Go on, get stuck in.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star sees the Paper Mario series release on a handheld for the first time, and by and large, it is just as good as the games that came before it. Due to the transition to the handheld, Sticker Star is played in stages (although Super Paper Mario was on the Wii), with emphasis on returning to stages in order to find secrets and stickers.
Stickers (as you could probably tell from the name of the game) are very important to Sticker Star. Stickers are what you fight with, and they are used up after just one use. Don’t worry though as you can always buy more stickers or find them stuck onto the environment, or you can get them through winning fights. Whilst the sticker system may seem odd at first, I think it adds a good layer of strategy to the game, as you need to think carefully before each stage about what stickers to bring with you – and there are a lot to choose from.
There are the standard stickers, such as the mushroom that heals you, the hammer and the shoe, but each sticker (generally) has an upgraded form also. The shinier your sticker looks, the better it is, and for most enemies late on in the game you will need good stickers as the standard ones simply aren’t good enough. In addition to the standard-size stickers (you can only hold a certain amount, and each sticker takes up a larger or smaller amount of space) there are big ones, and naturally, the bigger the sticker, the better it will be. There are rare stickers in the game, which can be obtained by finding 3D real-life objects throughout the world. The rare stickers are perfect for boss-battles, but I think there were too many of them to choose from, as it gets complicated remembering all of their intricacies.
Outside of the turn-based battles Sticker Star throws in more new ideas for the series, such as pulling things out of the environment, and turning them into stickers for replacement. This “paperisation” aspect of the game is neat, but at times I think the level designers weren’t helpful enough in saying what to do. Indeed, Sticker Star can be a fairly difficult game, but sometimes, it errs on frustration based on vagueness, which is never fun. I think the main issue with the level-design is one of length: a lot of the levels are simply too long, stretching themselves thin and becoming somewhat repetitive.
The slightly tiresome level design can give the game a bit of an underlying feeling of dullness, but the colourful, detailed graphics, fun music and great battle system hold it together. Sticker Star also has a fun (if not obvious) story filled with wit, but it is unfortunately not as funny as past entries in the series. Sticker Star is funny throughout, but it just falls short of the quality that the series has become known for, and I feel that, in general, the whole game does.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star is a good game, but its long levels and vague puzzles unfortunately let it down, giving the game a bit of an overriding feeling of slight dullness. However, Sticker Star has a strong battle system made by the inventive use of stickers, a bright and breezy story with music to match and enough humour for a good chuckle every now and then. With fine production values and the inventive sticker system, Paper Mario: Sticker Star is easily recommendable, just don’t expect a classic.
A slightly underwhelming Paper Mario game, but it’s still good fun.