Reviews: Paper Mario Sticker Star
A Mario Game That Made Me Miserable
I hate this game. So much. It's one of the most frustrating and deeply maddeningly nihilistic RP Gs I've ever had the displeasure of experiencing. Now, don't get me wrong. I enjoy most of the Mario franchise. It's got cool characters, an imaginative universe, cool power-ups and usually great level design. I also enjoy most of the spin-offs (stuff I've played) like Mario Kart games and the RP Gs I've played I enjoy. Now, take all of what I said about what I liked and throw it off a skyscraper because almost none of that is here. While the graphics look pretty and the soundtrack is decent, the level design itself is awful. Not only is everything stupidly cryptic but it can potentially be really confusing without a walk-through and this is a portable game. There is no excuse making the game such a needless chore when it can be played on the go. Most of the characters are very one-note and the few characters that do something interesting are so few and far between, it doesn't make up for the boring nature of the game. The few set-pieces that occur are alright but my god, I didn't want to explore anything after a while since so much of the game is plotless and devoid of meaningful interaction. It's a slog to get through the levels. Also, the combat is horrible. Not only are 90% of the enemies dull to deal with but there's no experience points meaning a core part of any RPG is rendered pointless. The levels are so boring. There's almost nothing to do in them and I feel an urge to shut the game off because the game gives me no incentive of substance to keep playing. Even the stamp collecting for a certain side quest early on gets tedious after trying to put stickers on properly for a while. Sticker collecting gets old fast and the inventory is a pain to deal with. Not to mention how unintuitive it is to actually use attacks since it's easy to miscalculate timing. But the biggest problem I have with the game is the partner Kersti. She is one of the worst partners I have ever had the displeasure of having around in ANY game. Her introduction has her yelling at you obnoxiously, she treats you like an idiot for not knowing something (this happens a lot afterwards) and then at the beginning, she pins the blame on me and then thinks I'm blaming the big bad when I'm being truthful and that's not even the worst of it. She's unpleasant and ungrateful, she acts like a massive asshole to you and other characters and she refuses to give you helpful hints at all. Kersti is frankly the worst. Please don't get this game. There are better games on the 3DS, let alone the Paper Mario and Mario franchises. This game is what happens when you get people who don't understand a series and neuter it. Just...don't.
Why did IGN give this of all things an 8.3/10?!
...I wanted to like this game. I really did. Unfortunately, that's not the case. I'm pretty sure everyone knows precisely what's wrong with this game already, so I'll try to keep it short. First off, the story is almost nonexistent. It's just another "Bowser kidnaps Peach" story. Even worse, I had the bar set very high thanks to Super's story. I can't blame Miyamoto for this because Intelligent Systems had the option to ignore him. Of course, it's not just crap by Paper Mario standards. This is easily one of the most disappointing Mario games I've ever played, if not games in general. Now, let's get into the gameplay! On the overworld, it's all standard stuff. It's okay, but not as good as a mainstream game. But Paper Mario games are all about the battles, right? Oh yeah, right, the battles SUCK. Everything you do in battle is decided by consumable items, causing several attacks to become Too Awesome to Use. Then, you have the Things, which turn the game into an Inventory Management Puzzle made worse by the Overly Long Fighting Animation with each one. Worse, there's no reason to fight average Mooks because there's no experience point system of any kind. All you get is coins and stickers, and both of them can be found in greater quantities in the levels themselves. Worse, there's no option to skip your turn. This forces you to either waste a sticker or use the closest thing to the "skip" option: The "flee" button, and you'd better pray it fails, too. Now, the big problem with the gameplay: The Guide Dang It!. The game withholds almost every useful bit of information from you, almost forcing you to use a guide or walkthrough. This becomes especially problematic during the boss fights, which all boil down to "pick the right item to win". Almost every one of them is ludicrous without abusing their weakness, and if by chance you do so without, the game has your helper yell at you for wasting so many stickers. Now, the characterization issues. Almost every NPC is a generic Toad, a point that's almost memetic nowadays. Bowser is a Silent Antagonist as well, isolating fans of his personality. The one original character, Kersti, is an obnoxious Jerkass who exists only as an Exposition Fairy. She's useless for the opposite reason most are hated: Being unhelpful. This becomes especially apparent in the later levels, where she whines about how paper fares in a certain environment rather than actually helping you. Probably the only thing that didn't make me cringe was the soundtrack, although people who don't like jazz will be isolated. Also, only a select few tracks are that memorable in the first place. So, take all that away, and what are you left with? Graphics. JUST. GRAPHICS. The damn thing is a pretty piece of trash and nothing but.
