Well, this makes my attempts to translate the Japanese version rather pointless, doesn’t it? Either way, now the English version of the ‘miiting’ is live and available on Miiverse, complete with all kinds of interesting facts and details about the game.
So without further ado… let’s get through this and see what the development team have to say about the game’s design process and inspirations!
On the Concept
Hello, everyone! I’m Akira Otani, a producer. Mario & Luigi games in the past were all about using two buttons, but for this title, we thought that we’d try to break new ground and make the action based on three buttons instead. However, when we tried to think of a new third character, we didn’t come up with anything very good. Things carried on like that until we thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun if there were two Marios?”, and then Paper Mario emerged as a prime candidate. We felt that Paper Mario would push Mario & Luigi towards some new play styles, by means of a contrast between the solid and the flat, so we put forward the idea of a crossover.
So in other words, they wanted a game based around using three buttons, needed a third character to include and then figured out that two Marios would be a good idea.
Well, it’s decent enough reasoning I guess. That said, given how many possible other choices for extra characters there were (Wario and Waluigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, you name it), it seems kind of weird to settle on another Mario and a Paper Mario crossover for this title. Especially given how little was actually done with the paper concept here.
We did think “We’ve got to have double bros!” at one point, but we also thought that we should stick with three-button play, that four buttons might be too difficult, and that the game would be frustrating to play. Because of that, we made ease-of-play a priority, and settled on just using the A/B/Y buttons, which meant unfortunately that Paper Luigi would have to sit this one out. Sorry about that!
And they confirm the ‘no Paper Luigi because of complexity’ thing. But hang on, what’s this?
Is that… a game using the X and Y buttons? Oh yes, it’s called Mario & Luigi Partners in Time. You guys at AlphaDream made it, remember?
Or how about this? Didn’t Bowser use both buttons?
Yes he did. Complexity? What complexity? It wasn’t too hard for us to get used to then, and it wouldn’t be too difficult now.
Both the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series are known for their high-quality storylines, so did this aspect also turn out to be tricky to handle?
…It did. We were thinking, since the paper characters were coming all the way from the paper world, let’s make the main story something really bizarre, crammed with red herrings and misapprehensions. We had things like going back and forth to the paper world, and the Mushroom Kingdom turning gradually into paper… But we overdid it a bit, and the first draft of the plot ended up being a complete muddle that wouldn’t resonate with anyone… So we simplified the script and structured it with greater emphasis on showing the different characters meeting and interacting with each other. We had to do a lot of re-writes…
You turned down a complex, interesting storyline with bizarre concepts and a dual world structure… then scrapped it for what we got in Paper Jam?
How does that even… And wouldn’t ‘resonate’ with anyone?
Yeah, tell that to the Super Paper Mario fans (and not the morons from the Club Nintendo survey either). That was a bizarre story with weird ideas and lots of drama. Yet it resonated with a huge portion of the Paper Mario fanbase, to the point a whole website was set up purely for fans to talk about the game and start roleplays about it and stuff.
Will anything like that happen for Paper Jam? God no, you simplified the story and characters so much that a certain percentage of the Mario RPG fanbase considers it a disappointment.
And now, for the original characters thing:
That reminds me: In the Mario & Luigi games, there are usually lots of interesting characters who don’t appear in other Mario games, but this time it seemed to be mostly main-line characters. Was this also something to do with it being a crossover?
Oh no, nothing to do with that! This time, since we had so many paper characters and doubles of the same character together, we had to prioritize moving the story forward and communicating the contrast between them. It would have been really difficult to put in original characters and work out when would be the best time for them to appear.
How about in Gloomy Woods, on Mount Brrr, in Twinsy Tropics… anywhere for that matter?
King Boo could have had some interesting ghost allies and supporters.
Above: Or even old ones?
King Bob-omb could have had a more interesting army, or even been replaced by a newer character.
A new villain could have potentially appeared from the book, given how messed up most Paper Mario villains were prior to Sticker Star.
Heck, the Battle Ring boss could have been someone OTHER than Dry Bowser. How about that?
Difficult to put in original characters and work out the ‘best time’ for them… yeah right.
Yoko Shimomura on the Music
Hello, I’m Yoko Shimomura. Since we were fortunate enough to have Paper Mario joining in this time, I consciously tried to go for a lighter, “poppier” feel than usual. Overall, I feel like it has the typical atmosphere of a Mario & Luigi title, but I’d be really pleased if people could detect some of those other nuances in the battle theme and the arrangement of the title theme.
