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  • 8.8: IGN's review of the game gave it a 5.9, just barely above average. Especially when they panned the game's writing; something that's commonly been considered one of the best aspects, and even more so in that the score is far worse than the 8.3 given to Paper Mario: Sticker Star, which is near-universally considered an inferior game. This unsurprisingly led to a ton of backlash against the site.
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  • Audience-Alienating Premise: It's a crossover between Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario...that only uses "mainline" Mario characters. While some fans of Bowser and the Koopa clan were pleasantly surprised by the writing, many people were put off by the crossover playing things too safe and coming across as yet another shallow spinoff for the New Super Mario Bros. crowd, and the game became the lowest-selling Mario & Luigi title.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Instead of being a humorous Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, both Bowsers are also presented as legitimate, cunning threats like he was in Dream Team, although they definitely still have their Funny Moments and Large Ham.
    • One of the many changes Paper Mario: Sticker Star is infamous for is removing Experience Points, a well regarded standard of RPGs. Instead, it expected you to fight battles to get coins in order to buy stickers...which you would use to battle enemies for more coins, effectively making battles pointless. Thus, many are relieved to see Paper Mario benefiting from EXP again after battles.
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    • While some fans are upset about the lack of original characters, the game instead fleshes out the Koopalings' personalities and, for the first time in an official work, gives them fairly extensive dialogue. Some people see this as AlphaDream taking advantage of this apparent restriction to give some depth to previously Flat Characters that are nonetheless fan-favorites. This also applies to Bowser Jr. to a lesser extent, as the game portrays both of him as lovable Jerkass Woobies who just wanted friends, giving Bowser Jr. more depth for the first time since his debut.
    • Digging Beans out of the ground in Dream Team involves Mario jumping out of the ground each and every time. Here, Beans can be dug out by the Trio Drill without jumping out and the Trio Drill's dash ability enables you to collect multiple adjacent Beans at once.
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  • Awesome Boss: Shiny RoboBowser, the Final Boss. He's a fusion between both Bowsers and many of Paper Bowser's minions, resulting in a giant M&L Bowser clad in cardboard Powered Armor. In fine series tradition, the boss is quite hard (albeit easier than previous final bosses) and quite long, and the party has to damage the armor sufficiently to reach Bowser himself and use Trio Attacks: he also has a pretty impressive array of attacks that challenge the player in various ways, some of which copy the motif of the Trio Attacks. The whole thing is set to a somber Kingdom Hearts-like epic battle theme, just like Dreamy Bowser's.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Both Bowsers, since this is the third Mario RPG in a row where Bowser is portrayed as the Big Bad. Some enjoyed their darker (if still humorous) role and epic final boss fight, while others are tired of Bowser constantly being reused.
  • Breather Boss: Lemmy, Iggy, and Morton Jr., who appear at the end of the Boss Rush against the Koopalings. Their attacks aren't hard to counter, and successfully doing so will cause the trio to incapacitate themselves, making them easy to defeat.
  • Broken Base:
    • While the general opinion of the game has been a positive one, a few Paper Mario fans are rather annoyed that the game focuses more on the Mario and Luigi side of things, especially after the lackluster reception Paper Mario: Sticker Star got.
    • The removal of being able to increase a stat bonus during a level-up. Some don't mind its removal because it was a Game-Breaker before, and Beans and Rank Up bonuses which have similar effects are still present, while others think it's still unnecessary and removes a level of strategy in the game.
    • Whether the lack of original characters makes the crossover a missed opportunity or gives AlphaDream a chance to flesh out the personalities of old ones; general consensus veers more towards the former. This was addressed directly by the developers, who stated that including original characters and finding the right time for them to appear would have been difficult due to the sheer number of paper and duplicate characters and the need to communicate the contrast between them.
  • Contested Sequel: Fans are divided as to how Paper Jam stacks up compared to past Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario games, with some accusing the game of "playing it too safe" due to the lack of original characters and formulaic plot, although the gameplay, writing, music and characterization have been generally praised like with the rest of the series. There's some debate in the fandom about whether Paper Jam or its predecessor Dream Team is a better game; supporters of Paper Jam cite its better pacing and lack of Forced Tutorials, while supporters of Dream Team cite its more original characters, locations, and plot.
