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Just when you thought Mario and Sonic crossing over was the most unlikely Mario crossover to ever happen...
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Quite possibly one of the oddest Mario cross-overs to date, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam is a Crossover RPG between two different Mario RPG series, Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario. Gameplay is mostly based on the Mario & Luigi series, with Paper Mario himself having a lot of gameplay elements of his home series.

The story begins with a usual storage cleanup at Peach's Castle being tasked to Luigi and a Toad. While fending off a problematic mouse, Luigi accidentally ends up knocking down the Paper Book, which is the book that holds the Paper World where Paper Mario exists, and ends up releasing a big mess of paper residents out into the world, causing massive panic and confusion. It is not long before Mario and Luigi are tasked to retrieve all the paper residents to the Paper Book, alongside Paper Mario himself aiding them in the journey...

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Unfortunately, they're not the only alternate dimension teamups going on. With two Marios, there are also two Bowsers running around too, and the two are determined to get rid of both Marios once and for all...if they don't end up getting rid of each other first.


This game contains the following tropes:

  • Achievement System:
    • Expert Challenges make a return. You earn points for completing tasks like getting an excellent rating on attacks and dodging enemies, and canp redeem those points for exclusive equipment.
    • The Star Coins that are earned from missions. Getting enough Coins would net some rare cards, and extra coins are obtained by replaying some missions in Hard Mode.
  • Action Bomb:
    • Besides the usual Bob-Omb mooks, King Bob-Omb appears as a late-game boss, blowing himself up for huge damage after a countdown (Which can be delayed by countering a certain attack or using a particular battle card). You can actually beat him by using damage-canceling cards and waiting him out, although you get no rewards that way.
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    • Urchins also behave in this fashion, being entirely passive and yielding a nice sum of coins and EXP if you manage to take them out in one attack. Fail, and they'll explode in a shower of spikes, hitting everything on the battlefield several times for a high amount of damage.
  • Actually Four Mooks: Most encounters with the Paper enemies have them actually utilizing Paper Mario's Copy Block ability.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Once Bowser's castle goes airborne, the first action the Bowsers take is to head to Peach's castle and blast it thoroughly.
  • Alternate Self: The "Paper" characters to the "real life" characters, and vice versa, naturally.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Even after their latest defeat, both Bowsers go on revenge-fueled rampages in their respective homeworlds while their respective Marios (and Luigi) head off to stop them.
  • And This Is for...: When Bowser arrives with his fleet to bombard Peach's Castle, he says he does it as retaliation for the Mario Bros. beating his son.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Holding the X button will have all three characters block, which doesn't prevent taking damage entirely, but it does cut the damage in half. Quite useful when you're not confident in your ability to dodge the incoming attack.
    • If you fail a required quest enough times, the game will give you the option to skip it. However, you don't get the Star Coin for completing it. It's not gone for good, though, as you can return to the Lakitu Info Center to try again later.
    • After their lackluster reception in Dream Team, the Gyro Controls are completely absent in this entry, to the point that the Dropchopper from the same game has you control it with the Circle Pad instead.
    • Scenes can be fast-forwarded instead of keeping players from re-watching the ones leading to a boss fight they had lost before.
    • After Bowser's Castle takes flight, if you didn't get the chance to complete some dodge challenges, you can still fight those enemies later in the game. (Of note is that said enemies never have normal stronger versions and are put together in a secluded area).
    • For the first time in the series, the game introduces a Sprint Shoes mechanic to allow for speedier movement. This and the Trio jump allows for faster and easier navigation in the overworld.
  • Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better: The Bowsers constantly try to outplay each other.
  • The Artifact:
    • Spinies flipping on their backsides when hit with a hammer attack. While this makes sense in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team due to them being dream world enemies (which turns the aforementioned hammer attack into an attack that involves tossing enemies into the air with an earth-shattering shockwave), in this game, it doesn't due to the attack working as normal (as in, "hitting the enemy with a hammer").
    • The Paper Tower Power Pokey still has a "Royal Sticker"-like crown on top of his head, in spite of the Royal Stickers not playing a part within the game's plot. It's presumably a normal crown this time.
  • Art Shift: It's pretty obvious that the Papercraft battles use 3D models for Mario and Luigi. The sprites for the Toads and enemies also make them look more like they do in the main games rather than in this series.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Previously a Bonus Boss within Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Bowser Jr. now has a bigger role within the story (alongside his paper counterpart). What's more, the game also details how he and his paper double bond with each other over the course of the story.
    • The Koopalings themselves went from being completely silent end-bosses from Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga to having actual speaking roles throughout the game.
    • Toadette has a bigger role in this game, alluding to her supportive role in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
  • Asteroids Monster: If they're not defeated in a single hit, Paper Fuzzies will divide into two smaller Fuzzies, which can occur twice for a total of four Fuzzies from one. Also, if not defeated quickly, they'll eventually explode into a screen-filling mass of minuscule Fuzzies and try to swarm the Bros in one last attack, ending the battle without any rewards whether you manage to escape or get hit and survive.
  • Attack Its Weak Point:
    • Spinies of both varieties take increased damage from jumping attacks on their soft underbellies once you've flipped them over.
    • Dry Bowser shares the same weakness, but exposing it requires executing several counterattacks.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever:
    • The game has segments where the Marios and Luigi ride on giant cardboard Mario characters and battle giant cardboard Mario enemies. The end result looks kind of like a tank battle game.
    • Downplayed with the final boss. Paper Bowser and the regular Bowser combine and become Shiny Robo-Bowser, which is a larger 3D Bowser with body armor. It's still a regular battle, so he isn't as large as the Papercrafts.
    • In a Callback to Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Luigi's final Bros. attack involve him growing Giant and attacking the enemy, though here, it involves Luigi eating a Mega Mushroom instead of using dream power.
  • Bag of Spilling: This is the first Mario & Luigi game to avert this trope in regards to the Mario Bros' hammers, due to the Bros. starting the game with them. Played straight with the Bros. Attacks (a few even taken straight out of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team), but it's justified by Nabbit stealing them before Mario and Luigi could get their hands on them.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game:
    • When Paper Mario first uses his Copy Block, the enemy he was up against accuse him, the Paper Goomba stack, of mimicing them.
    • The bosses do this to the brothers:
    • Toadette also pulls this for the final Papercraft battle. After witnessing Papercraft Bowser torch her creations, she gets a Eureka Moment to start building Papercraft Fire Mario.
  • Berserk Button: If the bosses find that they're fighting a losing battle, they'll get angry and will start doing more damage with their attacks. In some occasions, this will also allow the bosses to use their strongest attacks. Both Ludwig and Larry and King Bob-Omb lampshade it when they get mad.