Well, you sort of succeeded for the battle theme, but if you were aiming for a lighter feel for the general soundtrack… you kind of missed the mark.
Which really, really isn’t a bad thing; this game’s soundtrack is incredible. But damn, it’s the kind of soundtrack you’d use for an epic adventure to save the world from a demon wanting to destroy reality, not for a lighter, more upbeat adventure involving crossover shenanigans.
And on Luigi…
Well, it’s not quite a general Luigi’s Mansion reference, so we were wrong about that. I’ll let Nasuko Kemi explain in her own words:
Hello! Mario & Luigi graphics designer Natsuko Kemi here! Perhaps I should try and keep it short… To pick an example, let’s talk about the animation in the scene when Luigi is on his own. I used the way that Luigi walks in the Luigi’s Mansion series as a reference when I put it together. I really like those games myself, so I hope that connection comes across and the fans are able to sense it! And then, as always, I did my best to cram lots of tiny details into the little pixel characters, like the direction of their gaze or what their hands are doing. Also, for some reason, I really focused on getting the roundness of Luigi’s behind just right.
So they took inspiration from Luigi’s Mansion for Luigi’s walking animations.
I’m Hiroyuki Kubota, and I was in charge of designing the overworld. This goes for the battles too, of course, but the most difficult part was to avoid people feeling like the controls were “too difficult” or “more annoying” due to the addition of a third character.
Sorry, but you… kind of failed in some respects. Not most of them, but Trio Hammer is still a painfully awkward move to use. Maybe it’d be better if there was an option to activate it in just one button press rather than three.
As for Trio Grab…
With the Trio Grab move in particular (where Paper Mario rolls up and stretches out), I kept receiving feedback like “It looks like rubber.” or “It feels too stiff.” That one went through quite a few iterations… It also took a lot of work to make the models of the Mario and Luigi series interact smoothly with the Paper Mario models, and we considered finding some sort of compromise, but in the end I think we nailed it!
Well, it’s a very nice move, and it works well on the overworld.
Maybe a little too well…
It’s brilliant for going through walls and out of bounds all over the place. Heck, it’s like an easy button for glitches!
Indeed, the speedrunners of the world salute you, Trio Grab and its glitchy applications have gotten the world record for the game (a 15-20 hour experience) down to about 3 hours and 40 minutes.
Paper Mario’s copies
At certain points in the game, Mario’s enemies even steal his Copy Block and make copies of themselves!
Wait, certain points? Isn’t it only Paper Petey Piranha who does this?
Meeting a Paper Counterpart
Yeah, we talked about this in the last article, but thanks to the English ‘miiting’, we can see exactly what the staff wanted to say about this.
Kobayashi wouldn’t fight Bowser with him, but would argue like the two Bowsers did, then go on an adventure.
Yoko Shimomura’s comment is awesome:
I imagine I’d think, “Whoa, a life-size poster of me! And it’s moving!!!” I’d get her to practice playing the piano a lot, and then she could make her debut as the “Miracle Paper Pianist”! Hahaha… The novelty value alone would make her a huge hit! (I hope…)
On Toad Town
We were right. They do want to include Toad Town in a later game:
I heard one fan saying “It’s sad that we haven’t seen Toad Town, the town outside Peach’s Castle, since Bowser’s Inside Story.” I feel the same way. If I get to work on another game in the series, I’d like to work it in somewhere, but we’ve put a lot of work into this game’s world nonetheless, so I hope you enjoy exploring it!
Still have to wonder why it’s not in this game then. I mean, isn’t this the Mushroom Kingdom? Why is Toad Town next to Peach’s Castle in some games (Paper Mario, Superstar Saga, Partners in Time, Super Mario Galaxy 1/2, Bowser’s Inside Story), but not this one?
Then again, I have absolutely no idea how the ‘geography’ is supposed to work in this series. If it was consistent, the world would basically consist of Toad Town, Peach’s Castle, Toadwood Forest, Gritzy Desert, the Koopaseum, Star Shrine, Hollijolli Village, Yoshi’s Island, Bubble Lake, Plack Beach, Dimble Wood, Cavi Cape, Bowser’s Castle, Bumpsy Plains, Sunbeam Plains, Doop Doop Dunes, Gloomy Woods, Twinsy Tropics and Mount Brrr… on the same world map. Somehow.
