The newest entry of the Paper Mario series has gone portable with Sticker Star its recent release on the 3DS. This game marks the fourth in the series, which in this case the game is a throwback to adventure games of the 1980s where solving puzzles is the main focus and strategy in battles is limited to the inventory of stickers.
Sticker Star puts Paper Mario into a 3D environment, essentially making the 3DS appear as a diorama. Clouds hang from strings and most landscapes are made from cardboard. A few loose scraps and stickers applied correctly lead to the next location in this adventure game with RPG elements. Everything about the game seems well balanced and will actually require some thought instead of blazing through to the end. Unlike most other games released from Nintendo in the past few years, no tutorials will hold the player’s hand with each new item. Once the basic techniques are learned (timed attacks, defend, paperize), the only hints come from Kersti, which may be very vague at times.
The music mixes familiar tunes with a jazz feel. The main map will switch the tune style depending on which world is selected seamlessly. Familiar tunes include the bonus game music from Super Mario Bros. 3 while in World 3. Musical instruments also appear as things in the game that can be turned into stickers. Like most stickers, they can cause a variety of results, including waking a character, hitting with heavy damage, or increasing the damage Paper Mario will inflict.
The RPG elements are very limited, stickers are the weapons (and defense in some cases) and experience points do not exist. The game instead focuses on the gameplay, not the grinding, to progress the action. The only stat that can be increased through the game is Paper Mario’s health, which also has an effect on damage delivered with a preemptive attack with a jump or hammer attack before a battle begins.
Just as the map implies, the Royal Stickers do not need to be recovered in any particular order, though it may help, especially when a required sticker to progress the game is near or in the last level of the world. To proceed to World 4 and 5, though, will require a thing that’s only available once the secret door sticker is available (for all those outlines of doors through the levels). Of course, World 6, the final world, is available only after five of the Royal Stickers are recovered from the bosses of each area.
Speaking of the bosses, most will require a strategy using stickers made from things. Usually a hint will be provided by the landscape or the appearance of the boss, which running is always an option if ill-equipped. Some of the hints are not easy to figure out, but for example, the Shiny Goomba boss of World 1 is basically a huge piece of paper. Considering what things are available at that point of the game, the scissors and fan would be ideal to make the battle a little easier.
Puzzles and obstacles will be another use for the thing stickers. The windmill blocking the door in World 1 has already had the solution revealed in the official Nintendo videos; placing the fan sticker while in paperize mode will cause the blades to rotate so the door is accessible. Although this is one of the easier puzzles, more become more complex, including using normal stickers in addition to thing stickers to find more stickers or open the path forward.
Overall, the game may not have as much replay value as others, but the journey through the game after completion may still provide a challenge from time to time, especially once the Shiny and Flashy stickers seem to be abundant. Finding one of every sticker and every thing to turn into a sticker could provide some more time to put into the game. The game is fun and provides a lot of paper-themed humor, if anything else, it looks great on the 3DS while playing. Keep a lookout for Luigi and make sure to grab him with every opportunity.
Paper Mario Sticker Star was released for retail and digital download from the Nintendo eShop Nov 11, 2012.
The official site for Paper Mario Sticker Star is http://papermario.nintendo.com/.
- Paper Mario Sticker Star review: Looks good on paper (joystiq.com)
- Paper Mario: Sticker Star For Nintendo 3DS Is Out Now (mynintendonews.com)
- Paper Mario: Sticker Star on 3DS: A real charmer with a few wrinkles (games.com)
- Paper Mario: Sticker Star review: stuck to you (polygon.com)
- Paper Mario: Sticker Star: The Kotaku Review (kotaku.com)
- Review: Paper Mario: Sticker Star (destructoid.com)
- Paper Mario Sticker Star – my hands on experience (nintendoscene.com)
- Prepare to Be Glued to Your Nintendo 3DS With the Handheld Debut of Paper Mario: Sticker Star (sys-con.com)
- Paper Mario: Sticker Star (Nintendo 3DS) (pcmag.com)
- Paper Mario: Sticker Star fails to justify its gimmick (review) (venturebeat.com)