  • Better Than a Bare Bulb: From Peach talking about it being 'that point in the story' when Bowser comes to kidnap her to Luigi pointing out that they need to remember a particular Bowser door because, as Starlow says, their adventures "always have some kind of foreshadowing device," there's not a single Mario-related cliché that isn't lampshaded within at least one point in the story.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Both Bowsers get their share of comical moments and their Teeth-Clenched Teamwork is Played for Laughs, but that doesn't stop them from being more dangerous than they were in previous Mario RPGs.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The two Bowsers form an alliance of sorts, but they seem more content with fighting each other rather than the Marios. Unlike in Dream Team, their status is out in the open right from the beginning, though Bowser is every bit as competent as he was in that game. Also unlike Dream Team, Bowser's alliance with Paper Bowser actually sticks to the very end, unlike his alliance with Antasma where he betrays him right towards the end of the game (although he does try betraying his paper counterpart, which didn't stick due to his paper counterpart being a lot more proactive than Antasma).
  • Big Ball of Violence: Bowser and Paper Bowser start off this way after insulting each other, dragging Kamek into the fight. In the Wendy and Roy battle, if you manage to counter Roy's attack onto Wendy, she'll get mad and beat up Roy, taking damage. She can quite easily finish him off for you, too.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In truest form, Paper Mario makes his entrance to the game saving Mario and Luigi after they're floored by a Paper Goomba Stack attack they're unable to presently avoid, single-handedly clearing them out.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: Morton's the big, Iggy the thin, and Lemmy the short. They're almost always seen together, and fight you as a trio.
  • Blatant Lies: Wendy and Roy claim that they got "some new tricks up their sleeves" when you fight them for the second time. However, the only difference is that their stats are higher. All of their attacks and patterns are exactly the same as the first time you fought them. Ludwig and Larry, however, have new Battle Card effects and can be extremely frustrating if the battle's carried on for too long.
  • Bonus Boss: Like Bowser Jr. in the previous game, an established character makes their Mario and Luigi debut within the Battle Ring at the end of the Boss Rush mode. This time, it's Dry Bowser. Unlike the last two games' bonus bosses, he doesn't steal your Bros. Attacks, but the trade-off is that the fight itself is grueling: his own attack patterns are brutal enough, but the kicker is that he summons Roy and Wendy and later (if Dry Bowser isn't beaten first) Ludwig and Larry to fight alongside him, adding to the chaos. Oh, and all of them are Level 45 with Dry Bowser himself at 48, so they all hit like trucks.
  • Boss Bonanza: Neo Bowser Castle's long string of bosses begins with a battle against Papercraft Bowser (with a Boss Rush against watered-down versions of past papercraft bosses), followed by the Kameks, and another Boss Rush against the Koopalings. Then comes the Final Boss which has two phases.
  • Boss Rush: Aside from the normal one of these in the Battle Ring, the Koopalings get one at the end of the game. Before the final Papercraft battle against Bowser, other Papercraft bosses are in the way.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Completing every Expert Challenge earns you the Duplex Crown, which lets the equipped character take an extra turn. A game-breaking ability for sure, but by the time you get it, you've finished most of what the game has to offer.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Paper Kamek's magic forces Wiggler to fight the heroes.
  • Breaking Old Trends: Paper Jam has almost no characters that weren't introduced in any other Mario game. This means no original villainsnote , original enemiesnote , or even new variations of existing Mario enemies beside Paper variants. Basically all the characters are from the main series platforming games, with the exceptions being Toadette (who was only in spin-offs at the time), Starlow (the only character to return from previous Mario & Luigi games), and the one or two Sticker Star only enemies.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory:
    • If you have a New Nintendo 3DS and amiibo, you can make some really powerful Battle Cards to quickly defeat your opponents. If you just have an ordinary 3DS, you'll need an NFC Reader to use your amiibo. If you don't have that...well, there's a Toad that will buy your amiibo cards off you.
    • Taken to another level by the Sparkle Cards, that require two amiibo of the same character, both of which must have data from this game on it, making them redundant for any other purpose. However, they aren't required to be owned by the same person, making it possible to borrow figures from your friends to get the same benefits. The rare duo cards also require two figures, of different characters this time, but the second character can have other save data.
  • Bubbly Clouds: There is a cloudy area above Sunbeam Plains which must be accessed upon the second visit to get to Gloomy Woods. Mt. Brr also has a cloudy summit which is used to reach floating Bowser's Castle.
  • The Bus Came Back: The Koopalings appear in an RPG for the first time since Superstar Saga, and they have a bigger role than last time. They also have speaking roles, and for the first time converse with the ambiguously-related Bowser Jr.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When the Paper Goomba Mario and Luigi crinkled at the beginning of the game shows up later, he tries to remind them that he was the one they beat up. Their expressions following that imply they don't remember it very well.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Luigi is once more the butt of jokes. It's so bad some of the normal Toads can't imagine there being a Paper Luigi.
    • It's perhaps even worse for the unseen Paper Luigi himself, as a paper Toad comments on the normal Luigi actually looking "capable" compared to him.
    • Ironically, Paper Luigi can appear should you beat the game and play the Music Player Mode...and he's relaxing on a beach listening to music, apparently on vacation.
  • Call-Back:
    • In every main Paper Mario title until now, the game begins opening a book, and the game ends by closing said book. Paper Jam begins with Luigi releasing the Paper characters from a book.
    • Paper Mario's plot was kicked off by Bowser tampering with a book by changing the story so he wins. Here, he goes one step further in avoiding defeat by trying to destroy a book.
    • Paper Mario first gains the ability to fold his body into origami shapes, such as a paper airplane, or turn on his side to fit through thin spaces, in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, in which Black Chest Demons "curse" him with the abilities.
    • The battle theme used when Paper Mario is not in your party is a remix of the battle theme from Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga.
    • The first few notes of Sunbeam Plains' theme are similar to a part of the end of Paper Mario: Sticker Star's battle theme.
    • The Mechakoopa enemies in the final dungeon behave similarly to the Mecha-Chomp enemies in Superstar Saga: damage can cause them to enter a sparking "malfunction" state where all their "tells" have the opposite meaning.
    • Paper Mario's Big Damn Heroes seems to bring Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time to mind (small fry take out the main bros. in one hit somehow, then the guest Mario saves the day).
    • Paper Mario being stolen away by a ghost is rather reminiscent of events at Twilight Town and the Creepy Steeple.
    • The beam rope move that Kamek and Paper Kamek use in their battle appears very reminiscent of the Border Jump minigame in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga.
