Paper Mario: Sticker Star is the fourth title in the Paper Mario series since its debut on Nintendo 64 in 2000.
The games are known for their fantastic art style and quirky, hilarious characters. While the Wii version, Super Paper Mario, moved away from the RPG genre, Paper Mario: Sticker Star brings it right back to the series roots on Nintendo 3DS.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star was developed by in-house first-part development studio Intelligent Systems, completely owned by Nintendo who are developing, among many others, Fire Emblem: Awakening for Nintendo 3DS.
After what seemed like an agonising wait since its announcement, just how enjoyable is Paper Mario: Sticker Star? Let’s find out!
Paper Mario: Sticker Star opens with the Mario series characters all gathered to celebrate the annual Sticker Fest. As part of the celebration, a Sticker Commet with the power to grant descends onto the stage where Princess Peach is presenting to the crowd.
As expected, Bowser rocks up with the intention of taking the commet and/or Princess Peach. His attempts are hindered by some helpful Toadstools however, Bowser ends up tripping onto the commet causing it to explode into six Royal Stickers which scatter across the Mushroom Kingdom. However, one of the pieces gets stuck to Bowser’s head which grants makes him super powerful.
And so, Mario must set off across the Mushroom Kingdom to find the Royal Stickers.
The story is a little more involved than other Mario titles like New Super Mario Bros. U and rightly so; this is an RPG after all. That said, however, it’s amazing how little the story gets in the way. The developers realise this game is for a handheld console, so you’re not going to be bogged down in huge tomes of text and cutscenes.
As you explore the many levels in Paper Mario: Sticker Star, you will come across hundreds of stickers littered around the stages. These must be collected and used in battles as they are your attacks. Stickers are rightly stuck on many surfaces around the levels and pulling them off feels great. You’ll want to keep finding more!
In a battle, which are once again turn-based, players will select a sticker from their sticker album. The sticker will activate an attack or ability which the player can then power-up by tapping the A button at just the right time. All enemies are different, though – a Goomba might decide to transform into a “Cone Goomba” with a pointy head meaning you will not be able to jump on him and will have to use a different attack.
This system is perfect for a turn-based game and the huge amount of stickers around to be either collected or bought means you will never “feel guilty” about using some of the rarer stickers.
Some stickers have different uses. So called “Thing Stickers” are stickers created by real-world objects. While these can be used in battle, they are also often used in the game world to unlock hidden paths. For example, Mario can stick the Fan Sticker onto a specific area which will blow the fins of a windmill away from covering the entrance.
This ability is where the puzzle element comes into play – at any time, Mario can leave the physical game world and stick stickers onto the map. This is used to get across water, or unlock special stickers as required.
The developers have nailed the game’s presentation. The 3D aspect makes the game feel like you’re peering into a diorama the whole time. The high-resolution graphics of Nintendo 3DS allows objects to look like they should – the different papers and card used to make up items in the game look beautiful and strikingly realistic in a way.
The game is all about paper and it’s hilarious to see the characters go through their lives as paper beings, complaining about being crumpled up or dreading the rain. Some NPC characters will even get their heads folded down which is always humorous. Paper Mario: Sticker Star provides real laughs and is every bit a comedy as it is an RPG. The music is also very catchy.
The beauty of Paper Mario: Sticker Star is all about how playable it is as a handheld game. Handheld consoles are used for quick bursts of gameplay, like being on a train or waiting for a doctors appointment. Paper Mario: Sticker Star is designed with this in mind and delivers an extraordinarily deep gameplay experience which can be absorbed in short play sessions.
Available both in stores and on the Nintendo 3DS eShop, if you didn’t get this one for Christmas I highly reccomend you treat yourself to this delightful romp in the paperised Mushroom Kingdom.