(image credit: Fawfulthegreat64)

3DS owners look out! Mario is back and Luigi’s seeing double as the fifth in­stallment in Alpha Dream’s “Mario and Luigi” series of Role-Playing Games, “Ma­rio and Luigi Paper Jam” has big shoes to fill. Those shoes become bigger when the crossover game incorpo­rates elements from the pop­ular “Paper Mario” series as well. Fans of both series will be drawn to the unique vi­sual style and upbeat comical writing. They may be slightly confused and even somewhat disappointed by the lacklus­ter storyline.

“Paper Jam” begins with Luigi tipping over a book that unleashes the denizens of Paper Mario’s own Mush­room Kingdom into the real world. Two Princess Peach’s, two Marios, and you guessed it, two Bowsers are there. Now a trio of heroes with their Star Sprite guide must pursue and defeat this Koopa alliance.

To be blunt, you don’t play a Mario game for its story. That’s simply a fact, but one would play this game for its vibrant worlds, and yes, it’s stellar combat. This simple and easy to grasp RPG system gets shaken up with even more quick time reflex­ive action. Using the A but­ton to control Mario, the B button to control Luigi, and the Y button to control Paper Mario, there are numerous dynamic combinations.

The game avoids feeling too fast thanks to its turn based restrictions. You never lose the elements that make it a Mario game, but the RPG traits are woven in, in a way that feels authentic, effective, and most of all consistent.

As I previously men­tioned, this game gains quite a bit from its beautiful envi­ronments. While it rehashes a lot of the themes of previ­ous Mario games, each area has a good combination of paper and cardboard envi­ronment pieces as well as rounded pieces to match the style of the game’s main set­ting.

This is complemented by the comfortable over­world controls. Worried that controlling the jumps for three characters might feel clunky or weird? The X but­ton serves as a simultaneous jump for the brothers, even adding a bit of a flutter.

Arguably, this game’s greatest trait is its humor­ous writing. From the Paper Toads that crowd the world to Bowser and his baddie crew, you’re never short of a few laughs.

There are even scenes where a real and paper prin­cess bond over the tedious nature of Bowser’s kidnap­ping tactics. When you see Bowser Jr. and Paper Bowser Jr. start hanging out, your heart will melt. It may be the cutest thing ever. The only character who allows their dialogue to fall flat is Star­low, but that may be my own personal bias.

While elements of the “Mario and Luigi” series are lost in “Paper Jam,” new el­ements take their place, and make for a very powerful ex­perience. More characters, more personalities, more clever writing. This is with­out a doubt one of the 3DS’s better experiences, recom­mended for anyone looking for a fun, light-hearted, sim­ple role playing adventure.

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