Paper Mario: Sticker Star Review

Paper Mario: Sticker Star's many charms make it a sweet and worthwhile adventure, though a few flaws interfere with its feel-good attitude.

Mario has had many incarnations over the years, but Paper Mario is perhaps the pluckiest of all the portly plumber's personas. The way he moves, his feet cheerily kicking up dust, suggests an unflappable willingness to face any challenge. He never talks, but his steady demeanor speaks volumes; he is a happy hero and a faithful friend. One look at that mustachioed visage and you know that he is good and kind and true right down to his papery core. It's a pleasure to be reunited with this incredibly charming character and to explore the lovely papercraft world of Paper Mario: Sticker Star. Mario's cheery outlook is contagious, and you'll often be happy to accompany him on his latest adventure, but it's easy to find yourself stuck for extended periods, during which the joy gives way to frustration. In the end, however, happiness triumphs over all else; it's worth sticking through the tough spots with Paper Mario and seeing this adventure reach its cheery conclusion.

Seriously, isn't he just the cutest?

Sticker Star begins during the annual Mushroom Kingdom holiday of Sticker Fest. People gather at the festival grounds in the hamlet of Decalburg to celebrate stickers, and to make wishes on the powerful sticker comet that comes to visit the town each year. Alas, this year, Bowser ruins everybody's fun by leaping for the comet, absorbing some of its power himself, and scattering five wish-granting royal stickers far and wide across the kingdom in a maelstrom of sticker-fueled malice. Bowser makes off with Princess Peach (of course), and Mario joins up with the feisty caretaker of the royal stickers, who is herself a crown-shaped sticker named Kersti.

The story isn't special, but the writing sure is. Sticker Star possesses the smart, witty humor that's typical of the Paper Mario games. It's just a shame there isn't more of it. Though Kersti is almost always with you, Sticker Star can feel a bit lonely at times, and where games like the outstanding Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door were brimming over with memorable characters and funny moments, Sticker Star could have used more of both. But this land of papery forests, deserts, caves, and oceans is nonetheless a treat to explore. Smiling koopas, goofy goombas, and other enemies shuffle happily around each stage, bringing the world to joyous (if slightly dangerous) life. And the flat characters are particularly striking in 3D; at times, you can almost believe that you're gazing at an actual papercraft display.

In the wake of the Sticker Fest disaster, it's not just royal stickers that were sent far and wide across the land. Stickers of all sorts are now stuck to surfaces just waiting to be peeled off, which is lucky for you, because you're gonna need 'em. Early on, you get a sticker album, and as you peel stickers from walls, knock them out of blocks, or purchase them with coins, they get placed in your album. Ordinary stickers have names like jump, hammer, and fire flower, and only by spending these stickers can you attack your enemies during Sticker Star's turn-based combat.

Peel, Mario! Peel like you've never peeled before!

It's an unusual system that encourages you to think about your attacks in a way that you don't have to in a typical role-playing game. When confronted with a group of weak enemies, do you finish them off in one turn by using a somewhat-rare shiny shell sticker, or do you take a few turns to do it, using run-of-the-mill stickers like worn-out jump and saving that shiny shell for later? Stickers are plentiful throughout the world, so it's unlikely--though possible--to find yourself running out; the trick is learning to use the right sticker in every situation. There's a steady curve as you progress through the game; you start finding rarer, shinier, more powerful stickers, which are also often larger, taking up more of the finite space in your album. It's satisfying to start harnessing the power of these stronger stickers and to become more skilled and efficient in your use of stickers as you advance.

The whole idea of spending stickers may seem wrong; after all, anyone who was ever a kid with a sticker album knows that stickers are meant to be collected and carefully smoothed into place. Fear not! In Decalburg, there is a sticker museum that is just waiting for one of each type of sticker to be added to its permanent collection. Once you've placed a sticker in its frame on the wall, you can gaze at it to your heart's content, and read a bit of information about it in the "sticky wiki." Having a permanent home for your stickers gives you a reason to hunt down one of each type, and the rarity and elusiveness of some stickers give you incentive to poke your nose into every corner of Sticker Star's charming world to find them.

Not every sticker you can slap in your album starts out as a flat object with adhesive on it. Certain three-dimensional objects have made their way into this papery land. An enterprising Toad in Decalburg takes advantage of this phenomenon by setting up a stand where Mario can take these so-called "things" and fling them against a wall, flattening the objects and creating what the Toad cleverly refers to as "thing stickers." (He's "a bit of a marketing genius," you see.) It's amusing to see Mario hold aloft the more mundane things--tape dispensers, air conditioners, vacuum cleaners, and the like--the way heroes in other games might triumphantly hold up a powerful new sword or a sacred artifact.

That is a shyguy wearing a sombrero. His name is sombrero guy.

