3DS Review: Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros.

Mario and Luigi meet Paper Mario and others in this great cross-over…

Paper Mario’s last entry on the 3DS was good, but played it safe. Mario and Luigi’s last did great things, but wasn’t as memorable as the original or Bowser’s Inside Story. The latest entry in the Mario RPG series combines both franchises for the first time in a tale that sees Paper Mario and the paper world’s characters to be released into the Mushroom Kingdom thanks to a blunder by none other than Luigi.
Both series’ have always had incredible humour throughout and Paper Jam Bros. is no exception, especially when Bowser and Paper Bowser meet and argue about who is in charge, they’re like a married couple, constantly mocking the other but working together to capture both Princess Peach’s by using regular and paper foes against both Mario, Luigi and Paper Mario.

The gameplay is more Mario and Luigi than Paper Mario in design, you’ll use all 3 players to get around the Mushroom Kingdom trying to get to Bowser’s Castle, this increases the amount of moves you get to do in combat, but also makes it tougher to dodge attacks with the extra member of your team, but if it’s too difficult you can either hold down a button to reduce the damage you take or better yet, reduce the difficulty to Easy.
However, in changing the difficulty you will be exempt from battle challenges, which earn points that can be redeemed for better equipment, so choose to use it wisely…if at all. The game has the traditional puzzles you would expect from a Mario and Luigi game, but there are often gaps and cracks that Paper Mario can squeeze through to access. The good thing is that you can now save anywhere and not have to keep searching for a Save Block.

Sometimes you will not be able to do so, that’s usually when you are in a scenario where you have to do something like locate a number of Paper Toads or clear an area of enemies, some of these have time limits as well…which can be really tricky when some of the Paper Toads can hide almost anywhere. There’s a nice variety of locations to go to throughout the game, as well as battles that make the game 3D for a brief time, as you control a papercraft version of Mario against similar size papercraft enemies. It’s random and crazy, but fairly easy to control…timing does seem crucial in attacking, while defending is just as important.

New 3DS owners will have some benefits, like ZL and ZR buttons being used as shortcuts to replenish Health and Battle Points, as well as having Amiibo support on both Old and New 3DS, giving you the chance to gain cards to use in battle. But you do have to have your Amiibo ready to use the specific cards attached to them, which can be a bit time-consuming. I did it a few times, but found the game was just as fun without them.
The visuals are around the same level that we saw in Dream Team Bros. It would have been nice to have a small upgrade in that area, but the art style is still undeniably charming…especially with the Paper versions of Mario characters entering the Mushroom Kingdom. The charm and humour that has always been in Mario RPG’s is still very much intact here. Audio has classic Mario tunes, as well as your typical sounds and babble-talk that you would expect from Mario and Luigi.

The Verdict

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros does well to fit in Paper Mario elements, while still maintaining it’s own identity. It has hilarious dialogue and plenty of random moments that made me chuckle, like in every past Mario RPG. I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Paper Mario though, I’d love to see a new game for NX or maybe even a remake/port of it’s greatest entry, The Thousand-Year Door. Overall though, this is surprisingly one of the better RPGs of the year and the best Mario one in quite a while.

Score: 9.0