This game has some completely unique chapters that put the generic worlds in New Super Mario Bros games of late to shame. From fighting in an arena to become the champion, to going on a piratical expedition, to saving a town from a curse that turns the townspeople into pigs, there isn't a single terrible chapter in this game. Per usuale, it is time for... Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: All Chapters RANKED!
8. The Great Boggly Tree
Okay, this is the only chapter in this game that I didn't adore. I really liked it, but I didn't adore it. I loved the Shadow Sires, the Puni Elder was hilarious, the Jabbi fights were rather cool, the boss was decent, and the aesthetic of the chapter was easily the most beautiful in the game! But as much as I loved so many elements from this chapter, there were a lot of flaws as well. First of all, Madame Flurrie was easily the least developed partner in the game, and even though I liked the story focusing on the Punies, I wish that Madame Flurrie could have got more time in the spotlight (I mean, she's an actor for heck's sake, it can't be that hard to get her to get her up in there!). Secondly, this chapter overstayed its welcome, and the Great Boggly Tree itself took me 4-5 hours to beat; much longer than any other dungeon in the game. However, in my opinion, the biggest issue wasn't even the Punies following Mario around, but instead that the layout of the level was not only confusing, but also convoluted. Overall, when it comes to negatives, the flaws come due to the backtracking, annoying layout, and the flawed Puni system. However, I still do believe that the positives of this chapter outweighed the negatives—the dialogue is the best in the game, the Shadow Sirens are introduced, and it is simply a gorgeous setting. Overall, The Great Boggly Tree is a solid yet very flawed chapter.
7. Mario Shoots To The Moon
I can't believe I had to put this chapter in second to last! It is still really good! Let's just make this clear now: I didn't actually mind the General White sidequest that much—I honestly found some of the backtracking in earlier chapters worse than it. Anyway, no more regarding General White for this chapter. Let's get into the meat of this. First of all, I actually thoroughly enjoyed the Fahr Outpost section for the most part—the battles were challenging, the imagery was nice, and the sequence where Mario was shot to The Moon left me in awe. However, The Moon itself was rather lackluster and a bit uninteresting, but I didn't mind much since I expected The Moon to be rather barren. The biggest highlight of the chapter was the X-Naut Fortress where the player gets to solve tons of puzzles, beat Lord Crump once and for all, witness a heartbreaking death, and, best of all, listen to the bop that is the X-Naut Fortress theme. Overall, a fantastic chapter, but since it isn't quite as good as the other chapters on this list, it falls at the number seven spot.
6. Castle and Dragon
This is a very fun first chapter. Is it inventive? Not really. Is it unique? A little bit. Is it a very fun chapter? Of course! The Petal Meadows was fun... though generic. Koops's story arc was great... but generic. Petalburg was cool... but generic. And Hooktail's Castle was phenomenal... but generic. Honestly, it's kind of hard to describe this chapter for me, so I'll just sum it up in two words: really great. Enough said.
5. 3 Days of Excess
NOTE: From here on out, these chapters are pretty much all tied for me because they are all just so good!
There are lots of highlights in this chapter! These include solving mysteries on a train, getting the Ultra Boots, defeating Smorg, visiting the Riverside Station, the plot twist about the Garnet Star, and the penguin detective, Pennington. The mystery elements are easily the best part of the chapter, as not only are there tons of little mysteries that Mario gets to solve, but all of the little mysteries are pieces of the bigger puzzle—the biggest mystery of them all in which Doopliss and Beldam are revealed to have been the masterminds behind the whole thing! Pennington is a huge part of all of the mysteries, and he is my favorite non-playable character in the game! He is a "detective" that "helps" you solve mysteries on the train. His antics are super hilarious and some of the best in the game since not only does he think that Mario is Luigi the entire time, but he simply is one of the worst detectives I have ever seen in action. Another highlight for me, the Riverside Station, is usually regarded to be a weak location, but I actually really enjoyed it! I loved the utilization of the Tube curse, the integration of the Ultra Boots, the introduction of Smorg, the platforming, and (as always) the battles. The whole Smorg sequence is fantastic and Smorg was one of my favorite bosses in the game, even if I cheesed him way too easily for my own good. After the Smorg battle, the chapter still continues strong at the vibrant Poshley Heights, an awesome town that is unique in its own right. After arriving, a series of events leads to an epic plot twist that finishes the chapter off with a bang. Overall, I just loved this chapter's mystery elements, the unique locations and characters, and the amazing boss fight—but this chapter simply doesn't hold up extremely well to some of the other chapters, especially on a replay.