  • Damsel Scrappy: All the Paper Toads as a whole, where some of the missions you go through to rescue them are going to get on your nerves, really fast. Those that tend to run in chase missions are a special mention, where when you finally catch them some would ask what took you so long to find them.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Layered Paper Shiny enemies. Single Shiny enemies aren't too bad as it's a single enemy, but when a paper enemy that has more than one layer becomes shiny, you're basically fighting a boss in the form of an enemy... that can One-Hit KO most of your party. The Paper Piranha Plants and Paper Dry Bones stand out.
    • Speaking of which, the Paper Piranha Plants can definitely be considered these. They have a tricky fire attack that's very hard to dodge, which either deals heavy damage to Paper Mario or causes Mario and Luigi to get burned, meaning that you have to waste a turn using a Refreshing Herb. They can either appear as one or multiples (depends on how many times you hit them), but unless you've been level grinding, they'll attack multiple times. They're weak against Fire moves, but the Fire Flower is too weak, being Luigi's first Bros. Attack, and because of the fact that they're spiked foes, Rocket Blast will always fail due to the fact that it opens with a jump. Thankfully, moves like the Dropchopper and Trio Whirligig are effective against them.
    • As for the Paper Dry Bones, the main difficulty comes from the fact that (like many paper enemies) they stack up, and if you don't defeat the entire stack quickly enough, they'll just keep resurrecting themselves. They have two main attacks, both of which can be tricky to dodge. The first attack has one of the Dry Bones turn the rest into a tower of large bones to throw at a brother; the tower will sway back and forth rapidly and unpredictably, and either waiting too long or hammering the Dry Bones when the tower is leaning towards the left will result in the tower getting dropped on the brother for tons of damage. The other attack has the Dry Bones split up temporarily to start hurling small bones one by one at the brothers; the bones are small enough that it can be hard to tell which brother they're actually going for, and if all the bones are dodged, the Dry Bones finish the whole thing off with a second volley in which they throw multiple bones at once, some of which won't even hit the brothers and only serve as a distraction. Thankfully, you can hit them with any attack you like, unlike the Paper Piranha Plants.
    • Paper Boomerang Bros can potentially clone themselves infinitely if you don't counter their That One Attack perfectly, see below. They also hit fairly hard.
    • Paper Spikes can potentially become this if you're underleveled, as their attacks hit hard and require quick reflexes to properly dodge. Special mentions goes to the attack where they roll multiple spike balls for you to jump over, as they move much slower than the normal Spike's spike balls, making the jumps much tighter.
  • Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game: Particularly for a Mario RPG, the gameplay, though rather fun, is largely an easier rehash of Dream Team with three party members instead of two (except on Hard Mode) with a few Paper Mario elements thrown in, while the worlds are less unique than in previous RPGs. Arguably, the main draw of the game is how it fleshes out existing characters and takes them to places they've never been, especially the previously one-dimensional Koopalings and Nabbit.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Toadette's return has been very well-received, despite being a fairly minor character in this game.
  • Evil Is Cool: Bowser — or rather, both of him. As noted elsewhere on this page, the game gives him tons of personality and even more menace than in previous Mario games while still keeping him as the Laughably Evil Rated M for Manly Large Ham fans know and love. Plus, Shiny RoboBowser makes for one hell of a Final Boss fight complete with an epic musical theme.
  • Fanon Discontinuity:
    • The fact the Koopalings are explicitly Bowser's minions and not his children was met with much contempt, and a large number of fans choose to still see them as a family.
