M&L STORYThe adventure begins with Luigi accidentally knocking off a book from a shelf. Turns out, the book is magical, and it lands in such a way that it remains open. Out spew some untold number of paper characters. These 2D characters suddenly find themselves in a 3D world. Princess Peach meets Paper Princess Peach, the Bowsers meet each other, and so on. M&L1Numerous toads and goombas are released and of course, Paper Mario. An hour or two into the game Paper Mario joins forces with Mario and Luigi and together the trio must use their platforming and combative ability to take out Bowser’s baddies as they proceed towards his castle to restore order. The story is simple and familiar enough overall, and I thought it did a sufficient job of setting the stage and giving the player a basic framework to run with.

M&L PresentationAlpha Dream must have put a ton of effort into making game’s almost seamless 2D-meets-3D art style. Just consider how many animation frames the art department had to make for Mario and Luigi’s 16-directional movement and you can sympathise with how they wanted to make one more game with their current assets.

That doesn’t mean the game is without unique animations though, in fact there are many adorable new dances and poses performed by the two brothers. The level up animation for Mario in particular calls to mind classic Disney, an incredible technical achievement considering it is pixel art.

M & L GAMEPLAYPaper Jam Bros is built upon the Mario & Luigi: Dream Team engine, so players who have made their way through the duo’s previous adventure will find it easy to jump back into. You run around wide open areas, doing some minor platforming, solving puzzles, and finding secrets. The biggest wrinkle is the inclusion of Paper Mario himself and the new trio moves.

Whereas Mario and Luigi are controlled independently via the A and B buttons as always, Paper Mario takes up the Y button on the field and in combat. This means everything from world traversal to combat strategies are shaken up, which should please veterans of the series.

The areas you run around in are significantly larger compared to previous games too, which would be a chore to navigate if not for the inclusion of a Dash mechanic, which is mapped to the X button. You can also jump as a group with the same button; plus, if you happen to bump into enemies while running, it acts as a pre-emptive strike. The game also makes you revisit these expansive areas through a separate quest system, although most of these side missions involve Paper Toad wrangling, which quickly becomes redundant. There are at least some fun puzzles mixed in, though, that play with the game’s mechanics in interesting ways.Screen2.0-RecoveredOne of the biggest changes to the battle system already established in Dream Team is the swapping out of the badge mechanic for Battle Cards. These cards act as ways to buff your party, weaken foes, or even inflict damage, without using up a character’s turn. Throughout the game you expand your collection by finding new cards after defeating enemies or buying them from the numerous stores dotted around the Mushroom Kingdom.

You carry a deck of ten cards, which you organise yourself, although it is shuffled and you can only have a maximum of three cards at the ready at any one time. This means there’s an element of luck if you’re in desperate need of a certain card.

This is where the game’s amiibo support comes in. Throughout the game, you pick up blank cards, which are given properties after scanning one of the select Mario series amiibo. These properties are usually identical to those of the Battle Cards, but more powerful. Each amiibo comes with its own “deck,” featuring art from throughout the Mario series history, and the game encourages you to repeatedly build up your individual amiibo’s collection.

M&L CONCLUSIONOverall, Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam Bros is an interesting entry into the Mario and Luigi series. It’s artstyle is incredibly interesting and the story is a fun and entertaining adventure. At this point there is a little bit of series fatigue but Nintendo fans know what they’re getting with this series at this point.

Fantastic combat system
Fantastic artstyle
Repetitive side missions
Series fatigue