Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Makes Vivian Canonically Transgender

Nintendo has fixed one of the GameCube version's biggest mistakes.

When Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door first came to GameCube back in 2004, Nintendo made a big change to the game's translation. While the Japanese and European versions established the partner character Vivian as a transgender woman, the version that released in North America altered the translation, leaving out any mention of the character's gender. Two decades later, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has rectified this mistake, keeping Vivian's identity intact, and making it an official part of the Mario canon. The move is sure to make a lot of fans happy, as this alteration has long frustrated players. 

How Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Addresses Vivian's Gender

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. When Vivian is first introduced to players, the character starts out as a villain working for the X-Nauts alongside her sisters. While Vivian refers to the group as The Three Shadow Sisters, Beldam corrects her, insisting that the name is less "mysterious" and scary" compared to The Three Shadows. Vivian, saddened, tells Beldam that "it makes me really happy when you call me your sister." This leads to some bullying from Beldam, who calls out Vivian for being "insufferably sappy." This scene lays the groundwork for Vivian joining Mario's party later, where things are more firmly established. 

(Photo: Nintendo)

While separated from her sisters following a punishment from Beldam, Vivian unknowingly ends up working alongside Mario. When talking to the hero, Vivian discusses the relationship with her siblings, telling Mario that "it took me a while to realize I was their sister... not their brother. Now their usual bullying feels heavier." The scene not only establishes that Vivian is a transgender woman, but it also makes Beldam's bullying less cruel than the original version of the game; Beldam is still hurting her sister's feelings, but she's not intentionally misgendering Vivian. The change keeps the spirit of the original writing intact, while making Beldam slightly more sympathetic. 

Sharing Vivian's Story With a New Audience

In the two decades since Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door's original release, Vivian has become something of a fan favorite. The reality is, there aren't a lot of transgender characters for gamers to look up to, and Vivian's story has endeared her to a lot of people over the years. Keeping that story intact in the Nintendo Switch version should make a lot of Vivian's fans happy, and it will be interesting to see if she shows up in future games. Mario's partners from the Paper Mario series rarely appear elsewhere, but if the Switch version of The Thousand-Year Door proves popular enough, it could convince Nintendo to make an exception. 

Are you happy to see these changes to the game's translation? Does it surprise you that Nintendo made this change? Share your thoughts with me directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp or on Instagram at @Dachampgaming!