Paper Mario: Sticker Star
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 us feel sympathy for her when she sacrifices herself, which at first SEEMS emotional, but then becomes pointless when she returns.
- Lack of original new enemies or characters.
- Only Toads serve as friendly NPCs, which while functional as NPCs tend to be forgettable.
- 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.
- While on the subject of the title, The titular Sticker Star never even appears, it's only mentioned.
- Due to the focus on sticker based battles, the traditional partners seen in previous Paper Mario games are absent.
- Levels often have objectives that are near impossible to figure out without a walkthrough, often involving placing very specific stickers in certain areas but without any hint of what sticker you need. This is at its worst in the third world where there is a lot of backtracking since there are so many levels and it is very long and confusing.
- 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.
- 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.
- Main bosses 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.
- 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 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).
- With the exception of not leveling up, the game does play like a turn-based RPG.
- The "Things" are pretty creative.
- 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.
- The graphics, for a 3DS game, are actually really good.
- 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 sequel was considered an improvement over it.