It's Really Happening, a Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door Remake!
On September 14, 2023, Nintendo had a Direct showcasing several upcoming games for the Switch. Before it concluded, the company had one more announcement and man, did it not disappoint. Busy with school and clinic, I missed the live showing, but when news came out that Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is coming to the Switch, I had to check out the trailer. It turned out to be way more than I expected.
Going into the trailer, I thought it was simply going to be a port job with some enhanced graphics and textures à la Pikmin 1 & 2. No, it's a full on remake from the character models to the lighting to even the music.
In the original game, only Mario and Peach had back sprites. It would be awkward when the game would show, for instance, Mario's back while his party member is facing the opposite direction despite them looking in the same direction. The remake fixes that as all characters, including the NPCs, have back sprites.
All of the characters are also more expressive. Before, when Mario or anyone else is surprised, a (!) speech bubble appears over their heads. This time, they actually have shocked looks on their faces.
There are many other small improvements here and there. Instead of just one generic dialogue SFX, there are unique sound effects based on the character. For instance, Peach and Goombella will get a high pitched, feminine sounding SFX while Koops will have a distinctively Koopa SFX. As you can see in the comparison shots above, the colors in the remake are more vibrant and pop out more, even in a gloomy setting like Twilight Town. You can see more things on screen thanks to the widescreen aspect ratio compared to the old 4:3.
This is more of a personal taste, but I greatly appreciate how the remake subdues the white outlines on the character models. In previous games like Color Splash and Origami King, the aesthetic came off as distracting and in-your-face. If you look closely enough on Mario in the remake trailer, the outline is razor thin for a more subtle effect.
It has been years since the Paper Mario franchise has gone back to its RPG roots. Many fans, including me, have been disappointed with Sticker Star, Color Splash, and to an extent, Origami King (though Super Paper Mario was really good). The fact that both Super Mario RPG and TTYD are getting remakes bodes well. If the TTYD remake does very well commercially, it may send Nintendo the message to make a sequel that sticks to the RPG formula. One can hope.