I’ve been waiting patiently for the moment I could finally write this review. Ever since I first heard about the new Paper Mario game for the 3DS, I was excited. And so, when I finally got my hands on the game the day it came out, I had a lot of hype and expectations riding on it. Did it deliver?
You bet it did!
The plot is very standard Mario fare. It’s the Sticker Festival in Decalburg, a part of the Mushroom Kingdom, and during it, Princess Peach is taken by Bowser (again), and it’s up to Mario to save her! There’s really nothing more to say here. It moves the game forward, and that’s what matters.
Oh boy. The characters. Besides the ever-amazing Mario, we have Kersti, a sassy sticker from the Sticker Star that joins Mario on his quest, and she is amazing. She calls Kamek a hipster, which not only shows that the people at Intelligent Systems is keeping with current trends, but actively incorporating them.
All the little characters in the game that make an appearance are also great. You can see the time put into every character and their line of dialogue. It’s awesome that, throughout the Paper Mario series, the humor has been consistently enjoyable for me, and that the humor in Paper Mario: Sticker Star holds up wonderfully.
And let’s not forget about the PETEY PIRAHNA cameo (despite him being an incredibly easy boss).
I think the only downside to the characters is that Bowser does not talk. Ever. It’s a little disappointing, but the humor throughout the game with the rest of the cast more than makes up for it.
The graphics are an awesome twist on the usual Paper Mario style. It looks very similar to Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, but takes the ‘paper’ aspect a step further. Koopa Troopas fold into their shells to attack, enemies can stack on each other, goombas turn into a paper cone, etc… It’s very paper, and that makes it very awesome! One of the bosses is literally made out of paper, and there are references to being in a paper world all the time. There are a ton of references to older games in characters/the world you explore (I’m not going to give an away).
The music is also great. Many of the songs reference old games, but the new music is also great. The battle music, from normal battles to the final boss, are all very memorable. I still hum the battle music in my head sometimes.
And here it is! Taking a page from the old Paper Mario games, turn-based battles are back. The difference? No partners, no badges, no experience. Just stickers.
It works like this: as you explore, you’ll see stickers laying around, and you can peel them off store them in a sticker album you have. You can then use these stickers to do battle with enemies. Right away, you can see that management of stickers is key. If you’re not prepared for anything, you may find yourself losing to a spiky goomba because you don’t have any iron jump or hammer stickers and you’ll have to run.
The stickers themselves are pretty standard – you have a jump, hammer, fire flower, mushroom, and various others that are references to games in the past and some items used in the Paper Mario series.
Like in the old games, Action Commands are here, and believe me when I say that anyone who has played the old games will probably be successful figuring these out.
So, you have all these stickers, but there’s more to them than just battling. You can also use them to change the environment and solve puzzles. To do that, Kersti allows you to “paperize” objects in the world. Many puzzles involve you peeling off a part of the world and putting it back where it belongs, while others are sticking certain stickers to unlock a door.
What’s more, there are ‘things’: 3D objects (like scissors, a fan, etc…) that you can collect and turn into stickers to solve puzzles and use in battle. These stickers are HUGE, so you can’t carry too many of them or else you won’t have enough stickers after a few battles. But, these stickers are incredibly powerful in battle, and many of the bosses are specifically wear to a certain thing sticker.
And the biggest part of battling is how you attack. Some stickers attack every enemy. Some only attack one. When there’s more than one enemy, you will always attack the enemy in front. That means that you have to carefully plan out which stickers you’ll be using so you don’t waste any. You can also use the Battle Spinner, which, if you match up two or three, allows you to use 2 or 3 stickers in one turn. Of course, you’ll notice that your first sticker will attack the enemy in front, the 2nd in back, and so on. Planning out stickers is very important, especially in the later levels when enemies do a ton of damage, even when you block.
So, since there’s no experience, the only way to grow stronger is to get better stickers. You start out with normal stickers, but soon you’re able to obtain shiny and flashy stickers, which are much more powerful. You also will collect HP-Up Hearts, which increase your HP by 5.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star is a throwback to the old games that everyone loves with some new twists and a really, really awesome combat system. If you’re a fan of the Paper Mario franchise, you must buy this game – you won’t be disappointed. Even if you’re not, I think you’d be hard-pressed to really dislike this game.
Final Score: 9/10