Paper Mario: Sticker Star
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Paper Mario: Sticker Star is a role-playing game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 3DS in 2012. It is the sequel to Super Paper Mario on the Wii and is the forth game in the Paper Mario series. It is the first installment released on a handheld console.
At the annual Sticker Festival, an event in which citizens gather to view the passing of the Sticker Comet (which is said to fulfill wishes), Bowser and his troops intercept the celebration and successfully heist the comet. After an intense struggle, Bowser is flung onto the comet, causing it to scatter into six individual pieces across the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario attempts to duel Bowser but is inevitably overpowered.
Mario later re-awakens after the devastation and is entrusted to find all six pieces with the help of the sticker fairy Kersti. They start off in the town of Decalburg and travel throughout the land to defeat Bowser's underlings and obtain the pieces.
The game focuses on Mario traveling the overworld and battling enemies to progress and collect coins. Outside of battle, Mario collects a variety of stickers (which are essential throughout the game) and items and overcomes obstacles, such as bypassing a giant Wiggler or navigating a pyramid with multiple splitting paths.
During a battle, Mario can either jump on his enemies or attack them with his hammer, as well as use stickers, items, and power-ups to subdue them. Battle stages have also been given a more three-dimensional depth than seen in the first two installments. Some elements of the game are set in a two-dimensional platform, similar to Super Paper Mario.
- Mario based RPGs often have well written plots with fleshed out characters, but the story in Sticker Star is about as generic as a normal platforming Mario game.
- Bowser and Peach don't even talk for most of the game; Bowser only gives out occasional roars and Peach doesn't even speak at all, let alone full sentences until the ending.
- Kersti (Mario's partner) is very unlikable even for a character in any Mario game. She forces Mario to clean up the mess created by BOWSER, collect the pieces of the Sticker Comet, AND collect the Royal Stickers. Plus, she's pretty hot tempered, even wrongfully accusing Mario of touching the Sticker Comet. And you thought Merlinus was harsh to Roy.
- In fact, the game tries to make Player(s) feel sympathy for her when she sacrifices herself, which at first SEEMS emotional, but then becomes pointless when she returns.
- Original new enemies and characters are rather sparse; unlike all other Mario RPGs, the only friendly NPCs are Toads (which while functional are forgettable), while new enemies are simply uncreative variations of older enemies.
- As the title suggests, the main focus of the game is stickers, which while cool on paper, are your only method of attack, meaning you constantly have to keep collecting stickers otherwise you run the risk of running out of them in the middle of a battle. If you do run out, you are completely unable to attack, meaning that if you run out of stickers in the middle of an inescapable boss battle, you are forced to helplessly watch as the boss pummels Mario until his HP is depleted or just reset the game from your last save point.
- While on the subject of the title, The titular Sticker Star never even appears, it's only mentioned.
- At the start of each battle, there's a slot machine that will determine how many stickers you can use per turn, which only serves to force you to pay up more coins to get 3 slots so you can attack all of the enemies. Keep in mind that you cannot choose which enemy to attack.
- Levels often have objectives that are near impossible to figure out without a walkthrough, meaning it is extremely cryptic! You’re often being involved in placing very specific stickers in certain areas but without any hint of what sticker you need. It's made worse when if you use the wrong Sticker, nothing happens and you lose said Sticker/Thing, causing you to go back and buy a new one. There's even a scene where you have to jump down a pitfall that would kill you to find a tablet piece just to continue the game. Another bad offender is where you can’t go to Bowser’s Flying Castle because you cannot reach it, and Kersti suggests something that could fly you, which is Flutter (which is Wiggler with wings), and the worst part is that there is like nothing that suggests the fact that you should speak to Flutter.
- You don't get any experience when clearing battles, instead you only get coins. Instead you have to rely on HP Hearts to increase your stats and they can be hard to find. This takes away any incentive to battle regular enemies, as you're better off saving your stickers for required battles. You don't even have to battle for coins as you are rewarded with lots of coins for clearing a level.
- What makes it worse is that most enemies charge right at you when they see you, which is downright annoying and just wastes your time.
- The second and final battle with Kamek is annoying since he turns all of the stickers that you have into flip-flops, and it can be easy to lose a sticker you wanted since the flip-flop icon is all the same aside from their size.
- Also, after those Kamek battles, you are basically forced to restock your stickers, which wastes more time and coins.
- Another cryptic thing in this game is the fact that bosses that are fought at the end of the Chapter are significantly harder to beat unless you use a very specific Thing Sticker against them, which you won't know unless you look it up, or figure it out through trial-and-error, which can go on for hours, as you have to collect each Thing Sticker multiple times just to see what works where, and what doesn't. Gooper Blooper for example forces you to use the Sponge Thing to block his poison attack and reflect it back at him, which is outright ironic when Gooper Blooper is weak to his own poison.
- When you do use the specific thing against the boss, most of them will become pathetically easy to defeat, with some being possible to defeat in just one turn if you use the correct set of stickers against them.
- The endgame unlockables, the galleries for enemies, music, and Stickers cannot be used for free, as you have to pay coins to use.
- The Infinijump and Clone Jump stickers are broken. Meaning they’re easy to defeat bosses with those stickers.
- The Fire Flower and the Ice Flower stickers in particular, are also notoriously bad and underpowered in this game. When used in battle, there is a chance that you will miss your foes entirely, which is stupid since Mario is standing right in front of his enemies and throwing them anywhere, but his foes. To add salt on the wound, it occurs even when the enemy doesn’t power themselves up to make Mario miss them. If you do miss them, you pretty much wasted those stickers.
- Luigi doesn’t have a big role in this game, unlike most other Paper Mario games, especially the previous game, and he instead appears as an Easter Egg that you can paperize, which is pretty disappointing to any fans of Luigi.
- World 3 is SUPER long and tedious. There are 12 levels, which is already too many to begin with for a world, and you have to repeat most of them just to continue the story. And this is just because of Kamek taking Wiggler’s body apart segment by segment and said segments being extremely uncooperative.
- World 3-7 is infamous for making you lose all of your stickers, hammer, and Kersti when you first start the level and you have to get them back, which is just ridiculous.
- To be fair, most of the problems can be attributed to the developers trying to take the series in a new direction, and failing in execution.
- The character designs are good.
- This game does the paper gimmick the best.
- While not as good as the first three games, the soundtrack is great and catchy (such as Princess Peach's theme, Mizzter Blizzard's theme and Bowser Junior's theme) and is one of the more underrated soundtracks in the series.
- With the exception of not leveling up, the game does play like a turn-based RPG.
- The "Things" are pretty creative. Especially the Turkey, which its animation when used in battle is straight-up hilarious.
- The Enigmansion in World 4 is one of the few puzzles in this game that is actually interesting and engaging.
- There are post-cutscenes after beating a boss in a world, explaining their backstory and how they got the Royal Sticker in the first place. (Except for Bowser, but it’s most likely because it’s already explained in the beginning of the game)
- The graphics, for a 3DS game, are actually really good, especially this early into the systems' lifespan.
- Kersti is redeemed when she sacrifices her own life to defeat Bowser at the end of the game, although Mario revives her later on.
Despite having mostly positive reviews by critics, fans of the original 3 Paper Mario games have criticized the game for its changes to the series and it is highly considered to be the worst Paper Mario game so far. Its sequels - Paper Mario: Color Splash and Paper Mario: The Origami King - were considered to be improvements over it, with the latter game renewing hope that the series could become great again.