    • King Boo can use a variation of an attack the Dark Star from Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story uses, namely the ability to split themselves up, send their own clones to Mario and the gang, and turn invisible partway in an attempt to throw them off.
    • When the Paper Toads make their Paper Toad ramp to Neo Bowser Castle, one of them remarks on how they pulled a much smaller feat as stairs in Paper Mario: Sticker Star.
    • When Starlow introduces herself to Paper Peach, she mentions the Star Sprites in the EU version (and in a later scene in the NA version), while in the intro of the NA version, she mentions the Star Spirits instead.
  • The Cameo:
    • Antasma appears in the art on one of Bowser's amiibo Battle Cards.
    • An artwork of Daisy and Rosalina appears along with an artwork of Peach, together on one of Peach's amiibo Battle Cards.
    • An artwork of the Bros carrying Baby Mario and Baby Luigi (from Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time), appears on one of Luigi's amiibo Battle Cards.
    • Paper Luigi appears in the Music Player mode.
  • Cards of Power: Replacing the badges are Battle Cards which do a variety of things like increase your defense, deal a fixed amount of damage to spiky enemies, lower your enemies' speed, etc.
  • Cardboard Prison: Standard prison cells are these to the paper characters, due to them being able to fit through the bars that are evidently not designed with characters as thin as paper in mind.
  • Cast from Hit Points: There are a few Battle Cards that damage all of the Bros. (either 50% or 80% of their health) in exchange for giving them more Star Points.
  • Cast from Money: There's also Battle Cards that drop money from the Bros. pockets (based on their level) in exchange for giving them more Star Points.
  • Chain of People: All the Paper Toads rescued form one for the heroes to reach Neo Bowser Castle. The excess Toads not used then become Mario's final bro attack, Toad Trail.
  • Cheated Angle: The paper characters (Paper Mario included) are only shown from an angle different than the front of their sprites when the fact that they're made of paper is currently relevant to the situation. Except during Papercraft battles, but that's only because it's the only time the player has control over the camera's current angle.
  • The Cheerleader: When Mario and Luigi use a Bros. Attack, Paper Mario will cheer them on off to the side, giving a different reaction depending on how well the attack went, ranging from jumping for joy for an Excellent to looking dejected if the attack fails.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Copy Block the Paper Toads give Mario and Luigi before they disembark due to said block not being found within their battle commands. It starts to get used whenever Paper Mario starts battling alongside Mario and Luigi as the mean for him to split himself into a full stack.
    • Also, the Bowser emblem that opens up the way to Bowser Castle, which is lampshaded by Starlow.
    • During the first visit to Bowser's castle, there are three Fire Ores decorating the place in various parts. On the return to the now-airborne castle, Toadette has the heroes steal these in order to power up her new Papercraft.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The battle against Iggy, Morton, and Lemmy starts off with two back-to-back chase sequences that players should already know the routine for already. However, you better have taken notes during the battle against Bowser Jr., because the Paper Trampoline sequence (the only other battle that it's used) is reused when trying to send a Chain Chomp flying back at the group, and if you fail, your entire group will get KO'd.
  • Cosmic Keystone: All Mario and Luigi as well as Paper Mario games deal with searching for a powerful artifact and a group of them, respectively. This game's cosmic artifact is the book where the Paper Mario world came from. In a change of pace, it's actually in the heroes' possession for the first third of the game, and the villains' eventual endgame is not to take control of it, but to destroy it.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • On the Mario & Luigi side, the Elite Trionote  never show up in the game, nor are they ever referenced. Their absence is baffling, as they were still working for Bowser at the end of Dream Team. In addition, this is the first Mario & Luigi game to not feature Toadsworth.
    • On the Paper Mario side, meanwhile, if a character wasn't in Sticker Star, they're not in this game. Even among those characters, Paper Wigglernote , Gooper Blooper, and Mizzter Blizzard are absent. Kersti too. Most importantly, Paper Luigi is absent until the Music Player is unlocked, where he makes The Cameo. Even some Paper Mooks are not safe. Paper Buzzy Beetles, Paper Cheep Cheeps and Paper Pokies don't get a chance to fight alongside their "real" counterparts.
  • Color Failure: All paper enemies turn gray and become shreds when they are defeated or, in the case of bosses, before the typical boss-exploding animation.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • At one point, Princess Peach asks Paper Princess Peach if she has any ideas for styling her hair. Paper Princess Peach suggests a ponytail, saying "It's good for playing sports, but it's hardly a new look." This is a reference to the Mario sports games, in which Peach has her hair in a ponytail.
    • Toadette often reminiscences on her appearance within Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, to the point of even referring to that game by name.
      Toadette: I've tracked many a treasure, gentlemen.
    • Two of King Bob-omb's three attacks have him grab and throw one of the Bros and throw normal Bob-ombs at them. The former was his only attack in his Super Mario 64 battle and the second battle with him in its remake, while the latter was added for his first fight in the remake so Yoshi could hurt him.
    • The Battle Cards that amiibo give feature artwork from previous Super Mario Bros. games.
  • Crosshair Aware: To accommodate Paper Mario standing behind the M&L Bros in the battle screen (he's positioned where he'd be on a battle screen in his home games), an optional crosshair can show up when enemies are attacking, indicating if the attack is targeting Paper Mario's row, Mario and Luigi's row, or both.
  • Crossover: Between the Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario series. And with the amiibo Battle Cards, a lot more games.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!:
    • Having a third party member may screw up anyone trying to dodge multi-target attacks.
    • Aside from Bomb Derby, which plays exactly the same, the returning Bros. attacks from the previous game have new mechanics.
      • The 3D Shell (now exclusive to Mario) only has six prompts to execute instead of ten.
      • Dream Team's Fire Flower is a Charged Attack note  returning to a Spam Attack mechanic like previous entries.
      • Dropchopper now utilizes the Circle Pad instead of gyro controls.
  • Damsel in Distress: Aside from the usual situation with both Princesses Peach, Toadette gets kidnapped during the first raid on Bowser Castle so that she won't build any more papercrafts for the heroes.
  • Decomposite Character:
    • While multiple forms of Mario being playable together is nothing new, this is the first time one plays a major role and is given an actual reason (odd as it may be) for being present (if you don't count fighting alongside his younger self in Partners In Time, that is).
    • Bowser gets two of these with his "Paper" and "Dry" selves.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Paper Mario's attacks don't deal that much damage, but he compensates for this by creating copies of himself to attack in rapid succession.
  • Demoted to Extra: Paper Luigi only appears in the "Music Player" mode unlocked after beating the game, which shows that he was on vacation at the beach during the events of the game.
  • Dirty Coward: King Boo holds Paper Mario hostage in their boss battle, threatening him if you attack them or their minion holding Paper Mario. While attacking his minion will set Paper Mario free, that doesn't stop King Boo from sending another minion to kidnap him again.
