It’s been 5 long years since the last Paper Mario game, which changed things by getting rid of turn-based battles for a more traditional Mario experience, mixed in with the classic humour that the Paper Mario series is famous for. It’s only natural that the series would come to the 3DS, but has the wait been worth it? Does Paper Mario still have the charm?
It definitely does, but it does some questionable things that do hinder it from being a must-have title. First off, the story is about as basic as it gets and according to sources, Miyamoto made Intelligent Systems focus more on gameplay than story, which is a shame since the stories of the Paper Mario games have always been great.
Combat has been returned to turn-based battles, but you have to use stickers you find across the game to use, which can be a good and bad thing as you will run out of room for a lot of them and have to keep returning to Decalburg for replacements (as long as you have enough coins) you will also find rare items that can be transformed into stickers to use in battle like fridges, fans, lighters, matches and even hoovers which can do massive damage against some of the bigger bosses.
The problem with some fights or sections of the game is that you will need specific stickers to get further, requiring backtracking to get them. Thankfully, getting around is nice and easy as the game’s layout is like that of a traditional Mario game with different worlds and levels, but it also loses that exploration edge that made the other games stand out so well. Instead the only hidden areas can be easily seen and are accessed simply by posting a paper door on it.
The classic Paper Mario humour is still intact, with the star (literally) being Mario’s new companion Kersti who is sarcastic and bitchy at Mario and his foes like Kamek. There are also great moments like a game show and a mansion full of ghosts that Mario has to find and capture. It’s sadly quite an easy game if you have the right stickers in your arsenal, it’s also a short game as I completed it within 15 hours, which is a shame since other Paper Mario titles have taken me at least 5-10 hours more than that.
The visual style of Paper Mario looks the same as always, charming as ever. The 3D effect is great and well worthy of the hardware, the framerate is solid and the load times are small. Sound effects and music are typical of Mario titles, while the script is told via text boxes…it’s still solid and priceless.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star doesn’t quite match the charm or exploration of its predecessors, but it’s still a highly enjoyable game that is full of humour and decent combat, providing you don’t mind backtracking. All in all, it feels like they’ve played it a bit safe on this outing and I hope that the next instalment takes some risks to make it stand out from the crowd.