Since the Nintendo 3DS launch, the handheld has housed two excellent “Mario” games with “Super Mario 3D Land” and “New Super Mario Bros. 2”. One more can now be added to that list with “Paper Mario: Sticker Star”, which released on Nintendo 3DS just in time for the holiday season.
Those familiar with the “Paper Mario” series will know what to expect from this new “Paper Mario” entry as Intelligent Systems keeps the core game the same as its predecessors, yet alters some aspects to make use of the new sticker concept.
For those unacquainted with “Paper Mario” you need only know these basics: you take control of a paper version of Mario as you explore unique worlds throughout the Mushroom Kingdom and interact with friendly townsfolk whom will help guide and provide you with assistance during your journey.
“Paper Mario: Sticker Star” is a lengthy adventure game that offers challenging puzzles and boss battles that require strategic planning. Thanks to these qualities, “Paper Mario” is an addictive, and entertainment filled adventure for Nintendo 3DS.
In typical “Mario” fashion, exploration is encouraged as most levels have secrets or alternate paths to additional levels to be discovered. In order to gain access to these secret areas you will often need a specific sticker that can only be acquired after advancing the storyline and exploring the later worlds.
Though exploration plays a pivotal role in “Sticker Star”, you will find yourself frequently in battle with enemies as they provide you with essential stickers and allow for a greater coin bonus upon level completion. Comparable to previous “Paper Mario” titles, “Sticker Star” places a strong emphasis on timed attacks and rewards players for successfully timing attacks with more lavish attack animations which deal greater damage than a standard attack.
While regular attacks may be an acceptable means of defeating average opponents, well-timed attacks become a necessity when battling bosses or large amounts of foes. Unlike past “Paper Mario” titles that had an attack menu and partner to use during a battle, every attack made in “Sticker Star” is performed with the stickers you collect in levels, buy from vendors or earn as rewards for beating enemies.
Therefore, sticker management is an important aspect to “Sticker Star” as having no stickers will force Mario to flee from battle. It takes a little time to adjust to this concept; however, once you receive additional pages for your sticker book you’ll find yourself with an ample collection large enough to topple any opponent.
Over the course of the game you will gain access to more powerful stickers, which deliver more damage per attack and come with a shiny finish. Additionally, you will also come across objects like a baseball bat, fan, scissors, or light bulb that can be converted into powerful, super stickers which are then used to solve many of the game’s more challenging puzzles and to defeat a world’s final boss.
“Sticker Star” has brilliant environmental puzzles to solve, however, some come off as unfair. Most puzzles found in “Sticker Star” are usually solved by placing the correct sticker, and some of these are obvious – like placing a light bulb in a dark basement to uncover a hidden path. Nevertheless, most are not that simple to solve which can lead to moments of annoyance.
If you do find yourself stuck on a puzzle or unable to figure out where to go next, Mario’s companion, Kersti, is available to provide guidance. Kersti won’t give you exact instructions on how to solve a puzzle or location of the sticker you may need, but she does share enough information to let you figure it out on your own allowing you to feel a sense of satisfaction once you do.
“Paper Mario: Sticker Star” has heart and charm which help make it a winner on Nintendo 3DS. Providing lush worlds packed with challenging puzzles, interesting bosses and strong supporting cast of characters, “Sticker Star” is full of personality and humor that everyone can enjoy.
(Editor’s Note: A download code of “Paper Mario: Sticker Star” was provided by Nintendo for review purposes. The game was completed for review on a Nintendo 3DS XL. “Paper Mario: Sticker Star” is currently available for Nintendo 3DS on the eShop and at retailers nationwide.)