|Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam|
European box art
|Series||Mario & Luigi|
Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam,[a] known in Europe and Australia as Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros., is a role-playing video game developed by AlphaDream and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 3DS. Being the fifth title in the Mario & Luigi series, the game serves as a crossover between Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi. It was released internationally in December 2015, and in North America the following month.
The story of Paper Jam crosses together the universe series of Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario, the aftermath of Sticker Star and Dream Team (and right before Color Splash), resulting in the sprite-based residents of one universe meeting their paper-thin counterparts from the other one. As such, players control a team consisting of Mario, Luigi and Paper Mario. In addition to the moves Mario and Luigi can perform in their series, Paper Mario can use his paper-thin body to perform his own actions, such as squeezing through tight gaps or turning into a paper airplane in battle to help the brothers. Like previous games, battles incorporate various mechanics, such as timing attacks or using "Bros. Attacks". During battle, Paper Mario can make copies of himself, allowing him to deal extra damage or attack multiple enemies at once, as well as use special techniques called "Trio Attacks" that involve him with his counterpart, Mario, and Luigi to attack together. There are also sections where players control giant papercraft versions of Mario, Luigi, Peach and Yoshi to fight other papercraft enemies.
While attempting to fix a hole in Princess Peach's castle library, Luigi trips and accidentally knocks over a mysterious book containing the Paper Mario world, causing the paper-thin residents within it to spread across the Mushroom Kingdom. Afterwards, Bowser combines his evil army with that of his paper counterpart, Paper Bowser, and they kidnap Peach and her counterpart, Paper Peach. Mario and Luigi must now team up with Mario's paper counterpart, Paper Mario, to set everything right, defeat both Bowsers, and bring all the paper people back into the book.
During their journey, the trio learns several new moves and attacks to assist them in battles. Battle cards replace the badges from the previous games in the series. The trio makes their way through locations such as Sunbeam Plains, Doop Doop Dunes, Twinsy Tropics, Gloomy Woods, and Mount Brrr to reach Bowser's Castle, where the princesses are being held captive. After the trio rescues the princesses, Bowser and Paper Bowser send their castle high in the sky while banishing the trio to a now-destroyed Peach's Castle. The trio traverses Sunbeam Plains (now with paper terrain scattered across it to hinder their progress), Gloomy Woods, and Mount Brrr to access Neo Bowser Castle. After fighting their way through the castle, the trio starts down a long corridor where the Bowser duo sends all their minions to stop them, to no avail. The trio then defeats the Bowser duo once and for all, trapping Paper Bowser back in the book before embarking on a victory parade where they banish the rest of the paper minions. Paper Mario, Paper Peach, and the Paper Toads return to their world before Bowser suddenly attacks the Mushroom Kingdom, sending Mario and Luigi to stop him once again.
In the past, the Mario & Luigi games primarily used two buttons, but the developers wanted to break new ground by making a third button active in combat. Characters were brainstormed until the developers thought of a second Mario, where the character of Paper Mario would fit the third character role neatly. This implementation has then turn the idea of a crossover. Though Paper Luigi was considered as a fourth character, the developers thought that adding a fourth button for a fourth character will be too difficult and complicated to enjoy the game. According to Kobayashi, the trickiest thing to implement in a crossover was to make Paper Mario stand out.
Though the first draft of the story involved the characters going back and forth between the Mushroom Kingdom and the paper world with many twists to the narrative, the developers thought it was too complex and that no one will enjoy it, so that it was rewritten many times to be simplified, where greater emphasis was placed on the character interactions between each other. Though emphasis has been placed on Paper Mario to make him stand out, the developers wanted equal attention to all characters, where they mention that it was a "big job" to balance everything. The developers also mentioned interest in adding original characters to the plot, but decided against it since they already have many characters to work with, and it would be too challenging to fit them at an appropriate appearance in the story.
When asked about the gameplay, battle designer Jun Iwasaki emphasized on narrowing the focus. His first thought was making use of three buttons, which were promptly brainstormed with lots of ideas on paper, until the developers chose the one that looked the best and tested them with a prototype. Hiroshi Ohata, the battle programmer, explained that battles are first created without animations and other visual effects. He has stated that they always make sure the gameplay is very responsive at a basic level, so they perform many experiments to test the gameplay elements. What works and what doesn't is based on the people who playtest the game during development.
Yoko Shimomura, the composer for the game's music, felt that since Paper Mario is joining the battle, she opted for a lighter, more upbeat tune to the game's soundtrack. When asked which music is her favorite, she stated that her songs are "like her children" and is unable to choose one, though she did say that Mountaintop Secrets, the background music for Mount Brrr, "has a certain fantastical atmosphere that isn't usually found in the Mario world, and having the opportunity to put a song with that kind of feel into a Mario game is something that's quite unique to the Mario & Luigi series, I think".
Natsuko Kemi, the game's graphics designer, emphasized on the details of the animations and graphics on the characters. For example, Luigi's walk cycle is based on his walk cycle in Luigi's Mansion.
The game received generally positive reviews. Paper Jam holds an aggregate score of 76/100 on Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable" reviews. Polygon awarded it 6.5 out of 10, saying "Those desperate for a dose of Mario could do far worse, but it's hard to look inside this machine without seeing what's gotten tangled up inside." Destructoid awarded it 8 out of 10, saying "While it sometimes holds your hand for a little too long and at times fails to take proper risks, it was consistently polished, enjoyable and memorable." GameSpot awarded it a score of 6 out of 10, saying "As Dream Team and Sticker Star proved, Nintendo has a knack for showcasing new and inventive ideas in both series. Paper Jam effectively relies (and often coasts) on its novel crossover appeal. Bold experimentation will have to wait, perhaps in an installment where, conversely, Mario and Luigi visit Paper Mario’s world."
It sold around 50,000 copies in Japan during its first several days of release, which equalled around 17.97% of its initial shipment. An edition of the game bundled with Mario Kart 7 sold an additional 2,400 units.
- Known in Japan as Mario & Luigi RPG Paper Mario MIX (マリオ&ルイージRPG ペーパーマリオ
MIXMario ando ruīji RPG pēpāmario Mikkusu)
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