The Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series have their roots in the Super Nintendo classic Super Mario RPG, and each entry has taken us on a bright and magical journey. I’ve always been fond of the two series as they stand in stark contrast to the dark tones that are typically found in RPG fare. With the release of Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam we get to experience the best of both worlds when they collide for a huge crossover adventure.
Things are set in motion by the clumsy Luigi when he accidentally opens a book found in the storage area of Mushroom Castle. Inside the book is the Paper Mario universe and when it’s opened the paper citizens and denizens of that world spill into the world of Mario & Luigi. Unfortunately, this includes Paper Bowser and Paper Bowser Jr. as well, who meet up with the Mario & Luigi world’s Bowser and Bowser Jr shortly after they arrive. It’s your job as Mario and Luigi to prevent the Bowser alliance from bringing their nefarious plans to fruition and to save the innocent Paper Toads from certain annihilation.
Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam continues the tradition of invitingly low difficulty, but it strikes an excellent balance between allowing you free agency and hand holding. For once most tutorials are optional. Instead of making the player sit through multiple explanations, the game has a robust help system that is available at any time, including during battle. I hope this is a trend that continues because one of the things that prevents me from starting or replaying RPGs is the lengthy tutorial period.
Combat is a fun, though simple affair, and relies mostly on timed button presses to further strengthen your attacks. This can get frustrating since sometimes you just want to go on autopilot and breeze through the easier battles. The lack of complexity also might turn off hardcore RPG fans, as there’s not a ton of stats to watch or complicated ways to power up your party. For the first time in the Mario & Luigi series there is a third-party character in the form of Paper Mario, which does add a new dynamic since his paper powers behave somewhat differently than Mario and Luigi’s.
The 3D effects used in Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam are some of the best yet for the Nintendo 3DS, and if your eyes can take it, I heartily recommend playing with the 3D effect turned on. There are quite a few sight gags involving the two-dimensional aspect of paper in a 3D world, and they’re all the more enjoyable when you can
see them intermingling in 3D. However, for those with a Nintendo 2DS or those that can’t play with 3D turned on without massive eye strain, the game doesn’t lose any appeal from having to play in 2D.
Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam has an appeal that caters to kids and adults alike. For adults, the nostalgia of seeing characters they’ve spent decades with on new adventures is a surefire reason to purchase the game. For children, the chance to enjoy an RPG that lacks the complexity that might be a bar for them makes it a great gift. On the whole Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam might be the best Super Mario Bros. RPG since the original got the series started on Super Nintendo, and is a great addition to anyone’s Nintendo 3DS library.
system(s): Nintendo 3DS