4. For Pigs The Bell Tolls
You either love this chapter or hate this chapter. It's like the blue cheese of TTYD. But no matter what other people say, I will never change my opinion that I absolutely love this chapter. This is not the most fun of the chapters, I will admit, but it is deep in its themes, gloomy, and dark. So I didn't exactly want it to be super fun. The first half of the chapter is already awesome as heck, as you have to progress to the Creepy Steeple while seeing so many townspeople turning into pigs all around you. After beating the "chapter boss," the curse is broken, however, after an epic plot twist, Mario becomes the shadow form of himself that Doopliss was originally, losing his partners and his name! This adds a very unique plot for the second half of the chapter, and it is a very interesting idea to see unfold. Some other highlights of this chapter include the character Doopliss, possibly my favorite antagonist in the game, the perfect atmosphere of the chapter, and the comedic dialogue between the birds and the Boos. A lot of other people hate the backtracking in this chapter, but to be honest, I felt many of the chapters had much worse backtracking. I actually quite liked going back through the Twilight Trail many times over because it changed things up every time the path was traversed. The first time along, Mario has all of his partners on his side, making it really easy. The second time along, I struggled profusely in taking down the enemies because Mario was the only playable character in this portion of the game (which was awesome because this is one of the only times this happens). And the third time along was cool because I felt a bit of relief that Vivian was able to help me out a little bit against some of the enemies. Speaking of the enemies, some people didn't like the difficulty spike along the Twilight Trail, but I thought this was the perfect difficulty for enemies at this point because TTYD is an easy game across the board, and I liked actually feeling like I needed to strategize and change up my battles since I got a couple of Game Overs. This is also the most nostalgic chapter for me because this was my favorite chapter the first time I played through this game when I was seven years old seven years ago! This was my favorite chapter before I even played the game because for some reason I saw some gameplay of this chapter, and it drew me in immediately. Overall, I just love this chapter so much even though it isn't the most fun. The spookiness, the intrigue, the interest, the nostalgia... it all comes together to make a fantastic chapter of TTYD.
3. The Thousand-Year Door
This chapter is an amazing finale for an amazing game. The finishing of the story, the five boss fights, the riddles and puzzles, and the unique gameplay—this is what a finale needs to be! And it 100% delivers! Another thing I appreciate about this chapter is that you get straight into the action. While having an introduction works great for introducing the player to the story of the upcoming chapter, it wouldn't have worked to have a long introduction for this chapter. I am very pleased that they went this route so the player could get straight into the action without an unnecessary drawn out intro. Now moving onto the combat in this dungeon. When it comes to bosses, this chapter has the best of the bunch, and although the enemy battles are not as entertaining as Glitzville, they are pretty good as well. In regards to the story, none of the other chapters even come close. My personal favorite story beats included when the team said goodbye to Mario, when Frankly was revealed to be Doopliss, the whole introduction of the Shadow Queen, and best of all, the final scene in which Mario and Luigi read Goombella's letter about what the squad has gotten themselves into. Even though the scene where the Mario Bros were reading Goombella's letter was easily one of my favorite scenes in the game, I had quite a few problems with this part of the game. Koops becoming the mayor of Petalburg seemed a little off to me for some reason, Vivian's sisters being nice to her for no apparent reason, Grodus and Lord Crump surviving without any good story reason or even a simple explanation (sounds like a Mario game to me...). The whole part about Peach coming and saying that "there's another treasure map!" or whatever was also kind of a stupid moment, I felt like the game could've ended a bit better than that... but whatever I guess. Luckily, the flaws of the ending were all balanced out since Flurrie, Yoshi, Bobbery, Ms. Mowz, and even Doopliss all had perfect conclusions to their characters. I also thought it was great that, unlike the original Paper Mario, Luigi was going off on his own adventure saving Princess Eclair of the Waffle Kingdom. Due to this, I wasn't super irritated in that final scene where Mario explained to Luigi what happened on the adventure since Luigi was off saving somebody else. When it comes to gameplay, my favorite part was definitely the Tower of Riddles. Sure, some of the riddles were kind of basic and/or intuitive, but they were still a ton of fun. Overall, the final chapter creates a superb balance of gameplay, boss fights, and story, making it a near-perfect final chapter to Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door—but still not great enough to make it the best chapter in the game for me.