  • Disc-One Final Dungeon: Bowser's Castle. It's the journey's destination from the start of the game, the heroes try multiple times to reach it, and when they finally do, they're treated with a battle against Morton and Lemmy piloting the Papercraft King Boo, a dungeon area with new puzzles and enemies, and a battle with both Bowser Jrs.
  • Disney Death: Played for Laughs with Wiggler's "nap time" after his boss fight. Paragoombas ascend him into the skies and naturally, the Bros. are sad. Fortunately, it was just metamorphosis turning him into a Flutter, and he gives the gang a lift to Mount Brrr.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Koopalings capture the protagonists and take them to a "secure location" on an island that used to be a tourist destination. Someone runs a Gitmo in a Mario game?
  • Drop the Hammer: As per usual for a Mario RPG. However, when initiating a Trio Attack, Paper Mario summons a giant papercraft hammer that he, Mario, and Luigi use to turn enemies into paper before attacking. The final boss can do the same thing, and will even counter Trio attacks with it as long as his helmet is intact.
  • Dual Boss: Most of the bosses in the game are these, whether it be the Koopalings, the Paper and regular Kameks, the Paper and regular Bowser Jr., and the paper and regular Bowser — even the first phase of the final boss is this. Notably, this is the first time that the Koopalings work together to fight Mario instead of fighting Mario solo.
  • Dump Stat: Utilizing the Copy Block expertly would render Paper Mario's HP and defense stats useless, since Paper Mario's copies take the damage in his stead.
  • Elite Mook: Shiny enemies. Their higher level allows them to take and deal more punishment. Combined with already dangerous enemies like Boomerang Bro or Dry Bones and you've got a very formidable foe.
  • Enemy Mine: The last Nabbit-related quests involves him actually fighting back. As he sat on the wrong foot with Bowser's army, however, he'll temporary join forces with the Mario Bros in order to take them out.
  • Evil Counterpart: With the deck system, the "dark star points" is this to the Brothers' "star points". Larry and Ludwig use these to charge up their own deck during their boss battle. The final boss gets his own version of Trio Attacks, which he can even use to counter yours.
  • Evil Duo: Wendy and Roy, as well as Larry and Ludwig. Naturally, they contrast each other. Wendy is the most feminine of the Koopalings while Roy is the most masculine, while Ludwig is the oldest of the Koopalings and Larry is the youngest.
  • Exposition Fairy: Starlow, for the third time, takes on the role for the Bros.
  • Fastball Special:
    • Roy and Wendy have a special variation of this during their boss battles; they get in their shells, start spinning, and then Roy knocks Wendy at the Bros.
    • One of Mario's Bros Attacks also involves hurling Luigi. Who is riding an actual wrecking ball.
    • Luigi's final Bros attack, Mega Thwonk, also pulls this off; when Giant Luigi swings his hammer at the target, Mario (who was standing on said hammer) joins the trajectory and stomps on the flying enemy multiple times.
  • Final Dungeon Preview: Partway through the game, Mario, Luigi, and Paper Mario reach Bowser's Castle, where they rescue Peach and Paper Peach and defeat Bowser Jr. and Paper Bowser Jr. Afterward, Bowser and Paper Bowser rocket the castle into the sky and upgrade it to Neo Bowser Castle; the heroes spend the rest of the game getting back up there.
  • Final-Exam Boss: The penultimate battle before the Bowsers themselves are against Morton, Iggy and Lemmy. Hopefully you have mastered the airplane, boomerang and trampoline sequences, since that is the only way to fight in this battle.
  • Foil: Word of God states the primary motivation for the crossover is to contrast the 3D characters with the paper-thin ones.
  • Forced Tutorial: Downplayed this time round; you don't even need to sit through the Papercraft tutorial if you don't want to. One of the few tutorials you do need to sit through concerns Paper Mario's special dodging and attacking techniques in battle such as Airplane Paper Mario, but they're not too long, either.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Anyone who knows their Mario and Luigi Recurring Elements know that you'll eventually have to fight the Wiggler that's supposed to be your ally (since there's always a boss fight against a Wiggler or Wiggler-like entity). Unlike the Wigglers from the other Mario and Luigi games, he's not fighting willingly. Instead, he's being mind-controlled by Paper Kamek.
  • Freudian Slip:
    • Bowser at one point claims that he'll rule the world with an iron fist, which Paper Bowser corrects to "we".
      Bowser: I'll rule the land with an iron fist!
      Paper Bowser: You'll mean WE'LL rule with iron FISTS, right?
      Bowser: Yeah. Whatever.
    • Before the final battle, it happens again, only this time Bowser doesn't let himself be corrected, stating he meant what he said. This nearly turns them on each other before they can fight Mario and company.
      Bowser: And the Mushroom Kingdom will be MINE!
      Paper Bowser: I sure hope you meant OURS just then!
      Bowser: I meant what I said! You got a problem with that?
      Paper Bowser: You bet I do! I'm taking over this world!
  • Flying Seafood Special: Aquatic enemies, such as Cheep Cheeps and Urchins, are portrayed as if they're flying while within combat (even if they're fought outside of water). The former will eventually dry out and drop to the ground after enough turns pass, however, fleeing on the next turn if they aren't defeated.
  • Fusion Dance: A combination of the Composite and Power Booster varieties. Paper Bowser performs this with his minions to form Shiny RoboBowser's Powered Armor. During battle, some of the minions can break off and attack. The boss is technically this trope with the M&L Bowser, but he seems to be a separate entity from the armor (he isn't part of the initial Fusion Dance with the paper characters, and in battle he's simply referred to as "Bowser" once his helmet is broken off). However, Bowser does shapeshift along with whatever form Paper Bowser is taking in their attack phases, be it the humongous wheel, the arm cannons, or flattening their arms to act as wings, cementing this on some physical level.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Paper Petey Piranha has absolutely nothing important to do with the plot. He only seems to be there to provide a boss fight during a period where there would be none.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • Thanks to the ability to copy himself, Paper Mario can dish out far more damage to foes than Mario and Luigi. However, being paper in a world not made of paper, understandably he can't take as much punishment, and thus has far lower HP than Mario and Luigi.
    • Lemmy, Iggy, and Morton Jr. have deadly attacks, but they have less health than the other Koopalings and are left vulnerable if you counter said attacks, making them easy to take out.
  • Glowing Flora: The flowers in the darkest part of Gloomy Woods glow in a soothing, yellow light, adding to the eerie and supernatural atmosphere. Unfortunately, they don't ward the Boos away.
