NS Review – Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam Bros.

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros is an upcoming 3DS title and a fusion of the Mario & Luigi series and the Paper Mario series. The story consists of the Paper Mario dimension accidentally spilling into the “normal” Mario dimension, Peach getting kidnapped, and a lot of Paper Toad fetch quests. A lot of Paper Toad fetch quests.

If the story doesn’t sound too complex its probably because it isn’t. Were you to remove the whole Paper Mario dimension crossover situation from the game it wouldn’t really be much more than Peach getting kidnapped and Mario going to rescue her. Again. Still, Mario games are often just this with variations, and despite the repetition I can think of many installments in the Mario series over the years that haven’t had very in-depth stories, but have still been wonderful games.

I’ll start by mentioning I’m not big on RPG’s, so I felt dread knowing what this game would be. I could just about cope with the RPG elements of N64 Paper Mario and that’s because the Mario-brand quirk and charm compensated enough for it. So how well has Mario tackled this style of game in Paper Jam Bros?


The battle system is certainly interesting, but I think flawed. You can go entire fights without ever receiving damage if you can time your actions right; enemies don’t really have this option. Encounters are sometimes broken up by even larger quick-time-events that range from fun, to bizarre, to downright tedious, each one however is undeniably creative and so far fits in with the Mario world and the game itself. There’s also the presence of Papercraft battles, cardboard titans fight it out in a large-scale arena. Loser has to buy dinner. Just kidding.

The world of Paper Jam Bros is very pretty, but can be somewhat bland at points. The blend of 3D Mario themes and the papercraft counterparts mesh together nicely and are enjoyable to traverse, the bright and colorful environments are somewhat linear but there is a fair bit of value in retracing your steps to unlock more things that you couldn’t previously once you’ve obtained a new weapon or ability. Despite the arguably biggest plot feature of the game being the mash between 3D Mario and Paper Mario, characters aren’t actually 3D. Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toads, etc all appear as intricate 2D sprites that just happen to be very detailed and fluid. This choice is one I really question and its made even more confusing by the presence of actual 3D Mario & Luigi models during papercraft battles. Nintendo has shown it can successfully pull off an highly interactive and responsive Mario game using 3D rendered models before in Super Mario 3D Land, so I really wonder why on earth the “3D” characters look like they’re ported straight from a Nintendo DS instead. Ironically, Paper Mario looks more 3D than Mario and Luigi, and switching on the 3D function itself really highlights just how flat some of the game is.



The music is unique and interesting. I’ve heard some tracks so far I’m not sure I’d expect to hear traditionally in a Mario game, but they were a pleasure to the ears nonetheless. The sound effects are typically bubbly and fun, and most of what I heard fits in well with what’s happening. The game takes an impressively short time to save, and seems to run fairly smoothly. The control system in itself is a little odd and may take some getting used to, but it serves its purpose well enough. (The dash feature comes to mind here.) Oddly enough the cover art looks more like a placeholder “Box Design Not Final” you’d see taped to a blank box found in the Coming Soon section of a game store.

Like Tennis, Kart, and other RPG games in the series, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros has done a wonderful job of implementing the traditional Mario themes into an already existing set of rules. Everything from the battles to the ranking system is cleverly done and still feels more than “Mario enough” while also serving its original purpose well. Coin blocks are still there but now you can choose to do small challenges involving pressing the correct buttons relevant to your party when you hit them. The pacing in this game is odd and wildly inconsistent however. I greatly paperjambros02appreciate the option of allowing the player to speed up the cutscenes should they choose, yet other times I’m left watching literally nothing happen for a few seconds. It seems odd to have the option to skim over the game telling you your objective, but forcing me to watch a Toad run off the screen, then Mario and Luigi standing there doing nothing for a significant period of time once he’s left the screen. The drawn out animations of the battles and partly forced story and tutorials makes me feel like the game wants to discourage grinding for XP and exploring, and make you play at the rate it wants you to, in the order it wants you to, rather than leaving it a little more open. Not too rewarding when so much of the content is just Paper Toad fetch quests. Speaking of rewarding, this games feels huge, but in a barren way. I feel like I’ve been playing for so long but barely anything has happened in comparison. I do like that a lot of the assistance in this game isn’t forced on you, but is there should you choose to look for it yourself, a mechanic I think is overall the best in terms of how much a game should hold the hands of its players. Some of the hit boxes feel downright ridiculous though, and many a time I’ve stopped dead in my tracks on literally nothing.




Despite my overall disdain for the genre, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros really did grow on me and I do enjoy playing it- just not too much at once. Regardless of how much I enjoy actually playing it, I find a lot of the designs to be very clever, and can’t begin to describe how much I approve of having the “Stache” attribute. I feel really sorry for Luigi though. I mean seriously this game makes me wonder why we even had a Year of Luigi if this what was coming for him. Or maybe this is his punishment for losing the company money. Good games Luigi.


Will you be buying Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros? Do you prefer the Paper Mario’s or the other Mario universes? What do you think of Mario having a parallel counterpart? Let us know in the comments, or tweet me @MattiasMay. Thank you for reading!


Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros is out December 6th in the EU. Thank you to Nintendo for providing a copy of this game.




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