Paper Mario Sticker Star, 3DS, Nintendo, 2012.
Paper Mario, one of the most beloved Mario franchises in Nintendo history, made it’s way to the 3DS- albeit in it’s own, unique way.
At first glance Paper Mario Sticker Star looks like your average Paper Mario RPG-style game, but appearances can be misleading. Nintendo has kept the cartoonesque feel and clever jokes and mass appeal of the franchise, but it’s also noticeable early on that they went for a different approach this time around.
What does this mean? Well, there is significantly less of an RPG feeling in Sticker Star. You still battle and the general for Paper Mario idea remains the same, but it’s not an open world anymore. Instead you have worlds with levels much like the classic Super Mario Bros and you beat one to get to the next. It’s done rather well in that sense and for the most part they have the Paper Mario feeling.
However, what made the Paper Mario games so great to me was how you roamed freely with no levels which was different for a Mario. Now we’re back to levels, a step backward if you ask me. The levels work and they are fun but l can’t help but think they messed with an already proven and successful formula.
The presentation aspect is fantastic, Paper Mario on the 3DS looks amazing and it looks right at home. The 3D works very well mixed the 2D graphics for a unique presentation. The way the characters talk, move and interact is just charming and perfect. The paper, pop-up look definitely translates nicely on the 3DS.
The story goes as follow: Bowser steals a royal sticker and gives pieces of it to his people which gives them superpowers. A shiny crown follows Mario who has to go find the stickers and save princess Peach, of course. The crown helps you along the way with it’s powers and serves Mario (much like Navi does for Link in Ocarina of Time).
You travel through these worlds with a binder that stores the stickers you find. Now here’s where Sticker Star get it’s mixed reviews from. You use stickers you collect along the way to battle. It’s not the traditional combat mode which is disappointing at first, but becomes interesting. Pretty simple, different and it works well.
Sometimes you’ll collect real life items like scissors that you can turn into a sticker. Those special items stickers are much bigger and powerful than the average sticker and take up more place in your binder-you only have so much room. You constantly need to replinish the album- If you’re out of stickers, you’re out of luck!
The battles are a crucial point when it comes to discussing this game. Now you use stickers you collect to fight enemies. You’ll use a jump sticker if you want to stomp a goomba for instance. Some of them have very clever and fun cut scenes and I thought there were some good ideas like the Fireball sticker turns you into Fireball Mario for an attack. The fight system may seem odd or unappealing on paper but translates well on the screen.
Personally I thought there is nothing wrong with the new fight system. The problem I do have is that the battles are essentially useless to the point that if you can avoid them you should. That’s the main downside to an otherwise good game.
The EXP points and stats are completely gone so there’s no reason to fight unless its part of a scene, a boss or to get rid of some of the less useful stickers you possess. At least stats would have been useful to indicate how strong the stickers are, instead of remembering them on your own.
The game is clever in that its tricky and not necessarily easy to figure things out. It demands more from the gamer than the average Mario game which Paper Mario has always been known for. The boss battles are that way as well, seeing as you have to have an idea what stickers to use and when to use the special item stickers you collect.
I miss going around freely, you wanted to talk to characters in previous games, the EX points and stats plus the side quests were always fun adventures. All of that is gone. Basically they took a game that was in a free roaming RPG style based and put a bunch of restrictions that didn’t enhance or improve the product in any way whatsoever. Having a sidekick was nice as well, now that’s gone and you have the shiny crown to talk to.
Overall, Sticker Star is not a bad game. It retains the uniqueness of Paper Mario and looks and feels very nice on the 3DS. However, due to the lack of more traditional RPG elements, the hardcore Paper Mario fan will be left with a bad taste in their mouth. My Mario RPG cravings weren’t totally satisfied as a fan of the three previous entries.
I feel with this game Nintendo tried to appeal more to the younger and casual audiences who weren’t necessarily fans of the franchise. There’s a lot of fun to be had and it’s enjoyable in it’s own way, but I expected a little more and it didn’t deliver in the way I hoped it would. I think this shows that a true RPG Paper Mario game like Thousand Year Door could be portable and work on the 3DS. 3.25/5 stars