  • Great Escape: Mario, Luigi, and Paper Mario get locked in the Twinsy Tropics Dungeon by the Koopalings for interfering with the two Bowsers' plans. The two brothers and Paper Mario need to break out and then build a boat to escape the island. Ironically, the dungeon is located in the underground of a tropical island.
  • Green Hill Zone: The game starts out in the grasslands commonly found in the New Super Mario Bros. series.
  • Guide Dang It!: Finding the Wellington Boots, which also crosses over with some Luck-Based Mission to boot. To recap: You have to battle a Paper Broozer, a rare enemy that only appears in a few spots of the final dungeon. Said Paper Broozer won't drop them normally: it must first use a certain attack (out of three possible ones) to attack the bros. This attack throws a number of barrels that the bros must break with their hammers. Upon doing that, each barrel has a chance to contain loot. Said loot is usually coins, with a small chance to contain a rare item which has a one in seven chance of being the Wellington Boots, the other six possible drops being Beans.
  • Hailfire Peaks:
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Broozers and their paper counterparts will get mad and boost their attack power whenever they get damaged. Doing pretty much anything else, whether it be using a battle card or item, also has a chance to set them off.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: An early battle pits the bros against a mob of Paper Goombas, who roll into a ball to chase the bros down. Even if you succeed in the chase, the Goombas pull a sneak attack afterwards that knocks them out anyway. This prompts Paper Mario to make his grand entrance and rescue Mario and Luigi.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: This game reveals Starlow is actually quite a capable fighter on her own, using powerful Pure Energy attacks such as "Supernova Sparkle" (which apparently involves hearts as part of its charging animation).
  • Heel–Face Turn: The Paper Goomba who the bros. previously fought and crumpled gives you advice on using Battle Cards. Later on, though, he steals the Bowser Medallion off the team under the pretense of checking that it was the real deal and says it's his way of getting back with the other minions, forcing you to retrieve it from one of a number of minions. Once you get it back, he runs away again.
  • Heroic Mime: As is tradition for most Mario games, but Paper Mario is even more of a Heroic Mime than Mario or Luigi, since he can't even speak pseudo-Italian simlish. (Paper Mario previously had Voice Grunting in Thousand-Year Door and Super Paper Mario, so this was obviously done to differentiate him from his "real-world" counterpart.)
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: The two Bowser Jr.'s are almost inseparable once they meet. Each adores the other's company, to the point that they quickly start to become afraid of the prospect of being separated once the book containing the Paper World is discovered.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Bowser tries to do this to himself from the Paper world. Unfortunately for him, Paper Bowser is a little too hands-on to sweep under the rug like that, as opposed to the passive likes of Antasma.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Papercraft battles are treated this way, replacing giant battles from previous games.
  • I Have the High Ground: Bowser Junior loves the view on top of Mt. Brrr, and even states he has absolutely no fear of heights. This is something of a Lampshade Hanging, as Junior has been doing insanely risky things like standing on the bowsprits of airships and on the rim of his Clown Car throughout the series.
  • In-Series Nickname: Starlow nicknames the papery-looking Mario...Paper Mario. It was Paper Mario himself who suggested it.
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: Becomes really apparent once you get the Trio Glider. There are some places with low, or sometimes even no, fences that you could easily go over, but an invisible wall stops you from doing so.
  • Interface Screw:
    • In several battles, some of your blocks are disabled, forcing you to resort to other tactics for a time.
    • When you fight against Morton, he replaces your Battle Cards with ones whose effects aren't immediately obvious and aren't as useful.
  • Ironic Echo: Before battling King Bob-omb, he tells the brothers and Starlow to relax. Starlow responds with "I'm sorry, but this is NOT a very relaxing situation!" Later, when Starlow tells King Bob-omb to relax and talk about it instead of fighting, he responds with the same sentence.
  • Jump Physics: Paper Mario is able to flutter in the air for a short time so he can dodge attacks easier, a la Yoshi or the Excite Spring from Superstar Saga.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • No matter how many times he is caught, even in the canon credits parade, Nabbit always escapes, though he loses everything he stole.
    • The crumpled Paper Goomba runs off after his plan is foiled, escaping punishment from both the Mario trio and Paper Bowser.
  • Kill It with Fire: One of the fastest ways to deal with the paper enemies is to use a Bros. Attack that deals fire damage, like the Fire Flower or Bomb Derby, which will cause about 30% more damage due to the Logical Weakness of paper.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Bowsers. While they still have their humorous moments (particularly early in the game), the atmosphere is notably more tense when they're around, and they also behave in a surprisingly dark manner befitting previous RPG villains. They kidnap and enslave Toads, and their Evil Plan involves destroying the entire "Paper" world.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The first time you meet the Koopalings in the story, Roy asks Wendy why they haven't encountered paper counterparts of themselves yet. The real reason is that the Koopalings haven't made an appearance in the Paper Mario series until Paper Mario: Color Splash. Wendy shrugs it off as their paper counterparts being "busy back home".
  • Later Installment Weirdness: Paper Jam has few different things than the first 4 games.
    • The players are able to save the game anytime by touching the save button on the touchscreen rather than finding a save block in the gameplay (Note: In Dream Team, the player could also save anytime by tapping the save button; Paper Jam is the first of the series to completely eliminate the save blocks, though.)
    • There isn’t any bonus after either Mario or Luigi level up.
    • The first battle isn't against a Boss (usually Bowser, although the last game had Antasma instead) but against a pair of Paper Goombas.
    • The Spin Jump move is not present (likely because there's three characters) and is replaced by the Trio Grab.
  • Leader Wannabe: It's revealed in this game that Ludwig only thinks he's the leader of the Koopalings; the others say that they never voted on a leader, and consider each other equals.
  • Lensman Arms Race: Both good guys and bad guys are constantly building huge papercraft figures to do battle with each other.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Surprisingly, Bowser's Castle is the only area in the game that has lava, as the castle itself sits in a pool of lava.
  • Logical Weakness: Paper-based citizens take more damage to fire attacks dues to their natural flammability. This extends to both paper enemies and Paper Mario himself. It even applies to paper enemies who use fire themselves, such as Fire Bros. and Fire Piranha Plants. There are even a group of achievements for finishing off paper enemies with fire attacks.
  • Lost in Translation:
    • The location names in the Japanese version, as well as the Korean and some European translations, are themed after terms for splitting images (Pair Plains, 50-50 Desert, Look-alike Mountain). This follows up on the laughter-theme in Superstar Saga, the anatomical and sickness-related theme in Bowser's Inside Story and the sleeping theme in Dream Team. However, in the English versions, this is forgone in favor of more traditional location names (Sunbeam Plains, Doop Doop Dunes, Mount Brrr). Strangely, the only English location name that seems to follow this theme is the only Japanese one that doesn't seem to (Twinsy Tropics and Niterude Archipelago, respectively).
