When Marios collide.
I have always been a fan of the Paper Mario and Mario and Luigi games. The spin on traditional RPG mechanics mixed with the look and humor of the Mario games really adds a lot to the style and fun factor, and being a simplistic RPG with some interesting concepts really makes these games great. This time around, Mario and Luigi get mashed together with the world of Paper Mario, with even more content and crossovers and some entertaining as well as some questionable mechanics.
Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam starts off with Luigi accidentally opening a book and releasing numerous Paper Mario villains into their world, including the Paper Bowser who decides to reluctantly join with the real world Bowser to capture both Princess Peaches and hold them hostage. Mario and Luigi must fight their way through the Mushroom Kingdom taking on both their versions of enemies as well as the Paper world’s enemies. Luckily, they’re not alone. Paper Mario was also ejected into the real world and decides to party up with his real world doppelganger and his brother.
Price I’d pay: $39.99
Swing your arms from side to side.
Much like the previous games in the series, Paper Jam is a turn-based RPG. Player use a certain button mapped to specific party members to select their choices in battle, dodge or redirect damage from incoming attacks, and many other things like using Bros. Attacks or Trio Attacks. Paper Mario has some rather unique abilities that the real world brothers don’t have. He can copy himself to make multiple Paper Marios, allowing him to do more damage as well as negate damage to his copies rather than his hit points.
The Bros. and Trio attacks play out like a magic attack. These attacks, along with any other action in battle, require timed button presses for maximum damage. These can be kicking a red shell at an enemy back and forth between Mario and Luigi, or a huge Trio attack that consists of all three party members bashing the enemies with a giant tennis ball. It’s over the top, ridiculous, and entertaining. That can be said about the entire battle system overall. It is fun, engaging, and never passive. I love how each enemy has different attacks that can be either completely dodged or redirected to actually damage the attacker. All done with timed button presses. There’s never a boring battle in Paper Jam.
Take one step, and then again.
Exploring is fun as well. There are multiple abilities to find that allow traversing easier as well as some simple puzzle solving in some instances. It’s not all about the platforming, but how Mario and company get to certain platforms using their traversing abilities.
There are giant paper craft battles that take place from time to time. The brothers and Paper Mario ride and control a giant paper craft vehicle while dueling it out with enemy paper crafts. These are a decent distraction, but after the first few, they started to feel the same. This is all leading to the worst part of Paper Jam – having to find and rescue Paper Toads. In order for Toadette to create her paper craft vehicles for the heroes, she requires a number of Paper Toads.
Players can gather them in these small mini game sequences where players must capture Toads in different ways like hide and go seek, catching them as they fall from the sky, or chasing them down. There are many different games to play, but each one feel like busy work. After doing this so many times, I was so sick of gathering Toads that I didn’t want to do another game, but in order to create those paper craft vehicles, and ultimately, progress the story, I had to do them. It just felt like monotonous padding that isn’t necessary because the RPG battles and elements are so well done.
Just like that.
The visual style is wonderful. The colorful environments mixed with the Mario and Luigi art style looks almost like claymation and mixed in with the Paper Mario aesthetic really works well. The humor is also a returning factor. The small references here and there and the kid friendly jokes and charm really nail it. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and look of it all.
All in all, Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam is still a fun RPG that fans of the previous game will enjoy. The mini games regarding the Paper Toads are really annoying and monotonous after a while, but the core game play is solid and works really well. Top that off with a great art style and some pretty funny humor, and there’s still a lot of enjoyment to be had with Paper Jam. I still highly suggest it.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.