When it comes to the Mario & Luigi series in general, one trend that’s held consistent throughout has been the annoying mini games. From the border jump in the original, to the UFO piloting and carrot eating in the second and third games, to mole hunt and ring puzzles in Dream Team, every game has had at least one annoying mini game that’s forced on you at random and is required to be beaten in order to progress with the story.
So guess what? Mario & Luigi Paper Jam continues the trend! But if you thought mini games were bad enough before… well, you’ve got another think coming. You see, in this title, they’re found at the Lakitu Info Centres and called ‘missions’, with the general aim being to rescue one or more Paper Toads from a horrible fate. And when it comes to annoying game design? Well, they’ve got you covered. There are poorly designed stealth missions. Aggravating puzzle missions, like the Mount Brr ‘mystery’ puzzle. Annoying reflex based mini games involving cannonballs and bombs being chucked from all directions. So here they are, the five most frustratingly difficult missions in Mario & Luigi Paper Jam.
6. Skyjinks with Nabbit
Above: Hmm, don’t like the look of this much…
So let’s start off the list with an old favourite, the good old ‘Hamiltonian Path Puzzle’.
Hang on, what’s that? What’s a Hamiltonian Path? Well, in simple terms, it’s a path in a graph that visit each vector only once. So in other words, you have to step on every tile in a room or area without crossing your path or repeatedly visiting areas you’ve been. You’ll probably recognise it from the Pokemon series, which absolutely loved to do stuff like this with breakable ice blocks:
Above: The Sootopolis Gym in generation 3 had you step on each ice tile only once to open the path to the next floor.
Or maybe The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages, which loved doing this with colour tiles (with Link having to change each one to the new colour to open a locked door):
Above: You have to turn each tile here red to open a door.
Skyjinks with Nabbit is this… from hell. Why from hell? Because on later ‘floors’ (especially on hard mode), the game throws one way tiles at you, which have to be carefully navigated to reach Nabbit. Oh, and one more thing?
Nabbit is obviously trying to run away from you. So you’re not just getting rid of the clouds, you’re trying to corner him as he hops from cloud to cloud like you. If there’s a cloud left on the other side of the screen? He’ll just leap over, and you’ll be screwed and forced to start the level again. A video demonstrating the harder levels:
It’s a pretty tough series of puzzles actually, and only made all the worse by the fact it has an even trickier Hard mode you need to clear for 100% completion…
But for a puzzle game, it still can’t compare to this.
5. The Stone Prison (hard mode)
Because oh god, at least Skyjinks with Nabbit had fixed levels. You see, the later missions here (or at least, the puzzle ones), have randomised levels.
And nowhere does this get worse than in The Stone Prison. An annoying mini game in Doop Doop Dunes where you have to knock away the blocks in the right order to free the trapped Toads, the later ones become so massive and so overly complex that’s just trying to figure out what does what can be a pain in the arse. If you mess up? Poor old Toad gets smashed to a pulp, you lose one chance, and messing up three will force you to start the whole thing over.
Can you figure out this by looking at it? Hint, you’re trying to figure out which blocks to hit into the background in which order to free the two Toads…
Above: Get the hint?
Remember, each stone affects the one around it, and neither Toad must die for you to win. It’s simple for dedicated puzzle game fans, but for someone interested in playing a Mario RPG (or heck, any simple, mostly action based game in general)? These puzzles are infuriating, and their randomness just makes them even harder to look up online when you get stuck. But at least you have all day to complete them, which is more than can be said about…
4. Sky High Flyby (hard mode)
Above: Oh damnit, I missed one!
Oh good grief this is a pain. You see, in this game, you have a bunch of Toads being captured by Fly Guys, who charge across the screen above Mario and co, who have to jump at the correct time to save them.
Unfortunately, while it sounds easy, it’s actually far from it. These guys go fast, so if you mess up… well, you’re not getting that Toad back this time. They have bombs, which can stun the characters and stop them jumping for a while. They move up and down (out of your reach), so you have to be even more careful with the timing.
And then, you get to hard mode. In the normal version, you have three chances to mess up before you lose.
In hard mode? One. Miss one Toad? You’ve failed, you start over immediately. This mini game is infuriating, so onto the list it goes.
3. Paper Toad Freeze-Out
Above: You’re looking for Paper Toads. Not normal Toads.
On a less gimmicky note, we get to the first (and only) standard Paper Toad rescue mission on the list. Put simply, Paper Toad Freeze-Out has you find and rescue Paper Toads from all over the village on Mount Brrr.
Unfortunately, everything about this level conspires to make it an absolute pain in the backside. For one thing, this village has a ton of details and places, so finding these Toads is surprisingly difficult even for people experienced with object finding adventure games.