    • The "Paper Book" does not have a title and while its contents and occupants resemble the designs of Sticker Star, they don't match up exactly (No Kersti, for example). Didn't stop fans from claiming it IS Sticker Star, and using this game as an excuse to write it off as an AU and therefore "non-canon", franchise's explicit Negative Continuity be-damned. Color Splash frequently gets lumped in as well, with some going as far as to throw the first three Paper Mario games in there too, but they're generally beloved enough to avoid this.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • The amiibo cards. You get them pretty early in the game (right after facing Petey Piranha) and depending on your luck, you can get effects from damaging foes, getting slightly more coins, getting random item drops (of items like Ultra Mushrooms even early on), and such. They can make enemy battles into complete jokes, especially the Hammer Bro challenge where they steal your action commands...but not your amiibo ones. Even better, there is only one enemy in the entire game against whom the amiibo cards are ineffective: Morton, who screws with your Battle Cards and turns off the amiibo cards.
    • The Farmer/Wellington Boots. A pair of boots that most of the time will replace coins for beans from defeated enemies by being jumped on inside...and outside a battle. Go have a field day at the Sunbeam Plains one-shoting enemies with a mere preemptive jump blow. The Absurdly High Level Cap becomes meaningless!
    • A couple of Battle Cards, especially if they're used in conjunction with the amiibo, can be extremely dangerous. Two Battle Cards in particular can lower the levels of the Bowsers (father and son) and the Koopalings. The only real deal is that both of them are really expensive, but shiny enemies have a small chance of dropping them (and sparkling versions at that) after you defeat them...meaning that you can really sweep through the Koopalings (except for Iggy/Morton/Lemmy), Bowser Jr., and possibly even Dry Bowser very easily.
  • Goddamned Bats:
    • Paper Bob-ombs from Doop Doop Dunes. Relatively simple enemy to deal with, but they are extremely abundant and if you KO them, they counterattack with an explosion, which really adds up at the early part of the game.
    • Paper Scaredy Rats on the first visit to Twinsy Tropics Dungeon. Very abundant, but as long as you've been maintaining your strength, they shouldn't be too difficult.
    • On the second visit of said dungeon are Horned Ant Troopers. Total pain to deal with due to the fact that they spawn in tight corridors which makes them almost impossible to avoid, appear in large groups and their attacks, while not that powerful, are tricky to dodge and can quickly add up with that many enemies zerg rushing at you.
  • Goddamned Boss: Papercraft Kamek has a shield that protects it from rushing attacks, though you can still jump on it if you gain a good opportunity.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • Hard to say whether it's a bug or just a fluke, but in the Papercraft Bowser battle, if you manage to get the boss on its back, with part of it resting on the edge of the ring, the minions will keep trying to pick it up again but never can, leaving you free to charge up and deliver a good Ground Pound.
    • You can fast forward cutscenes in this game, but if you enter a loading zone to exit a room while a cutscene is in progress, you can keep the fast forward effect in normal gameplay, which lets you move faster, get more distance with the Trio Glider, and clip through floors with the Trio Drill.
    • There are multiple locations where you can go out of bounds by walking in a certain way.
    • You can fling yourself through walls and out of bounds with Trio Drill by drill dashing towards an open edge while holding the opposite direction.
    • If you escape a Paper Toad rescue mission by clipping out of bounds and activating a loading zone that's been blocked off, you enter a glitchy state where you're still in the mission but you can explore the overworld. While you're in this state, if all 3 Bros. die to a boss or scripted battle and you choose to return to the title screen, instead of going to the title, the game thinks that you've won the battle and the game will proceed as if you did.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • It's Easy, So It Sucks!: It was noted in the videos that the depending on who the enemy attacks, a crosshair appears. Some people feel like it makes attacks more predictable, but it looks like some attacks are harder to avoid than others. This became mitigated when it was revealed the crosshair could be turned off in the options.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: Due to the fact that it reuses several graphics from Dream Team with most of the paper aspect coming from Sticker Star, many just call the game "Dream Team with Sticker Star elements and without the Dream World" as opposed to a proper crossover between both series.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Both Bowser Jr.'s come across as very sympathetic and endearing Anti Villains. In both universes, Bowser Jr. had very few friends, so when both versions of him meet, they become inseparable. They even consider throwing the book in the garbage so that Paper Bowser Jr. can stay in the "real" world with his friend, but decide against it in case the book comes in handy.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Some Bowser fans are merely interested in the game because of how well his character was handled, along with his awesome final boss fight complete with an amazing battle theme; the final boss fight in particular is considered a highlight in an overall okayish game.
