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YMMV / Paper Mario: Sticker Star

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  • 8.8: A rare example of gamers thinking a review score is too high. As the game is seen as "meh" by most critics and lambasted by the general public, IGN's score of 8.3/10 has unsurprisingly been controversial. The already insane backlash against them got even worse after Paper Jam. What score did they give it? 5.9. And then Color Splash, commonly viewed as a Surprisingly Improved Sequel, even if not by much, is awarded a 7.3/10. Ironically, the review said that it was a better game than Sticker Star, even though it gave the former a lower score than the latter.
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  • Americans Hate Tingle: As the Paper Mario franchise is usually far more popular overseas, Sticker Star was actually the best selling title in Japan (though presumably due to being on a portable device rather than on a console, rather than Values Dissonance or anything; Japanese fans' complaints are similar to western ones and the next tile in the series would sell very poorly in Japan), but was the worst performing Paper Mario in North America title since the the first Paper Mario. And even then, the first game was an Acclaimed Flop due to being near the end of the Nintendo 64's lifespan.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: The Final Boss double-subverts this. In a game where every boss is ludicrous, but a joke if you play it the right way, it's easy to expect the last boss to be the same. Starting off, Bowser is just as ludicrous as every other boss at the start, and unlike them, borderline impossible without the right items. The final phase plays this straight, though. Bowser's giant, all of your attacks are reduced to Scratch Damage, and we've got jazzy guitar blaring in the background. Time for a Nintendo Hard boss... Oh, wait. That part lasted about 43 seconds because of you getting powered up. In a genre where final bosses are typically Marathon Bosses, this one is a joke in comparison and takes about 2 minutes to mop the floor with. Even more insulting, it's possible to take the fight Off the Rails and defeat Bowser without the 11th-Hour Superpower. With loads of Infinijumps and Super Boots, this way won't take long either.
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  • Arc Fatigue: While generally considered one of the better parts of the game, World 3 drags on for way too long. With double the levels of any other world, plus a decent amount of backtracking and repetition in retrieving Wiggler's parts, it can get a little tiring. It doesn't help that beating the boss of the world makes collectibles appear in certain levels, requiring even more backtracking if you want to collect everything.
  • Ass Pull: Mario using the Royal Stickers to bring Kersti back to life. It's never mentioned that they have the power to grant wishes until after the final battle is over, which severely cheapens the meaning behind her sacrifice when it can be undone so quickly and easily. Granted, it's still an improvement over the cases of TEC and Luvbi, whose sacrifices were both undone with no explanation whatsoever.
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  • Awesome Music: See here. While the game itself is very polarizing, many agree that the soundtrack is one of the good things about it, with every track being a lovingly written, appropriate, and above all else jazzy track, though fans who don't care for jazz may be alienated.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Birdo appearing on a swing in World 4 and giving you the Goat after serenading Mario. Seriously.
  • Bile Fascination: Given its reputation as the weakest Paper Mario, many have played just to see if Sticker Star is really so bad or simply So Okay, It's Average.
  • 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.
  • Critical Dissonance: Sticker Star has gotten So Okay, It's Average scores from most critics, which is certainly different from the outright negative reception from fans.
  • Disappointing Last Level:
    • Even for those who like the game, Bowser's Sky Castle is really short and simple, simply consisting of the final bout against Kamek, a couple of corridors with no enemies, and Bowser. It doesn't help that the previous area, Bowser Jr.'s Flotilla, was far longer and more complex, and it's especially disappointing for the last stage given that all the previous games had long and involved final dungeons filled with tough enemies, puzzles and boss fights, added to the fact that Bowser is the final boss again after the fan-favorites Shadow Queen and Super Dimentio, which isn't helped by these bosses being generally regarded as amazing final boss fights. Bowser, on the other hand, alongide his universally hated silent role, has a rather disappointing battle that takes one of the game's biggest flaws, the Thing weakness system, to levels never seen before, as opposed to his boss battle in the first game which is also regarded as a Best Boss Ever for being challenging, but purely based on skill and strategy as opposed to having the correct items.
    • World 6 as a whole is this. It only consists of three levels, when all of the previous worlds had at least five (for the record, World 3 had twelve), making it the shortest world in the entire game. On top of that, the first area, Gate Cliff, is barely passable as a level (even though the game lists it as 6-1), as it's a tiny area that only contains an interactive cutscene linking to the final areas when you have 5 Royal Stickers, as well as the aforementioned Bowser's Sky Castle, which is very short and simple and (mostly) serves as a final corridor before the Final Boss. The only stage that's actually complicated and involved is Bowser Jr.'s Flotilla, and even then you would expect more than just that. Taking it even further, the final level was originally supposed to be a minigame gauntlet; whether or not this would have been better is up for debate.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • The 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.
