Paper Mario: Sticker Star is a creative spin on the traditional Mario universe that sees our favourite plumber and the Mushroom Kingdom transformed into paper-thin reincarnations.
It’s the first handheld Paper Mario game, and the first entry since Super Paper Mario on the Wii. Being a major title for Nintendo’s 3DS, Sticker Star offers the most accessible Paper Mario experience so far.
The basic story revolves around the evil Bowser’s disrupting of the Sticker Star comet festival.
With chaos everywhere and the Royal Stickers separated from the Sticker Star, it’s up to Mario to collect the six Royal Stickers scattered across the world.
Every aspect of Sticker Star – the characters, the environments and world map – are reimagined as paper-renditions of their classic Mario forms and presented in a charming storybook format.
This time around, the characters even react and acknowledge their paper-thin existence, and humorously speak in awe of any 3D objects they come across.
The gameplay of Sticker Star is a hybrid of classic Mario platforming mixed with light role-playing elements.
Fighting enemies is no longer as simple as jumping up and down on their heads. Players take turns to dish out attacks until one group exhausts the other’s health points.
Unfortunately, at times, its ideas don’t stick as well as they should.
Anyone who has played the first two Paper Mario games will be familiar with its setup, but longtime fans may be disappointed with the noticeable shift away from traditional role-playing elements.
Stickers are the bread and butter of the Paper Mario world, and finding and collecting all of them is highly addictive. There’s also a Sticker Museum to catalogue all of your findings, which is a neat addition.
Each sticker represents an action for players to use in turn-based battle, such as the familiar Mushroom for healing, Koopa Shell for kicking and Fire Flower for hurling fireballs.
They are a single-use resource. Managing your sticker collection and knowing when to use them is important and tactically engaging – though they may be too straightforward for some players.
In addition to combat-related stickers, there are “Thing Stickers”, 3D objects that act as puzzle-solvers. At the touch of a button, Mario can “paperise” the world into a flat surface, which reveals areas to place stickers.
The puzzles of Sticker Star are creative and humorous, but limited in experimentation. There is only one right Thing Sticker for every puzzle or major boss fight, and being so expensive, they feel like a wasted opportunity.
Sticker Star’s lightly 3D world is visually gorgeous, with plenty of diverse paper environments to explore, secrets and opportunities for perspective-based puzzles, and comical, charming characters to interact with.
With a great art-style, favourite characters and a solid combat system, Sticker Star is a fun and accessible handheld entry into the Paper Mario franchise.