfully alongside the green and contrasts with the yellow great. He might've been my kid self's gender envy. Might've.

Upon replaying, before I got Koops as a partner I talked to his girlfriend, Koopie Koo. When she said that she wished Koops was more brave only to later say when he joins the party it's fine if he's a crybaby, I actually kind of got mad at her. Bro, you're part of the reason he's deciding to do this??? You think he doesn't know what you think of him??? You're giving this man Insecurities!!! ...Ahem. I do think it's a cool detail, especially because the reason she doesn't want him to go and gets mad at him is because of Hooktail. She's afraid of losing him... much like how Koops lost his father. It's a really interesting parallel!

Flurrie Flurrie

Much like Goombella, I never cared too much for Flurrie. She was incredibly feminine and fancy in a way that, at the time, I didn't care for. However, similar to Goombella, I have gained an appreciation for her character. I like that she's regal and a bit fancy, especially in the way that she talks. It makes her stand out to me a bit, aside from her... appearance. How did they get away with her just having her titties out like that??? It's interesting that she used to be an actress, too. I wonder though what kinds of acts she played in? Did she strictly do stage preformances, or did she star in movies, as well? I would've loved to see some sort of hint toward what kind of acting she does. She strikes me as someone who would be really good at opera. She retired temporarily because of how much the acting scene's pressures was getting to her, which is understandable. Though, it's sweet to see that she enjoys the forest and quiet that is Boggly Woods. That place is very pretty, and it fits Flurrie well.

While replaying TTYD, I went around in Rogueport taking care of some troubles from the Trouble Center and talked to various town NPCs. One of the NPCs in the bar mentions Flurrie, although describes her slightly differently, as thinner and more toned. I brought Flurrie out of my party, curious to see if she would have anything to say, and to my disappointment there wasn't anything there. Though, it does make me wonder, was Flurrie actually thinner and toned in the past??? Or is this guy just making shit up? Personally, I'm partial to them making it up.

Yoshi Yoshi Kid

I remember really liking Yoshi Kid when I was younger because riding him made you go faster. That was his only redeeming quality for me at the time, but looking now, his backstory's kind of a bit fucked up. Dude's stolen from his home southern island (presumably Lavalava Island from the first game) to be made into a hotdog, and ends up hatching in an underground fighting ring with conspiracies up the wazoo about people disappearing. And even worse, he's already fighting people the moment he's hatched. Somehow, he's even good at it, cab speak good English, AND knows what the hell a Crystal Star is. How does he do it? All of this, and no anxiety about his situation. It's incredibly gritty, but... it's what he knows, and weirdly enough, but he seems to like it. He likes playing dirty, he likes trash talking, and even after leaving the Glitz Pit, he still refers to Mario as Gonzales. His name is Mario!!!

It was kind of strange to me that Yoshi Kid never seemed to be too upset about not knowing anything of the place he originally came from and his parents, but, I suppose in that sense Mario and his partners are his found family. But, what about when Mario leaves? Dude's still a kid, does anybody volunteer to take care of him??? Probably not, something tells me he can manage. But I can't help but worry...

Vivian Vivian

I've always liked Vivian, even as a kid. However, I felt like something about her character fell flat. I never knew what it was until I was an adult: it's because she's trans! In the Japanese release of the game, Vivian is subjected to constant transphobia from her sisters. In Chapter 2, she describes her group as the "Shadow Sisters," to which Beldam chastises her for even suggesting that Vivian is a girl and calls her a man. As weird as this might sound out of context, I really wish Vivian's story retained the part about her being trans and experiencing transphobia from her sisters. It would have really made sense to why Beldam cannot stand her, yet keeps her around. It puts into contexts the "punishments" Vivian is constantly threatened with. Luckily, if you're Italian, she states there that she's proud to have become a woman! Good for her!

It always interested me that when Vivian switches sides to be with Mario, she went against the initial goal that her and her sisters set out to do. They initially started spreading rumors of a great treasure hidden behind the thousand-year door in order to trick someone into reviving the Shadow Queen. They teamed with Grodus when they found out he wanted to take over the world, knowing the Shadow Queen wouldn't obey him. Did Vivian always oppose this, or was it a choice that changed overtime...? I feel like it was the latter, but, we'll never know, I suppose.