    • The Goat and Turkey Thing stickers, due to how ridiculous they are.
  • Fandom Heresy: Simply mentioning the game can cause this in some circles. Also, whatever you do, don't admit that you actually like this game. Let's just say that fans will call you out on that.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Most Paper Mario fans pretend that Sticker Star (and depending on who you ask, its successor Color Splash) never happened, labeling Super Paper Mario (or The Thousand-Year Door, depending on who you ask) as the moment where the series stopped instead. Aside from the game's controversial restrictions, it doesn't help that Ryota Kawade, the director of the first three games, was barely involved in the production of Sticker Star (the only credit he had for the game was "Special Thanks"), and most of its crew was never involved in the series before.
    • Paper Jam ended up reaffirming the discontinuity, with detractors coming up with the Fanon that Sticker Star took place in the book that all the "Paper" characters in that game came from, thereby making it a Show Within a Show and not a "Real" Mario adventure.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • 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 Bowsers on ice.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: 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... Another contested point with the game's plot is that most people felt Paper Mario 64 already did the same "Bowser kidnaps Peach again" premise better and with much more character involved.
  • Just Here for Godzilla:
    • If there's any reason to check this game out, it's either to see if the reviews and fan reception are right or not or to experience the ensemble darkhorses and memes. Surprisingly, the game almost sold 2 million even with backlashes against it.Explanation 
    • Gameplay-wise: Even a lot of its detractors seem to enjoy the Thing Stickers, if only for their Crazy Awesome, Refuge in Audacity animations.
  • Lowest Common Denominator: The game attempted to appeal to longtime Paper Mario fans by bringing back the turn based battles, but also tried to attract non-fans by making Pre Existing Encounters easily skippable, significantly simplifying combat, and heavily watering down the plot. Unsurprisingly, fans were not happy about this.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "NYARGLEBARGLE!" Explanation 
    • The Goat sticker, as well as the new Mariachi Shy Guy enemies.
    • Kersti referring to and describing Kamek as a hipster.
    • Everyone is a Toad. Explanation 
  • 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 was actually the producer, Kensuke Tanabe. Thankfully, more and more people are becoming aware of this as of late, and now one is more likely to point the finger at Tanabe for the game's shortcomings than Miyamoto.
    • Likewise, beyond the whole "too much like ''The Thousand-Year Door'' fiasco", the man responsible behind the gameplay and especially its battle system was actually Taro Kudo, one of the co-directors, according to Iwata Asks.
  • Overshadowed by Controversy: Even with the backlash against the game, it probably wouldn't have been seen as that bad if it wasn't for two things: it being a product of Executive Meddling from Miyamoto, and the Magnum Opus Dissonance on Nintendo's behalf that is leading them to stick with the same style of game. It doesn't help that the general reception of Sticker Star means that Paper Mario fans aren't really interested in discussing anything about the game itself, instead preferring to talk about the impact it had on the franchise.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Kersti has been described by many as "forgettable", a fairly big deal for the only new character in the game. Even those who don't find her forgettable see her as obnoxious and unusually mean-spirited in her personality, exacerbated by no hero characters ever calling her out. She's also disliked for the opposite reason most exposition fairies are disliked: most of the time, when you ask her for advice, it's vague and unhelpful. Not helping matters is her Disney Death during the final battle, coming across as an attempt to make players feel bad for her- which fails when one realizes Kersti never even thinks to truly change her ways. Compare to other Nintendo fairies, such as Tatl or Navi, who do cool down or are humbled on-screen as well as offer helpful advice more often to help endear them to fans. The developers may have caught onto Kersti's scrappiness, as while she has a trophy in the handheld version of the fourth Super Smash Bros game, she's not shown or mentioned at all in the following two games with Paper Mario. Meanwhile, her successor in the latter is widely considered more competently characterized.
