Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (Paper Mario RPG in Japan) is the second game in the Paper Mario series. It is a role-playing game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for play on the Nintendo GameCube, released on October 11, 2004. The game was originally going to be called Paper Mario 2, but was later re-titled in favor of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
Mario must collect seven Crystal Stars before the X-Nauts do, and reach the Thousand-Year Door to access its treasure. Along the way, he meets six (optionally seven) partners, each with their own unique abilities, who agree to help him on his quest.
Contains spoilers! Read at your own risk.
Prologue: A Rogue’s Welcome
The story starts off with a letter from Princess Peach, delivered to Mario by a familiar friend. The letter tells Mario he must travel to Rogueport, and attached to the letter is some sort of map. Upon getting there, Mario saves a Goomba named Goombella from the evil Lord Crump and his team of X-Nauts, who later takes him to Professor Frankly, and they all go down into the Rogueport Sewers (getting a Paper Airplane "curse" along the way) to find the mysterious Thousand-Year Door. They then lift up the Magical Map and learn where the first Crystal Star is.
Chapter 1: Castle and Dragon
Chapter 1 starts in a small town called Petalburg, near Petal Meadows. There is a dragon named Hooktail up in a nearby castle that eats anyone who comes to slay her. Mario goes to the Shhwonk Fortress and plays the 65th annual quiz show. They then get the sun and moonstones and fight the Golden Fuzzy. When Mario and co. get back to Petalburg, Koops becomes Mario's Partner, after recurring hesitation. Mario then goes to Hooktail Castle to slay the dragon. Mario receives a "curse" along the way that allows him to become paper-thin. After Mario beats Hooktail, Koopley, Koops's father, emerges from the dragon's belly. He gives Mario the Diamond Star he found in Hooktail's stomach.
Meanwhile, Princess Peach comes to in a strange, unfamiliar, futuristic-looking place. She has been kidnapped by a group of marauders called the X-Nauts, and their leader, Sir Grodus. After Grodus is informed that someone has found the first Crystal Star, Peach instinctively slips in the name 'Mario'. Grodus overhears this and has his troops investigate immediately. He orders the Shadow Sirens to steal the treasure map from Mario. Meanwhile, Peach is taken to her sleeping quarters. She decides to take a shower. After getting dressed, she then approaches a set of doors, which open automatically. Intrigued, she follows a corridor to another set of doors, which, again, open automatically. She then finds a computer with artificial intelligence, called TEC-XX, or TEC for short. He is intrigued by her concept of love and asks her to help him understand it. In return, he lets her send an email to Mario, informing him of what has happened.
Far away, in Bowser's Castle, Kammy Koopa informs the Koopa King that Mario has begun collecting Crystal Stars. Feeling that they sound like useful tools for world domination, Bowser is certain he wants them for himself. He also learns that someone else has captured Princess Peach. Outraged, he leaves for Rogueport.
Back in Petalburg, Mario informs the Koopas that he has slain the dragon Hooktail, and Koops informs Koopie Koo that, against her wishes, he is going with Mario to hunt the Crystal Stars, and he is going to return a much stronger Koopa. Back in Rogueport, Mario learns that Peach has been kidnapped by the X-Nauts. He heads to the Thousand-Year Door, where he is directed to the Great Tree.
Chapter 2: The Great Boggly Tree
Chapter 2 begins in Boggly Woods, you are guided by a small creature called a Puni named Punio to the Great Tree. The X-Nauts have locked up the main entrance, however, so Mario employs the help of a cloud-like actress named Flurrie to access the secret entrance. Using the help of the other Punies and the Puni Elder, Mario and friends are able to defeat Lord Crump (in the form of Magnus Von Grapple) and drive out the X-Nauts, where they recover the Emerald Star. Back at the X-Naut Fortress, Sir Grodus discovers Mario's capture of the Emerald Star, and is furious! Meanwhile, TEC uses a hologram for Peach to dance with, so he can understand the emotion of love.
Bowser, meanwhile, turns up in Petal Meadows searching for the Crystal Star. He travels through World 1-1 of Super Mario Bros, ending up in Petalburg. He spots Princess Peach, but discovers it is merely a poster.
