Well, 45 happened extremely soon after 44, because it was kind of a cop-out. I was stuck at this game's final boss about four years ago, after which I shelved my GameCube and basically forgot about it. But now, with no more exams standing in my way and looking for games to cross off my list, I fired it up again and beat that wit of a bitch after four or five tries. Totally worth it. It's Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, by the way.
I know I played the vast majority of this game several years ago, but it stuck with me. It's a rare game that improves upon its predecessor in so many ways and adds new layers to classic Nintendo characters. TTYD isn't just a great Mario RPG, it's one of the best RPGs on the GameCube, and probably the best Mario game on the Gamecube. It's just stellar in every regard.
The story is as follows: Princess Peach finds a treasure map whose starting point is at Rogueport, a rough-and-tumble harbor far away. Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toadsworth head on over, and each of them gets caught up various schemes to get the treasure. Luigi, who only has optional speaking roles in this game and never joins your party, will tell you his story in one of the game's sidequests. When a text-only collect-them-all sidequest makes me tear up the way Luigi's did, well, then the game has succeeded.
Eventually, it boils down to Mario rescuing Peach from space pirates (yuuup) and collecting seven crystal stars (yes, it's always stars, and yes, it's usually seven). Along the way Mario meets a variety of characters, whom the player can switch between during battle (just like in the first Paper Mario, your party is always Mario+1). I really like this game's cast - Kid Yoshi and Vivian the shadow girl were my two favorites, but for some reason this set is particularly memorable. My favorite NPC by a long shot seems like a throwaway character at first - TEC, the evil pirates' AI who makes friends with Princess Peach and interacts with her during interludes between the game's chapters. TEC's a bro after my own heart.
I'm rambling. All right, I'll try and get brief. The game's battle system revolves around timed button presses for every attack and working the crowd. That's right, your battlefield is a stage and the crowd will love, leave, or heckle you as they please. If the crowd's on your side, you can use more special attacks and get random bonuses. If the crowd's full of haters, they'll throw rocks at you or fight with more supportive members in the audience. It's gimmicky, but it's also unique and entertaining.
The best part of TTYD is the presentation itself. Unlike the first Paper Mario, which just happened to have a paper aesthetic, TTYD embraces it to the point of parody. Mario can fold himself up into a paper airplane or boat to get around, or slip through narrow gaps or roll around in a tube to get around the game's platformy dungeons. The game's visuals really pop, and manage to be 100% faithful to the Mario universe's characters with a high level of expressiveness.
Really, this game is similar to all of the Mario RPGs, but it's one of the better ones. Better than the other two Paper Mario games, and definitely at the same tier as the excellent Super Mario RPG on the SNES. If you own a GameCube or a Wii and love Mario and RPGs, then you are doing yourself a disservice by not playing this. Fuckit, I'll say something crazy - this is my favorite GameCube game.
Games Beaten: 2011 Edition
1. Mario vs. Donkey Kong
2. Primal Rage
3. Torchlight Hat Trick
4. Ghost Trick
6. Batman: Arkham Asylum
7. Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus
8. Sly 2: Band of Thieves
9. Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves
10. Tales of Eternia
11. Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds
12. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
13. 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors
14. Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation
15. Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime
16. Dragon Age: Origins
17. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
18. inFamous Evil Finish
20. inFamous 2 Good Finish
21. Big Bang Mini
22. Final Fight: Double Impact
23. Breath of Death VII: The Beginning
24. Cthulhu Saves the World
25. Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword
26. Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening
27. Disgaea Infinite
28. X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse
29. Jeanne d'Arc
30. Dragon Age II
31. Jade Empire
32. Cthulhu's Angels
33. DeathSpank: Orphans of Justice
34. Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten
35. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
37. Prince of Persia '08
38. Final Fantasy IV: Anniversary Edition
39. Professor Layton and the Last Specter
40. inFamous: Festival of Blood
41. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
42. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
44. On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness - Episode 1
45. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
I know that this was a super-fast entry probably rife with errors and low on insight, but it's late and I'm still on a high for FINALLY beating that game for the first time. I'm not sure what #46 is going to be, but there are four games that I ABSOLUTELY want to finish for this endeavor of mine. So really I only have one game still up in the air. Maybe the second Deathspank game. We'll see.