I find it funny that on top of being trans, she's also considered the most powerful partner within the community. Trans people are powerful, kids.

Bobbery Bobbery

i'll get back to you when i finish chapter 5


The battle system in TTYD is honestly my favorite from any RPG I've played. I like it a bit more than Mario & Luigi's, mostly because of the badges, but I'll get into that later. It's one of the most engaging systems I've played, and it keeps me hooked, especially with the Stylish Commands! Even after years of not playing, I instinctually remember how to preform almost every Stylish. It gets me more engaged, even though it's just usually an extra button press or two...!

I've always been a fan of RPGs, especially because of the stories told within them. Battles can be fun for me, but in most RPGs I feel like I just have to pick the right choice in order to progress. It doesn't feel like they truly hinge on HOW I preform, unlike various platformers. That's part of why I love the battle systems in TTYD and Mario & Luigi. It adds another layer of strategy for me, and gets me really thinking about how I play. I'm a logicistal person when it comes to how I play videogames, and it really helps with...


A great feature of the first two Paper Mario games are the badges. They add a lot more strategy to how you play, and it gets me really invested in the battles. I have a few favorite badges that I consider a must-have for my playthroughs, so, I'll talk about them here!

I'm still playing through the game, so, this list will be incomplete.

Chill Out Chill Out

Badge Points - 1

Never succumb to a First Strike.

Close Call Close Call P Close Call

Badge Points - 1

Drop damage Mario / your ally receives by ½ when they are in Danger.

Feeling Fine Feeling Fine P Feeling Fine

Badge Points - 4

Make Mario / your partner immune to poison or dizziness.

First Strike First Strike

Badge Points - 1

Do a First Strike to defeat weak foes without battling.

Ice Power Ice Power

Badge Points - 1

Make Mario damage-proof when jumping on fire enemies. Attack power against fire enemies increases by 1, and damage taken from fire attacks drops by 1.

Last Stand Last Stand P Last Stand

Badge Points - 1

Drop damage Mario / your ally receives by ½ when they are in Danger.

Power Rush Power Rush P Power Rush

Badge Points - 1

Increase Attack power by 2 when Mario / your ally is in Danger.

Spike Shield Spike Shield

Badge Points - 3

Make Mario damage-proof when jumping on spiky foes.

Super Appeal Super Appeal P Super Appeal

Badge Points - 1

Get more Star Power when Mario / your ally appeals.

Quick Change Quick Change

Badge Points - 7

Allow your ally to attack even after changing partners.

Hammer Throw Hammer Throw

Badge Points - 1

Wear this to use Hammer Throw. 2 FP are required to use this attack, which lets you throw a hammer at one enemy, no matter where the foe is. Wearing two or more of these badges requires more FP for the move, but increases the Attack power.

Multibounce Multibounce

Badge Points - 1

Wear this to use Multibounce. 2 FP are required to use this attack, which lets you attack multiple enemies in order until you miss an Action Command. Wearing two or more of these badges requires more FP for the move, but increases the Attack power.

Power Bounce Power Bounce

Badge Points - 3

Wear this to use Power Bounce. 3 FP are required to use this attack, which lets you lets you jump on one enemy until you miss an action command.

Power Smash Power Smash

Badge Points - 3

Wear this to use Power Smash. 2 FP are required to use this attack, which lets you whack an enemy with great power. Wearing two or more of these badges requires more FP for the move, but increases the Attack power.


Many love TTYD for its storytelling. I love it a lot for that, too. Despite being a Mario game, it tackles mature themes in a very realistic and respectful manner. Themes include but aren't limited to death and lost of a loved one, threat of homelessness, business corruption, found family, and birth family rejecting one's transness only in non-English releases sadly. Even as a kid, I knew this game was special to me the moment I laid my eyes on its disk case. The story continues to interest me decades later.

