The newest title in the Paper Mario franchise by Nintendo, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, is on the 3DS. It starts out just like every other Mario game ever – Bowser crashes the party and runs off with Princess Peach. To be more specific, he touches a sticker comet and goes insane – then runs off with the Princess. The comet gives him super sticker powers, letting him run around Mario’s world, sticking toads to walls and manipulating the world. It’s Mario’s job – of course it is – to set the world right again, by unsticking everything and defeating the empowered bad guys.
The tutorial for the game is one of the most creative I’ve ever seen. It slowly eases you into the game, removing from walls and freeing toads, gathering battle stickers and random pieces of the world to get Mario from the starting area, to the world map. After finding all the hidden toads in the area, you can move on, but to do that you have to explore every nook and cranny, learning about the hidden passages and areas. Throughout the rest of the game, you have to do that to get from place to place and beat the game.
Once you clear this area, you let out into the rest of the game. In a cross between a normal platformer and RPG, you take Mario around several different areas, defeating bad guys and discovering hidden areas while collecting special stickers and objects. These objects are used to create powerful stickers and effect Mario’s world in unique ways. Like finding a fan, turning it into a sticker, then using that sticker to turn a windmill’s fans to open a hidden door.
All these stickers are collected and stored in your sticker album and can be pulled out during the game, or during battle. Battle isn’t your standard turn based RPG system, but it’s similar. Each sticker has its own effect, each enemy their own weakness. You can use up to three battle stickers a turn to attack up to three enemies each battle. If you manage to bounce on an enemy or hit him with your hammer before combat starts, you get to deal bonus damage. Fans of the Mario franchise will recognize all these items from fire flowers and ice flowers, to POW blocks. Players can find all sorts of combinations and uses for the stickers that deal extra damage.
For the most part, I really enjoyed this game. Then I got bored. It’s a good game, but after unlocking the third area I just wasn’t interested any more. The boss battles are literally impossible to beat if you don’t prepare before hand. Thing is, there’s no way to know how to prepare without going into the battle. Then if you return and prepared incorrectly, you’re left coming back again and again until you get it right. And if you managed to beat the boss, but not the way the game wants, it actually criticizes you. I felt like Nintendo was telling me that I had to use a guide to get through their game to play it right.
All and all I have to give Paper Mario: Sticker Star 3 screaming Jan’s cats out of five. It was a good game and exceptionally creative so I don’t regret spending the money on it. It just wasn’t an amazing game. I hope that future Paper Mario games continue to be as creative and only get better.