  • Mis-blamed: It was thought by a number of people that the reason many of the original Mario & Luigi characters (such as the Beanbean people, the Hooskis, etc.) didn't appear in this game was the result of Executive Meddling mandating that only the standard Mario characters could be used. But in an interview with the directors on Miiverse, when asked about the lack of these original characters, the directors responded that, no, this wasn't actually the case. They were mostly focusing on the main plot involving the two worlds colliding and just couldn't find a good plot-important place to put the original characters in the game. (Similar to why Mario and Luigi failed to appear in Wreck-It Ralph.)
  • Moral Event Horizon: The Bowsers' Evil Plan involves trapping the heroes in the Paper Mario universe and destroying it by burning the book, wiping out all of its inhabitants as well as the heroes. Unlike the Bowser Jr.'s, they intend to do so out of pure malice and as a way to eliminate the Mario Bros., whereas their sons only wanted to discard the book so that Paper Bowser Jr. wouldn't have to go back home, and decided against it in the end. In addition, during the game, they kidnap Toads and force them into slave labor, and destroy Peach's Castle while it's still inhabited, although the consequences of the latter aren't explored much since this is a family-friendly game.
  • Never Live It Down: While Paper Jam is generally agreed to have great dialogue, music, gameplay, and characterization, it is more often remembered for the flaws that it retained from Sticker Star due to how controversial that game was, including the lack of original characters and generic locations and plot.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • Both Mario RPG series have referenced each other a few times. For example, in Superstar Saga, the Woohoo Hooniversity contains a collection of item blocks, with one of them explicitly described as being from Paper Mario. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door also contained Chuckola Cola in one scene and had Beanish bartenders in a few locations.
    • It may be a bit unusual that Chargin' Chucks are considered bosses (considering their role as widespread mooks in Super Mario World and Super Mario 3D World) in this game, but this game is actually not the first one to have them as bosses. A lone one appeared as a boss in Yoshi's Safari.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: After butting heads countless times (with the exception of the brief truce for New Super Mario Bros. Wii), Bowser Jr. fans and Koopaling fans have come to appreciate the other Co-Dragons, thanks to both appearing and being fleshed out more in light of the original RPG characters stepping aside, allowing for more time in the spotlight. See Author's Saving Throw above.
  • So Okay, It's Average: Paper Jam is generally considered the weakest Mario & Luigi game, with a score of 76 on Metacritic. General consensus among fans is that the gameplay, writing and mechanics are solid, but that the game suffers heavily from a lack of originality, and Paper Jam is overall relatively ignored compared to the vocal controversy of the Paper Mario games of the time.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: From the Paper Mario side of things, Paper Jam is considered a much better game than Sticker Star (to which it's even a direct sequel of sorts), if still a highly contested game. While Paper Jam still doesn't reach the standards of past Paper Mario games due to the simple plot and lack of original characters, the plot is more well-developed than Sticker Star, the existing characters are more compelling, unique, and charming, and the gameplay is much more solid. It avoided much of the backlash associated with the game's true successor, Paper Mario: Color Splash, due to its lack of the controversial Sticker Star battle system and the fact that it showed decent writing and characterization from the get-go.
  • Tainted by the Preview: The game already drew concern from Mario fans based on its demo over whether or not it will take the Paper Mario: Sticker Star route and lack any original characters, enemies, or general "Mario RPG-ish" elements. This is despite Starlow being confirmed to return and Paper Bowser once again having dialogue. This wasn't helped by later images showing only established Mario characters, such as Bowser Jr. and Kamek, and most of the Paper Mario elements shown off being based on Sticker Star. When the game was released in some regions, some fans noted that the game gives previously unseen depth and characterization to many of the "mainline" Mario characters, alleviating this somewhat.
  • That One Achievement:
    • Paper Sombrero Guy Dodge. In addition to them having only one, really annoying attack to do, getting them to even attack in the first place is a Luck-Based Mission, since they're Support Party Members who prefer to buff other enemies, and have a very high tendency to flee the battle (moreso if they're the last thing left on the field), even if you have Boo Biscuits active.
