Mario and Luigi Paper Jam Hands-On Impressions: 2D Teams Up With 3D

Shacknews goes hands-on with Mario and Luigi Paper Jam to see how well 3D characters and their flat counterparts work together. It turns out, crossing dimensions has some suprising results.

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Mario and Luigi Paper Jam takes the characters from both the Mario & Luigi and the Paper Mario series and drops them into one adorably cute action RPG for the 3DS. Players can build a team that combines the strengths of both flat and 3D characters to take on various creatures and bosses. The game is still a long ways off from releasing, but we had a chance to play a short demo that tested our teamwork skills.

The demo, which features Mario, Luigi, and Paper Mario, focuses completely on combat and gives no hint to the world the three are out to explore or how big it is. Each character has a range of abilities, with the hammer bash being the most basic move. Enemies lash back with moves of their own, including one where the Piranha Plant tries to eat one of your characters and you have to try block it with a quicktime event. That's when it's time to step things up with the special attacks, like Paper Mario's ability to duplicate (photocopy?) himself into several clones, each equipped with a large mallet. You have to hit a button in time with each copy's appearance to get the full set, and they'll all strike at once for devastating effect.

After exchanging a couple attacks with a giant Piranha Plant using a series of trial and error moves, I finally decided to get serious. Team moves bring the fighting to an all-new level by throwing mini games into the mix. For example, one move started a chase sequence where my team had to run away from the plant, and I had to hit the button in accordance to series of quicktime events. Both Mario and Luigi had to dodge, so I had to keep an eye on cues as to which the plant might attack. Then I had to move the Paper Mario kite over to the right character to protect him from harm. It's a frenzied mini game, and moving incorrectly will not only weaken the attack, but will damage your characters at the same time.

There's also a move that turns the plant into a picture, which is torn to shreds and tossed into the air. Characters need to coordinate with each other to hit each shred as they drift to the ground, which is more challenging than it might sound. These mini games take a lot of split-second reactions, while others require a great deal of multitasking to get the group moves to work out, otherwise you'll just end up injuring your own team. Much of the time, at least in this demo, part of the challenge is in figuring out what to do. But that makes it all the more satisfying when the gameplay finally clicks and you understand what's going on and what you have to do.

I eventually managed to defeat the giant creature, although poor Luigi ended up eaten a couple times and was temporarily taken out of play. There's a great deal to get used to, especially when you're playing for the first time, but I'm sure those kinks will be worked out as the game develops further.

Mario & Luigi Paper Jam is expected to release for the Nintendo 3DS in spring 2016, and will include additional characters such as Princess Peach, Toad and Bowser.

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