E3 2015: Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam

Mario and Luigi are back in an all-new RPG adventure with a new ally: Mario!

…wait, what? No, that wasn’t a typo. The three heroes of Nintendo’s upcoming Mario & Luigi RPG title are Mario, Luigi and Mario; Paper Mario, to be more precise. In a first for the franchise, the two Mario RPG heavyweights are combining forces to create what is shaping up to be a truly unique, yet comfortably familiar adventure.

Here’s what we know so far: The game begins in the Mario & Luigi universe, so it’s no surprise that Luigi, the series’ signature punching-bag, is responsible for causing trouble. Upon knocking over a book, the Paper Mario universe spills out into the their world, flooding the Mario & Luigi universe with paper Goombas and Koopa Troopas. Of course, Paper Mario and the gang also make their way into this brave new world, which ultimately leads to the not-so-expected crossover we saw at E3.

As far as we can tell, the battle format is a nice blend of Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario. Since both series follow similar turn-based, reaction-dependent battle mechanics, the two blend perfectly. Mario and Luigi can attack similarly to how they always have: with Hammers and Jumps. Paper Mario can do the same, but he can also utilize a new “copy” mechanic that creates a plethora of Paper Marios to attack your foes. These copies also appear to serve as Paper Mario’s health, so replenishing them will be crucial throughout battle. Of course, paper enemies can also use this mechanic, which means fighting a paper Goomba might not result in the same experience as fighting a traditional Goomba.

One staple in the Mario & Luigi series has been Bros. attacks, which allow the brothers to team up to deal massive damage to enemies. This appears to return in the form of “Trio” attacks, which Paper Mario can activate, resulting in truly over-the-top attacks. During the demonstration we were treated to the bros. sticking paper Koopa Troopas to a wall, which was followed-up with a game of racquetball with these unlucky koopas as the targets. If this example was any indication of things to come, I have no doubt that this game will contain all the humor and charm that both series are so famous for.

There’s plenty to be excited for with this game. Just in the course of the short demonstration we saw so many different examples of how the gameplay will keep things fresh, from action sequences during boss fights to giant paper-craft battles that are literally powered by Toad dance parties. But amidst all this hilarity I couldn’t help feel like there was something missing. The Paper Mario mechanics, while wonderful, felt more like a re-skinning of already-existing Mario & Luigi elements. The paper-craft battle, for example, could’ve just as easily been one of the giant battles introduced in Bowser’s Inside Story.

As with any collaboration, there’s bound to be something lost on both sides as they seek to come together. From the very limited view we’ve been able to observe so far, this title definitely borrows more from the Mario & Luigi side of the aisle. And maybe that’s a good thing; it’s no secret the Paper Mario games have received mixed feedback as of late. The Mario & Luigi series, on the other hand, has remained fairly well received by fans.

Only time will tell if this game will turn out to be as good as it looked at E3, but there’s a lot to look forward to. Fans of both series will most likely be thrilled to see their two favorite RPGs interacting in inspired new ways. As long as Nintendo can keep true to what made both of these series so great to begin with, I can’t help but think this game will be a big success when it launches early next year.




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Author: Lukas Termini View all posts by
An amateur game designer and lover of all things Nintendo, Lukas studied digital arts and 3d animation at the University of Tampa before graduating in 2013. If he isn't playing a video game, you can bet he's probably thinking about it.