Since the story is divided into seven chapters, I'll have a section marked by the Crystal Star (or map) obtained in each.

Magic Map Prologue

Opening up, we start at the iconic Mario Brothers' house from the first game, Paper Mario. It's really pretty to see a location from the first game remade in the at-the-time modern artstyle... it makes me want to see the rest of the Mushroom Kingdom like this! Hell, did you know that the WHOLE house is modeled with accompanying camera shots? I don't know if it was ever planned to have the house in a playable state, especially since the hidden room underneath the brothers' bedroom isn't modeled, but it's interesting to note nonetheless.

As soon as Mario gets the letter with a Magic Map from Peach (read by Luigi, of course), he's off to Rogueport. When he gets there, even now I still feel the complete contrast of Rogueport compared to many other locations in the series. The boat driver even tells Mario that this place isn't like any other place he's been to, that it's rough and not pretty. I love seeing Mario thrown out of his element, and you can really feel it when he gets caught in the scuffle between Goombella and Lord Crump. Dude has no idea what's going on and just wanted to meat up with Peach!

Thankfully, Goombella is a friendly face and knows her way through town. Also thankfully, she knows of Mario, so she's willing to believe him unlike others he meets. When they meet up with Proffessor Frankly, he's never even HEARD of Mario. It emphasises a lot about how Mario isn't in even slightly familiar territory anymore, and it just feels so exciting to see how he handles it. He handles it pretty well, although he's definitely not used to people not knowing about him. With the goal of finding Princess Peach and collecting the Crystal Stars on his mind, he sets off with Goombella to collect the first star. And with that, it's such an excellent beginning to the story.

Emerald Star Chapter 2

Upon discovering the next Crystal Star is located in Boggly Woods, our trio traverses the Rogueport sewers once again in search of a pipe to take. Upon spotting a Puni named Punio and confronting them, we learn that their home, the Great Tree, has been taken over by the X-Nauts in their persuit of the Crystal Star. With their help, Mario and co. are able to get to Boggly Woods. And, boy is this place pretty. The white flowers that decorate the landscape looks so soft. As a kid, I loved running Mario through these flowers, and I still do now. The rainbow grass floor is a very mystical touch to me, and it's something I feel really stands out about this area compared to other forests. The yellow sky makes me feel like I'm not even on Earth, yet I know that's not true. The enemies and other Punis found here are also black and white, but it doesn't come off as boring to me because in my head, of course they'd be black and white! How else will they camouflage amongst the plantlife? Boggly Woods is a favorite in terms of how memorable it all looks and feels.

Passing by the Shadow Sirens fighting over a necklance and poster, the squad approach the Great Tree. Punio discovers a mechanical door in front of what used to be the entrance, which devistates them. There's a secret entrance, but without it, Mario and co. cannot enter. Punio suddenly remembers a friend of theirs, Flurrie, that can help open the secret entrance for Punio to find a way to let everyone inside, and with that they journey to Flurrie's home. There, Flurrie hides in her room, unwilling to come out without her lost necklace. I always found it a bit silly that she wouldn't want to come out without it, especially considering the Punis' home is being invaded by the X-Nauts... where are your priorities??? Ahem. Tasked with finding the necklace, the group heads back towards the Shadow Shriens, where earlier Mario overheard them fighting over a necklace. The Shadow Shirens realize that Mario had passed them earlier and was the person they were initially looking for, and engage in battle. However, they lose, and drop Flurrie's necklace as they flee. I felt really bad for Vivian, though without the context of her being trans in the English version, it fell flat on why Beldam picked on her so much. In non-English versions, Vivian introduces her and her sisters as Shadow Sisters, which angers Beldam as in her eyes, Vivian isn't a woman. She even calls her a man, which, ough. Poor Vivian. I wish scenes like this wasn't censored in translation... Nonetheless, Mario returns the necklace to Flurrie and she joins the party, but not without giving Mario sloppy giving Mario a huge kiss. Dude was not prepared for that.