Either way, that was the English version of the Miiting. Was it interesting? Yeah, sure. Do I agree with a lot of AlphaDream’s decisions? No way in hell, there should have been more original characters and recurring cast members from the first two or three Paper Mario games. But it’s nice that they explained their decisions regardless.
Just a few hours or so ago, we mentioned that the lack of new characters in Mario & Luigi Paper Jam was because of the game’s focus on characters meeting their paper counterparts.
And that Paper Luigi was considered for playable character status, but scrapped because it was seen as ‘too complex’ to use four main buttons.
But while those facts were pretty interesting, and gave me a taste of the development team’s ‘reasoning’ in some of their more question design decisions, they also made me wonder something else.
Namely, what else was being discussed in the Japanese ‘miiting’ for the game? What other interesting factoids came up in the Miiverse chat? So armed with a bit of free time, and the very, very most minimal of translation skills (read, whatever translations tools you can find on the internet), I had a look through the other posts in the topic.
So here’s some interesting information about Mario & Luigi Paper Jam’s development, courtesy of the game’s team! Interestingly, some of the people interviewed included composer Yoko Shimomura, producer Akira Otani and co director Hiroyuki Kubota, all of whom said a few neat things about the game and their involvement in it.
Luigi’s Mansion and Inspiration
According to graphics artist Natsuko Kemi, the second section in Gloomy Woods (with a solo Luigi having to dodge ghosts and rescue Mario and Paper Mario from King Boo) was inspired by Luigi’s Mansion. Okay, that was already pretty obvious, but it’s nice to see it confirmed!
On Toad Town
At least one of the staff for the game agrees with Miiverse commenters that the game feels a bit too ‘lonely’ (presumably empty) because it lacks a major town like Toad Town, with more characters, mini games, etc. So it’s likely that such a thing will be included again in the next game, bringing back the feel of Beanbean Castle Town, Toad Town and Wakeport in games past.
Yoko Shimomura’s favourite song in the game is the Mount Brrr theme. She also says that she considers the game her best work (perhaps just in this series), and is happy that people like the game’s music.
On the other hand, battle designer Jun Iwasaki prefers the final boss theme.
On Battle/Enemy Design
Apparently, the process for designing enemy battles in the game (or at least, how enemies act in battle) starts with Jun Iwasaki thinking about how the three characters will interact with it, and what commands would be used to fight it (presumably meaning to dodge the enemy’s attacks). It then progresses to a paper mock up of the battle gameplay, and then a playable prototype that’s constantly refined and reworked to make enemies fun to battle against and the action commands for dodging not too easy or hard to pull off.
Overworld graphics were drawn specifically for this game, but some aspects of the battles weren’t. I think they meant the camera angles and such, which definitely look Dream Team inspired.
Meeting their paper counterparts
The team were also asked what they’d do if they met their own paper counterparts. Interesting question, and the answers were all over the place. Otani would apparently comment on how ‘skinny’ his paper version was, and get him to do his work. Hirokazu Kobayashi would want to go on an adventure with Paper Mario and stop Bowser. Iwasaki would go fishing with his counterpart, though he admits said papery individual would probably be blown away by the high winds at sea (and hence never be seen again). Hiroyuki Kubota would exchange business cards and take his counterpart out for a fancy meal.
And Hiroshi Ohata would want to use some of the Trio abilities in Mario & Luigi Paper Jam, like Trio Glider.
Either way, there’s some interesting stuff there. Probably a lot more too, though from what I can see, most of it seems to have been mentioned in prior interviews/developer statements, or talked about in the video posted in the last article.
But what do you think? Are you interested by any of these developer comments? Or are you more interested in seeing how they’ll answer questions from American and European Mario fans?
Well, it’s finally been revealed… sort of. Basically, a day or so ago, there was a ‘Miiting’ with AlphaDream, developers of the Mario & Luigi series. In that meeting, they got asked quite a bit why there were no original characters in Mario & Luigi Paper Jam, and why only those from the main series made appearances.
Their answer? Well, it’s explained in this video:
Didn’t get that or don’t want to read? They thought it would ‘interfere’ with the concept of the ‘normal’ Mario characters meeting their paper counterparts. Which half makes sense, except…
Ninety nine percent of this game isn’t about that at all.
