Since the release of Paper Mario: Sticker Star on the Nintendo 3DS three years ago, many were wondering just when would the next Paper Mario be released. While it’s not completely a brand-new Paper Mario game many had expected it to be, Alpha Dream has created somewhat of a cross-over RPG between Paper Mario and the Mario & Luigi series in the form of Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam. Knowing that Paper Jam features Paper Mario as one of the characters fans will be playing as, fans shouldn’t get excited as Paper Mario appearing in Paper Jam doesn’t revolutionize the gameplay of Alpha Dream’s Mario & Luigi title.
As with all Mario & Luigi titles in the past, Paper Jam doesn’t have a mature or serious storyline to be excited about. For those who have been playing past Mario & Luigi titles before, a quirky story yet stale plot can be expected and with Paper Jam as it’s more of the same. What makes the story slightly more quirky than before is the appearance of the characters from the Paper Mario world. Yes, due to the careless nature of Luigi while cleaning the storage room in Peach’s Castle, he accidentally trips the book that holds the characters from the Paper Mario world and lets everyone out. Now in Mushroom Kingdom, there are two Bowsers ready to bring havoc to the kingdom as they once again kidnap the two Princess Peach’s and as usual, it’s up to Mario and Luigi, along with the Paper Mario, to save their beloved Princess Peach’s. It may seem weird at first seeing Paper Mario appear but the exemplary funny writing will get fans in the mood to play the game through the end, though those who are expecting something deeper will most likely be disappointed.
Not much has changed when it comes to the gameplay of Paper Jam. The pacing is still linear just like before, although there are new things that have been added in the game like the Papercraft battle. At some point in the game, players will be engaged in an Amiibo-like battle where the character will be carried by the Toads. The objective is quite simple, players can either charge to the opponent in hopes that they will topple, or do the jump attack to deal massive damage. For every attack that a player does, a Toad carrying the character will be lost and the only way to replenish them is to find the marker and do some sort of musical mini-game. When the enemies in the battlefield are all gone, players win the battle.
As for Paper Jam’s battle system, it’s quite simple and very similar to past Mario & Luigi games. It’s a turn-based battle system where players can evade and attack but they also have a chance to counter too. The minor change implemented is when using Paper Mario is in battle. Basically, he can have up to 6 extra copies behind it and before enemies can actually deal damage to his HP, they will have to rid of the copies first, which makes him somewhat of an immortal one in the game. While he does have less attack power and HP, he is pretty useful in keeping the party alive as he’s most likely the last one to stay behind when facing a challenging boss battle.
What makes the battle system to be quite fun at times is the Bros’. attack. For the most part, some are repeat attack from the past Mario & Luigi games but there is one that I find quite fun to play with and it’s the Trio attack. When using Paper Mario, players will have an opportunity to do a Trio attack where the three bros will be engaged in some sort of a tennis play. The objective is to keep hitting the enemies while pressing the right buttons at the right time. As always, doing them in perfect timing will yield extra bonuses from the boss.
For those who have the New 3DS or an NFC Reader, the game offers Amiibo support. Using Mario-related Amiibos in Paper Jam unlocks several new things in the game, specifically in battle. After reaching a certain point in the game, players will be given an opportunity to create a battle card that can be used in battle. A blank card will be given and depending on the Amiibo that you scan, that’s the battle card the player will receive. Of course, the more Amiibos that a player has, the better they become in battle. As for the unique New 3DS feature, players can quickly heal their characters using the ZR and ZL buttons.
Exploration in Paper Jam is quite limited and linear for the most part. There are a total of eight areas that players can explore in the game. Sure, it sounds a lot but the areas are so small that many fans will most likely desire for more. Objectives in the game are quite linear where players will be asked to go from one area to the next with little side-quests to do. While I call them side-quests, it’s more of the main quest to some as finding Toads is part of the story that needs to be completed in order to progress through the game. Seeing how Paper Jam is a RPG, I was hoping that there would be some sort of other quests to do but nope, Alpha Dream decided to make it linear with no options to get sidetracked from the game’s stale storyline.
Visually, the game looks very colorful on the handheld. Not much has changed when it comes to the quality of visuals Paper Jam has. The game offers still one of the most visual impressive titles on the Nintendo 3DS. The world is exciting to explore despite some of it being quite linear. With only a few abilities that Mario and Luigi can unlock, players are given a chance to do more things in the over-world of Mushroom Kingdom as they find their way to Bowser’s Castle. Players can use their hammer to reveal other areas or dash through the flowers to reveal more coins.
Generally, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam is a fun title to play if your expectations aren’t quite high. It does add a few new things in the gameplay department but for the most part, what the game offers has already been seen in past titles of the series. The Papercraft battle is sure fun but the game pretty much lacks the uniqueness everyone was looking for in a Mario & Luigi title. It does have the Paper Mario crossover but Alpha Dream fails to use that opportunity to really integrate the gameplay of the two games.
[Editor’s Note: Mario & Luigi Paper Jam was reviewed on the Nintendo 3DS platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Review,