Eric Kelly On February 3, 2016 at 4:39 pm

Mario and Luigi Paper Jam Logo SmallIt’s been almost three years since Mario & Luigi: Dream Team came out in 2013, and only a bit longer since the 2012 release of the oft-reviled Paper Mario: Sticker Star. So it’s been too long time since both series has seen a follow-up game, and in the case of Paper Mario, a one most people would agree is great. Even Nintendo had a hard time deciding which series should get another shot at the chance to make players satisfied. So Alpha Dream and Intelligent Systems decided to meet each other half-way, and make a mash-up of the two. What we get is Paper Jam, which is every bit as good as those two series. Although that’s also for better and worse, thankfully it’s mostly good.

The game is set-up with Luigi finding an old book in the storage room of Peach’s castle. Of course he accidentally opens it and releases the denizens of the Paper Mario world like some kind of papery Pandora’s Box. Of course, Luigi and Mario have to work to get all of the paper people back in the book to where they belong. Of course Paper Bowser teams up with Bowser to create trouble for the Mario’s. Thankfully, Paper Mario is glad to assist the Bros.

Gameplay is very much set up like a normal Mario and Luigi game, with turn based battles with action bits to spice up the gameplay, by way of timed attacks and dodging sequences. But the introduction of Paper Mario enemies does create some new twists to the formula. The enemies all have new behaviors compared to their rounded counterparts. Timing their attacks will throw veterans off, as their papery nature comes out in their movements. Some actions are also stiffer as well. Even Paper Mario behaves like he does in his own games, for the most part. Although Paper Mario can also make use of a clone block that grants him clone sheets, which augment his attack and defensive powers. The clones act as a buffer for his actual health bar, and all it cost is a turn to regenerate them. Even though it seems like he’d break the game, he is mostly used for support, as Mario and Luigi end up being the strongest characters anyway with their Bros. Attacks. He does make it easier though. The game also gets a bit easier by doing away with the Badge System for the Battle Card system. By using Star Points, you can use a card from your deck and can do anything from healing the party to attacking all enemies for set damage, all without using a turn. There’s also Amiibo cards that would actually break the game, but of course, having compatible Amiibo and a New 3DS are required.

Outside of battle, there are a few refinements to the game based on feedback from Dream Team. Perhaps as a response to how ridiculously long-winded the verbose text and amount of hand-holding the last game would throw at you, it’s been significantly reduced in this game. You can even fast forward through it if you want. Even the world is smaller, so there is no bloated fifty hour story to go through. The game clocks in around thirty hours, and there are no 2D platforming sections like previous games. What is back from the previous games starting from Bowser’s Inside Story are the giant battle sequences. Even that’s been refined to be more enjoyable though. Although, going with the paper theme, the giants are all paper crafts, with stands that make them look suspiciously like Amiibos. It’s hard to tell if it’s some subliminal advertisement or Nintendo parodying itself. Thankfully the battles control a lot better than they did in Dream Team and are somewhat fun despite the inherit weirdness and sometimes wonky controls.

The game does have some other issues to address though. In an effort to introduce Paper Mario elements, the development team might have played it too safe, as there are no original characters or scenarios to the game. In fact the game feels like a remix of Paper Mario and Partners in Time, in regards to the flow of the story and battle systems, respectfully. At least the game crammed in as many characters as it could from the series history. The other thing bringing the game down a bit is the Paper Toad rescue quests. While it’s required for a good portion of the game, there are some optional Toads to rescue. And you’ll want in order to get the best Bros. Attack in the game. The thing is…they will get tedious quickly. Also lacking is the game’s soundtrack. It’s still full of great tunes, but it lacks the punch that Dream Team’s OST had. The visuals on the other hand, are still fantastic, and even perhaps a bit better. There are times you might do a double take and question whether a sprite is a sprite, or a polygonal character model, or some weird hybrid of the two. But lack of originality aside, the game is still a fun experience for the Mario and Luigi RPG fan.


The game features the same turn-based and action gameplay from previous games, but there are a few new tweaks made to the other systems, making for a better overall experience.


The graphics are as good as they were in Dream Team, and are used to great effect once again.


While the soundtrack to the game is good, it’s weaker overall than Dream Team’s.


While the script and pacing of the game are significantly improved, the game’s narrative is less interesting, and there aren’t any original characters or themes. Nevertheless, it’s still a fun time for Mario RPG fans.

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