Think about it. What characters in Paper Jam meet their paper counterparts? Mario, Peach, Bowser, Bowser Jr and Kamek. Yes, we left out Luigi, cause Paper Luigi is basically a cameo who appears in the music player and never really comes face to face with his ‘real’ world counterpart. And with the exception of some early bosses (like the Pokey Duo), that’s literally all the interaction we see between paper characters and real ones.
Oh sure, some Paper Toads appear. Big deal, they’re basically mini game collectables. Paper Petey Piranha appears, but he’s just… completely irrelevant to the story, and never even meets his counterpart.
Above: Paper Petey’s appearance is mostly irrelevant.
And then we get the ton of generic Mario characters who have no paper counterparts, never meet anyone remotely similar to themselves and have about as much of a ‘thematic’ role in Paper Jam as the OCs did in the first four games. Like King Boo. He never appears in Paper Mario, he has absolutely nothing to do with the storyline and his only real ‘connection’ to the plot is that his minions are sometimes made of paper. Or King Bob-omb. He’s a very cool Super Mario 64 throwback (his attacks are literally almost entirely inspired by his battles in the original Mario 64 and Mario 64 DS), but he’s got nothing to do with the Paper Mario series. Same with the Chargin’ Chucks, the Koopalings, Nabbit, the Wiggler boss (surprisingly), etc. But guess what? They’re also some of the best parts of the game. AlphaDream’s reasoning makes no sense at all.
Above: These two have a huge connection to Paper Mario, right? Wait, they don’t. But they’re awesome in their own right, and make the game better. That’s what matters.
Let’s also not forget Kamek and how his paper counterpart was Paper Kamek from Sticker Star rather than Kammy Koopa from the original two games. Want a counterpart comparison? Have him meet his original Paper Mario series alternate universe equivalent, the one with an amusing personality and a unique design.
There’s also talk in the Miiting of Paper Luigi being originally planned as possible, but cut because they wanted a control scheme using three main buttons rather than four.
Isn’t that a bit silly, given that Partners in Time handled that whole concept pretty well? Four characters, of which one uses the X button and one uses the Y button. No reason Paper Mario and Luigi couldn’t be controlled a similar way.
Above: Instead, he sits in a deck chair listening to the music for the entire game. You don’t even meet him in the actual game, just the sound test.
Either way, that’s apparently AlphaDream’s reasoning, and we’ll just have to wait til the English version of the Miiting if we want a bit more ‘clarification’ on any of it. But what do you think about this? Does it make sense? Or do you think AlphaDream are just trying to cover up ‘executive meddling’ as the real reason why original characters were so sparse in Paper Jam?
Wondered anything about Mario & Luigi Paper Jam’s development? Thought the questions asked in their recent Nintendo Dream interview were a bit poor? Well if so, you might be in luck! Because you see, the people at Miiverse are holding a ‘miiting’ with the developers of the game, and they’re taking your questions for the interview! So if you want to know why more original characters weren’t featured, or why too much stuff from Sticker Star was included, or why Battle Cards replaced Badges (or anything else), you’ll be able to find out for yourself!
Here’s the topic on Miiverse for European players to ask questions:
And here’s the one for US gamers:
So what’s being asked? Well, pretty much what you’d expect to be honest. An awful lot of people are wondering why more characters from the classic Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi games aren’t featured. So it’s pretty likely we’ll get an answer to that obvious question at some point.
Other than that? A bunch of random things really. A couple of people have asked why Hard Mode didn’t return from Dream Team, one person asked about playable Peach and Rosalina in future games and another individual asked about the amount of influence Intelligent Systems had on the game’s design. So a mixed bag really.
Either way, what questions would you ask about Mario & Luigi Paper Jam? And how do you think AlphaDream are going to respond when questioned about the lack of returning characters in the game, or any of the other difficult questions they’ll be asked this time around?
With the game already out in Europe and Japan and coming to the US on the 22nd of January, you may be wondering what went on in the development of Mario & Luigi Paper Jam. Why was Paper Mario introduced? What’s the point behind the papercraft battles? What led to the lack of the original characters in the game?
Well if so, you’re (somewhat) in luck, since Nintendo Dream (a Japanese Nintendo magazine) had an interview with producer Akira Otani, director Shunsuke Kobayashi and battle team director Jun Iwasaki about the game! The original was in Japanese, but a great website called Nintendo Everything translated parts of the interview, which we’ll be commenting on below. Let’s see what went into the development of Paper Jam!