    • One of the things Starlow says to psyche Luigi up while he's on his own in the second trip to Gloomy Woods that it's "Luigi RPG" now, while the intent of the joke still comes across in English, it's a reference to the fact that the series is called "Mario & Luigi RPG" in Japan.
  • The Lost Woods: Gloomy Woods. During their first entry, the heroes have to help Wiggler clean up the giant magic shapes that Paper Kamek created to impede their progress, ending in Wiggler becoming a Flutter and helping the trio to Mount Brrr. The second visit, however, turns it into Big Boo's Haunt — literally. Luigi has to work alone to rescue Mario and Paper Mario from King Boo and his army.
  • Man Hug: Luigi hugs Paper Mario after their first Trio battle, but being made of paper, he crumples up. Later on, Mario and Luigi hug after Luigi rescues Mario from being captured by Boos. Starlow thinks it's cute when they do that.
  • Market-Based Title: Known as Mario & Luigi RPG: Paper Mario MIX in Japan and Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros. in Europe. The MIX Badge is an in-game item that references the original name.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter: Paper Mario. For the most part, the gameplay style is more Mario & Luigi based, but Paper Mario retains a lot of battle and field elements from the Paper Mario series, including his ability to fold up into different origami forms.
  • Me's a Crowd: Paper characters, Paper Mario included, can copy themselves in order to do additional attacks on their enemies.
  • Metal Slime:
    • Sombrero Guys, the enemy who gives the most Exp and Coins in the game: besides starting off with eight copies, having a hard-to-dodge attack, and being fast enough to pull off two attacks against a non-overleveled party (essentially giving it Lightning Bruiser status), it has a chance to run away, and will do so if it's the only enemy left.
    • Urchins. They give lots of experience when defeated and they won't attack, but if you decide to attack them, you have to finish them in one turn or else they'll self-destruct and hit everyone with massive damage. If they're the last enemy on the field, they'll run away.
  • Mind Screw: Luigi knocks over a book in Peach's attic and everything in it spontaneously spills out into reality. Where the book came from, why it's in Peach's attic, and why the simple act of opening the thing caused such a dramatic event is never explained. Even by the standards of the Mario franchise, this is bizarre.
  • Minigame Zone: The Latiku Info Center, where most of the game's missions, that are like minigames, are accessed. There's even a second receptionist that allowed you to play some of these missions in a harder difficulty. Furthermore, after returning from Twinsy Tropics, the second floor is unlocked, where the Attackathon, Boss Rush, and Papercraft rematches are available.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands:
    • Starlow apparently knows an attack called "Supernova Sparkle" which she promptly uses on Ludwig and Larry via an Offscreen Moment of Awesome (after they started pummeling Mario and the gang due to them not having a pass to Bowser's castle). This is the first time her offensive capabilities are shown.
    • The various Papercraft Toadette creates for the heroes have abilities that cater to the upcoming papercraft battle. (Luigi's hammer attack bypassing spiny Papercraft enemies, Peach's umbrella deflecting projectiles, Yoshi's Overly Long Tongue needed to cross gaps, etc.)
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Two Marios from across dimensions unite! Also, Luigi's there too, I guess.
  • Mythology Gag: Starlow directly refers to The Year of Luigi when she's alone within Gloomy Woods.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The reason the "Paper" characters and enemies escaped into the "real world" is because Luigi accidentally knocked over the book containing their universe through a Scaredy Rat's sudden appearance.
  • Ninja Log: Ninjis use these to make themselves immune against attacks. The trick to hitting them is to use an attack the opposite of what they're expecting (represented by a speech bubble above their heads).
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Shiny RoboBowser, the Final Boss. He's a giant version of the "regular" Bowser clad in a set of Powered Armor formed from Paper Bowser and many of his papery minions. Essentially, a turtle monster wearing another turtle monster and other creatures as a set of mechanized armor, who can turn his arms into cannons.
  • No Fourth Wall: What happens when you combine two sibling RPG series rife with Fourth Wall-breaking humor? It's never even there in the first place. You could fill a bucket with how many cracks everyone in the game at some point takes at the tropes and trends of their adventures.
  • No-Gear Level: an unusual variant in the Twinsy Tropics Dungeon where the Hammer Bros guards have confiscated the heroes' command blocks, hampering their effectiveness in battle.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The two Bowser Juniors initially decide to destroy the Paper World book so that they won't ever have to be separated. When the moment of truth comes, however, they hesitate at the last moment and decide to keep the book around. After their defeat, with the book mere feet away from Mario, the two feebly beg their fathers to grab the book so they can quickly destroy it, but it falls on deaf ears.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Naturally, characters from the Paper Mario series keep the iconic graphical style, while the Mario & Luigi verse uses Sprite/Polygon Mix ala Mario & Luigi: Dream Team.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: The Bowsers unload absolutely everything they have at Mario and company over the game. The true weight can be felt in the final dungeon, wherein the gauntlet of defense the Bowsers have put in place is absolutely mind-boggling.
  • Noodle Incident: Kamek gets Starlow to let go of the castle wall (when everyone else is hanging from her) by saying that she has very nice teeth, upon which Starlow thanks him for it and consequently lets go. She says that her beautiful teeth are her downfall again. So what happened the first time round, then?
  • No-Sell: Try to use a Trio Attack on Shiny Robo-Bowser while his armor's intact and he'll simply cancel it out by bringing out a giant hammer of his own, getting a free attack on you in the process.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: Bowser's Castle becomes this after the three Bros. rescue the two Princess Peaches.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Bowsers' ultimate plan is, now that Paper Bowser's entire army has been removed from the Paper Mario Book, to trap the heroes inside it after they beat them...and then burn the book, destroying the Paper Mario world and ensuring their demise, as well as everyone else within.
    Paper Bowser: First, we're gonna beat you! Next, we're going to trap you in this book! And then we're gonna throw the book in the garbage...AND LIGHT THE GARBAGE ON FIRE! BWAHAHA!
  • One-Hit Kill: Morton Koopa's Chain Chomp is this if you cannot properly dodge it.
  • One-Winged Angel: Once the Bowsers take enough damage, they combine into Shiny RoboBowser, which is Bowser with a bunch of morphable papercraft armor on him.
  • Other Me Annoys Me:
    • The Bowsers don't get along particularly well; their first meeting ends in a Big Ball of Violence between them. Heck, it's later directly invoked by both of them.
      Yes, he annoys me to no end.
    • The two Kameks also don't get along very well with each other, though they do develop a grudging respect for each other as the story goes on.