Upon entering the tree, we're tasked with freeing the Punis in order to get to the Crystal Star before Lord Crump and the X-Nauts do. We can see the damage they've caused in how many of the entryways in the tree have been replaced with mechanical doors. It makes me feel more sympathetic and sad for the Punis... Nonetheless, they're able to find the Crystal Star before Crump despite various traps he's set. However, he snatches it before we're able to take it, and sets a time bomb to go off within 3 minutes, intending to bury Mario and the Punis under the rubble. Everyone is able to race back to the entrance, where Crump realizes the time bomb idea didn't pan out too well. He turns it off and proceeds to pull out Magnus von Grapple, his giant robot. Don't say it don't say it don't make the Tord joke. Mario and his team are able to defeat him, and Lord Crump drops the Crystal Star upon fleeing. It felt very satisfying to drive him out and reclaim the Great Tree for the Punis.

The Peach segment here is adorable. TEC doesn't have a body to dance with Peach, so they generate a hologram of Peach to use and feel though. It's adorable, especially since after the dance, Peach is slowly starting to warm up to them. While TEC can't help Peach escape at the moment, I really feel that desire wanting to change from them. The Bowser segment was funny, since the guy somehow didn't realize he was talking to a Peach poster. I hate that I laughed at the fact Bowser considered a mute Peach to have benefits, that's such a horrible joke and I love it.

Ruby Star Chapter 4

I'll be honest, I was worried for this chapter. As excited as I was to get Vivian, as a kid, this was my least favorite and was what made me drop my replays: because of the backtracking. But, as an adult, it's annoying but it's not as bad as I thought it was.

Once Mario and his group discover the next Crystal Star is located in Twilight Town, off they go to its pipe under the west side of town! However, when they try to enter, the pipe... rejects them?? How does that work? Does some force within the pipe reverse your momentum and eject you that way...? Regardless, Mario and co. return to Frankly to figure out what could have caused this. Frankly remembers that a past resident of Twilight Town now resides in Rogueport, so after Mario finds this person, they inform him that in order to go through the pipe, you have to have something with your name written on it. Unfortunately, none of Mario and co. have their names written on anything. Damn, not even an ID? Well, I guess with a town like Rogueport, you wouldn't want to bring that with you. Thankfully, the resident offers to write their names on their clothes for them! Unthankfully, they write Mario's name on the seat of his overalls. I never knew what "the seat of [one's] overalls" meant as a kid, but now I know better. They wrote his name on his ass. I'm sorry your ass got violated that day, man. Anyhow, with that out of the way, off they go to Twilight Town- for real this time- to get the next Crystal Star!

Upon arriving, Mario and co. are greeted by many pigs instead of civilians. A resident approaches Mario, warning him to turn away in case he too becomes a pig. And, to demonstrate it, as a church bell is rung, poof! They're a pig now. This freaks the group out a little, but the mayor spots them and brings them inside to explain. Turns out, a fabled monster has been turning the town slowly into pigs each time that distant steeple bell rings. Mario takes on the task to stop the monster, knowing they likely have the Crystal Star with them. The first time going through the forest to Creepy Steeple isn't always too bad for me, in fact, I enjoy it! The enemies are a lot tougher now, with most of them having access to a charge ability that skyrockets their attack. Though, with how tough it is, the Star Points being low most of the time dissuades me a little from continuing to fight them. Not to mention, the Crazy Daisies, which aren't a horrible enemy until you realize their only attack is to sing. And, when that sing has a chance of putting you to sleep, it has a really deadly combo. I've died in the past plenty of times just to Crazy Daisies, but thankfully I generally was a lot better at guarding against their songs.

