It's me, Mario!
So, I rented Paper Mario - Legend of the Thousand Year Door for GC a little over a week ago, and it wasn't until yesterday that I spent my spare time doing anything but play the thing. I was a huge fan of Super Mario RPG for the Super Nintendo, and so, when I went to Blockbuster last Friday looking for a game to soak up some of my spare time, I picked up the second Paper Mario game in good faith that it would at least be in the same league as the game that I played for so many hours so many years ago.
Honestly, I've been completely blown away. The graphics are gorgeous and they really show off what the GC can do when developers utilize its processing and rendering power. The little 2D characters moving around in a 3D world is a cool concept (Mario and his friends flip over when changing directions). Mario can even fold himself into an airplane or boat, turn sideways to fit through tight spaces, and roll himself up into a tube. The story, although somewhat predictable, is nevertheless engrossing, and gets the player eager to move the plot along. The battle system is relatively simple, featuring timed controller functions for extra power when executing moves. The battle sequences all take place on a stage in front of an audience, so getting the timing right and doing "stylish" moves are a necessity, as filling your Star Power gauge for Special Moves depends on your appeasing the crowd. This can make battles a little tedious after a while.
There are a few things that I don't like about the game. For instance, when you level-up, which doesn't happen all that frequently, you have to choose whether to increase your Heart Points (life), Flower Points (magic), or Badge Points (allow Mario to equip badges with a wide array of special moves and enhancements available). Mario's HP and FP doesn't automatically increase with a level-up. Also, you can only increase your partners' (of which, you can only use one at a time) stats with Shine Sprites, which are strewn about Mario's world.
All in all, it's an excellent game, especially if you were a fan of the first Paper Mario or Mario RPG. If you've got some time, be sure to pick it up or rent it.