2. Of Glitz and Glory
Regarded by most to be the best chapter in the game, and I can 100% see why. This chapter has all of the mystery of the sixth chapter; an emotional twist at the end of the chapter that is my probably my second or third favorite emotional scene in the series (Bobby's sacrifice and the following moments in Origami King will probably never be beat, I'm sorry die-hard Thousand-Year Door fans); battles that surpass all of the other chapters in the game—this is just the best of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Starting off as just a gauntlet of enemies, Glitzville quickly evolves into so much more. Fighters start disappearing, which adds a fantastic mystery element in the background of all the fighting. The e-mails from X and Rawk Hawk are great additions to the mystery as well, and the mystery elements come together with the final few battles to create a near perfect climax for the chapter: the reveal of the Topaz Star, Macho Grubba, Prince Mush and Joelene, and an amazing boss fight. I don't have much else to say about this chapter that hasn't already been said, and I do think that this is the objectively best and most well-rounded chapter in the game. But did I have the most fun with it? No... there's one chapter that beats Chapter 3 in that regard...
1. The Key To Pirates
Geez, I just love this chapter! This is not the most original or thought-provoking chapter in the game, but if I only got to replay one chapter in the game, it would be this one. This chapter is just pure fun pretty much the whole way through! The pirate theme of this chapter is executed wonderfully—the introduction sequence where Bobbery reads Scarlette's letter, the sequence of Flavio's journal entries, the fight against Cortez, the skirmish against Lord Crump and the X-Nauts... it is all spot on and amazing! Once arriving at Keelhaul Key, you get to fight a few Embers, and after you finish the fight, you realize that the rest of the crew is shipwrecked with you and that there is no escape off of the island. A sense of hopelessness surrounds this portion of the game, which I definitely liked. The rest of the Keelhaul Key is super fun, even if it is generic and full of backtracking. So why is it fun? It is all due to the fun battles, scenery, and the man... the myth... the legend... Flavio!!! After saving Admiral Bobbery and getting Flavio a coconut and convincing Flavio to hand over the Skull Gem, you can start the meat of this chapter—the Pirate's Grotto! This location is simply magnificent; except for the backtracking, that is. The battles, the platforming, and the epic puzzles all come together to form a pretty breathtaking dungeon. But, in my opinion, the dungeon itself pales in comparison to the finale of the chapter. Cortez is one of the best bosses (and characters) in the game, and it is comedy gold when Cortez anticlimactically hands over the Sapphire Star. The epic chapter boss is one-upped within a few minutes, however, which is honestly insane. In fact, my favorite moment in the entire game is after Cortez—the X-Ship vs the Black Skull sequence. Blowing up a whole in the wall to save the Toads; getting attacked by the X-Ship; recruiting Cortez and seeing Flavio finish his character arc in doing so; the pirate ship ramming through the grotto and the skirmish that ensued afterward; and the boss fight that follows is one of my favorite mini-boss fights in the game. Overall, this is purely the most fun chapter in the game in my opinion, and although the last few chapters did lots of things better than this chapter, this chapter had amazing moments and simply was the best chapter in the game for me.
A couple shoutouts for each chapter:
Chapter One: Best Introduction and Least Flawed
Chapter Two: Best Dialogue and Best Visuals
Chapter Three: Best Enemies and Most Loved
Chapter Four: Most Unique and Most Interesting
Chapter Five: Most Fun and Best Moments
Chapter Six: Best Mystery and Best Characters
Chapter Seven: Best Platforming and Best Bop
Chapter Eight: Best Story and Best Bosses
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