Review by xpertgamer101
"Paper Mario.. If It can even be called that anymore."
Graphics - 8/10
The graphics in this game are excellent. All of the assets are crisp and they conform to the Paper Mario feel very well. But Graphics can't carry a game, and in this case there's no exception. Everything looks nice. Truth. But games can not be solely judged on this characteristic. Everything looks nice. The animations are smooth and the frame rate never drops. The only thing that I didn't care for that detracted from the game itself was that stickers were littered to and stuck to pretty much every part of the scenery in the game, and it pulled away from the experience.
We get it. It's Paper Mario. He's Paper. There are stickers. But at least have the decency to hide them behind a bush or a tree or something and have us "Find" them. Don't put them on everything. That's the equivalent of letting your three year old daughter color on the walls with crayons. You're just cleaning up the walls by peeling the stickers off of them. Last I checked I wanted a "game" not a "cleaning simulator".
The 3D goes VERY well with the theme ( See: Paper ) and looks very grand in most instances. The only problem I can say is that the menus being displayed on the top screen while the bottom screen was underutilized is very disappointing. At times I felt that the 3D management with the dialogue menus was under-par. There was plenty of room on the bottom screen to display text without detracting from the scene on the top screen. Its not like glancing between the two screens is disorientating once you find the 3DS sweet spot.
I hope you enjoy sub-par battle music and elevator music, because in this game you're going to be experiencing a lot of things that happen with less than spectacular soundtracks to spare. The theme of the starting "town", if it can be called that, is quite insufferable. Even having to go to the town to purchase more stickers is a chore because of the uninspired music. If you're looking for a game with great music, play one of the prior Paper Mario games, or even Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven stars. At least those games won't leave you hungering for more.
If you're looking for a musically fulfilling DS game, go with something like Starfox 64 3D or Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy. Both have fantastic soundtracks and superior gameplay comparatively.
Speaking of Gameplay..
This is the single most frustrating part of this game. The complete antithesis to everything that a good RPG should be. Role playing games are loosely defined, in that there are stats, hit points, magic points, and some form of character management. You typically must distribute points of some kind after amounts of experience points have been accrued, and those points will shape your interactions and combat throughout the game.
This is not an RPG. While it does have hit points, there are NO experience points. There's no equipment to manage, no partner characters to upgrade or level up, few side quests to invest time in. Quite literally nothing in this game requires more than a modicum of thought. You "find" health upgrades. Stickers are littered throughout the game with no regard for background aesthetics. There are no lazy shells or quests to upgrade your equipment.
The absolute worst thing about this game aside from that is the combat. Here's how this goes:
You find stickers all over the walls that you peel off, they're normally some form of hammer, fire flower, mushroom, or boots. ( See: Fetch quest ) These boots have different variable effects when used. You can only use each one once. When "combat" ends, the enemy drops coins, or coins are rewarded based on certain actions performed in battles. Those coins are used to buy more stickers, so that you can fight more enemies, to get more coins to buy more stickers.
See where I'm going with this? Without any sort of experience points, equipment management, Hit points, flower points, badge points, or any other of the commonly found staples in the Paper Mario series, the "combat" devolves into a cyclical loop which is ultimately futile and pointless in origin. Instead of being a rewarding experience that gives the player varying amounts of experience for more difficult encounters, the game devolves into a rapid spiral of combat avoidance, which is to my understanding supposed to be one of the core tenets of the game itself.
The lack of anything to manage makes this little more than a Platformer with the Paper Mario tag. Occasionally you'll solve an easy puzzle or win an easy fight. But there's never any challenge. No thought is ever needed. You choose a sticker, the effect happens, damage resolves based on the stickers attributes. The timing system is implemented in the game with questionable results. Without a timing based animation other than a little sparkle to let you know "Hey, press the button here" to make sure your timing is correct, players new to the series will probably
It's a complete detraction from the entire series as a whole. It's absolutely dreadful.
It's the typical Paper Mario Story. There's a celebration of some sort occurring somewhere. During the celebration something "happens" and its up to Mario to gather the pieces of the "x" to save the "y". In this case, He's saving the princess, and he's gathering Royal stickers to do so.( See: Fetch quest )
The celebration is the annual sticker celebration, in which the Royal stickers grant wishes to the attendees apparently. That's a recurring theme. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the seven stars had the same basic plot, except the Star Road was the thing capable of granting wishes, and it was destroyed when the smithy gang descended through it. So many things in the Mario universe are capable of granting wishes, I'm surprised they just didn't run to one of their other wish granting institutions to save the princess instead.
Regardless, it's up to Mario to save the princess.. and he has a guest! Wonderful... Except that the guest is probably the closest thing to Navi since.. well... Navi. Not to mention she's hardly useful in any way.. oh wait. Right. Navi. Hmm... interrupts you to offer useless instantly obvious information? Navi again? Hm. They should've just cut out the middle man and called Kersti who she really takes after. She's annoying, and she doesn't really have any sort of presence. Even Twink from the first Paper Mario game had more presence than Kersti did, and he was just a little star spirit.
I would've thought Nintendo could've come up with something more unique than "Copy and paste story from prior games, replacing "Stars" with "Stickers". Instead of stealing the "Star Rod" Bowser gets a "Royal Sticker". Regardless, the princess is kidnapped and taken to Bowser's Sky fortress.. which.. they used again from the first Paper Mario game.
Pretty much nothing about the story is original, and after spending the small amount of time playing through the game it's easily forgettable compared to the previous games. There's no variety in the attacks that can be used to keep you coming back for more. The replay value is practically non-existent.
My advice? Don't bother with this one. It's crisp looking but nothing that makes a good Paper Mario game is there.
I wouldn't consider this game even worth buying. It's an insult to call it a Paper Mario game.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 11/27/12
Game Release: Paper Mario: Sticker Star (US, 11/11/12)
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