Paper Mario: Sticker Star Review

Paper Mario: Sticker Star Review

Back during the twilight years of the Nintendo 64, Nintendo released Paper Mario, a surprising twist on the classic Mario format for more than one reason. Originally announced near the beginning of the system's lifespan, Paper Mario featured a unique paper-like graphical touch and played much more like an RPG than the platforming the franchise was known for. Yet despite this, Paper Mario became a classic and ended up spawning its own sub-franchise.

The Wii's Super Paper Mario kept the same art style as its predecessors, but played much more like the traditional 2D platformers the series was known for. So when Paper Mario: Sticker Star was announced for the Nintendo 3DS, it was pleasing to hear that it would be going back to its RPG roots. However, when Nintendo announced the sticker aspect of the game, many were left worried that the game might another offshoot like Super Paper Mario. Do these new changes in Sticker Star "stick", or are all gamers left with is messy adhesive?

Sticker Star's story starts out with Princess Peach presiding over a celebration in the Mushroom Kingdom for the special Sticker Star. Like many other "special" entries in the series, Bowser predictably trashes the party and attempts to steal the star, breaking it into multiple pieces that fling across the kingdom. If you've played any Mario RPG game before, this is familiar territory, but it's an interesting twist to set up the game's main hook.

Sticker Star nixes the traditional hammer/jump/item system found in the previous two Paper Mario RPG titles for the game's namesake: stickers. These stickers are found pretty much everywhere: on the walls, in shops, awarded after battles. Each sticker can only be used once, so every time you use it in battle or on a map, depending on the sticker, it's gone for good. Therefore, what choices you have in battle are reliant on what stickers you have on hand. And of course, the series mainstay of twitch reflexes in battle stays here as well as the weapon stickers and reacting to enemy attacks via button presses is still in action in Sticker Star.

By default only one sticker can be used per turn in battle, but players do have the option to wager a few coins to spin a roulette wheel and end up with a few more turns. Unlike the previous Paper Mario games, Mario can only attack the first enemy in line at any given time (unless the sticker affects multiple enemies). This creates an issue as Intelligent Systems didn't include any real way to alter the order or create some sense of strategy. It means the system basically boils down to attacking enemies in series while timing your reactions to their attacks to lessen the damage. The only rewards for beating enemies this time around is coins and stickers, so there's no real need to go out of your way to attack enemies as it'll only deplete your health and waste stickers if you aren't careful.

Stickers aren't just usable in battle, though. Mario now has the ability to "paperize" the world which can reveal areas where stickers can be laid down. Sometimes this lets you upgrade stickers, but generally they're used to solve puzzles. These types of puzzles are done through "Thing Stickers", an assortment of 64 random items ranging from electric fans, a pair of scissors and even a goat just for good measure.


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