The uses of stickers aren't limited to combat, either. With Kersti's help, Mario can "paperize" any environment. Paperizing causes Mario's three-dimensional papercraft surroundings to fall flat like a Polaroid. It's a neat-looking effect that, in certain places, reveals a spot where you can place a sticker, or a loose scrap of the world--a cave entrance, for instance--that you can peel off and put in its proper place. Some of the game's puzzles require you to use the right thing sticker in the right spot, and working out the solutions to these puzzles results in some of the game's most rewarding and memorable moments. (What thing do you need to clear away mountains of crumpled paper? The answer is both logical and delightful.)

But the hunt for the right thing sticker can also bring the game to a halt. To defeat a boss, for instance, you might need the aid of a specific thing sticker, but it's entirely possible that you missed the thing you need when you passed through the stage where it's located. Kersti has basic advice to offer you in some situations, but in dilemmas like this, she has nothing useful to say. This leaves you with no option but to return to stages you've already completed, playing them again and again, trying to be sure to leave no rock unhammered and no screen unpaperized, lest you miss the thing you so desperately need.

Exploring stages in search of things and secrets as you make your way through the game is enjoyable. There are many well-hidden rooms, and stumbling upon them carries with it a pleasing sense of discovery. But hitting a brick wall in your progress and needing to find a thing that could be in a number of places makes this normally cheerful adventure an irritating exercise. The joys of your quest outweigh its frustrations, but blemishes like this do hold Sticker Star back from greatness.

Paperizing lets you stick stickers onto the world itself.

Aside from the focus on stickers, the combat in Sticker Star is similar to that in earlier Mario RPGs, and that's a good thing. With well-timed button presses, you can increase the strength of a hammer strike, squeeze in a few more jumps on an enemy's noggin, or otherwise improve your attacks. When you're on the defensive, you can press a button to block briefly, potentially reducing the damage of incoming attacks. It is now, as ever, a fun battle system that keeps you engaged in combat from one moment to the next. Fights move along at a breezy pace, and the cute characters and papercraft playset backdrops in which clouds might hang from the ceiling on visible pieces of string help to make these battles cheerful. And by spending a few coins, you can fire up the battle spinner, a slot machine that gives you a chance to use two or three stickers in a single turn. This is a whimsical way to try to get an edge on your tougher foes.

However, one aspect of Sticker Star's structure makes combat feel less meaningful here than it often does in RPGs. Unlike in other Paper Mario games, there are no experience points to be earned here, no levels to acquire. Hearts you periodically find increase your maximum number of hit points, but aside from this, Mario's power never goes up. Defeating an enemy might reward you with some coins and maybe a sticker or two, but it also costs you stickers. As a result, there's often little incentive to fight those enemies who aren't directly in your path, aside from the fun of fighting, and that can wear off when you're fighting koopa paratroopas for the 25th time and could nail the attack timing with your eyes closed. You can always try avoiding enemies if you don't fancy a fight--they typically dash at you when they spot you but can be eluded--but you still find yourself in too many battles with enemies who are no longer interesting to fight, and without the reward of XP, these interludes can feel like pointless interruptions of your progress.

It's not all smooth sailing, but Sticker Star is still a ride worth taking.

Thankfully, making your way through stages is otherwise enjoyable. This isn't a platformer, but there's enough leaping on swinging platforms and avoiding deadly hazards to give Sticker Star's gameplay a pleasant Mario feel. Nods to memorable stages from early Mario games pop up from time to time, and the quest keeps you on your toes by throwing you into a number of unexpected situations. Mario finds himself in one fix after another, and before all is said and done, you'll have completed all sorts of death-defying feats, like riding a raft down a treacherous river, busting some ghosts, and even competing on a game show. Sticker Star falls into a rut at times and may even drive you crazy, but in the end, Paper Mario's unwaveringly cheerful attitude, and fond memories of the game's many great moments, will be what stays with you.

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The Good
Paper Mario is a charming character in a charming world
Smart, funny writing
Good puzzles
Sticker system makes you carefully consider your attacks
The Bad
Getting stuck is no fun at all
Combat can seem pointless at times
7.5
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews
1 comments
dampflokfreund
dampflokfreund

Getting stuck is not fun.


WHAT? Oh my gosh, that's so a pointless negative point. Why not a real negative point like no story -_-

REVOLUTIONfreak
REVOLUTIONfreak

I love Nintendo, and I love Paper Mario, but this game deserves about a 6.0. The narrative is all but non-existent (which is a serious drawback for any RPG), and the battles have absolutely no point to them without the experience points and level-up mechanic. Really, it's like a 2D Mario game without the fast-paced fun.