And it gets worse. Like the Stone Prison mentioned above, this is a randomised mission, so the places with the Paper Toads will be different every single time you play. Watching a video online? Yeah, not gonna help much, since that person has a different version of the mission to you and hence his or her solutions are likely useless as a result.
To add to this, the game itself doesn’t seem to think the mission is randomised. So the hint guys in the village? They’re talking crap basically, since everything they say has maybe a 30% chance of actually being true. So in addition to a tricky layout and random locations, you have helpers who are about as useful as the villagers in Castlevania 2. Oh, you saw one going into that shop you say? Well sorry, but there isn’t one there. There might be if I give up and try again, but there isn’t one there this time. Now please shut up.
Above: You can see all the annoyances here.
There’s also the fact that about half the Toads are hidden behind one of the shops. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. You do not know whether you’ll get the Toads by checking behind a shop, or whether you’ll get a Fuzzy you have to fight (and likely can’t run away from). Get the Fuzzy? Then you’ll end up back in front of the line of useless ‘helpers’, who now lecture you for ‘looking in the wrong place’ even if there’s no way in hell to figure out your action was a mistake? And the kicker?
The Toads may be in the same place as the Fuzzys. So you have to fight three or so Fuzzys to get the Toads to appear in the right location, all while getting moaned at by NPCs who think the game screwing you over is you just being a complete idiot. It’s like if Clippy popped up on the Blue Screen of Death to point and laugh at your ‘idiocy’.
Oh, and one more thing (because it wasn’t enough already). In hard mode, this mission is timed. You have four minutes to save all the Toads (and fight any necessary enemies in the way). Don’t have a timer extension card? Then screw you, since the timer is so short you’ll be running around like a headless chicken for the entire mission, probably with your blood pressure reaching explosive levels in the process.
Really, don’t play this if you have a temper problem or a psychological condition, otherwise your 3DS is going to end up smashed to pieces. Moving on…
2. Hammer, Bros!
Above: Timing is key. But nearly impossible without 3D on.
The one and only mini game I struggle with even now, this ‘cleverly’ named mission involves the bros hammering back cannonballs at Morton Koopa Jr to take down his Clown Copter at Neo Bowser Castle.
Sounds fine, right?
Nope. You see, trying to time attacks into the background is a royal pain, especially given how hard it is to judge the position of the projectile.
And these cannonballs come thick and fast. Like, fast enough to take down a battleship within about 30 seconds fast. You mess up, and you won’t hit the next one. Fail to hit three cannonballs? You lose, back to the start.
It then adds big cannonballs, which have to be deflected with a Trio Hammer smash. How do you do that? Press A, B and Y in order with just the right timing. If you have trouble hitting a normal cannonball back with one button, then god, doing the same with a three button command that’s super easy to mess up is just insane. And remember, you have animations for these attacks. If you use one, and then time it wrong, you will miss, the timing for the deflect stuff is basically around half a second.
Of course, it gets worse still. Normally, mini games have a certain amount of logical build up. This one? Hah. You’re in Neo Bowser Castle, where even trying to take some random fire ore apparently leads to a big mini game like this straight out of the blue. So this (and its less annoying sibling mini game) are just chucked at you as padding right in the middle of a puzzle scene before a major boss battle. Isn’t that fun? At least you can save between them…
Above: If one of these enemies sees you, you lose!
Which is more than can be said about this stealth mission from hell. Because if one thing needs to be said right now, Mario & Luigi Paper Jam does not do stealth well.
Not at all.
Because as you probably know, there are two ways you can implement stealth in a game. The fun, well designed way, and the lazy poor man’s version that falls flat on its face.
This is an example of the latter. You cannot distract or fight enemies, just sneak past them. Caught once? You start the whole thing over. Kind of like the Hyrule Castle and Gerudo Fortress sections in The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time or the Pirates Fortress in Majora’s Mask.
And dear god, the layout here is infuriating. You’ve got Mechakoopas wandering like sentries. Fly Guys monitoring wide areas like lookouts. Platforming sections. And for that matter, two characters to chase. Caught Paper Bowser Jr? Well, time to hunt down the normal version, or vice versa! Fail there? Do everything over, including the first hunt.
To cap it all off, the timing of this mission is just horrendous. Put simply, it’s right between a long dungeon section and an important boss battle, with no save point between this and the battle. If you don’t want to do this again… well, you’d better win the ensuing battle, since you can’t turn the game off between them. All in all, just another example of the annoying padding found throughout the game, and perhaps the most annoying mission in Mario RPG history.
So that’s the list. We tried to include a mix of mission types for this one, but are there any you think should have been included that weren’t? Did you find any of the missions mentioned above too easy to be seen as annoying?
Post your thoughts and feedback on the Gaming Reinvented Forums or social media and let us know what you think!