Review: Paper Mario Sticker Star

Review: Paper Mario Sticker Star

The next installment to the much loved Paper Mario series has finally arrived, and this time it has found its home on the 3DS.

Paper Mario is an interesting concept, it takes the underlying Mario formula, makes everything out of cardboard and paper (essentially 2D) then makes it a 3D Mario game with a turn based battle system. It is a formula that has had some slight tweaks over the years, and has lead to some of the best games in each generation. The 3DS title has undergone some pretty serious changes, most of which are for the better.

As always, the Story in a Mario title is pretty straightforward. Big event, Bowser appears, things go to pot and it is down to Mario to save the day. It simple, but fans of the series expect nothing more. It avoids all the pointless melodrama and gets you straight into the action. What is not found in a typical Mario game is dialogue. Each character you encounter will have some clever, helpful or just funny bit of dialogue, and it adds that extra bit of immersion. This may look somewhat like a regular Mario game, but it is really an RPG.

The big gimmick this time around is Stickers. Stickers are primarily used in battle, and act as your actions. A jump sticker for example lets you jump on an enemy, a hammer sticker lets you smack them over the head with a hammer…providing you have a hammer of course. The catch? Stickers are strictly a one use affair. Once you have used them, they are gone for good. This is not a big deal since stickers can be found everywhere, whether they are stuck to walls, in boxes or simply bought in shop. But don’t go thinking you can just horde as many stickers as you want! You have a limited storage capacity in your Sticker Book, meaning you have to plan how you are going to tackle each area.

Speaking of which, Paper Mario is split into 6 distinct areas like you would find in a typical 2D Mario title. Each area has a variety of levels to tackle, most totally filled with secrets, enemies, puzzles and of course, stickers. Each area also ends with a Boss Fight, which are part puzzle and part battle. As you progress through the game you will come across 2 unique types of object: Things and Scraps. Things are real items (as in not made of paper) that can be turned into stickers to be used to solve environmental puzzles and defeat bosses. Scraps on the other hand are pieces of the environment that can be added to world to allow you to progress, like a bridge for example.

Battles are a turn based affair whereby you use stickers to attack. To add a bit more excitement, each sticker can deal more damage if you press the A button in time with the attack itself. So you could jump on an enemy 5 times as opposed to once. This is also used for Blocking, allowing you to take reduced damage from attacks. To deal even more damage, you can spend coins to take a spin on the one armed bandit which will allow you to use 2 or even 3 stickers in a row to deal massive damage to a group of enemies or to bosses.

The game as a whole is fun and satisfying but does have its flaws. Following the logic of the game developers is not always easy, and it is very likely you will get stuck on a puzzle not knowing what Thing to use to advance. Of course, since Things are stickers, use the wrong one and it is gone and you have to either find another one, or buy it. This breaks the flow a bit, and is especially frustrating on Bosses which should be fun. This would not have been a massive problem, but you never know if you even have the correct Thing for the job, as there is no notifications or way to check to see if you have all of the Things from a level or not. This leads to you scouring each level for every possible secret, which is somewhat fun, could have been made a bit less of a hassle.

What’s more, despite being an RPG, the Sticker mechanic has actually removed most of the RPG elements from the game. You no longer level up, you merely find health upgrades, new stickers and the ability to hold more stickers. You can no longer equip badges to increase your stats. As good as the sticker mechanic is, it is a bit of letdown that we lose some of the depth of the previous game.

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