Awful. I never thought I'd say that about a Paper Mario game. Heck, I even loved Super Paper Mario.

zen120
zen120

HOW did this not get the "great sountrack" emblem?

Rivboets7
Rivboets7

I really enjoyed The Thousand Year Door.  I didn't really like how Super Paper Mario played but I have to try this out.  I'm just hoping it plays like The Thousand Year Door.

The_Deepblue
The_Deepblue

Good game-just as charming as you'd want a Paper Mario, but if this game could be remembered by one word, I think it would be "pointless." Some of the game's central elements feel meaningless or forced, and it's disappointing that other elements that made the previous Mario RPGs so great have been completely stripped away. Still, I'm enjoying it.

so_hai
so_hai

Doesn't look all that aPEELing, hope I don't get STUCK with a copy of this game.

hangman000
hangman000

Just wanted an SMRPG!(or the old paper mario)

Cheddarchet
Cheddarchet

This seems about in line with what quite a few reviewers have already said, I guess. I'm a little bummed to hear about the lack of dialogue in some cases (seems the story is less of a focus in this game), but I'm admittedly still looking forward to playing it. Here's hoping for a grand old time, eh?

Hermiro
Hermiro

Didn't expect this one to be better than SPM2 but bet I'm gonna have some fun playing it anyway. Guess I'll buy right before next trip out of the country....

Nintyfan95
Nintyfan95

It just looks so plain...even Super Paper Mario had more content than this. 

nbajunior
nbajunior

Was going to buy it for my 3ds but am now having second thoughts

Jedi831
Jedi831

I'll agree whole heartedly that this game doesn't compare to the greatness that was the first two Paper Mario's (Thousand Year Door is still my favorite game of all time).  But honestly, the thing that gets me is that this game seems to be getting worse reviews than Super Paper Mario.  Sticker Star might not have nearly as many RPG elements as it should have, but at least it "feels" more like a PAPER Mario game.  Super Paper Mario had hardly any "paper like" elements.  The introduction of stickers in this new game just seems to fit the feel of the game SO much better.  And lets not forget that they went back to the beloved turned based battle system, no matter how useless it may seem.I went into this game realizing that it wasn't going to compare to the first two Paper Mario games. In my opinion, this is a solid Paper Mario game that is worthy of the title, and seems to be a step back in the right direction.

DiverseGamer
DiverseGamer

Lets not forget that this is the same person that reviewed Gravity Rush...

Heil68
Heil68

Another flop..lolz

 

64-bit
64-bit

GS, doesnt respect Nintendo, 3DS rearely gets a video reviews and on most cases no review at all, second thing always underrate their games, 7.5? For a paper mario game? And for god sake bring soneone familiar with paper mario series.

Wensea10
Wensea10

The review is understandable but I expected a game like this to have a higher score.

snake63
snake63

Carolyn took a lot of heat Gravity Rush but on Paper Mario she is absolutely right. The RPG elements is lacking.

Supabul
Supabul

They nailed the combat for Paper Mario in the thousand year door, just stick with it

 

A RPG without leveling is pointless

SolidTy
SolidTy

Paper Mario in name, but not quite Paper Mario Gameplay. Nintendo seems to be casualizing this series for some reason.

 

Nice Try Nintendo!

 

Anyways, Time to go pick up my reserve and see how I feel about it.

GunBladeHero
GunBladeHero

Although I didn't get stuck so far ( 2 and a half hours in ), I think the review is spot on, combat can seem a bit pointless at times BUT it is much fun nonetheless and the Mario World-like stage progression fits really nicely. Also it should be noted that you can go back to previous areas to collect stickers since they respawn, so it's not like you're ever running out of them.

shadowysea07
shadowysea07

meh another paper mario game another that is paper mario in name only prettymuch.  if it was on the ds or wii i would of grabbed it since the 3ds is too expensive.

paperm313
paperm313

Omg, this game kinda sucks!!! So disappointed!!! I was def looking forward to this game, but the fact that partners were removed, along with leveling up, this game just does not feel like paper Mario. Kinda regretting about buying this game.....and I agree, battling just seems so pointless, might as well dodge and run and save the powerful stickers for later battles....

pqwoei
pqwoei

I pretty much enjoyed the game

franzito
franzito

Paper Mario series didn't catch my attention. I tried my hardest to enjoy Super Paper Mario but ended up selling the game.

wiifan001
wiifan001

So for this game in the franchise, it strips even more rpg elements, has less humor and lacks memorable characters, and irritating moments of being stuck just because you don't have the stupid sticker the game doesn't help you find.

 

The only thing that would have sounded suspiciously objectionable is the last point about first finding the right sticker to progress that's hiding, and I say "would have" because I've read other reviews and they too mention they had the same problem.