Back in Rogueport, Mario receives an email from Princess Peach informing him that the X-Nauts are also after the Crystal Stars, and to be careful. Wasting no time, Mario presses on, being directed to Glitzville. However, the town is suspended in the air. Mario goes to Don Pianta, who, in return for finding his daughter, Francesca, and his mobster, Frankie, gives him a Blimp Ticket to Glitzville.
Chapter 3: Of Glitz and Glory
Mario heads to the Glitz Pit of Glitzville, where he watches a fight between Rawk Hawk, the reigning champion of the Glitz Pit, and his challenger, the Koopinator. Mario notices that on Rawk Hawk's championship belt, there is a Crystal Star. They decide that the only way to get that Crystal Star is to sign up to be a fighter and win the belt by defeating Rawk Hawk. Mario is entrusted with the ring name, "The Great Gonzales". After going up in the ranks and conquering the Minor League, Mario discovers a lone Yoshi Egg and cares for it until it hatches, and Mario gives it a name. A series of mysterious E-mails, sent by "X," written in different sized letters (reminiscent of the threat letters often seen in crime dramas) alert Mario to suspicious activity in the pit, and the instructions in these E-mails lead Mario to the truth behind the Glitz Pit. He then defeats Rawk Hawk, only to find that the Crystal Star is fake and that the real one is held by Grubba. After defeating Grubba (as Macho Grubba), they take the Gold Star, and the long-thought-retired Prince Mush emerges from Grubba's machine. Mush is reunited with Jolene, his sister, who reveals to Mario that she is X. Jolene becomes the new promoter of the Glitz Pit. Mario is forced to retire as a fighter, but he is invited to make a comeback anytime he likes. The Yoshi Kid agrees to follow Mario, referring to him as "The Great Gonzales".
Back at the Fortress, TEC asks Peach to find out information of Grodus's plans. He guides her to the dressing room, where the princess removes her dress and disguises herself as an X-Naut using a spare uniform. After making her way to Grodus's room, she tries finding out what Grodus's plans are. Although Grodus is suspicious of Peach's voice, she fools him and returns to the dressing room. After once again putting her dress on, she sends another e-mail to Mario.
Bowser, meanwhile, is still searching for Crystal Stars, with little success. He comes across the Punies of The Great Tree, who are frightened to death of him. Unfortunately, he discovers that Mario beat him to it.
Back in Rogueport, Mario receives Peach's email, learning of the X-Nauts' plans. He then decides that time is of the essence, and therefore proceeds to the Thousand-Year Door, where he is directed to Creepy Steeple. Professor Frankly informs him that Creepy Steeple is near Twilight Town, a town permanently covered in darkness. To get there, Mario has Darkly, a Twilight boy, write Mario's and his partners' names on their clothes so they can get to Twilight Town.
Chapter 4: For Pigs the Bell Tolls
The first thing Mario notices is that there are both villagers and Twilighters. Another boy explains the curse before he turns into a pig. Mario talks to Mayor Dour about what he is to do. In a shed, Mario finds a Black Chest Demon who, after once again tricking Mario (though he knew what was coming), sets a curse upon the plumber, forcing him into the shape of a paper tube so that he can bypass small gaps. After reaching Creepy Steeple, Mario comes across a horde of Boos (including an Atomic Boo who is an optional boss with a cool prize), as well as some puzzles, and the culprit of the curse of Twilight Town, a Duplighost. It transforms into Mario and engages in battle. Despite losing, the Mario copy steals Mario's name, body and Partner, leaving Mario as a mere shadow. Shadow Mario seeks help from the neglected and bullied Shadow Siren, Vivian. With her help, he manages to discover the name of the Duplighost - Doopliss. After revealing his name, Doopliss flees, back to the steeple. Vivian realizes, ashamed, that she has been helping her enemy all along. After returning to the belfry, Mario defeats Doopliss and the Shadow Sirens, with the help of Vivian, who joins Mario because of his kindness. They defeat Doopliss and reclaim the Ruby Star, and after getting his name and body back, Mario's partners apologize for being misled by Doopliss.