Upon reaching Creepy Steeple and reaching its peak reveals Doopliss. He doesn't introduce himself or say his name, but he does take credit for turning the town into pigs under the guise of a "prank." He was way too ahead of his time. Once engaged in battle, tattling him reveals that his name isn't even in Goombella's tattle log! As a kid, I glanced over this, but I know now that it was to set-up the rest of the chapter. The fight itself isn't too hard, especially when you're me and all you do is Power Bounce and Multibonk. The twist though is midway through the battle, Doopliss transforms into a shadow of Mario, revealing he can shapeshift. Once the battle is done, though, something suddenly becomes really off with Mario. His stance is much more tense, and his voice has a small, distorted echo. The game says you've collected a new Crystal Star, but doesn't tell you the new ability that comes with it. And once Mario and his partner leave... that's when it sets in. Something's wrong. The camera hasn't moved, faded, or done anything. We're stuck, back where we defeated Doopliss... except, upon pressing any button, it's revealed that we're still Mario, and the imposter (don't say it) that left was Doopliss. And, for the first time since the begininng of the game... you're truly alone. On the way back, it really set in for me how alone Mario was and how much he relied on his partners. Without them, enemies are a LOT harder to manage, especially those found on the way back to town. If he gets into a battle with a Crazy Daisy, that's practically a death sentence. There's no character dialogue, either, once you get up from Creepy Steeple. No, not even narration: you're COMPLETELY alone. And its such a weird feeling in a Paper Mario game.

Right before entering town, we're greeted by Doopliss in Mario's body. He gloats about how great it is to be "THE Super Mario," and dares us to guess what his name is. Unfortunately, no guess is correct, and he forces us into a battle with him. However, trying to fight him results in nobody being able to deal damage to each other, so the only choice is to flee. Upon walking into town, nobody recognizes Mario. He's a shadow, why would they? Entering the mayor's house reveals that they're showing Mario in reward after reward, and Doopliss, piloting your body, just eats it up. Talking to the partners reveal that they're not sure about Mario recently since they fought Doopliss. Goombella says he's become a lot more chatty, Koops is weirded out, Yoshi Kid says it's completely unlike Mario, and Flurrie says she prefered his character before, when he was more humble. It's almost horrific seeing this, because they just go along with Doopliss. They fully believe that he's still Mario, and, why wouldn't they? When Doopliss transformed last time, he only mimicked the shape and voice of Mario, not the colors! He looked like a shadow, much like what Mario is now. Going back outside to see what's up with Vivian, she explains to Mario that Beldam has dropped something and blamed her for it. She can't find it, despite her best efforts. Mario chips in and is able to find it, and returns it to her. Vivian's incredibly thankful, and asks for his name. Unfortunately, that's when we discover: Mario can't even say who he is. When he speaks his name, it becomes muffled and quiet, as if someone simply turned down the audio and covered it with pillows. That's when Mario has to explain to her about how Doopliss, still currently unnamed, stole his body and is running around pretending to be him. She offers to help him in return, feeling that she owes him a favor. That's when she comes up with the idea to pry the information out from birds by using her Veil ability to pull her and Mario into the shadows and eavesdrop. Weirdly enough, it works, and they discover that to undo the curse, they have to say Doopliss' name! Though, it makes me wonder, the crows mention Mario's name, saying, "So, that Mario guy meeting with the mayor, he's the bad guy, right?" with the second crow following up with "The only soul that knows the bad guy's name is locked under Creepy Steeple, I hear." It makes me wonder why Vivian never bothered to connect the dots...

Regardless, the duo travel back to Creepy Steeple and hop down the well to find the secret room that holds this trapped soul. After entering the room, a bunch of treasure is stashed thoughout alongside a parrot right in the middle of it. Using the same Veil trick from earlier, the parrot names Doopliss as the one who locked him in because of knowing his name. And, bingo!! Knowledge obtained! After a third treck though the woods, the duo meet back up with Doopliss and tell him his name. Doopliss flat up has a panic attack, and flees back to his Steeple. One FINAL treck through the woods, we confront him, but this time he pulls out Mario's partners as well. That's when Vivian realises who's she's been helping the whole time, and feels betrayed. She knows Mario couldn't have told her, considering when he tried to say his name it was muffled, but she still feels hurt and leaves for a little. Something that I wonder here though is, how come Mario's partners don't question why they're back at the Creepy Steeple with him? It's certainly odd...