    • The two Bowser Jrs., however, immediately become friends, to the point where they don't want to leave each other. And, unfortunately for them, they are heavily implied to be separated at the end.
  • Palmtree Panic: The Twinsy Tropics. First introduced as a mine the Bowsers have established to mine some purple substance (and a holding cell for the Mario brothers and the Crinkled Goomba), it is actually a tropical island that the brothers must build a boat to escape from.
  • Papa Wolf: This game shows both of the Bowsers as this, having them absolutely furious when they see their Jr.s on the ground.
    "WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY SON?!"
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Paper Peach deploys two cardboard cutouts of herself with an obvious speaker sticking out that only plays random pleas for help on a loop in order to buy herself and Peach some time. This works for a while.
  • Parental Obliviousness: There is no question that both Bowsers love their sons tremendously in this game — but it’s also clear they're not giving them the level of attention and social interaction they need. They hardly ever listen to what their sons have to say, even when they've just been seriously hurt.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling:
    • Shiny Paper Bob-ombs can actually appear on the 1st area of Sunbeam Plains. Compared to some other enemies in the same area, their high levels = high experience yields.
      • Additionally, an unlockable equip for Paper Mario, the Shiny Ring, drastically increases the chance for Shiny Paper enemies to appear.
    • It is very possible to be insanely overleveled by the time you face Bowser Jr. It involves the Paper Boomerang Bros at Bowser's Castle (grounded). It takes quite a while, but some of them will throw themselves, meaning that they'll spawn new ones every time they attack you. This can result in them spawning about 8-9 at a time, which is quite insane, but each of them will give you more EXP.
    • At the final dungeon, two specific areas are suddenly swarmed by groups of enemies: some of those enemies give you a chance to serious level grind, and some others help to accumulate Star points to use experience multiplier cards. The only downside is that you have to beat some other enemies outside those areas to make them respawn.
  • Pop Quiz: There are Toads around the world who quiz you on things like characters, enemies, and attacks in the game.
  • Power Trio: The three heroes serve this role. Mario is a powerhouse and Luigi a defensive wall as per normal, with Paper Mario serving as a Mechanically Unusual Fighter. Because of how the battle formation is laid out, Paper Mario is often attacked in different manners to Mario or Luigi. Outside of battle, Mario serves as a confident Jack-of-All-Stats (to the best of his ability), Luigi serves as the Cowardly Lion, and Paper Mario as The Smart Guy, the character responsible for figuring out all of the Trio moves.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: Averted in regards to the Boomerang Bros.' Boomerang. If they hit Mario or Luigi while being thrown or coming back, the Boomerang will bounce off the brother and land on the ground, causing the Boomerang Bro. to go and fetch it. If said boomerang's a folded up Paper Boomerang Bro., it will instead unfold itself to fight alongside the others while the original thrower switches to their standard boomerang.
  • Pride Before a Fall: After the Bowser Jrs. show supremely arrogant disregard for the Paper Book — including calling it a piece of trash — Mario defeats them and is about to take it away, and the two feebly try to tell their fathers how important the book is. Their fathers, however, respond with the same dismissive attitude they once had by calling the book a piece of garbage not worth their attention.
  • Production Foreshadowing: In this game, the 3D Koopalings ask about their paper counterparts, with Wendy speculating they were busy. The Paper Koopalings show up in Paper Mario: Color Splash.
  • Reality Warper: Through the Trio Attacks, Paper Mario paperizes the enemy and turns the area into a specialized paper-themed "room" to execute it, which peels away to return them to normal reality afterwards.
  • Refugee from TV Land: The "Paper" characters come from an in-universe book, and were released when Luigi accidentally knocked it over.
  • Rush Boss: Lemmy, Iggy, and Morton Jr. fill this role in the battle against them. They attack simultaneously and their attacks are highly damaging (and, in Morton's case, can inflict instant death on all three Bros. if not countered properly), but they have less health than the other Koopalings, and countering their attacks makes them take decent damage and get put in a state of dizziness, leaving them helpless against your next few attacks until they recover and repeat the same strategy, making them easy to take out.
  • Sad Battle Music: The final boss theme is somber in tone.
  • Sentient Sands: Sandmaarghs, the relatives to the Blarggs made out of sand instead of lava, reappear from Super Mario 3D Land.
  • Sequel Difficulty Drop: Similar to Partners in Time and Superstar Saga, Paper Jam is somewhat easier than Dream Team.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: Since you are now controlling three characters instead of two, quite a few attacks become much harder to dodge and enemies still hit like trucks.
  • Shell Game:
    • In the fight against Paper Petey Piranha, should you topple some of his copies to the ground, there's a chance that one of them is the real deal. The real Piranha is told apart from his copies where he can still move slightly when sprawled on the ground.
    • On the return to Twinsy Tropics Dungeon, the Bowser Medal that you need to enter Bowser's Castle gets stolen. You have to find the one Fire Bros that stole it among dozens of others, using clues given by defeated Fire Bros to figure out where it is. The less Fire Bros you fight in this mission before finding the real one, the bigger the coin reward.
  • Shielded Core Boss: Shiny RoboBowser won't take any "actual" damage unless his armor is significantly damaged. Otherwise, the battle will continue ad infinitum.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Doop Doop Dunes, the second area in the game. It serves as an introduction to mechanics such as Nabbit and the Trio Hammer, and is also home to the Tower Power Pokey pair. Includes features such as a sand-waterfall (at a thirty-degree angle), an oasis, and an abundance of cacti, functional or otherwise.
  • Sizable Snowflakes: Six-branched snowflakes occasionnally fall in the foreground in Mount Brrr.
  • The Smart Guy:
    • Paper Mario seems to be the most overtly clever of the team, coming up with imaginative and effective solutions where the others were otherwise lost, such as transforming into a paper airplane to help avoid attacks.
    • Luigi points out a lot of the things that they need to do. And all three develop moves together without needing any outside assistance this time around.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Mount Brr, if not obvious by the name. It is home to one of Bowser's 'villas' and the base for King Bob-Omb to shoot paper on the world. It includes puzzles based around Frictionless Ice and the Trio Drill.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Toadette is the only female Toad in the whole game. Not even the Paper Toads scrambled all over have any females among them, despite the first two Paper Mario games having several, likely due to this game mostly drawing from Sticker Star.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: Much like the last game, the world is rendered in 3D while all the characters and items are sprites. Ironically, this means that the "regular" characters are just as flat as their paper counterparts.
  • Squashed Flat: The heroes use the Trio Hammer to "paperize" their targets for their trio attacks.