Worst Paper Mario
Paper Mario sticker star is the biggest disappointment since my son. Ok, so you did something new and original nintendo i appluade that, but when that something new is inferior to whatever RPG you put out there, that is a problem. Story? Oh it is just the classic Bowser kidnaps Peach thing. Bowser's only one line is BRAWWRRR!!. I mean sure i am not going to say the other paper marios were super deep and the first paper mario had bowser capture peach, but they at least attempted something storywise, like they had fun characters, not this cookie cutter storyline like this that i see in New Super Mario Bros. The only character that stands out a bit is Wiggler if only because he isn't some generic Toad that this game plasters all over. I blame this on mr. Miyamoto or the people who listened to him. I heard rumors that he suggested no new characters and to reduce the importance of plotline due to some nintendo club thing which people used to just rush just to get points quickly. Miyamoto is a great designer, made some of the best games ever, but it is clear he didn't know what he is talking about. Now then even on the game's merits, it's RPG system sucks. to attack or do anything, you need to use stickers. Now this wouldn't be so bad, but here is the thing: battling enemies are sometimes rendered pointless because you cannot get experience out of it. You can only get coins to buy what else? More stickers, so half the time you are better off avoiding enemies. Even you don't get health upgrades from fighting, you have to find the upgrades, which i suppose isn't too bad in concept, but it makes fighting more pointless. The boss battles could have been fun, but get the right sticker and you are almost guarenteed to win. and without the right sticker, it is extremely difficult to win. It makes things unbalanced and as such it isn't fun to fight. There is a few glimmers of a good game here and there though, the open world nature of the game is interesting and there a few puzzles here and there that are fun. plus i do like how it used the paper idea of Paper Mario more than any other game in the series but it is a shame it wasn't impliemented in a better game. Overall, this is a highly flawed paper mario game, and a highly flawed game in general. Hope that Color Splash is not what i am worried it will be: Sticker Star 2.0, because i don't want the direct to go like that.
"Paper Mario: Sticker Star"? More like Metal Gear Mario.
'Paper Mario: Sticker Star' is a bad RPG. Surely you've heard the reasons before: No XP, one annoying partner, no upgrades, blah blah blah. THAT SAID, however, there is a way to make the game, if not fun, then at least interesting: play it like a stealth game. Going into this game initially, I picked fights with every enemy, partly due to die-hard RPG instincts and partly under the assumption that coins, the only real thing you gain from winning battles, were really important. And they are to an extent, mainly to fuel the Battle Spinner and to buy spare Things. But generally, there are enough coins in the overworld, rewarded at the end of levels, and from selling extra stickers to get you the money you need. Realizing this, the focus of the game changes to accumulating as good a sticker collection as possible while selectively avoiding fights. This sounds counter-intuitive, but unlike the first two Paper Mario games, the battle system here is easily overshadowed by overworld exploration, which remains in-depth and fun in spite of Mario's lack of abilities or transformations, thanks to how dynamic the overworlds themselves are this time around. In any given level, the terrain is liable to be drastically altered over the course of the game. Two positive things that can be said about 'Sticker Star' is that it is colorful and that its set-pieces are generally fun to traverse and explore. The threat of battles in 'Sticker Star' are more exciting than the battles themselves: When the goal is to avoid fights whenever possible, every time you have to flee a fast-moving Goomba by circling around a bush or sidestep a Paratroopa in a tight corridor is a little bit suspenseful. Soon you'll know the enemies' varied overworld movements, the little quirks that each type of foe has that you can exploit to give them the slip. And the battles that are hard to avoid have much more of a risk-reward factor that the player must consider: Sure, there's a shiny sticker guarded by two Spinies, but are the stickers I might expend in battle worth it? Bosses remain one of the biggest problems in the game, relying too much on specific Thing stickers to exploit their weaknesses. But playing stealthily, even this is made more enjoyable by not wasting valuable stickers on common mooks. At the very least, boss battles can become a little less experimental and tedious.
