As a big fan of the Paper Mario series, the arrival of Paper Mario: Sticker Star was absolutely a must-buy for me. I had to get it on the same day it was released.
Does it live up to the Paper Mario name? Let us see.
First thing's first. I never base the majority of a game based on graphics. Paper Mario: Sticker Star, I would like to say, is possibly the best game out there for the 3DS right now that utilizes the 3D feature for a visual enhancement unlike Super Mario 3D Land that used it more as a gimmick to be able to spot what would normally seem like optical illusions. It may be paper, but I swear, it felt like an insult to not play this game with the 3d slider all the way up the whole time.
What stands out in Sticker Star is phenomenal. The Paper Mario series before this game lacked something... the visual and interactive feel that everything was.. well.. paper. Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door sort of took an approach like this being able to roll up or fold yourself into a paper airplane, but that was mostly it. Sticker Star added a bunch of unique things to the game to make itself worthy of having the word "Paper" in its name.
The first noticeable differences is the setting and how you start. Settings in the game are more stylized with an edge that looks very similar to the edges of cardboard. This is the most noticeable when it comes to coins. Also, when you start the game, Mario is literally crippled up into a paper ball. You have to keep jumping to try and unfold yourself.
There's also these...
All these toads were neatly stacked up in a cabinet.
These toads folded themselves into a set of stairs to allow Mario to climb up there
There's also the new addition of stickers and the new ability of "paperization". The stickers I'll explain more about later, but, I mean, stickers are paper's best friend in first grade. Seeing stickers everywhere does place a nice feel of the game being a place made of paper and cardboard. There's also a new ability called paperization that literally flattens the world so you can place stickers or scraps onto the world itself. I'll get more into this later, but being able to place down stickers on a piece of paper of what is their world is pretty cool.
Alright, so how's the game play? First of all, for those of you who liked partners, special attacks, the level up system, and badges, I'm sorry to say that those have left this game. BUT! It in no way deteriorates the game's amount of enjoyment and fun. You might be thinking "no special attacks? lame. All that leaves is jumping and hammering" and "No level up system? What's the point in fighting enemies?". All will be answered soon!
The battle system is once again turn-based unlike Super Paper Mario. I would even go to say it's a fast paced battle system that still goes by turns since the game encourages you to beat all the enemies in one turn for a perfect bonus that rewards you with coins.
Attacks are performed through stickers. There are absolutely no attacks (except for the first strike or getting 3 in a row with certain icons on the spinner) that can be performed without using a sticker. Yes, this even means you need a sticker of a boot to jump or a sticker of a hammer to use your hammer in battle; try not to question it. This being said, if you run out of stickers, you're pretty much screwed. Thankfully, stickers are so plentiful and they even respawn once leaving and re-entering a level. If worse comes to worse, you can buy stickers from a shop. A side note, you start off with 2 pages for stickers. You will get one as you progress and then the rest you'll obtain when defeating bosses. You'll reach a maximum of 8 pages.
Check out that new angled field setup!
There's also a spinner ability you obtain later in the game that acts like a slot machine. If you practice your timing right and get at least 2 of the same picture, you will increase the amount of stickers you can use on that turn.
Now there are A LOT of different stickers which also means there are a LOT of different moves. This makes up for the no special move part of the game. Some stickers let you spin your hammer into an enemy and that enemy will go bouncing all over the screen. Others allow you to jump or hammer the enemy multiple times. Some even let you use the enemy's attacks against them. There's a huge variety, and I haven't even gotten to Things yet! Also, for the record, when you use a sticker, it's gone.
I did say that there's no level up system, and there isn't. The way you get more health is by finding giant +5 hearts around the game that increase your max health. That said, what's the point in battling enemies? Truth said, there isn't. Thankfully, battles are fun and interactive as well as visually appealing. I love how Mario looks like he's having so much fun when he performs his basic jump attack. The most you gain from battles is a an opportunity to rid of a few stickers for space and possibly win some coins in the matter if you finish the battle in one turn. Also, I figured out that the more enemies you fight in the level, the larger amount of coins that drop when finishing a level
Things? What do you mean by things you might ask? Well, in Sticker Star, Things are basically your everyday items that are considered strange to be in the game since they have such... depth. You know, it being a paper world and all. They can vary from a fan to scissors, to even... a goat. Things are found throughout the game and are both the necessity to solving puzzles and defeating bosses.
Things can't be used in the state you find them in though, so you must stickerize them. There's a location in the game that allows you to throw those things onto a billboard and it will turn them into a sticker.
Now that you got your Thing turned into a transportable sticker, there's two things you can do. You can use it in battle, or use it to solve a puzzle. Below is a picture of Mario using paperization to place the fan sticker next to a windmill that's blade blocks the door way. When he flattens the world using paperization, he hovers over the world and will place his new fan sticker right there..
Putting it there makes this happen...
...and makes the door accessible. Make sense?
You can also use it in battles to make fights short and sweet or make a tough boss battle easy.
Some bosses have a weakness that a specific thing sticker can expose of... though some of the thing weaknesses aren't exactly obvious. Same goes for some of the puzzles. Some don't have very obvious solutions. If you don't want to waste a sticker if you don't know if it's the right one to use, by all means, you won't be shunned for peeking at a walkthrough just to be safe.
Oi.. this is where the game does falter. Due to Miyamoto limiting Intelligent Systems from using new characters, there was little of a story that could be designed besides the basic "Bowser kidnaps Peach". IG did their best to improve dialogue as much as possible, but it still wasn't what one would expect from a Paper Mario game. I think the game play of this game was definitely the strong point as it should be in any game. Still, I do wish it did have a better plot. Even without much plot though, the game does last a nice 20 to 30 hour span.
As always, a beautiful OST rests in this game. Unfortunately, not much of it is uploaded right now, but I can show these ones.
Overall, this game was fabulous. I loved every moment of it and will think about replaying it again soon. Besides the plot, this game was flawless in my opinion. If anything, this must be a game to add to your 3DS game inventory.
My rating: 9/10