Back at the Fortress, TEC asks the princess a few questions, leading to her discovery of the treasure behind the Thousand-Year Door - the soul of a 1000-year-old demon! And the Crystal Stars will lock the demon away! Peach sends this information to Mario, wondering why on earth TEC revealed it to her.
Meanwhile, Bowser attempts to reach Glitzville in his Koopa Clown Car - failing spectacularly. He passes an underwater level in a similar platforming fashion to Super Mario Bros, only to reach Rogueport angry and wet. Kammy Koopa boasts about the merchandise she bought in Glitzville, so Bowser douses her with flames in a comical fit of rage.
Chapter 5: The Key to Pirates
On the other side of Rogueport, Mario goes to the Thousand-Year Door to find that he must go overseas to Keelhaul Key. He recruits Flavio and Admiral Bobbery (after a touching tale of his deceased wife) as his crew, to sail to the Key. However, along the way, they get shipwrecked and are stranded (conveniently, on Keelhaul Key). After rescuing Admiral Bobbery from two spirits, they, using Flavio's Skull Gem, enter the Pirate's Grotto. After learning to transform into a sailboat (via a Black Chest Demon) Mario comes across a horde of stranded Toad Sailors, rescuing them and Piantas on holiday, Frankie and Francesca. The crew then infiltrate Cortez's lair, waking him up in the process. In his anger, he attacks them, but they are victorious. When he learns that all they wanted was the Sapphire Star, he is only too happy to get rid of the thing. Back on the beach, Cortez provides them with his own ship, helping them defeat Lord Crump (who was hidden in the ship's crew all along) and the X-Nauts. Cortez then takes Mario & Co. home to Rogueport.
Back in the X-Naut Fortress, TEC requests that Peach find a disk containing secret information hidden in Grodus's room. To accomplish this task in secret, TEC instructs the princess to make an invisibility potion. Not long after drinking it, Peach realizes it does not affect her clothes. Although she initially refuses, Peach eventually agrees to remove her visible clothes and carry out the mission. After streaking through a hallway, Peach enters Grodus's room. After finding the data disk, she takes a seat and waits for it to load on Grodus's computer. She puts the disk away and returns to safety after another invisible run down the hall. The princess then drinks a green potion after TEC instructs her to do so. She soon after slips her dress back on and returns to her room. After this, TEC analyzes the disk and Peach once again sends an E-mail to Mario.
Bowser and Kammy Koopa run into Lord Crump in Twilight Town while searching for a Crystal Star. The X-Nauts had been looking for the Shadow Sirens' Superbombomb, and before you know it the Koopa Troop and X-Nauts have a face-off. However, Bowser inadvertently sets off the bomb with his fire breath, destroying everything!
Back in Rogueport, Mario receives an email from Peach concerning TEC's analysis of the secret disk. The Thousand-Year Door points the group towards Poshley Sanctum. However, to get there they need a Train Ticket from Don Pianta, and Don is too sick with worry to care. Mario and Co. head back to Keelhaul Key to help Frankie and Francesca find their wedding ring, and returns them to Don Pianta in Rogueport. Francesca offers to continue the family business, meaning Don can finally retire! In his joy, he presents Mario with his Train Ticket.
Chapter 6: 3 Days of Excess
Chapter 6 starts in the hustle-bustle of a train called the Excess Express. A Penguin detective (by the name of Pennington) in the train suspiciously identifies your name as Luigi and assists in strange mysteries of the rickety express, which are very similar in style to the mysteries faced by characters such as Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. Mario also comes across an old foe- Doopliss! who flees claiming Beldam will be upset and revealing his own membership in the shadow sirens. Eventually, Mario reaches Riverside Station, an abandoned desert that used to be filled with fresh water. The train stops here, short of its destination, because the bridge is gone. Inside, Mario learns the Spring Jump and retrieves a lever to operate the bridge outside swarmed by Mini-Smorgs. The next day, a dusty enemy from the station entitled Smorg infests the train and its passengers. Mario and Co. fight the Smorg and win. Later after the battle, Mario and the tourists stop at Poshley Heights to retrieve the Garnet Star from Poshley Sanctum.
Back at the X-Naut Fortress, Peach learns that the X-Nauts plan to sacrifice her to the demon of the Thousand-Year Door! TEC tries to help Peach escape but is shut down by Grodus.
