Sticker Shock: Combat in the Next Paper Mario

Take a closer look at how to squash Goombas or scorch Koopas with the power of a mere sticker in Paper Mario: Sticker Star.

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Forget badges. In Paper Mario: Sticker Star, stickers are the new hotness. This game marks the return of turn-based combat from the first two Paper Mario games, as well as the series' debut on a handheld system. There are plenty of changes that make Sticker Star a very different beast from Thousand Year Door, some of which can be glimpsed in the trailer below. If you need a little more explanation, GameSpot has you covered with some select snippets--including a few not in the teaser!

No Caption Provided Bowser Jr. is a jerk. He plucks a bridge from the world, crumples it up, and throws it away. This is called "paperizing" an object, and it's a system used to solve puzzles and explore the environment. It can be activated at any time, but only affects certain objects. If you see something that looks out of place, chances are you can paperize it and find something hidden underneath. Paperizing can also replace objects and open new paths.

No Caption Provided Why is Mario collecting stickers? Because stickers are his attacks, but each sticker can be used only once, and he can hold only a finite number. Let that sink in for a moment: there is a big fat limit on all your attacks. This limitation forces you to plan out your assault and not be wasteful. It's similar to building a deck in a trading card game. If there's a boss coming up that's weak to fire, load your album with fire flowers. Always plan ahead.

No Caption Provided You might have noticed Mario's Perfect Bonus. This is because he defeated all the enemies with a single attack. Perfect Bonuses make you feel like a winner deep down inside, and also award you with more coins. Coins are especially important in this game, since they can be spent to purchase new stickers. Some of your strongest stickers will actually come from shops, rather than in the field. Coins are also needed for the battle spinner, discussed later.

No Caption Provided Here's the deal with the giant fan: it is a 3D object. Mario and friends are all 2D. This fan's bizarre third dimension both confuses and terrifies our heroes, and must be flattened. As shown in the trailer, you will unlock the ability to conform 3D curios to the natural, 2D order. Your reward is a powerful new sticker, be it a giant fan that blows foes away, or some sharp scissors to slice up their paper bodies. However, these stickers occupy additional space in your album.

No Caption Provided A note on character advancement: if having a finite number of attacks doesn't already blow your mind, know that Mario doesn't gain experience points or level up. Madness, I know, but there is a method. The plumber's advancement is managed through new sticker album pages and health up items. Both of these items are collected at specific encounters along your journey. For those who still want to grind, Mario always needs more coins.

No Caption Provided Let's talk about the battle spinner. Arguably the most potent weapon in Mario's arsenal, this device lets you combo together up to three stickers in a single turn. The spinner can be activated for three coins, and it functions like a slot machine. For each successful match made, you can use another sticker that turn, as well as receive an extra bonus depending on the images matched (example: a health boost for matching mushrooms).

Spending 15 additional coins will automatically match two of the reels together, and adding another 30 coins on top of that causes the third reel to slow down for an easy final match. When planning out which stickers to string together, know that Mario always strikes the enemy in the front first; you cannot choose other targets further down the row. You must plan ahead and know which stickers will knock out which enemies to ensure you don't mismatch your attacks, or (even worse) waste a sticker. If all this sounds too confusing, you can figure it out for yourself when Paper Mario: Sticker Star is released on the Nintendo 3DS later this year.

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