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Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Review: Folded Nicely

/ Jan 27th, 2016 No Comments

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam

Mario & Luigi are back for another turn-based mobile adventure, but this time they have the help of a third counterpart, Paper Mario. The two franchises meet for the first time on 3DS in Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam.

Combining elements of the Paper Mario world with the 3D Mushroom Kingdom, the plumbing duo will have to rely on Paper Mario to help them defeat Bowser. The game is another enjoyable entry to both series, but it fails to innovate or introduce many new concepts.

Everything’s Coming Up Bowser

In Paper Jam, Luigi unleashes the paper world into the 3D world of the Mushroom Kingdom. Of course, Bowser attempts to take full advantage of the situation. The Mario brothers, along with Paper Mario, must save the princesses yet again.

While the story follows the usual tropes of a Mario game, the adventure manages to feel fresh. In fact, part of the game’s appeal is the humorous tone it takes. In-game jokes allude to how the game’s plot goes down familiar paths. For instance, Princess Peach tells Paper Princess Peach that she “actually likes riding in the clown car” as she’s grown accustomed to it from constant kidnapping. This sort of humor gives the game some much-needed uniqueness.

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam

If the game starts with Luigi, you can expect some clumsy BS is going to go down.

Fans of the Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario franchises will be happy to see that the events of previous entries are mentioned in Paper Jam. Characters often comment on events from past games, most notably Bowser remembering Luigi’s name from Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story. There are a few twists that help break up the monotonous plot, but the story still seems lazy.

Bros Ride Together, Bros Die Together

All combat in the game is turn based. Despite the appearance of Paper Mario, Paper Jam is distinctly a Mario & Luigi game. Attacks and defenses are mostly made of mini-games in which players must properly time button presses to increase damage and avoid attacks.

The difficulty between enemies is incredibly skewed. Some are very easy to defeat, while others are unforgiving. The same can be said for many of the new attacks. Moves such as the racquet attack require quick reaction and differing levels of damage, but others, including the kite trio attack, merely involve predictable button-mashing. Yet, combat is enjoyable enough and the variety of enemies and abilities provides some balance.

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam

Players running away from mean-spirited QTEs.

Battle cards and amiibo support incorporate even more variety to gameplay. Battle cards require star energy, which can be acquired through well-timed attacks. Meanwhile, amiibo abilities can be stored to an amiibo, which can only be activated following a win in battle. Both abilities are special card moves that either do direct damage, provide buffs or healing as well as other benefits in battle. The best part is that none of these moves require a mini-game as they are all guaranteed hits. However, there is a way to cheat with amiibo. Loading separate abilities to multiple amiibos means you can deliver any number of attacks before taking your true turn. This is a bit time-consuming so many casual gamers — which seems to be the target audience for Paper Jam — will fail to use this to their advantage.

Scores and Sights

The blend of art styles between the classic 3D RPG look and the stylized paper world is achieved greatly. As we’ve come to expect from a Mario game, the soundtrack is brilliant. However, like the rest of the game, it really isn’t anything new. A lot of the tunes are reused from previous games or are updated versions of old tracks. It makes it seem like the care Nintendo typically puts into its games was not given to Paper Jam.

Despite feeling formulaic and repetitive, Paper Jam is an enjoyable experience. It doesn’t add anything new to the franchise, but provides some fun content. If you’re a fan of Mario games, it’s worth playing, but don’t expect anything groundbreaking.

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam was reviewed on 3DS using a retail copy of the game purchased by the reviewer.


Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson

Associate Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Greg is a Nintendo fanboy who would cry if they ever went third party. He writes news, previews and reviews at Gaming Illustrated.
Greg Johnson

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Gaming Illustrated RATING



There is some repetition and a few unfair mini-games in combat, but the game is mostly fun and light.


Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam showcases two cool art styles, but you're exploring some of the same old areas.


The soundtrack is great, but it's sadly made up of a lot of old tracks and remixes.


There are some twists, but Paper Jam mostly follows the same tired Mario plot.

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