By Sean Booker
Dec 7, 2012 - 21:27
Paper Mario Sticker Star sets up a really great environment, both from a mechanics and aesthetic standpoint, but causes you to quickly get annoyed with its tedious and useless enemies. The paper look to everything is simply fantastic and the literally everything you interact with improves this theme. This is accentuated by the number of different ways Intelligent Systems has come up with to showcase how they turned many different environments into what are basically shoebox dioramas. However, littered throughout these gorgeous levels are useless enemies that don’t add anything besides tedium to the game. The inclusion of such an annoying feature causes a lot of the charm you should be experiencing to feel more like a chore.
Sticker Star’s greatest strength is the way the game looks. Almost everything is made up of either paper or cardboard; including the enemies, the trees, the backgrounds, etc. The game even moves the environments in ways that paper would work. Instead of an enemy flying at you he will fold himself into a paper airplane. There are a number of these great little touches that really show off the amount of thought and detail that was put into this game’s look. The 3D mode is also really great here since it adds to the diorama feeling. Since everything in the game is flat, you can really get a good sense of depth in the stages and for the most part I didn’t experience any ghosting issues with the image.
This aesthetic is complemented by the number of different ways they use it in creating different levels. You’ll adventure through the standard jungle, ice world, desert, etc. that is customary to Mario but the paper-look breathes new life into these tropes. Many of the levels are designed quite nicely and are quite inventive when asking you to complete them. And there are a really great amount of fun cameos and special surprises to find. There are five different worlds in all (along with a final, short boss world) that will take you around fifteen hours to play through. The replay value continues from there if you’re trying to uncover all the different secrets within Sticker Star.
The one downside I felt with the level design was that a number of the obstacles you’ll come across require specific items or combinations without any hints on how to perform. This was an odd problem I faced since a lot of the answers you’re required to find/discover are really interesting in how the game works. For example, instead of killing a Chain Chomp, you need to put him to sleep, run from the fight, free him from the ground and then let him jump away. There are a number of cool ways you’re supposed to go about progressing through the game but the issue is that there really isn’t any information pointing you in the right direction. There were many fights and obstacles I found myself hitting my head against for far too long. And when paired with the vast number of items you have at your disposal, having to try out everything before finding the right one is a huge waste of time.
The only non-paper objects will be random polygonal “things” placed throughout the five worlds. These act as super attacks that you can use when in combat and will usually stick out in the world. Because of their shift in perspective, they’re usually pretty easy to find and there’s a good number to go looking for. The rest of your attacks will be from stickers you purchase or find in the area. Random hammers and fire flowers will be stuck to the background and various objects waiting for you to peel them off. You will want to collect a lot of these to use in combat. There’s a good variety of stickers and each one will have a shiny and flashy version which will make it stronger but will take up more space in your inventory.
The main reason you will want to collect stickers is for the game’s boss fights since the standard enemies are where Sticker Star really lacks. There isn’t really any incentive to fight anything other than a boss that progresses the game. Taking down a standard enemy doesn’t give you any benefit since there is no leveling up in this version of Paper Mario. So you’ll find yourself wasting stickers and health while getting nothing in return. This quickly caused me to begin avoiding and dodging everything I came in contact with and when I was unsuccessful it just became an annoyance. It’s really disappointing that I found myself trying to avoid a big chunk of the game.
There really is a lot to like with Paper Mario Sticker Star and you’ll be able to sink a pretty decent amount of time into it. The levels you’re faced with are nicely designed and the look of the game is really fantastic. And though the enemies come off as annoying and tedious, you can easily ignore them for the most part and just focus on traversing through each stage. Just be ready to come across a lot of weird obstacles with no real help trying to pass. But if you’re looking for a bit of a new take on the Mario formula than Sticker Star will greatly deliver.
Rating: 8 /10