    • Getting an S rank on Trio Racquet in the Attackathon is difficult because unlike the other minigames, this one has absolutely no margin for error (ironic, since it's the first one you unlock): miss the ball once and the game ends. As you get further, you encounter Cheep-Cheep and Ninji targets, which slow down or speed up the ball as it returns, and even worse, Boo targets which make the ball invisible on the return. Getting the 3000 points required involves getting past a lot of these whilst never screwing up.
  • That One Attack:
    • Player attacks:
      • Getting an "Excellent" on Bomb Derby requires mashing the Circle Pad much faster than than you'd expect from a game like this. (Look at the move demo to see the kind of speed they expect from you: it looks near-impossible for a human.) It's much easier if you toss the bombs with the B Button instead of the Circle Pad — but of course, the game never even mentions that this is possible.
      • In terms of executing the attack correctly, Toad Trail is considered very hard to control. There is very little room for error and you have to steer very carefully along with timing your jumps correctly if you want to get an Excellent. Bumping into balloons (which is very common as well) will decrease your speed, which can mean the difference between an "OK" and an "Excellent" ranking. Good luck finishing 5 in a row for the Expert challenge.
    • Enemy attacks:
      • Shockwave attacks have become this now that there are three characters to control. Some dexterity is required to dodge them completely, and you can't just press all of the face buttons at once because X will make the Bros. guard instead.
      • Wiggler has an annoying combo that can easily lead to a Total Party Kill. First, he fires off multiple shockwaves followed by spitting out seeds at one of the brothers. He will then repeat that and follow it up by chasing one of the brothers. Failing to dodge the chase part of the combo will kill the unfortunate brother.
      • If you are aiming for Expert Challenges for dodging, the Paper Sombrero Guys will be the death of you. Their only attack makes them all target two or all brothers. While avoiding the hat itself may be easy, if you stomp on the hat, the Paper Sombrero Guy who threw it will run at you and hit you as you're landing, meaning you have to make several very tight jumps in a row. Save Scumming is highly recommended.
      • Paper Boomerang Bros. have the attack where they throw one boomerang, then fold themselves into another one and fly at you. The target has two boomerangs circling them at once, and if you don't hammer the close boomerang into the far one, you're guaranteed to take a hit from the latter. This is one of the more obscure dodge methods of an attack up to that point, so it can take a while to realise exactly what you did wrong. Worse, sometimes the boomerang they throw is another Paper Boomerang Bro, who will join the battle if he hits you (though if you're good at fighting, however, you can abuse this to farm EXP points). This attack is a big part of what makes them Demonic Spiders.
      • Petey Piranha in the Battle Ring. He has this nasty grab attack that he will gladly use on the first turn if you’re not fast enough. The real issue with this attack? It’s almost impossible to dodge. You need precise timing; if you dodge too soon, you’ll get eaten, if you dodge too late, you’ll get eaten! If either Mario or Luigi failed to avoid this attack with a jump, they’ll get gobbled up, lose a ton of hit points, and that Bro is forced out of battlenote . Unlike the first boss fight in the main game, Petey in the arcade will keep either Bro in his stomach for several turns, taking away the heroes' Bro/Trio Attacks. Paper Mario is the only exception that won’t suffer being held in Petey’s belly for obvious reasons and he can easily avoid this attack (if not all) with his fluttering paper physics. This attack is so bad that even a Lakitu in the arcade room will lampshade that even he’s having a hard time dodging it... Thankfully, Petey will only used this move once every few turns, but even more thankfully, he’s the first boss in the arcade, meaning that if you're about 3/4 through the main story, you can easily end the battle with just one move to avoid suffering through all that.
