|Release: January 22, 2016|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Mild Cartoon Violence|
by Jenni Lada
Nintendo's offered two means of enjoying RPG experiences with Mario and company in recent years. Between the Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario series, people have been covered. Though, this time, people don't have to pick between one or the other. Mario, Luigi, and Paper Mario have all teamed up, with pleasant results.
Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam begins with good intentions. Luigi is helping a Toad find and fix a draft in Princess Peach's castle. A mouse spooks the both of them, causes Luigi to fall, and makes him unintentionally release all of the Paper Mario characters from a magic book as he does. Paper Toads, Goombas, Koopas, and other characters go floating off everywhere. It's a situation. Paper Toads need rescuing. Bowser and Paper Bowser team up to combine their armies and kidnap both Princess Peaches. It falls to Mario, Luigi, and Paper Mario to save the day.
These interactions between the standard and paper variations of every character are a high point in Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam. The Peaches get along. The Bowsers constantly bicker. The Bowser Jrs. become each others' best friends. The Kameks snipe at one another. Starlow comes right out and says this Luigi isn't useless like Paper Luigi. It's all wonderful. The translation and localization feel like a reward for making it through every battle or mini-game. Good job, player! Watch how delightful it is when different versions of the same character are forced to interact!
Which isn't to downplay the meat of the gameplay. That is, the actual battles themselves. Mario, Luigi, and Paper Mario go through worlds that resemble ones seen in both the Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario series, though with a few more of the paper-based arts and crafts from Paper Mario: Sticker Star thrown in for flavor. Both standard and paper versions of enemies appear, each with their own unique attacks. It's a good way of adding enemy variety to a series limited to characters from Super Mario canon.
The battle system is familiar fare from Mario & Luigi. Mario, Luigi, and Paper Mario appear on the field, each tied to the A, B, and Y buttons. They have jump, hammer, and special attacks. The highlight of the three are the Trio Attacks, in which all three characters go through a mini-game to deal substantial damage to foes. Some have you playing tennis. Others involve rockets or a Paper Mario airplane. Each relies on precision and timing. They're brief enough to keep them from being frustrating, but varied and interesting enough to encourage you to use them.
Not that you really have to. Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam isn't a very difficult game. Especially since you can turn the difficulty down to Easy at any time. As long as you aren't avoiding too many battles, remember to save, and practice to perfect your timing for attacks, you'll be fine. This is an RPG that's more about enjoying the ride. It's fairly even and largely enjoyable.