On Paper Mario’s inclusion
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…
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.
Above: Note that some parts of the quote have been skipped over. But the point remains the same.
So there’s that word again, ‘fresh’. As someone who’s read about Donkey Kong Jungle Beat and its development, I’ve learnt to read between the lines and see ‘fresh’ or ‘original’ as a Nintendo code word for ‘more New Super Mario Bros please’.
Seriously though, it’s interesting that they talk about ‘looking for characters that can perform actions using these buttons’, since we’ve already had just that. Partners in Time had you control the baby Mario bros with X and Y, and Bowser’s Inside Story had you control Bowser with them. So hasn’t the mechanic of a character being controlled by these buttons already been done before in the series?
Above: Note the presence of the X and Y buttons in these instructions…
Above: Bowser also uses the X and Y buttons when attacking or dodging.
The only difference here is that Mario, Luigi and Paper Mario are on screen moving about at the same time.
I also wonder why they talk about a character who’s already appeared not being ‘fresh’, yet decide to use another form of Mario instead of… I don’t know, a totally new character we’ve never seen before. Or a more well known, interesting Nintendo star, like Wario or Donkey Kong or the likes. So… not quite getting the whole logic behind Paper Mario here.
That said, there is talk of a ‘contrast between three dimensional and flat’, which seems more likely a reason than any ‘newness’ the idea might have.
Otani: Some people who played the previous game commented that movement on the field felt a bit slow, and it was decided in an early development phase that we’d introduce dash instead of increasing the movement speed. Originally if you didn’t push the A, B and Y buttons with a good rhythm within a fixed time, you couldn’t dash and you’d stop soon if you couldn’t keep up with it. We created this system as we thought the continued input was interesting even though it was a bit complicated, but when we brought it to Miyamoto, he said: “That’s too much trouble, one button is fine.
Seems fairly reasonable. The last couple of games did feel rather slow to control and a dash button is definitely something that was needed in the series.
And oh, I’m definitely glad they went with just using one button. I mean, Mega Thwonk is a great attack, but something like that for simply moving around the field quicker would just become very annoying fast.
Above: Mega Thwonk in action. It’s rhythm gameplay is fun, but only for short periods of time
On the concept of the game…
I thought a festival-like feel would be nice since characters of two worlds appear. I think perhaps the biggest concept was how to express festive feeling during the fun adventure of two Marios and Luigi.
Shame we didn’t get more interesting characters from the Paper Mario side of things. If characters ‘of two worlds’ are appearing, why aren’t Kammy Koopa or Mario’s partners or the Star Spirits or Merlon or whoever appearing in this game?
Above: This is also Paper Mario you know.
Since when did ‘Paper Mario’ equate to ‘only Sticker Star’?
On a more positive side, there’s a neat point about the papercraft battle concepts a bit later in the interview:
Otani: The base form of papercrafts was drawn in an early proposal that was made by AlphaDream, but it was sort of like portable shrines [which are carried in festivals] crashing into each other.
So it’s a bit like the floats in say, the Macy’s Thankgiving Day Parade fighting in gladiatorial combat. Which, let’s face it, would make these parades a whole lot more exciting than they are at the moment. That said, it’s definitely an interesting change from the giant battles in the last game, though the atmosphere needs improvement in these battles. I mean, what gets you more excited for a battle… these two themes from Dream Team or these two from Paper Jam?
Giant Battle Themes
Papercraft Battle Themes
Above: The former two are like ‘I’m going to die horribly’, the latter two are ‘this sounds like a somewhat exciting mini game’.
Aside from that, this comment about the Paper Toads confuses me:
In the beginning Toads really said “Heave-ho!”, but when we tried our luck and showed it to Miyamoto, we were told “This can’t be introduced outside of Japan.”
Why couldn’t Toads say ‘heave-ho’ outside of Japan? There’s nothing wrong with the phrase as far as I can see, even the dictionary just says it’s ‘a cry emitted when doing actions that take physical effort’.
Were they scared that people would think the Toads were talking about people getting fired? Or was something lost in translation here?
Either way, it’s an interesting read, though the interview carefully seems to leave out questions about the difficulty curve, the NPC character choices, the lack of ‘deep’ storyline or anything else that people might actually be wondering. If you want to see the rest of it (or at least, whatever bits that Nintendo Everything decided were worth translating), you can read their translation at the following link: