Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam (known as Mario & Luigi RPG: Paper Mario MIX in Japan and Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros. in Europe and Australia) is a game in the Mario & Luigi series for Nintendo 3DS that crosses over with the Paper Mario series. As a result, the game uses the same graphics and engine as its predecessor and contains elements from Paper Mario: Sticker Star. The plot revolves around Mario, Luigi, and Paper Mario trying to stop the two Bowsers from taking over the Mushroom Kingdom using their combined armies. It is the second Mario & Luigi game for the Nintendo 3DS and the fifth game overall in the series. However the first draft of the story wasn't like the actual story in the final game for some balancing reasons.
Differences and Reasons for Changes
In the past, the Mario & Luigi games primarily used two buttons, but the developers wanted to break new ground by making a third button active in combat. Characters were brainstormed until the developers thought of a second Mario, where the Paper Mario character would fit the third character role neatly. This implementation has then turn the idea of a crossover. Paper Luigi was considered to be a fourth playable character in the story, but they cut him out of the gameplay because they thought that having four buttons would make the game too frustrating to play, which is the reason he is in the music player mode when you beat the game.
The first draft of the story involved characters from the previous games going back and forth between the Mushroom Kingdom and the paper world with many twists to the narrative, the developers thought it was too complex and that no one will enjoy it, so that it was rewritten many times to be simplified, where greater emphasis was placed on the character interactions between each other. Though emphasis has been placed on Paper Mario to make him stand out, the developers wanted equal attention to all characters, where they mention that it was a "big job" to balance everything. The developers also mentioned interest in adding original characters to the plot, but decided against it since they already have many characters to work with, and it would be too challenging to fit them at an appropriate appearance in the story.
The YouTuber Fawfulthegreat64, had brainstormed an idea for a recut/sequel of the game, calling it Mario & Luigi: Double Dimensions. It would involve the recurring villain in the Mario & Luigi series, Fawful and the secondary antagonist, Dimentio meeting up and trying to take over the Mushroom Kingdom. But what makes it so special is that the original characters would return and have a larger impact on the story. He posted the idea on Deviantart months after the game's release in 2016. Then he posted the idea on YouTube, talking about his idea for it.
Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam has received generally positive reviews from professional critics, scoring a 76 based on 65 critics in Metacritic and a 76.70% based on 44 reviews in GameRankings. General praise has been given out to the battle system, gameplay, and the humor, as well as removing the amount of tutorials present in the game's predecessor, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, though it has been criticized for the simple story and playing too safe for the franchise. Lee Garbutt from God is a Geek, writer of one of the more positive reviews, giving the game a 9/10, praised the game's battle combat and the humour though stated that the game was too simple for hardcore JRPG fans and the amiibo implementation was superfluous. Daan Koopman of Nintendo World report gave the game a 7.5/10. He called the game "cute" and praised the interactions between the characters, but criticized the pacing in the review, highlighting the Toad Rescue missions being the primary problem of being too excessive. On a more critical note, Mark Brown of Pocket Gamer UK gave the game a 6/10, criticizing the game for being too safe and also lamenting the lack of a diverse cast of characters, and failing to live up to the standards set by preceding games, though he notes how some charm is left and that the gameplay is fun.