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Paper Mario Sticker Star (3DS) Review

November 14, 2012 | Posted by Adam Larck

Title: Paper Mario Sticker Star
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Genre: RPG
Players: 1
Rated: E for Everyone


The Paper Mario series has always seemed to be where Nintendo experiments more with Mario. The first titles introduced more RPG elements to the series while making Mario paper-thin, while Super Paper Mario let the plumber switch between 3D and 2D, but eliminated most of the RPG elements.

Now, Paper Mario Sticker Star is here for the 3DS, bringing back the turn-based RPG style of earlier titles and getting rid of much of the platforming the Wii game had. However, the biggest change to the game is the addition of stickers.

The story starts during Sticker Fest in the Mushroom Kingdom, when the Sticker Comet flies down to the kingdom. Like usual, Bowser crashing the party, causing the comet to break up into pieces and Royal Stickers that corrupt people stuck with them. Mario eventually teams up with Kersti, a sticker fairy, to get the Royal Stickers back from various lands. As you expect, you’ll battle plenty of Bowser’s minions and bosses to do so.

I mention battles so early because I want to hit on this key point of the game quickly. Battles are done by using stickers you either find in levels or purchase in stores. Sure, Mario always carries a hammer and can jump, but the game expects you to play by its rules and only use stickers to battle so get used to it.

As you battle, you’ll quickly notice that any sticker you use is used for good. It doesn’t respawn in your album after the battle ends, although they can normally be found back in the world by leaving or beating a level and coming back in. What this does is make every battle more of a mental challenge than normal RPG games.

I don’t know about you, but when I play RPG games I try to save as much stuff as possible for boss battles and the end of the game. However, here you have to use stickers to survive, meaning you have to figure out which stickers are the most expendable earlier on and which may be needed for puzzles or boss batt.es. However, even while trying to do sticker conservation you may have to use a more powerful sticker because you’ve run out of weaker stickers and haven’t found more.

The other problems with battles are, except for boss battles, they really aren’t needed at all. You don’t gain experience or level up by doing battles. In fact, the only thing that can increase is your health through “HP-up hearts” you can find after boss battles or just in the world. The only thing other battles do is cut into your stickers, which seems counterproductive when trying to save bigger stickers. Thankfully, as you progress through the game you’ll eventually get to a point where you can just automatically kill goombas without battles.

Helping make battles quicker is a slot machine system you can use with coins earned from battles. The machine lets you have more attacks per turn and even grants you a special bonus if you can match up all three spinners. This means you do use more stickers at once, but it may also keep you from more damage. In fact, some bosses need this machine to even beat them.

The stickers are all stored in an album, which more pages become available for as you progress. However, this also means that you’ll start micromanaging stickers shortly. I quickly found myself running out of room as stickers start coming in different sizes, especially unique stickers made out of real-world items you find in the game. These are often more powerful in battle, but take the space of four or more other stickers. These stickers you can never find again in the field, but you can go to the city and rebuy them to make them again for later use in battles or puzzles.

Stickers also come in different styles as well. There are weak ones, with bandages on them, regular ones, and shiny and flashy ones that add more power. The interesting things about the last two are what they do while in the album. By moving the 3DS around, you can cause the shine to reflect different ways, the way it would if you were actually holding a shiny sticker. Sure, it’s an unneeded effect, but it’s still interesting to watch.

The other main thing stickers are used for are when you have to “paperize” environments. You may ask what that means. In short, you flatten the world and can place stickers or key items in the environment to allow you to progress.

This sounds like a good idea. However, the puzzles are sometimes poorly executed. In some places, you may never realize that you can place random stickers, or even where you can. In one castle I was stumped for a while before I finally hit the L trigger to find out that I could stick a few stickers somewhere to help me progress. I never realized that was possible, and the game never explained that there would sometimes be places where this would be needed.

In addition, you’ll find out that some sticker puzzles require a specific sticker to use. You may think a puzzle can be solved by a similar sticker, just to have the game reject your solution and want something different. When this happens, though, you’re also out the sticker you just used, so be forewarned.

Another occasional problem with puzzles comes when you need to find hidden blocks. The game doesn’t normally give you a hint of where the blocks are, though, and sometimes just hammering in random places becomes key to progress.

This isn’t to say all the puzzles are bad. Some are designed nicely and offer a good challenge to figure out but with a solution that’s not sketchy. However, others seem like they were rushed at the end. They ebb and flow quite often in the design that you can never tell if you’re coming up to a good or bad puzzle.

The worlds all look nice and change quite a bit as you progress, from forest to a desert with Mario characters made into pyramids to even a game show hosted by a Snifit. It gives quite a bit of variety, and all of it is fun to see.

Pros

  • Fun environments to explore.
  • Quite a bit to play in the game.
  • Combat is fun…

    Cons

  • But sticker management can sometimes get bothersome.
  • Battles aren’t normally needed.
  • Some areas are too big for their own good.

    The 411:

    Paper Mario Sticker Star isn’t a bad game. In fact, it’s pretty enjoyable to experience the story and gameplay at least once. After that one time, though, there really isn’t a reason or need to go back through again. A solid title for 3DS owners, but a few of the hindrances mentioned above should be kept in mind when purchasing this game.

  • Graphics8.5The lands and characters are great to see, and even the 3D effect is enjoyable, something I’ve never been fond of in most 3DS games. 
    Gameplay7.0Puzzles definitely have their highs and lows, as do battles. However, most battles just start seeming pointless after you’ve been in some. 
    Sound8.0I enjoyed the music in the title. It’s easy on the ears and good to listen to as you progress through levels. 
    Lasting Appeal8.0There are quite a few levels to go through, but after you beat the game you probably won’t be going back through. 
    Fun Factor 7.0I had fun as I went through the game, but battles started to drag on and some puzzles and boss battles can get frustrating as I progressed. 
    Overall7.7   [ Good ]  legend

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    Adam Larck

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