Mario’s adventures have led developers to think outside of the box for the many different games featuring puzzles, sports, strategy and even fighting games. While fans of the famous plumber have experienced it all, there was a special element introduced back in the Super Nintendo days that had fans seeing Mario in a whole new light, Role Playing Games. Super Mario RPG was an amazing title that was developed by Square Enix that introduced Mario into the RPG limelight. Mario would then take his RPG adventures to the Nintendo 64, Gamecube and Nintendo Wii. This time the focus would change to a 2D papercraft art style designed by Intelligent Systems, the team behind the Fire Emblem series.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star
Platform Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Release Date: November 11, 2012
The story begins as the Mushroom Kingdom is celebrating the Sticker Star Festival. Mario, Princess Peach, and the Toads are celebrating until Bowser causes havoc. Mario tries to stop Bowser but gets knocked out. He awakens crumpled up and finds out that the princess has been kidnapped and the town of “Decalsburg” is in havoc. Mario meets the keeper of the Royal stickers named Kersti who blames Mario for all the havoc and forces the silent hero to help using the power of stickers to save the day.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star is the first Paper Mario game for the handheld system. With the previous Paper Mario titles splitting into chapters, Paper Mario: Sticker Star instead splits it into areas reminiscent of the original Mario titles. Each area is filled with Bowser’s minions, hidden paths, mid-bosses and stickers. Mario must fight or dodge his way to each goal to proceed to the next area. Some stages may have more than one exit, making you work to complete the stages. Other stages will be filled with mid-bosses or requirements, forcing you to go back and search for items that can be turned into stickers to proceed.
In a change of pace from the previous Paper Mario games, Mario’s actions are based off of stickers, so entering a battle with zero stickers leaves Mario without any way to battle. Don’t fret though, you can always find stickers in the town or stage by hitting or peeling the infamous “?” boxes. Defeated enemies will also randomly drop stickers. If you need to, you can always buy them in town or from certain toads along the way. Mario is also equipped with a hammer to help him with many of the hazards along with his infamous jumping ability.
In battle stickers are key to winning. There are a few hundred stickers in the game under the class of jumping, flower, hammer, mushroom, and turtle shells. There are dozens of other collectible stickers used for battle. Each sticker takes a space and later on you find larger stickers that take up more space, requiring you to manage your sticker pages. As you defeat bosses, you can unlock more pages. Finding out what each item does and its usefulness can be key in battle, especially when fighting against specific enemies. I don’t think it’s smart to jump on spiked enemies, but you can if you have the Iron jump shoes. Items like Turtle shells, line jumps, snow balls and fire/ice flowers are great against multiple enemies.
When you see an enemy you have a choice to fight them or avoid them, you can surprise your enemy by jumping on them or hitting them with the hammer or battle sticker. Later in the game you’ll get the ability to use the spinner, a slot machine-like game where you can get a box of battle stickers and a special rewards like an item, health or coins. You can also choose to run from battle by mashing the A button. If you miss your escape, be prepared to take some damage. Have no fear, because Mario doesn’t just stand there. He can defend by pressing the A button right before the attack, and when using a sticker Mario can do more damage. Each item is unique so you need to test it our for yourself.
Bowser has in his possession a very powerful tool that allows him to mess with the world called “paperize”. Paperize allows items to be taken out or moved which Mario’s enemies use to stop him. Thanks to Kersti Mario can put items back or fix incorrect items.
Once you complete the game, you can try for 100% completion. One of the toads has a sticker collection and asks you to help him complete it. The good part is you only need one of every sticker; the bad part is you need one of every single sticker including special stickers. You may even see a certain green brother around in the game, make sure when you see him to paperize the screen.
Recently many of the Nintendo 3DS titles have really taken advantage of the 3D capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS, but Paper Mario isn’t one of them. You could easily play the game in 2D the whole time. The papercraft visual style the game uses is vibrant and enjoyable. Intelligent Systems takes the 2D element and messes around with it to create some creative atmospheres and enemies, taking advantage of their paper flat design.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star is a game you can easily enjoy. You will find yourself lost and backtracking quite a bit. There will even be times that you won’t be able to find a path you need until you find the right special sticker. The game loves to be challenging and tough, but luckily Kersti will give you hints in battles or on the map, albeit sometimes useless.