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E3 2015 Hands-On: Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam


Jonathan Higgins

Like the cream filling sandwiched between two Oreo cookies, some things just go together naturally. Many people expected Intelligent Systems to be working on a brand new Paper Mario game, but I doubt people expected the worlds of Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi to collide.

 

Here“s the thing, though: While the last Mario & Luigi game was a great experience, the last Paper Mario title was very polarizing (our own review was one of the more positive ones). So, the moment this game was revealed, one has to wonder: Does it feel more like a Mario & Luigi game, or is it a Paper Mario game?

 

I am happy to report that, in terms of combat and most important gameplay elements, it is a Mario & Luigi game at its core. I suppose that“s evident given the game“s title, but in case you were worried — fear not. Everything familiar to longtime fans of Mario & Luigi has returned. There“s jumping, hammering, Bros. Attacks, experience points — everything you“d expect from a Mario RPG.

 

Paper Mario, the character, is just an additive to an already successful formula. Having him around only enhances combat. And hey, outside of combat he can squeeze through tight places, which will probably mean plenty of environment-based puzzles in Paper Jam similar to Luigi“s dreaming mechanics of the previous game.

 

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The demo was divided into three separate experiences. One was a “quest” that set the two plus one brothers out to retrieve seven toads who needed to be rescued. This portion had the Bros. put in plenty of smaller combat situations where returning players would feel right at home, while new players got used to combat nuances like Bros. Attacks that hit shells back and forth.

 

You control Paper Mario with the Y button; he needs to dodge and can attack as well. Trio Attacks are a new addition to the game that work like the powerful Luigi Dream World attacks from the last one. The combat is familiar, while doing new things, but nothing feels particularly groundbreaking or something that blew me away.

 

The second experience pit you against a boss... which was definitely unique. Luigi was using Paper Mario as a paper airplane to dodge attacks, for example. I feel like this game“s bosses are going to be where its combat innovates the most, which has been a series staple since Superstar Saga, really. Look forward to having a smile on your face while you see what certain bosses are capable of and assess how to defeat them.

 

Speaking of series staples: Papercraft Battles work a lot like the Giant battles of Dream Team & Bowser“s Inside Story. There are unique nuances specific to this game, but I“ll leave you to see what those are for yourself. I feel like experiencing these battles fresh is part of the fun!

 

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The short version of my experience with Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam is that it“s more of what made Dream Team great, but using a different approach (a paper one versus a dream-based one) to expand upon old formulas. If you“ve liked the Mario & Luigi series thus far, I guarantee this will be another solid entry. For more information, you can check out the game“s official site here.

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