    • Bowser has been divisive lately for breaking the trend of coming up with new villains for the Mario RPGs. However, his portrayal in Sticker Star was universally reviled, thanks to his screentime being reduced to appearing at the beginning, the Final Boss battle and the end of the game, as well as his total lack of dialogue and characterization, making him seem more like his dialogue-less appearances in the New Super Mario Bros. series as opposed to his usual hammy self in the Paper Mario series.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • Stickers, due to combining Too Awesome to Use and Inventory Management Puzzle. Fortunately, likely due to the museum sidequest, every single type of them is renewable. Unfortunately, they're the only way to act in battles.
    • 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.
    • In combination with the two examples above, there is no option to skip your turn. This gets especially annoying in battles where you can't hurt the enemy that turn, boss battles, and the battles where your stickers are all turned into Sandal stickers. This leaves you with two choices, either waste a sticker or use the closest thing to a skip button, running away and hoping it fails. And because whether the mechanic works or not depends entirely on how the Random Number God is feeling, you can accidentally flee from boss fights. Running away successfully in a boss fight ends up infuriating because not only have you wasted any stickers you used, you have to do the entire battle over.
    • Hammer stickers. The action command timing window is obscenely small and the visual cue for different ratings is hard to discern, and an Excellent command window lasts for close to 1 frame. The closest other Mario RPGs have come to an action command timing window this short are SMRPG's Super/Ultra Jumps and TTYD's Power Bounces, but even then it takes a few jumps before the window shrinks.
    • Boss fights have a big problem: being Puzzle Bosses with too much emphasis on "puzzle". Either you don't have the appropriate Thing sticker, making them wipe the floor with you unless you prepared heavily, or you do have the appropriate Thing sticker, which weakens them so heavily that victory is nigh-guaranteed. Essentially, having skill and strategy to defeat bosses has been replaced with having the right item to win, and can make getting high-level stickers pointless. Also, with the exception of two bosses (one of which doesn't have a Thing weakness at all), there's only one type of Thing that can exploit the weaknesses, which compounds on the Guide Dang It!. What makes matters worse is that even if you do go for a Self-Imposed Challenge and try to beat a boss without using their weakness, the game will basically note that you wasted a number of stickers and brings up that you should have used their weaknesses anyway.
    • Along with the examples above, the Things themselves might be one of the most hated things about the game, since they greatly contribute to the game's glaring design flaws such as Guide Dang It! moments and boss fights becoming a joke when using the correct Thing. There's also the fact that they're incredibly overpowered even when it's not the effective one, as most will deal a ton of damage by default, making the point of getting high-level stickers pointless since you can easily win by just spamming Things in battle. There's also the Overly Long Fighting Animations that come with most Things, which can get old very quickly especially when spamming them.
  • Sequelitis: While Super Paper Mario was a Contested Sequel, Sticker Star is widely seen as the weakest of the series, due to its revamped, overly simplified battle system and Excuse Plot, Flat Characters, generic locations, Guide Dang It! puzzles, and several other reasons. But it wouldn't be as bad if it wasn't for the fact that Nintendo is making it the new standard of the Paper Mario series, something that older fans didn't take lightly one bit.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: Those who like the game generally state that it doesn't really pick up until World 3. The first two worlds are the standard grasslands and desert, both being largely plotless and lacking much variation. World 3, in spite of its length, has a more interesting Bubblegloop Swamp environment, includes levels that deviate from the standard formula (including Rustle Burrow's Bag of Spilling mechanic and Stump Glade's game show), and it's the only world with an overarching plotline (retrieving Wiggler's parts and figuring out how to clean up the forest). Worlds 4 and 5 lose the overarching plot, but still keep adding new ideas to their themes (respectively, having an elaborate haunted house that portrays Boos as some sort of horror unleashed from a book and a minecart ride for a final dungeon; World 5 progresses from a fairly unique jungle setting with raft rides, to ruins, to a volcano).
  • So Okay, It's Average: Many elements of the game, including the dumbed-down gameplay, the paper-thin characterization, the "have the right item on you or die" mechanics behind most of the bosses, a grand total of one new character, and the handling of Bowser's characterization (or lack thereof) add up to the general response to the game being a resounding "meh" , This wouldn't otherwise be notable if it weren't an installment in the highly acclaimed Paper Mario series. Overall it's considered an okay game when judged on its own, but does not fill the shoes of Thousand Year Door or, to a lesser extent, Super.
  • Sophomore Slump: Character-wise. Some people see Bowser's lackluster portrayal in this game as a sloppily implemented attempt to depict him as a truly menacing villain as opposed to the Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain Butt-Monkey that he had been in most previous Mario RPGs. The mistakes were ironed out for Mario & Luigi: Dream Team and Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, which gave players two of Bowser's best and coolest portrayals as a villain (for some, anyway).