Vivian returns mid-battle after 2 turns, resolving that Mario treats her far better than her sisters ever have and she'd rather be around him. Mario's glad to have her, and together they defeat Doopliss and Mario regains his body. His partners question why Vivian was helping him, to which Mario stands up for her, and gets them off of her case. She thanks him, and as a gift of sorts, she picks up the Crystal Star Doopliss left behind and gives it to Mario. How sweet...

The Peach segment develops from what we last saw. TEC begins to realize that they've hurt Peach, and questions if what they're doing is right. Through this panic, they tell Peach the truth about the thousand-year door and the Crystal Stars: the hidden treasure is a thousand-year demon soul and the stars were used to seal the door to it away. Peach asks to email this information to Mario, to which TEC hesitantly complies. It feels tense, and it makes me feel like Grodus will burst in at any moment. However, she sends her email, and thanks TEC for telling her. It's nice to see their friendship patch up a little.

Meanwhile, Bowser is pissed from the last encounter. He resolves to return back to Glitzvile and destroy Mario again, but this time, with Kammy. Kammy takes the blimp, while Bowser takes his clown car. Unfortunately, it ran out of fuel, and he has to swim back to Rogueport. He's pissed Kammy had fun at Glitzvile without her, but they realize Mario wasn't there anymore... these segments are so silly and it really helps separate the more serious chapters, so that it's not all doom and gloom.

Garnet Star Chapter 6

i'll get back to you when i beat this chapter

Diamond Star Chapter 1

Upon entering Petal Meadows, it feels a lot more familiar to Mario. However, that familiarness doesn't stay long as the shadow of Hooktail flies over him, a reminder that this isn't your typical meadow. Making it to town, they gather information on Hooktail, learning that they're a dragon that feasts on the civilians on the town. The way they talk about Hooktail lends the idea that while they've been a problem for a good while, it's a relatively recent problem. It makes me wonder why none of them decided to move out... Regardless, before our duo makes it out of the settlement, they're interrupted by Koops who almost works up the courage to ask to join their journey. He nervously steps down, running away last second. He tries again though, as after fetching the Sun Stone Moon Stone Stone Keys that opens the way to Hooktail Castle, we're greeted by him once more. This time, he is able to get the request out, explaining that he wants to tag along to defeat Hooktail in vengance for his father, and Mario happily accepts another helping hand to his quest. Before they depart, Koopie Koo, Koops' girlfriend, begs for him to stay and reconsider. She serves as yet another reminder that this could be deadly. While the premise of a hostile figure consuming the residence of a town isn't exactly new as seen in Chapter 3 of the Nintendo 64 game, the way this threat is treated is with a slightly more serious tone compared to the previous game. When the trio enter the castle, there's bones and remains of Koopas littered throughout the floors. With so many, it makes me wonder if Hooktail truly is a recent problem...

I never played the original game as a child, but having played through enough I was able to catch a neat reference upon replaying TTYD. Upon finding a pile of bones that Koops mistakes to be his father, we find that the bones actually belongs to a previous character's father, Kolerado. Kolerado is a Koopa archeologist and a famous explorer from the first game, and it's neat to see a subtle callback!

After defeating Hooktail, they regurgitate Koops' father, initially thought dead by Koops and the town. It's a genuine, sweet reuinion to see, though, I'm not sure how his father survived in Hooktail's stomach for so long... how did he eat?? Hooktail seems to imply they only feast off of Koopas and other sentient creatures... Maybe we shouldn't think about that.

The Peach and Bowser segments to the end of each chapter is fun, although I don't have much to say on them here. It's interesting to see TEC become infatuated with Peach upon being tasked to keep an eye on her. A computer so good, it accidentally learns to love...

Gold Star Chapter 3

I was excited for this chapter, because like many people's opinions online, this was my favorite chapter as a kid. However, upon replaying the beginning part of it, I realized it's a little bit much. After finding out the next Crystal Star is located in Glitzvile, a floating fighting pit of all places, Mario has to find out how he's going to be able to get up there. Obviously, nobody can fly (except debatably Flurrie, who's a wind spirit), but they may be able to get a blimp ticket from the local leader of the Pianta Mafia, Don Pianta. Firstly, holy hell, a fucking mafia??? In my Mario game?? That's sick! Secondly, they have to find out how to get contact with Don Pianta. If you're playing blind, you're usually to wander around and explore until you find a gang on the east side of town in a building, behind the Trouble Center, and ask about Don Pianta. Then, you have to pay 60 coins. I could be buying a badge for that!! Granted, it goes to show that Rogueport is once again far from the typical friendly town that Mario's used to, but on the other hand, 60 coins??? Imagine not being able to afford that kind of info AND you can't look it up online! And if you say no the first time then ask again, they raise the price to 64 coins!! Goddamn!! Works for world building, at least. Thankfully, I remembered how to get to Don Pianta. You have to travel to the west side of town and enter the item shop there. Then, you buy a Dried Shroom Dried Shroom and a Dizzy Dial Dizzy Dial, in that order. Then, you say your favorite color is yellow, and you're in! Unfortunately, Don Pianta is... well, a mafia boss. That means he ain't too friendly to strangers. He strikes up a deal with Mario though: find Don Pianta's daughter, and he'll hook Mario and co. up with a blimp tocket to Glitzville. Upon arriving at the Rogueport docks, there we find two piantas: Frankie and Francesca. Frankie is Don's right-hand man, and Francesca is Don's daughter. They're attempting to sail away from Rogueport to avoid punishment from Don, and beg Mario to not say a word about them. Personally, I can't fathom the choice of saying no to them, so I have Mario agree to keep his lips sealed. As a kid, when reporting back to Don, I'd opt to tell him anyway behind their backs, but this time around I couldn't bring myself to do that. The choice doesn't matter, but I don't care!! ... Ahem. The duo burst into Don's office and reveal themselves anyhow, unable to risk Mario any harm, knowing what Don is capable of. It's really sweet, especially Don trying not to cry about it because he is honestly happy for them despite how betrayed he felt. He gives Mario the blimp ticket, and off they are to Glitzvile!

Upon entering Glitzvile and watching a fight, Mario and co. spot the third Crystal Star on the champion, Rawk Hawk's belt. I almost wrote "Rawk Kawk"... Two options come to Mario's mind: steal or obtain it legitimately. I can't see Mario as someone who's willing to steal even for a noble cause, and even if you picked steal his partners would chastise him for suggesting that. So, legitimately obtaining it, it is! After talking to a security guard and being lead to the ringleader of the whole operation, Mr. Grubba, Mario and his friends sign up as fighters together. They also sign a contract, which says they can't leave until Grubba says so, which does sound suspicious to me now that I replay the game... I know what happens, but it's just interesting in hindsight. The mental image of Mario signing a contract is also funny to me, too, because at this point in time in Mario History it was debatable on if his full name really was Mario Mario or if he just had no last name. Imagine him signing "Mario Mario" and Grubba looks down at the paper in slight disbelief. "So, Mario, ey...?" Although, this commercial of Mario Tennis Aces gives us what his signature may look like... so we'll never know. Either way, Grubba decides Mario needs a stage name and he somehow comes up with the idea of the Great Gonzales. I mean, Mario is italian, but last time I checked, Gonzales is Spanish? Grubba?? Are you... racist??? I joke, but I wouldn't doubt it.

