It won't be long now until Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam releases in North America, finally giving gamers there a chance to experience this great RPG. Though it crosses over with the Paper Mario series, this is technically the latest entry in the Mario & Luigi series of RPGs for Nintendo handhelds. Considering that there are plenty of parallels to be drawn between the two series', it's almost surprising that it took this long for a game like this to pop up.
Nintendo Dream recently interviewed Akira Otani, Shunsuke Kobayashi, and Jun Iwasaki - the producer, director, and battle team director, respectively - to talk a bit about the game's development. The idea for Paper Mario's inclusion had its roots in the idea that three buttons be primarily used, instead of just two like every previous entry in the series. The team was at a bit of a standstill when trying to decide what character would occupy the third button until Otani floated the idea of a Mario-like character filling the spot. This is when Paper Mario was thought of, as the character's papery nature could lead to some interesting contrasts.
ND: Was it decided from the start that Paper Mario would make an appearance in this game?
Otani: We were thinking about the next project after developing the previous entry "Mario & Luigi: Dream Team", but before deciding which characters would be in, there was an idea that we had to re-examine the use of buttons and the way of playing. The layout of controlling Mario with the A button and Luigi with the B button has been established in the series, but this was the first game in which we decided to add into the formula and use three buttons, even though the controls may became a bit complicated.
ND: Characters were decided based on the increased number of buttons, right?
Otani: The Y button is the easiest button to reach after A and B buttons, and we looked for characters that can perform actions by using these three buttons. Although it would be attractive to use a character that has already appeared in the series, I thought that it probably wouldn't feel fresh, and then it came to my mind that it would be interesting if Mario and a Mario-like character coexisted. That is possible with Paper Mario and since Paper Mario is thin, I thought we could use the contrast of three dimensional and flat or heavy and light in creating new gameplay.
Hat tip to Nintendo Everything for the translations, you can check out the full interview here.
What do you think? Are you glad that this crossover finally happened? What would you like to see out of the next entry in either series? Share your thoughts in the comments below.