Paper Mario: Sticker Star Review
Paper Mario: Sticker Star is probably the oddest game in the Paper Mario series (which is saying quite a lot) and the many changes made may not be to everyone's liking. While the turn-based combat system has returned after its absence from Super Paper Mario, several things from the previous games are now gone, something that fans of the series may be displeased about.
The game's strongest points are its visuals. The game is absolutely gorgeous to look at and it's very clear that a lot of thought was placed into making the world as storybook-like as possible. The enemies themselves have gotten more paper-like; Goombas wearing spiked helmets are now Goombas on sheets of paper folded into a spike shape, ninja-like enemies fold into origami stars to attack players, and some enemies will fold themselves to dodge Mario's attacks. This new style, while a bit quirky, adds quite a bit of character to the game.
The combat system may have returned to its turn-based roots, but a few changes have occurred. The first major one is that Mario is alone in combat; partners do not exist in this game. All attacks, including the basic jumps and hammer strikes, use consumable stickers; if a player has no stickers in their album, Mario cannot attack. This means that players will have to constantly keep track of the amount of stickers they have to ensure that they have the right stickers to deal with the area's enemies. This combat system is quite clever and makes use of the game's sticker theme very well; it also makes players a little more conscious about the actions they take in combat so not to waste the more powerful stickers on mere mooks.
The main problem, however, comes from the lack of story. While most Mario games stick to the basic formula of rescue Princess Peach from Bowser,' the games after the original Paper Mario tried for deeper storylines with great success, also providing numerous memorable characters. This game has gone back to the basic plot of rescue Princess Peach from Bowser' and, because of that, the game does not come across as epic as the previous games. While this point might not bother some fans, the fact that this game has gone down to a more bare-bones storyline might raise the ire of fans that enjoyed the more epic storylines of the previous games.
The game also has a side quest of sorts called the Sticker Museum where the players attempt to catalogue every single sticker in the game. While it certainly does give players an incentive to dig deeper into the game so as to collect every kind of sticker, the whole thing may come across as padding for players who are not fond of fetch quests or having to jump up several stairs just to get to the higher rooms in the museum itself. Some players may, however, get a kick out of all the stickers based on real world objects during their first playthrough just to see what sort of things the creators thought would make great weapons.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star is not a bad game by any stretch; it is a very quirky take on the standard Mario formula and it is a beautiful game to look at. However, the decision not to utilize a deeper story might cause a few fans to avoid this game, especially the ones that enjoyed the storylines of the other games. On its own, it's a solid game; as a Paper Mario game, it's a bit lacking compared to its predecessors.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.