Paper Mario Sticker Star Review

20Dec

By Paul Barbara

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Paper Mario was one of the best titles to grace the Nintendo console back when it was released on the Nintendo 64.   From there, it sprouted a Gamecube version and a Wii version.  Now the series takes a leap of faith to the 3DS handheld.  Was the jump worth it, or is it a mess of crumpled paper?

Gameplay

In previous Paper Mario titles you play as Mario on a mission to save the princess and collect some very special stars.  The game was renound for its unique paper graphical style.  Mario and characters were thin paper 2D sprites running around on a 3D landscape.  It was a bright, colourful and unique graphical style that instantly drew me in.  I love the way the characters flip over as they turn around, its pure genius and something that I’ve grown to love.  Also worthy of note was the RPG style of levelling up which is part of the series which to me played a crucial part in why I loved the game.

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Enter Paper Mario Sticker Star which continues to keep almost entirely faithful to the original series in some ways and yet in other ways it changes course with the biggest change being the removal of RPG elements.  This along with XP and levelling up are now torn out of the book like unwanted pieces of paper. Heck even your awesome companions or party members as they are known have also been given the flick along with the collecting of Badges. However, on the flipside, your book has now been covered in a wrath of stickers so to speak.  Interesting metaphor I know, but for the RPG fans out there, you’re probably wondering if this game is going to satisfy you still?

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As the title suggests, this game is all about stickers.  From the very beginnings of the game, you’re introduced almost immediately to a sticker on a wall.  As you peel it off the world environment, i.e. say a tree, it’s then added to your inventory.  At first I thought your job was just to collect stickers, but very shortly I learned that stickers are actually far more vital that you think.  Sticker’s essentially are your arsenal of weaponry for the game.  Ranging from jump boots, to hammers, flowers and all other sorts of power ups and attacks are represented as stickers.  So you essentially use these stickers each time during battle.  The battle system is still a turn based system and you use a sticker each move.  As you progress you can buy with a few coins a roulette wheel type spin that allows you to potentially win a second or a third attack for that particular battle.  Also, during battle you can still press the A button to perform say an extra jump or defend an attack like previous titles.

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The other small gripe I have with the battle system is the limitations that have been placed on it.  For example, you cannot select the order in which you attack your enemies.  In prior titles, it made sense to take out the more dangerous foes first, or say the foes that could regenerate other foes as this was a strategic move.  Unfortunately now, you can only attack from left to right which is very annoying, and it feels like there is no longer any thought to your battle strategies at all.

There are also special stickers which you’ll find that are quite integral to the game and are used outside of battle.  With the press of the Y button, the entire game screen folds flat and here you can take any stickers from your album and place them on the book essentially.  An example early on requires you to place a large rotating fan on the book which helps clear your path.  It’s a clever idea but one that sees you trying out almost every sticker you have and it did get a little annoying and frustrating for me at times.

In addition to the 96 different stickers you can get your hands on, there are these items called “Thing Stickers”.  You find these across the lands and during battles and essentially you need to paperise them into stickers.  You may find for example a baseball bat that you will pick up, turn it into a sticker and then paste it later into the environment to continue on.  Its part of the overall puzzle solving style of the game that you’ll either love or hate.  Personally I did not like this at all as I constantly kept running out of album pages in my inventory and these stickers took up a large portion of that space.  Once you went through all the effort to find one, paperise it and use it, it felt like a total waste of time and almost pointless.  The other issue is these stickers are randomly placed in the worlds and finding the right sticker to get past a particular checkpoint can be extremely tedious.  So make sure you don’t waste them.

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As you progress through the game you will build up a nice wallet full of shiny gold coins which actually serve a purpose by allowing you to buy back any large items or stickers you’ve found at various stores.  There is also a host of secrets to be discovered, and the new world map really helps you to warp to other points far easier.  It’s great to see this introduced in the series.

Paper Mario Sticker Star has reinvested itself for the Nintendo 3DS, however there has been far too many changes to make it feel familiar at all to those who fell in love with prior titles in the series.  With the exception of the art style and partial reminiscent battle system, this is a different game.  With the loss of the RPG elements, no companions, no collectables and no levelling up or XP, the game is just far too removed from the original experience.  There is still a lot of fun here, but the puzzles, lack of stickers and the inability to really test out your stickers without losing them if you make a mistake, is extremely annoying.  I wanted to love this game, I have cherished the others, however I can’t put Sticker Star in the same category as the previous titles.

Graphics and Sound

The graphics in Paper Mario Sticker Star are fantastic and the game has most certainly been faithfully recreated on the Nintendo 3DS.  The 3D effects also look great and it certainly feels enjoyable and great to look at.  The worlds are vibrant and full of colour.  The sound also is great, with a lot of throwbacks to the original game and the Battle music sounds awesome too, just wish it was a bit louder.

Overall

Overall, I was disappointed with the direction that Paper Mario Sticker Star has taken.  With far too many changes, the game is just far too different and cumbersome to say the least.  I like some ideas, but loath others.  Paper Mario Sticker Star is probably best suited to a new audience personally, and for those who loved the RPG nature of the previous titles will probably best to avoid the game and avoid a disappointment.

6 / 10