One of the worst games in the Mario series
You may be thinking, upon seeing my title, "Gee, isn't that harsh?" ...no. As you are all aware, many game mechanics were replaced for this installment of the usually-renowned Paper Mario series. What you may not realize, however, is the actual quality and execution of these replacement mechanics. There is no easy way to say this- everything is half-butted and unintuitive, the polar opposite of a good Paper Mario game. Or heck, a good Mario game. Take the Things, for example. At first, they appear to be the replacement for pretty much every advanced field move and partner ability from previous games. However, whereas with those games, one could use these abilities an endless number of times, here, Things can only be used once, period, regardless of whether it's on the field or in battle. This is a problem since you could accidentally waste a Thing you need to progress and either backtrack to where it was found or rebuy it again. A simpler fix would have been letting Things be used without leaving the Album in exchange for either adding a secondary meter or even using up coins. Let me address the Mega Muth in the room- the game never tells you important details to beating the game, such as environmental entrepreneurship (using the environment to figure things out, due to a lack of actual substantial gameplay mechanics). Nor does the game ever really explain boss weaknesses before it becomes a problem, or imply weaknesses before getting to the boss room (like in TTYD). I'm not talking about "handholding" as certain types of players try to twist it- there's nothing wrong with having a little help. Speaking of that, Kersti is useless. Unlike the Goomba partners from past games, Kersti giving useful info is the exception, rather than the norm. This uselessness is really pronounced in a late game stage, where she blathers on about how paper fares in a certain environment instead of giving actual useful info. Finally, battles. Due to a lack of a third unique type of reward only in battles, besides stickers and coins, there's no point to them. Why not make it so that, for every 5 HP knocked off the other side in battle, a sticker can be powered up...and have enemies give out more coins? That would give way to a new dynamic. The irony is how, in purposely getting rid of the story, IS subconsciously half-butted it everywhere else.
Not even good on its own merits
It goes without saying that Paper Mario: Sticker Star is a terrible Paper Mario game. But could it be that, divorced of the broader context of the series, it's a good game on its own? I tried to entertain that thought. Oh, believe me, I tried. But the answer is no. No it's not. First of all, the writing is atrocious. I'm not talking about the lack of plot— I'm talking about the writing itself. This game has approximately two jokes: Everything is made of paper, and Kamek is a hipster (apparently). Go back to the old Paper Mario games. How many jokes did they make about the world being paper? Were they subtle? Or were they people screaming about crinkled edges and not understanding basic everyday objects? I wouldn't have been surprised if they started saying things like "everypaper" instead of "everybody". (Also: mute Bowser, of course.) More importantly, the puzzles are horrid. It's one thing not to hold the player's hand. It's another to almost require a guide to beat the game. See: Wiggler hunting. And almost every boss is a puzzle, which you don't have the information to solve (and thus may not have the stickers you need) until the battle has already started! That's bad design, plain and simple. The soundtrack? Eh, it's okay. Some people praise its jazz leanings, but that's really only a few tracks. Most of the music is so languid as to be forgettable. But the worst of all? The gameplay is awful! Sure, you get to move around on the field areas and jump around and stuff, and that's... okay. It's serviceable. It's nowhere near as good as a traditional Mario platformer, but that's fine. This is an RPG, right? So the real gameplay focus is in the battles. OH WAIT. The battles are terrible. All attacks are consumable, which is... possibly workable, but suspect from the beginning. But then you don't have experience points of any kind, which removes any incentive for actually battling, or sense of progression. There's barely any thinking involved in these battles, because you can find a strategy that obliterates all weak enemies and even most bosses (once you've found their weaknesses) with little effort. So, take away the writing, the puzzles, the ho-hum soundtrack, and the gameplay, and what do you have? Nothing but graphics. This game is just a pretty piece of trash.
It's Better Once You Forget it's a Paper Mario Game.
When I played Paper Mario: Sticker Star, I had already set my plot-standards pretty high after playing the previous entry, Super Paper Mario. As a result, I was rather disappointed with the lack of original characters and plot in this game. Of course, Paper Mario games are known for their stories and RPG-like qualities. Sticker Star has almost no resemblance to its predecessors (it was "paper", but that's beside the point), but that didn't make it a bad game at all. Like Super Paper Mario, the game almost feels like a spin-off of sorts. Personally, I adored the jazzy music, and the levels were clearly crafted (heh.) with quality in mind. Kertsi, while not as helpful or interesting as Tippi (the previous game's Exposition Fairy), wasn't nearly as annoying as she could have been. I also found a few of the minor things (like the Sticker Museum and the Toad that must constantly be saved) to be funny and genuinely enjoyable. However, I do have a few problems with this game. Namely, the stickers and battles. The "thing" stickers (special stickers that have to be made with special objects) are indeed powerful, but it's pretty difficult to find out what exactly each one does (the Lucky Cat one flattens enemies, not boosts your attack) without using them first. However, the game discourages this slightly-necessary trial-and-error by making you pay a ton of coins to get the "thing" needed to make that sticker again. As for the battles, I appreciate that they made them turn-based again, but in order to fight, you have to use...stickers. Consumable-item-based battle is really not my cup of tea, but others may find it okay. Sticker Star is so different from its predecessors that one can easily forget what it's "supposed" to be, and enjoy the game for what it is.