Recently I mentioned I made a bit of a trade. One of the things I got with the trade is the 3DS game, Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam. Figured, since it’s fairly new I’d give it a review.The game is the newest installment in the Mario and Luigi line of psuedo-RPGs Nintendo’s been putting out on the handhelds since the GBA era. Or, honestly, if you wanna be a prick about it, some people might tell you the first one was Super Mario RPG for the SNES. Don’t worry, I’m not one of those people.
Anyways, this particular entry is special. Special because it does something I’m a sucker for. It crosses over with another video game universe. In this case, Paper Mario, another favorite of mine.
For reasons that I won’t spoil but are legitimately underwhelming, the Paper Mario universe has it’s residents sucked over into the Mario and Luigi realm. Suddenly there’s two Marios, two Peaches, and, worst of all, two Bowsers running an army of goons double the size of any Mario’s ever faced.
The game itself is pretty standard Mario and Luigi fare where you do more damage on an attack or dodge by hitting each character’s button at the appropriate time. Mario is controlled by the A button, Luigi by the B. The only difference is now you have Paper Mario is in controlled by the Y.
This is a giant double edged sword. While it’s great that there’s suddenly more things you can do in battle. It sucks because you also have to control him in the world outside of battle. Every single jump in the game is you sliding your thumb across A, B, Y. It’s like doing a three hit combo any time you want to go up one step. It gets old very quick. Luckily, the battle system is so much fun that it makes up for it.
One of the biggest downfalls however are the minigames. For some reason, the game is awash in minigames. Things like trivia events and things where you have to corral a herd of panicking Paper Toads. There’s constant and just feel tacked on regardless of the fact you have no option to skip these.
The biggest pro, however, is the writing. This is easily the most meta of all Mario games and the silly comments are occasionally gold. One of my favorite moments comes from a part in the beginning where the two Peaches are hanging out and talking to each other when suddenly they hear that the two Bowsers have broken into the castle.
Peach looks at Paper Peach and simply states:
The game is completely aware of it’s lore and it’s tropes. There’s even a part where the “Koopa Cousins” or whatever you want to call them now that Bowser is apparently no longer the father, look at the book to the Paper Mario universe wondering when their counterparts are, lamenting about it, all the while never realizing they’re horribly under represented across the various universes.
So if you like clever dialogue and fun timing based battles, this game is great. But if you’re turned off by forced minigames I’d stay clear. Not to mention the Papercraft battles in which you’re put in charge of a Papercraft statue that handles like something out of a PS1 mech game.
All in all, it’s not the strongest game in the series but it’s definitely a fun distraction for fans of both Mario and Luigi games and Paper Mario games.