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: Using a Fan sticker plays a song evocative of Also sprach Zarathustra as the fan rises slowly from the horizon.
  • That One Attack: Basically 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 for death.
  • That One Boss: Strangely, almost every main boss subverts this. Thanks to the Unstable Equilibrium that is the Thing weakness system, bosses will be absolutely ridiculous, sometimes bordering on SNK Boss territory... But use their weakness, and they become a joke. However, there are a couple bosses that are this either way.
    • Kamek, especially the last 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. 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 Thing (which happens to be decently well-hidden) to reel it out. Then, the Cheep-Cheep will start puffing up until it pops and kills itself, killing 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 one Thing Sticker to make them at least manageable, and the boss is spiked. Even after following a guide to the letter to prepare for it, it is still extremely difficult.
  • That One Level:
    • World 3-9, Gaultlet 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 suffering from Arc Fatigue so bad that it's not an exaggeration to say that it's longer than Worlds 1 and 2 combined.note  It's also so ridiculously dark it's tough to see, it has annoying and creepy music, poison absolutely everywhere, the Wiggler piece collection quest, and the tough boss at the end.
    • World 5-3, Long Fall Falls. You spend approximately 99% of the level on a raft, which is hard to control as it is. Add the fact that you're chased by a Cheep Chomp for the first half of the level, who has the ability to instantly kill you when you're not careful! It's not too bad the first time you go through the level, but the Cheep Chomp gets a lot more aggressive and harder to dodge as you get more comet pieces from that level. So if you missed a secret or just want to farm the Big Shiny and Megaflash-variation of the Infinijump-stickers, prepare to have a very hard time.
    • 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.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Along with Super Paper Mario, it's one of the games in which some fans aren't pleased with the gameplay changes. 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, it's 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. The fact Sticker Star's surveys note  were never mentioned in the lead up to Color Splash further cast doubt on whether Super Paper Mario's surveys were really the crux of the issue.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Surprisingly, Bowser falls under this to some. Despite his role as the Big Bad, he has no dialogue and barely features throughout the game. Considering this is the guy who delivered the infamous "It's Hag Vs Hag! Awesome!" line in TTYD, this is a bizarre omission. He can be a truly menacing villain Depending on the Writer in games such as Super Mario Galaxy, and Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story proved that his imposing side and hilarious side aren't mutually exclusive. Considering the personality Bowser displays through the rest of the Paper Mario series, this is really jarring. While Mario & Luigi: Dream Team pulled a similar trick, it's generally agreed that the game handled it much better in comparison to Sticker Star (even by detractors) by letting Bowser keep his hammy personality and by making Bowser's Big Bad status into an actual plot twist.
    • 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 , only generic Toadsnote  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 . Meanwhile, the bestiary mainly uses enemies or bosses introduced from New Super Mario Bros. and backwards (with the exception of Scaredy Rats), when Super Mario Galaxy had been out for 2-3 years by the time this game started development.
    • Luigi, who was hit so hard with the Demoted to Extra hammer that he was left silent and mostly exists as a series of cameos to find. Considering his mammoth role in Super and how there's an entire other series of Mario RPGs where he's the second playable lead, him not doing anything relevant here is especially bizarre.
  • Tough Act to Follow: To Super Paper Mario, which funnily enough was also a Tough Act to Follow to The Thousand-Year Door, and by extension all of the previous games. In spite of the controversial gameplay, Super Paper Mario had a very complex and interesting storyline as well as multiple Ensemble Darkhorses that are widely seen as the game's main saving graces, similar to the first two games. Meanwhile, Sticker Star was initially announced as a return to the original formula, and given the previous game's excellent story, the game had very big shoes to fill. And when it was released, not only did the gameplay turn out to be completely different (and to most fans, even worse than that of Super) but the game had a very simplistic plot about Bowser kidnapping Peach, something that the first game did as well, but unlike that one it had little characterization, no real Character Development and most characters being generic male Toads, as opposed to the storytelling approach that the first three games had. Unsurprisingly, this led to a ton of backlash, and while Super Paper Mario had been Vindicated by History, Sticker Star had no such luck.
  • The Woobie: Mizzter Blizzard, who was forced to either melt or go mad with a Royal Sticker's power. After Mario knocks some sense into him, he apologizes and seemingly melts. On the bright side, it's implied Mario could build him a new body in the future.


Example of: