Paper Mario: Sticker Star (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Adam Riley 30.11.2012

Review for Paper Mario: Sticker Star on Nintendo 3DS

When it was first announced at E3 2010, many presumed that the then-titled Paper Mario was in fact a remake of the Nintendo 64 original, especially given how Star Fox 64 3D and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D were on the cards. Eventually it transpired that Intelligent Systems was working on the fourth entry into the series, following the superb Paper Mario, Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door, and the disappointing misstep, Super Paper Mario.

Paper Mario was always an RPG series, following on from Super Mario RPG and it is why many people adored the N64 and GameCube versions. However, Shigeru Miyamoto has stepped in now to remove as much of the elements that made it so popular, as well as stopping the inclusion of as many characters as possible, instead focusing on Toads. Yes, Miyamoto-san's decisions are not always golden, sadly. The result is positive in a way, as it does indeed focus more on Paper Mario himself, but at the same time the real mish-mash of gameplay styles in place of a regular RPG feel is awkward and really takes time to click, undoubtedly leaving many people disappointed in the process. For the purposes of this review, it was only after a good five or so hours that the adventure started to become more enjoyable and not too many people will have that level of patience.

The adventure features Mario, the Toads, a little helper by the name of Kersti (ambassador to the Royal Stickers and helper throughout the adventure), and the big bad of Bowser waiting in the wings, with his cronies plaguing Mario throughout the journey, using special Royal Stickers to augment their powers and cause havoc constantly. The whole adventure is based around stickers, with Bowser touching the Sticker Comet at the annual Sticker Fest and using the resultant effect to his advantage, with his minions also going crazy with power from the Royal Stickers that must be retrieved by the portly plumber. Mario must work his way around a top-down map reminiscent of games such as Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, playing various short stages and collecting comet pieces, gradually working towards retrieving the Royal Stickers from King Koopa's underlings.

Screenshot for Paper Mario: Sticker Star on Nintendo 3DS

There is no character levelling-up, with Mario's energy being increased in a similar fashion to in Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda line, with special hearts located in various places that upon collection add an extra section to his health meter. There are no defence or weapon upgrades, either, with the emphasis purely being on collecting powerful stickers that are consumed one at a time during battle -- or in multiples of three should the fruit machine-esque reel be used, matching three of a kind to do three attacks in one round. This brings up the other annoying point of having to always ensure sticker supplies are kept high, for fear of not being able to keep enemies at bay during fights. It proves highly frustrating as there is limited space for sticker storage until later in the game when more 'sticker pages' are provided, thus giving more room. Uncovering new elements or solving puzzles by 'Paperising' the world to place certain sticker types onto the scenery is novel at first, but the gimmick also wears thin as Sticker Star continues to somehow lose its way on a regular basis, not knowing quite what genre it wants to fall into. In some instances it even feels like a wannabe point-and-click adventure, except with the pointing and clicking part!

One of the other big annoyances is the amount of back-tracking required. There are special items that can be found throughout the world and changed into super stickers, such as a large fan, a pair of scissors, baseball bat, trumpet, sponge, and so on. The amount of weird and wacky items is quite immense, and they can all be used in some way during battle, normally to great effect. The problem is, however, that some are imperative for story progression or have to be used against particular bosses in order to gain victory. What this means is that should you use them in excitement at the wrong time, it leaves players stuck, having to traipse back to the beginning of the game to access a hidden shop where they can be bought again. It certainly is a flawed design because no indication is given that these specials must be hoarded away for the exact right moment, and having to return to the secret shop repeatedly grates quickly.

Sadly, on the whole Paper Mario: Sticker Star, whilst it has its brief moments of glory, is not a patch on its N64 and GameCube brethren. No doubt it will sell enough copies to warrant the change in style, but true followers will be waiting now to see what AlphaDream has in store for 3DS owners instead.

Screenshot for Paper Mario: Sticker Star on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

For all its beauty in the presentation stakes, Paper Mario: Sticker Star is certainly not the RPG than many fans of the series in general were expecting. It does prove to be a satisfying enough adventure after becoming accustomed to the mix and match of gameplay styles included, but the back-tracking and frustrating limitations of the sticker battling system fail to impress. The whole package feels a bit 'lost and confused.' With this being the second deviation from the role-playing genre, and with the usual humour also surprisingly absent, all eyes turn to AlphaDream for a new, true RPG with Mario & Luigi 4.

Developer

Intelligent Systems

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (6 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

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