We’ve reached our final stop within my Traveling Thoughts series on Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. It’s been a long trip that’s spanned more than half a year, but it’s time for the thoughts on this series to come to a close. For the final entry, I will be looking at one of the most prominent sources of side quests within the game: the Trouble Center.
The way it works is that a certain character will come in and fill out on a message board a job they want someone to complete for them. The building is located on the east side of Rogueport—the building just after Gus’s guarding post—and is open to the player after the Prologue. Upon completing a chapter, three or four new troubles will be available to complete. These jobs usually consist of people needing help with finding a specific item or meeting someone for them. These odd jobs aren’t really enthralling in and of themselves, but it’s the characters that give a bit of flavor to the jobs being given.
I was always fond of doing these troubles as a kid. It allowed me to go back and establish more of the characters I had met in previous chapters, and gives them more of a reason to be present in the game’s universe. It was nice to revisit the memories I had of previous chapters and get more of a taste of the personalities present. Plus, I liked knowing that I was doing everything the game was offering. Call it the task manager inside me.
As an adult, I’m not as immersed in the story and characters as I once was, but still acknowledge that it’s an enticing part of doing these troubles. Unfortunately, these positive feelings are overshadowed by the main problem with the Trouble Center: repetition. Remember from previous posts how much I adore fetch quests? Well, most troubles are just that. I’d say at least half of all the troubles that are available to you throughout the game will require the player to retrieve a specific item(s) for a character posting the trouble. There is very little variety in what the player is required to do with these troubles, and the payoff usually isn’t worth it. I only wish there was more incorporated with what to do with these troubles than what’s offered here.
Something I hadn’t noticed as a kid is the time is takes to travel between all these troubles. The blue pipes below Rogueport help a tad to alleviate this, but it still has quite a bit of moving, especially later on. I remember a particular trouble where the player is asked to meet with a certain character, and then that character asks you to meet another character, and again, and again. I despised the wild goose chase with General White, and I don’t much care for this mailman-type side quest, either. I guess the traveling comes with the territory.
The rewards for these troubles vary tremendously, unlike the manner in which one has to take to complete them. Sometimes the player will receive coins, items, badges, and even an additional character. Ms. Mowz, the “mysterious” badge thief, will become a partner of Mario’s upon completing her trouble, under the guise of “???.” Seeing as she’s an optional partner, her abilities aren’t exactly appealing, but for the relatively inconvenient means it takes to solve her trouble, a whole new partner is a pretty sweet deal. Aside from her, other rewards include an upgrade to the Zess T’s cooking abilities and some cards that allow access to games within the gambling parlor on the west side of Rogueport. Ultimately, rewards aren’t always worth the trouble, but some can be worth looking into.
I just wish the troubles would provide the reward on the bulletin board so I’d know what the trouble is worth.
They’re a nice little distraction from the main quest, but I’d hardly call them something worth looking into. Many would enjoy going back to previous chapters and talking with the people afterwards to see what’s changed and what’s been going on since Mario’s visit. However, those not so invested with the characters and story will likely be bothered by these constant, monotonous trips back to these areas only to explore other areas due to fetch quests for a measly thirty coins or so. I think it’d be better in my case to only employ the troubles that give you more than just coins or require more than running back and forth. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my time doing these troubles, but I felt the enjoyment could’ve been heightened tremendously with a little more creativity.
I’d like to thank all of you who read through to the end. I’ve been a little slow about updating these, but I put a lot of effort into them. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed writing them (most of the time).
(All gameplay screenshots courtesy of Yoshiller.)