 

Though I haven't played it, this review sounds accurate and touches up nicely on the positive and negatives of the 4th Paper Mario game. I do look forward to playing this game.

alvarokike
alvarokike

this game is way better than Super paper mario that´s for sure, but alas, there's something missing....Hmmm.

Maybe the story is not as immerse as the previous ones?

kaiserdisco
kaiserdisco

it always strikes me as funny how gamespot refuses to give anything ninteno above an 8.0.  maybe there's some bad blood between them

Stonecutters908
Stonecutters908

Just picked this up a few hours ago and I am really enjoying it so far. It is a bit disappointing that they have stripped away some of the RPG elements features in the previous Mario RPG games but there is still a really good game here. I give it an 8.0 at least and prolly an 8.5.

Permafry_42
Permafry_42

Super Paper Mario, my least favourite game in the Paper Mario series, was the game that I played the most of any Wii game besides Super Smash Bros. I preordered this game a couple months ago because I knew I would get it no matter the reviews scores. This game is one of the main reasons why I got a 3DS, and I know it will be an awesome experience for me no matter what reviewers say about. My opinion is that "Getting stuck" is the whole point of Paper Mario games. That was what made me love playing every game in the series, and it seems like it's only now that it's being used as a negative. We need more challenging hardcore (not just Gory but truly hardcore) games on the 3ds, and this game does it well. My suggestion is that people remember how they felt playing the older games, and remember how challenging they were. The game difficulty hasn't changed, but the skill level of most game reviews has significantly gone down (like the rest of the gaming industry). So my suggestion is that if you have a 3DS, BUY THIS GAME! If you are a hardcore gamer, you won't regret it.

shovel238
shovel238

I'm not mad that it got a 7.5, and I realize it's a good game but I'm definitely not the only one who finds that the Gamespot Score is often lower than other websites. I still want it anyway though.

malachi_27
malachi_27

I can't express my joy for this game.  So freaking excited.

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

Well written review as usual! Think my wife is going to enjoy this one....Xmas present perhaps :)

RodimusSlime
RodimusSlime

Can't wait to get this when I get a 3DS XL. Great review Carolyn!

OrianaDorta
OrianaDorta

it's been a long time Paper Mario. Nice review Carolyn! :)

SsangyongKYRON
SsangyongKYRON

I have purchased and played games that got 7 and 7.5. And I love them all. 7.5 score is not bad at all.

vault-boy
vault-boy

Holy shit, its a 7.5/10? Is she suggesting this game so terrible that we gather all of the copies up, toss them into a pile and burning them then storming the Nintendo of America HQ with torches and killing Reggie Fils-Aime by hanging him from the side of the building? Of course not you fucking idiots. She is saying its a good game and if your interested in playing it than you should consider buying it. 7.5 is a GOOD fucking game. You people bitching about a 'bad score' are pathetic. Its about time you get whatever you got up your ass out of there, put on your big boy pants and learn to act like a fucking grownup. 

endorbr
endorbr

OMG... So much bias against Nintendo. How oh how can such an obviously amazing game be given such a degrading score as low as a 7.5? Don't you know that a score below 8.0 means absolutely horrible DO NOT BUY? *Sarcasm* Please people. The review seems quite reasonable and a 7.5 is a good score. The only bias I see here is a bunch of fanboys in the comments feeling raw because everyone doesn't see what their vaunted wisdom tells them is yet another addition to the shiny gems that we all know EVERY Nintendo made game is. ;)

Harrydapro
Harrydapro

Aww, I was hyped for this game ever since it was first announced..

CMakaCreative
CMakaCreative

I was looking for a another good RPG for the 3DS but from what I've read, it doesn't sound very RPG-ish. No experience to win or lvls to gain. Consumable attacks. Doesn't sound like an RPG at all. Also the fact that if you don't look under every spec of space to make sure you don't miss a sticker you might need later can really distract the flow of the game. I think I'll wait on getting this game....if I do get it at all.

Chaos-Striker
Chaos-Striker

I miss the old Paper Mario :(

#thousandyeardoor ftw

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

OMG YOU GAVE IT A 7.5! You're a terrible reviewer even though I didn't read the review and just looked at the score! 

 

XD Sorry, had to, haha. Although I initially wanted this game, the reviews have convinced me otherwise since I don't like the idea of battling without progression and the idea of getting lost with no idea where to look, I'll save me moniez for Code of Princess, Professor Layton and CrashMo.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star More Info

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  • First Released
    released
    • 3DS
    Paper Mario: Sticker Star has players help Mario to recover the six Royal Stickers which are stuck onto Bowser and his underlings.
    7.4
    Average Rating210 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Paper Mario: Sticker Star
    Developed by:
    Intelligent Systems
    Published by:
    Nintendo
    Genre(s):
    Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms
    Mild Cartoon Violence