Review: Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros.

The Mario & Luigi franchise offers a different way of playing Mario games . Unlike the classic Mario games, the Mario & Luigi games always had a great story and turn-based combat. Paper Jam Bros is the fifth installment in the franchise and brings an important innovation to the table, time to introduce Paper Mario! That’s right, this isn’t just a new Mario & Luigi RPG, it’s a crossover with the Paper Mario franchise as well!

That poor Luigi

Our story starts rather innocent, as in every other Mario & Luigi game. A random Toad took Luigi to an old library to invest a crack in the wall. Of course, solving the problem didn’t go according to the plan. Luigi meets a nasty mouse, falls down and takes down an enormous book in his fall. This book is the home of the Paper Mario characters, which broke free into the 3D world due to the fall. Hundreds of famous Paper Mario characters flew out of the book and this marks the start of your adventure.


Of course, a Mario & Luigi game needs a kidnapped princess. Not long after releasing the Paper Mario characters, the famous brothers realized they have to deal with two Bowsers this time. Bowser and Paper Bowser teamed up in order to bring down the Italians once and for all. Besides the big Bowers, Bowser Jr. also meets his Paper brother and those two decided to bring down Mario & Luigi as well! Since the brothers are facing a lot of enemies, you’ll eventually get help from the real Paper Mario.

Great narratives

The story itself isn’t that original aside from the fact that the Paper Mario world joins the fun, but without that, it’s just another kidnapping story. What keeps the story fun and refreshing on the other hand, are the narratives. Like you’re used to in Mario & Luigi games, the dialogues between the characters are packed with humor. Take Bowser for example. The poor guy can’t take it to share the spotlight with his Paper version; meaning the two will constantly fight for the spotlight in the most humorous ways possible.

Not only the Bowsers add some fun to the narratives, each character has its own personality and opinion on what’s happening. Don’t be surprised if the Toads didn’t see the kidnapping coming. It’s good to see that the developers didn’t take the story too seriously but dared to criticize it in a funny way. Be sure to read the narratives in this game since they form a huge part of the fun, skipping them is possible but you’ll miss out on some classic Mario & Luigi jokes.

It’s your turn brother

Having narratives and a story is great but what’s really important are the battles. If you played a Mario & Luigi game before, you’ll know what to expect. If you haven’t played one before, let me explain the basics for you. First of all, the battles are turned based, meaning you and the enemies attack in turns. Unlike traditional turn based games, you’re able to interact during combat. If you push the button at the right time, you’ll deliver extra damage for example.


Double Mario, double fun


Besides attacking, defending is also more fun than in traditional turn based games. When enemies attack, you’re able to dodge the attack, if you manage to push the action button at the right time. Each character is bound to a certain button; Mario gets the A-button, Luigi the B-button and Paper Mario the Y-button. At first, you’ll miss some of the buttons during your attack or defense but after a while, it will feel like your second nature.

Your characters will also level which is very important in order to keep winning battles. If you level up, your attacks get stronger and your defense higher. If you’re losing too much health in combat, you can still use several items to get you back on your feet.

Paper Mario isn’t useless

The addition of Paper Mario isn’t just a gimmick since he really adds some innovation to the game. First of all, he’s very useful in combat due to his ability to copy himself. Copies of Paper Mario mean multiple attacks and multiple damage. He also jumps higher than the other brothers, meaning you’ll be able to evade attacks easier with Paper Mario.

Besides this, Paper Mario is also used for Trio Attacks. These attacks combine the power of Mario, Luigi and Paper Mario in one devastating attack. The Trio Attacks are the next level Bros attacks (special Mario & Luigi attacks that are still in the game). You’ll need to use these Trio Attacks outside the battlefields to clear new paths as well.


The last additions to combat are the Battle Cards, which reminded us of the Star Power of the traditional Paper Mario games. If you have enough Star Power to spend, you can activate a special Battle Card. These cards give certain advantages like extra health or better defense to your team and are crucial to win some of the harder fights. Also interesting to know is that you can use amiibo figurines to create special Battle Cards.

So Paper Mario is a great addition to team Mario and really helps out during combat! But he’s very useful in the overworld as well! He’s the only character that fits in small cracks, a handy trick to collect hidden items or lost Toads in the big world.

Papercraft battles and Toad collecting

Everything you’ve read until now isn’t that innovating, except the inclusion of Paper Mario of course. The biggest change in gameplay can be found in two important ‘mini-games’. During your adventure you’ll need to collect as much Paper Toads as possible, these are needed for the huge Papercraft battles. These Toads are hidden in the world but to make sure you collect each Toad, the game offers a hide and seek-esque mini-game. In here, you’ll play on a smaller map and need to find the hidden Toads. At first it was fun to look for these little guys by chasing after them or by investigating each corner on the map. After a while, the mini-game got rather repetitive and should have changed to something else to be honest. It’s never frustrating or boring but you simply need to collect too many Toads in the end.


As said before, the Toads do serve a purpose; you need the little guys to carry your huge Papercraft model. Papercraft fights form the second important mini-game. In here, you’ll need to take down several giant paper Goombas by hitting them and jumping on top of them with your Papercrafted Mario. To make sure you have enough power, you need to charge your Papercraft on special bases using a small rhythm game. The papercraft battles form an alternative boss battle (don’t fear, classic bosses are still in the game) and offer a lot of fun. It feels like a different game but it fits the Paper environment incredibly well.

When it comes to gameplay, the game is packed with missions and objectives; you’ll be playing it for more than 40 hours for sure. Collecting Toads and battling huge paper Goombas is fun but can become a bit repetitive after a while. The amount of enemies in the overworld is a bit too much and slows down the pace of the game. You can fight them all to level up your characters but we wouldn’t recommend it. Although the combat system works just fine, it’s a bit boring to fight every enemy in the game.

No tutorials, great environments

That doesn’t take away it’s a lot of fun to run around in the big new world. Nintendo managed to bring the Paper and 3D Mario world together in a fun way. You’ll see Paper elements in the ‘regular’ world and face both 3D and Paper enemies at the same time. When it comes to presentation, this is by far the best Mario & Luigi game yet. Everything sounds and looks great.


Veteran players don’t need to worry for tutorials. Nintendo kept the tutorials optional. If you want to practice or read more about attack and defense, you can activate a special book during combat. If you know how everything works, you’re not forced to clear a tutorial first. I’m sure a lot of veteran players will be pleased with this small but very important innovation.


Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros. is one of the better Mario & Luigi RPGs. It offers a great story with a lot of humor thanks to the inclusion of the Paper Mario universe. Paper Mario himself adds a lot of innovation and variation to the game thanks to the great Trio Attacks and his useful tricks. It’s a shame the game uses the same mini-games a little too much but don’t let this take away all of the fun. If you’re looking for a fun, humorous and surprising RPG, this is the one you need to play.


Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.