Don’t Worry – Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Isn’t “Tearable”
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.
There are two times when Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam falters. The first is in its papercraft battles. After every major boss fight, players will be tossed into a beat ’em up where their cardboard Mario or Luigi fights cardboard versions of classic enemies. It’s reminiscent of the Abe Lincoln mech battles in Code Name: Steam . There’s no real strategy to it, only tedium. Go through the rhythm mini-game to hype the Toads carrying the papercraft up. Once their energy is maxed out, fight the camera to get an enemy in your sights. Look at it to lock on, then throw the papercraft at it. Repeat until you reach the boss, then repeat until the mess is done. It isn’t bad, but it takes away from the rest of the experience.
Especially since the other mini-games are handled rather well. These primarily appear as Paper Toad rescue missions, but the aforementioned Trio Attacks also act as such. Stopping by the Lakitu’s offices offers opportunities to rescue the displaced citizens in mini-games that involve skill, timing, strategy, and dexterity. Sometimes, it feels as though you spend a little too much time saving these extra Toads, but the encounters are varied enough to keep them interesting. The Attackathon lets you play through the Trio Attacks outside of battle for points that can be used for items in shops. None of these feel cheap or extraneous, like the papercraft battles, instead offering a breather from Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam ‘s main adventure.
But I digress. There’s one other area where Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam needs improvement, and it’s the amiibo implementation. You can get character cards if you happen to have question mark cards and a corresponding amiibo from the Super Mario series. The problem is, the cards are saved to the amiibo itself. Unless you plan to have that figure with you all the time, it’s rather useless. The game is easy enough without their bonus effects, so there’s really no point to them. It felt as though they existed so Nintendo could point to another game as offering amiibo support, rather than using it to enhance gameplay.
Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam has personality. There’s a little bit of extraneous filler here, in the form of papercraft battles and optional amiibo cards, but people who chose to focus on the delightful story, fantastic battle system, and assortment of mini-games will be more than happy to join Mario, Luigi, and Paper Mario on their adventure.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
The world is bright and colorful, though segments with papercraft elements are more visually appealing than those without. 4.0 Control
Controls for most of the game are great, but you’ll fight with the camera to get opponents in your sights for papercraft punchouts. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Nothing is more charming than hearing Mario and Luigi’s gobbledygook as they attempt to converse with residents of the Mushroom Kingdom. 4.5 Play Value
Interactions between characters are hilarious and there’s a pretty good balance between battles, story segments, and Toad-collecting mini-games. 4.2 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best