  • Stealth-Based Mission:
    • One of the Paper Toad rescue quests involve needing to rescue them without being spotted by a Fly Guy. Three misses and you have to start again. One miss and it's over in the Hard Mode quest.
    • A story mission involves capturing the Bowser Jrs. without being spotted. You have one try even if you're not on Hard Mode.
    • At one point during the story, a cowering Luigi storms through a Boo-infested Gloomy Woods alone trying to find the two Marios. The only penalty for getting caught by the Boos is a waste of time due to them frightening Luigi, but since the sections are timed, it will cost the player some seconds.
  • Stylistic Suck: King Bob-Omb retains the muffled, low-quality Voice Grunting he had in Super Mario 64.
  • Suddenly Voiced: This is the first official Mario installment to give the Koopalings spoken lines.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • At one point, a Paper Goomba informs the bros. of some vital information, like the Goomba party members from the first two Paper Mario games. Unlike them, however, this Paper Goomba isn't such an honest guy.
    • Even though Paper Wiggler never shows up, a normal Wiggler more or less acts like him. He even goes through an abridged version of his character arcnote .
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: The Hammer Bros that act as prison guards confiscated the gang's command blocks as to make it impossible for them to attack the Hammer Bros. They would've been outright undefeatable if it weren't for the fact that their attack pattern, which involves throwing several hammers before dashing into a Mario brother in a fit of rage, allows them to instead be defeated by counters.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • King Bob-Omb will self-destruct with lethal force once his timer expires, which is set to actual time instead of a turn limit. Have fun racing against the clock.
    • The Paper Bob-Ombs will also attempt this once they're defeated by charging into the Mario Bros. But their kamikaze charge can take out their allies if it's countered.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The Bowsers and Kameks take an instant dislike to one another, and always try to one-up, insult, or generally take out the other, though the latter eventually develop a grudging respect for each other. Bowser and Paper Bowser even planned to betray each other near the end of the game, the plan only failing because they both came up with the exact same plan and they're about as strong as each other.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: An interesting variation occurs when the party gains its third member mid-battle. Battles with just the local Mario and Luigi use a remix of Superstar Saga's battle theme, right up to their Hopeless Boss Fight with a stack of Paper Goombas. And then Paper Mario shows up, and the music changes to a battle mix of the title theme and stays that way for all future regular fights.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: At the end of it all, both Marios get a kiss from their respective Princesses, then Luigi gets kissed by both at the same time.
  • Timed Mission:
    • Many of the Paper Toad rescue missions involve this, especially the Hard Mode missions available at the Lakitu Info Centre.
    • During the second visit to Gloomy Woods, the brothers get split up, and Luigi has to navigate several timed obstacle courses set up by the Boos to reunite with Mario and Paper Mario.
    • The fight against King Bob-omb has a time limit of four minutes.
    • Towards the end of Neo Bowser Castle, the brothers need to race a five-minute timer to disable the castle's cannon before it can fire on Peach's Castle again.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • If you thought Bowser was badass enough in Dream Team, in this game, he and his paper counterpart have cemented their status as competent, rather dark villains who will protect their children to the very end. To top it all off, their Evil Plan is dark even for a light-hearted franchise like Mario, rivaling the plans of previous RPG villains in sheer evilness. After this game and Dream Team, it's safe to say that Bowser has finally ended his Villain Decay and has become more evil than he ever was since Super Mario Galaxy.
    • Several mooks are reimagined in this game as to allow them to fight better. Ninji, for example, are now portrayed a lot more like actual ninjas than just star-shaped creatures that jump up and down. On the inverse side, Mario and the gang can now defeat enemies which couldn't normally be defeated via direct attacks within other Mario games, like Bullies, for example.
    • The Chargin' Chucks have been upgraded from individual mooks to a Wolf Pack Boss that uses effective sports-based team attacks in order to battle Mario and the gang, complete with an attack that involves them chasing the Mario brothers and Turning Red when you dwindle their numbers enough.
    • For a character that was originally just a Starter Villain in Super Mario 64, King Bob-Omb turned into a very intimidating villain that's in charge of a mountain operation that involves raining paper terrain and paper enemies. His boss battle is even a timed battle as well, and he's much more powerful to boot.
    • Nabbit is surprisingly quite tough when you do face him during combat, using his Bag of Holding to toss stuff at Mario and the gang as well as summoning mooks to fight with him while he dozes off in the background. And even during this, Nabbit will still try to attack, using his sneaking skills in an attempt to confuse the player and nab the brother's hammer just so that he can whack them with it.
    • The Koopalings always fight you in pairs - or in one case a trio - and have some rather good attacks and strategies for once.
  • Tragic Villain: The two Bowser Jrs. are spoiled, greedy, whiny brats, but what they really want is to have fun with each other and to make sure they can stay friends forever.
  • Turns Red: Once the bosses are hit hard enough, they'll get angry, literally turn red, and change their attack patterns a bit.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: A mere Scaredy Rat is the reason behind Luigi knocking over the book containing the "Paper" universe. And that's despite the fact it, along with others of its kind, are part of Bowser's Koopa Troop.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: A different Neo Bowser Castle serves as the final area in the game, where the last encounters with the Koopalings, the Regular and Paper Kameks, the Regular and Paper Bowser Jrs, and the Bowsers themselves unfold.
  • Victory by Endurance: Neo Bowser Castle becomes this for both sides. It all boils down to if the heroes can overcome the ridiculously grueling slog of traps and guardians between them and the Bowsers, or if they fall before they can reach them.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting:
    • Paper Mario can fold his body into a variety of shapes, like an airplane and a shuriken.
    • Paper Bowser enacts this as well, after fusing with Bowser to become Shiny RoboBowser.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Roy and Wendy prove themselves to be a challenge the first time you face them, using several attacks that can potentially do a lot of damage if not avoided. Though the fight is made a bit easier if one of them goes down, the other will start using a devastating attack that can potentially one-hit kill a brother if it hits, though if it's rebounded it will do a lot of damage to THEM.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: One of the reasons that Bowser Jr. and Paper Bowser Jr. work together is a shared desire to win praise from their fathers.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After the trio defeats them, the Bowser Jrs. disappear from the story, despite the story making a big deal about their friendship and eventual separation. Their papercraft appears in the ending credits.
  • Wolf Pack Boss: The Chargin' Chuck Brigade is a boss consisting of an entire squadron of Chargin' Chucks, with them trying to summon more of themselves if you reduce their numbers.
  • The Worm That Walks: Shiny RoboBowser's armor is formed from a fusion of Paper Bowser and his minions. The minions can both break off of the boss and re-merge with him.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Both Bowsers plan to betray each other late in the game, and plan to use the book to do it. It doesn't stick.

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