After that, Mario and his partners are shown to the red Minor League locker room, where they'll be staying until they rank higher. There, other fighters rest: King K, Bandy Andy, Cleftor, Master Crash... they're mostly friendly faces! After every match, King K will come talk to you about the latest happenings in the Glitz Pit, and give words of encouragement. I actually found myself looking forward to seeing him after matches, and I forgot about how after a while, he disappears, with the last thing he's said was to Mario about potentially retiring. Bandy Andy is still around, lurking in the halls, but soon after Mario moves from the Minor to Major League, he disappears, too. He told the folklore and rumors of the Glitz Pit, so seeing him poof away was also kind of sad. It made me think of one of the rumors he talked about, where fighters would randomly disappear and never be heard from again. Especially the first champion, Prince Mush. When Mario gets to the Major League, Rawk Hawk becomes increasingly jealous and threatens Mario constantly. Unfortunately, being up-close and personal had the gang realize that the Crystal Star on his champion belt isn't real. Soon, Mario also starts getting emails from the mysterious Mx. X. I know his partners say "Mr." but they never signed off with "Mr. X" so fuck you. They encourage Mario and his friends to slowly uncover the mysteries of the Glitz Pit. First, X directs them to a blocked-off room in the Minor League where research papers on Crystal Stars are, confirming to Mario and co. that the Crystal Star IS here. Then, they direct them to the storage room to overhear conversations between Jolene and Grubba about the disappearances of fighters. After some instructions, X sends another email warning Mario to stop looking for information about the Crystal Stars. I was really curious about this, since Mario's partners thought X themselves sent it, but it didn't follow their usual typing style of mIxEd CaSe. Apparently, according to the Mario Wiki, it's from Grubba, which... makes some sense as those emails were never signed with "X". Probably a throwaway, like X's email? Either way, through X's directions, we find out that the missing fighters were stashed away in storage's second floor, almost lifeless. If it wasn't for the ending, I would have assumed they both were dead.

While rising through the ranks in the Major League, Bowser makes a surprise appearance by barging in right after a match and hops on stage, taking on Mario. I used to lose to this as a kid, but I know how to play the game a lot better and was able to take him out with no trouble. I felt on top of the world when I did, being able to take down enemy after enemy. After rising to the spot right behind Champion, Mario and co. are finally able to challenge Rawk Hawk. Unfortunately, Hawk got a security guard to lock them in a different Minor League room. After discovering a secret room that connected the Minor to the Major league, they enter the bathroom and... flush themselves down. I suppose the rumors about the connected toilet were true, as weird as that sounds. Eugh. Either way, they escape and defeat Rawk Hawk, and become champion, but their jobs aren't done yet! They overhear someone talking through the air vents, so Mario and co. bust it down and sneak in, overhearing Grubba talk about the Crystal Stars. After he presumably leaves, they bust down the vent to Grubba's office and open his office drawer revealing blueprints to a machine that takes the life energy from people. Grubba heard the vent bust down and reopened the door to check out what happened, only to spot Mario and run to the arena. After they catch up to him, they realize what one of the final rumors of the Glitz Pit meant: Don't enter the arena when no one is around, because Grubba turns into Macho Grubba: a form powered by the life energy of those he made disappear. He even threatens to make Mario and his friends disappear, too, like Bandy Andy and King K. After defeating him, Jolene comes into the ring, revealing that she the X guiding Mario to solving the Glitz Pit mysteries due to her brother, Prince Mush, having gone missing a little bit before Rawk Hawk replaced him. Grubba implied Mush to be dead, which, I almost wish they went for, but the Crystal Star spits him out and he's alright! I suppose the star also restores the energy stolen from King K and Bandy Andy, since they're all okay later, too. Before leaving, Jolene thanks Mario for helping set things right at the Glitz Pit and announces she'll be running the business from now on. She also informs him that he's free to return anytime he likes, understanding that he has to collect the Crystal Stars. I felt bad leaving, knowing I'd miss everyone there, especially King K. He said Mario was the nicest guy he's ever met, and that just makes me feel warm. Nonetheless, the world won't save itself, so back to home base!

The Peach segment is a bit sillier this time. She's tasked by TEC to go ask Grodus what the X-Nauts do with her, since they're not really talking to Peach anymore and TEC wasn't programmed with the reason why, but Grodus refuses to say. There, she learns the X-Nauts plan to use the Crystal Stars for world domination, which upsets her greatly. She's brought back to reality as she realises TEC still works with the X-Nauts. They hesitantly allow Peach to email Mario about their plans. Their relationship starts to strain, and it's interesting to see it be tested!

No gameplay for the Bowser segment this time around, but I think it's hilarious that if you beat Bowser, he's just completely miserable about it. Dude is NOT happy.

Sapphire Star Chapter 5

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Crystal Star Chapter 7

i'll get back to you when i beat this chapter