Broken Base: Many fans are not happy at the changes made in Sticker Star, such as the consumable item based battle system and the removal of badges, Star Power, and partners. Some are happy it's not Super Paper Mario.
Characterization issues aside, the decision to make Bowser the Big Bad once again. Some fans are happy to see Mario's classic nemesis take up the position again, while others were hoping for a new villain similar to the old fan favorites.
Critical Backlash: When you view this game on its own merits (not comparing it with the previous three games), it can be an enjoyable Metroidvania experience if you choose to put certain gameplay issues aside.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Mariachi Shy Guys and Gooper Blooper for the music theming behind them and being plain hilarious, and Mizzter Blizzard for being a Tragic Monster and having more characterization than anyone else in the game.
Fandom Heresy: Whatever you do, don't admit that you actually like this game- you will be swiftly reprimanded by fans of the first three games.
Before this game was released, people were making jokes about how Mario would be the final boss, because Bowser was in the first game, a possessed Peach was in the second game, and a possessed Luigi was in the third game, therefore making Mario the only main character of the series not to get this role. In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Mario is a boss - one of the first boss fights in the game.
Mizzter Blizzard is essentially Olaf from Frozen if he were Played for Drama rather than laughs. The drama comes from the forms he has which are basically Bowser's on ice.
Pre-release, it was infamously told off as being too similar to The Thousand-Year Door by Miyamoto himself, and thus revamped with no partners, no new characters (save Kersti), and a heavily simplified battle system. The fandom replied with that trope's foil, stating Miyamoto to be underwhelming the intelligence and expectations of its fanbase and being too narrow-minded to consider the Periphery Demographic, as well as stating he was disrespecting the skill of their Cult Classicprintingmachine, Intelligent Systems.
Plot wise, it also gets this in comparison to the mainstream Mario series. While Paper Mario was well known for its previous two titles adding new storylines and having memorable characters, Sticker Star is, give or take some elements, essentially New Super Mario Bros.: The RPG. And considering how the New series already gets flack for being repetitive...
"NYARGLEBARGLE!" Explanation The phrase Bowser Jr. shouts when he starts crumpling a bridge into a ball.
The Goat sticker, as well as the new Mariachi Shy Guy enemies.
Kersti referring to and describing Kamek as a hipster.
Misblamed: Shigeru Miyamoto may have gotten the game's most noticeable restrictions on characters and story set into stone. However, what many people may not realize is that the one responsible for generic Toads being the only recurring friendly species and the paper theme being overemphasized to the exclusion of story was actually the producer, Kensuke Tanabe.
Scapegoat Creator: Many people are pointing to this title, among other incidents, as evidence that it is time for Shigeru Miyamoto to retire from active game development and advisement (which may or may not be a fair statement). What side of this coin fans lie on in terms of supporting this sentiment could fuel the careers of dozens of analytical authors. According to this, he's the reason the battles were changed. Why? It was too similar toThe Thousand Year Door.
Miyamoto has really alienated the fans of the Paper Mario series when he ordered the development team to "stop creating and introducing new characters" which also had the consequence of removing the partner system. Such a decision is probably one of the reasons why Sticker Star was so lackluster.
Oddly enough, basic combat has become this. Due to removing experience points and levels, most battles do not offer a real reward and as a result feel like padding. Battles can offer you money, and occasionally health and stickers, but you find the latter two in the levels themselves usually and you can find the former at the end of every level.
The hammer. Getting the proper action command is just about up to luck, and there's little of a cue in order to use it. Of course, they're some of the more common items in the game.
So Okay, It's Average: Many elements of the game, including the dumbed-down gameplay, the paper-thin characterization, a grand total of one new character, and the handling of Bowser's characterization (or lack thereof) add up to the general fan and critical response to the game being a resounding "meh" (if not outright hating it), This wouldn't otherwise be notable if it weren't an installment in the highly acclaimed Paper Mario series.
That One Boss: Kamek, especially the second fight against him. He transforms all of your stickers into flip-flops, so you better take note about which sticker was what, lest you use up some really valuable ones here. The first fight's not too bad, since he's alone. Come the second time, where he creates two clones of himself, change altitude so no attack will hit, and making a random sticker of yours disappear.
The Giant Cheep-Cheep at Surfshine Harbor could count as well. It starts off easy, but then the Cheep-Cheep dives into the water and recovers ALL its health, and remains in the water. At this point, you MUST use the Fishhook item to reel it out. Then, the Cheep-Cheep will start puffing up until it pops and kills itself. Sounds too easy for a boss, right? Oh, I forgot to mention it also kills you too if you don't have armor.
The Final Boss, Bowser, even though it's, well, the final boss, is a ridiculous leap in difficulty from the World 5 boss. 5 phases, each of which require at least 1 Thing Sticker to make them at least manageable, and the boss is spiked. Even after following a guide to the latter to prepare for it, it is still extremely difficult.
That One Attack: Any boss attack that can crumple you. As well as being generally quite strong, they leave you unable to act for as many as four turns. That includes blocking, and healing. Prepare to die.
That One Level: GAUNTLET POND. Tricky jumps, maze-like structure, poison everywhere and the escort mission can be very infuriating if you manage to make the Wiggler segment drop, and having to go through the poisonous swamp and restart that part again.
World 3 in general, due to being nearly twice as long as Worlds 1 and 2 combined, being so ridiculously dark it's tough to see, having annoying and creepy music, having poison absolutely everywhere, the Wiggler piece collection quest, and the tough boss at the end.
World 4-3, The Enigmansion. This level is TERRIFYINGLY long and confusing, only because you have to capture 100 Boos. Luckily some appear in groups during battle, but they're still hard. Most Boos have 18 HP total (a few of them have only 1 HP, though). Good luck trying to defeat the five Boos that fight you under a disco ball. Or the sheets of 82 Boos combined together. Once you've captured all 100 Boos, you put it back into the basement and... Kamek appears and turns the Boos into one big giant Boo. You'll either need TONS of Spike Stickers, or any member of the vacuum family.
Interestingly enough, one of the major motivations for the development team after Miyamoto insisted on no story (or at the very least, minimal story) was to survey Club Nintendo members to see if they liked the story in the previous games. Not even 1% responded that they liked the story, and the response generated led the team to moving in more of the emphasis on paper. However, many have gone on to point out the many problems with this survey process, with the biggest offender being that the survey was limited to members of (and who regularly check) Club Nintendo. And considering that Paper Mario has a bit of a Periphery Demographic to begin with, its not very surprising that most fans of the series claim to have never heard of this survey even existing.
For that matter, it's reasonable to say that people who did do the survey thought it wasn't much more than a joke, considering how ridiculous the answer seems in context.
In an example where interesting characters who could have shown up didn't, one of the only restriction to useable characters in the game was they had to be from the main "Super Mario world". Despite this great chance for underused or obscure Mario characters to play a rolenote something that Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, the game's sequel of sorts, would ultimately fulfill, only generic Toadsnote only the "adult male variety" and Wiggler appear as important NPCs, with Birdo in a one-scene cameo. This wouldn't be so jarring, except other level archetypes usually associated with other characters or species also only have Toadsnote For example, Surfshine Harbor, a place that brings Piantas to mind by just its name. Meanwhile, the bestiary doesn't use any platforming enemies or bosses introduced beyond New Super Mario Bros. 1, when Super Mario Galaxy had been out for 2-3 years by the time this game started development.