Bowser finds a passage to a workout room in the sewers, belonging to Rawk Hawk. He finds a Crystal Star, but it breaks, proving it is artificial. Bowser attacks Rawk out of anger.
Chapter 7: Mario Shoots the Moon
Mario heads to Fahr Outpost where the only population is Bob-ombs. They have a cannon, but the Mayor denies its existence. After persuasion by Bobbery, the mayor agrees to allow Mario access to the cannon, on the condition that he locate General White. After travelling the world looking for him, they find him in his house, asleep. Mario wakes him up, and the crew are shot to the Moon. There they bypass the X-Naut Fortress, play the 66th quiz show, and defeat Lord Crump a third time, who this time uses an upgraded version of his mechanical robot, Magnus Von Grapple 2.0! Defeating him gains Mario his final Crystal Star!
Bowser and Kammy arrive in Poshley Sanctum and break the fake Garnet Star. A Paragoomba flies in to inform Bowser that Mario is heading for the treasure behind the Thousand-Year Door! Bowser plans to beat Mario there, and defeat him and steal all of his Crystal Stars, so Bowser can have the treasure.
Chapter 8: The Thousand-Year Door
Lord Crump sets the Fortress to self-destruct. However, with the assistance of TEC (who is now on standby), Mario finds a teleporter that gets him out of the Fortress alive and back into Rogueport Sewers. Mario heads for the Thousand-Year Door, conquers the Palace of Shadow, defeats Gloomtail, (who is related to Hooktail and Bonetail) Beldam, Marilyn, and Doopliss (who is as mistreated as Vivian was), Grodus, Bowser, and Kammy Koopa (hint: have at least 69 Star Points before fighting Grodus), and engages in battle with the Shadow Queen, who reveals she is a distant relative of the Shadow Sirens, who have been plotting against Grodus and the X-Nauts all this time! After failing to defeat the Shadow Queen, Mario is on the verge of defeat, but with the power of the Crystal Stars and the support of his numerous friends from all the places he visited, Mario defeats the Shadow Queen, who is locked away forever.
All the Partners go their separate ways: Goombella works as Professor Frankly's personal assistant; Koops has returned, like he said, a much braver Koopa, and is running for mayor of Petalburg; Flurrie is in a play called Paper Mario, also involving Doopliss; The Yoshi Kid is a fighter in the Glitz Pit, under the ring name 'Great Gonzales Jr.' Vivian is getting along better with her sisters. Ms. Mowz works in the Lovely Howz of Badges in Rogueport; and Bobbery lives in Keelhaul Key, though he spends most of his time at sea with Pa-Patch and Cortez.
Peach sends Mario a letter inviting him to go on another treasure hunt. Mario stands dumbstruck after remembering the previous treasure hunt.
This game was initially conceived as Paper Mario 2 and featured a far different logo, one reminiscent of the original Paper Mario's logo.
Part of the original trailer shows an HP Plus badge that is located on a ledge beyond a moving platform which has a wall over it in mid-course (and assuming it could be reached with the help of Vivian). None of this made it into the final game (except the area where these things are, minus thethings themselves of course). Also, Beldam and Doopliss were originally going to be fought somewhere in Riverside Station. The trailer also showed that Item Shops would be labelled with Mushrooms, much as in Super Paper Mario, rather than the Fire Flowers seen in the final game. Red Bones were initially named "Red Koopa Skeleton". In the same trailer, one can see that "Tornado Jump" was initially called "Hurricane Jump". The status element Slow had a different icon, a snail instead of a sad purple face.
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is commonly identified as a much darker game compared its predecessor and is often considered by a large portion of the hardcore fanbase to be one of the darkest entries in the Paper Mario series. This is mainly attributed to its plot, with the grittier setting of Rogueport, and even the tragic past of certain characters (such as Vivian and Admiral Bobbery). When the game was originally released, it had introduced a much more in-depth plot compared to previous Mario entries. Later Paper Mario games (such as Super Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Origami King) would continue the trend of including more unique and fleshed out stories. Part of the game's darker tone can also be attributed to the looming threat of newly introduced villains such as the X-Nauts, Grubba, and the Shadow Queen.