  • That One Boss:
    • Paper Petey Piranha is a rather high difficulty spike early on in the game, in that he's only the third major boss. What makes him irritating is that he stole Paper Mario's copy ability before the battle starts and gets multiple copies of himself. Because of this, most of his attacks are very difficult to dodge correctly, with the most noticeable one being his attack that concerns Paper Mario in his paper aeroplane form, which is an attack that you will guarantee to get hit when you first fight this boss. He's also very tough, there may be a good chance that you'll get a Game Over on this boss. Worst of all is defeating the multiple copies, while they're generally easy to beat thanks to the trio's Bros. Attacks that concern fire, finding the real Petey can take an awfully long time. The only hint you'll get is that he'll pop his head up for a little while. But thankfully, Paper Petey has low defence, so if you know what you're doing, Paper Petey won't take long at all.
    • Paper Kamek and Wiggler are a pain. Wiggler gets an attack boost every turn or so, meaning that his difficult to dodge attacks hit even harder, but the main problem comes from one specific combo involving repeated shockwaves and seeds followed by chasing one of the brothers; the last part is likely to kill the unfortunate brother if it is not blocked. Combined, this combo can be a total party kill. Thankfully Paper Kamek is easy to deal with if you exploit his weakness to fire but take too long and he will revive Wiggler.
    • The Dual Boss battle against Ludwig and Larry sees them decide to take a page out of the brothers' book and use battle cards to augment their abilities just like the player does. Some of their effects are basic stat buffs, but they have plenty off nastier ones such as shrinking the bros to send their defence into the toilet or dealing 180 points of unblockable damage. Unfortunately there's no real way to prevent them from using the cards short of dodging every last attack, and their attack repertories let them accumulate Dark Star Points very quickly if you're not able to completely dodge or block them.
    • As per usual, the Final Boss. He has multiple hard hitting attacks that are difficult to dodge including a trio attack that activates should he have his armour up and you use your trio attack and a chase sequence that is nearly impossible to dodge completely. Breaking his armour will weaken him but he can build it back up if he has minions on the field. He can also decide to fully repair his armour a few turns after it breaks.
  • That One Level: The third and last visit to Sunbeam Plains can be very frustrating to navigate for beginners, as almost the entire area has been littered with paper terrain which makes it a labyrinth full of dead ends with no indication of where you should go. It's a lot easier to complete this part if one knows what they are doing or with a proper guide, but if none of these are available, prepare to spend a good chunk of you time just figuring out the correct path.
  • That One Sidequest: A lot of the Paper Toad missions can be rather frustrating, especially on Hard Mode. The one where you have to corral a lot of Toads in one area is particularly difficult to do, as letting even one Toad escape forces you to start over and you could easily push a Toad in the wrong direction. Hide and Seek missions are also annoying.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Paper Luigi doesn't appear in the main story at all, being reduced to appearing in the sound test.
    • Despite having a design they could easily work off, a paper version of Toadette never shows up.
    • Yoshi's Paper counterpart is absent as well. This is especially confusing as there are two regular Yoshis that serve a minor role in the game's story, either one of which could have been easily replaced by a Paper Yoshi.
    • Many fans felt that the partners from the first two Paper Mario games not even getting a mention was a really big missed opportunity.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Almost none of the events from previous games in either Mario RPG series are mentioned, apart from Starlow and numerous Sticker Star bosses appearing in the game. While some fans label this as a waste of potential, others believe that the excellent writing for the main series characters gives Paper Jam its own identity that makes it a different experience from previous Mario RPGs — essentially, a "surprisingly good New Super Mario Bros. fanfic" — rather than the spectacular crossover most fans were hoping for. Many people believe that Paper Jam would have received more positive attention if it was designed as a new spinoff entirely a la Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle,note  rather than a crossover between two beloved Mario RPG series known for their bold and unconventional direction.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Many have noted seeing the Paper characters alongside the Sprite/Polygon Mix M&L characters and worlds causes the Paper characters to look rather...off, despite never getting that feeling from the main Paper Mario series. This is thanks to the white outline that paper characters get (compare classic Paper Mario to Paper Jam Paper Mario) and also the fact that the Paper characters cannot face directly forwards or backwards, unlike the M&L characters.
    • The Papercraft Peach used during the third papercraft battle is deeply unsettling. Compared to Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi, who all have fairly cartoon-like features naturally, Peach's more realistic face just didn't translate well.

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