Review by Rundaz
"Should be Tissue Mario, since it's the same level of weak."
Oh, Miyamoto, how you alienate us by fittingly peeling any and all layers of story you can find. As of 2009, Miyamoto made it clear he wants little to no story in a Mario game. The result was Bowser's Inside Story (see my other review if you want) and this game, Paper Mario: Sticker Star. Let me make one thing clear: I love this spinoff to death. The first Paper Mario on the N64 paired you up with former enemies in order to retrieve the Star Rod, a rod that grants the good wishes of people, from Bowser. Bowser effortlessly took the Star Rod from it's place in Star Haven, scattered it's guardians, the Star Spirits, into cards which he had given to his followers. With the Star Rod, Bowser was invincible, and Mario had to save all seven Star Spirits to retrieve the Star Rod and save the world. And it was no easy task either, Bowser was truly set on finishing Mario. Then came the sequel, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. Mario receives a letter from Peach, pretty much telling him to go to Rogueport where Peach discovered a map. She mailed the map to Mario so that he would hep her find it, but by the time he gets there, Peach has gone missing. Mario and the friends he meets along the way, look for seven Crystal Stars which will open the Thousand Year Door, and hopefully lead him to Peach. Little does he know a darker threat is looming around, one that would put Bowser in the category of ally. Then came Super Paper Mario, with a different battle system than the first two. While they were turn based with action commands, this one was real time 2D platforming, with the action commands being in the stat or attack items you use. This turned off many gamers, myself included, but the story however was easily the best in the series. The evil Count Bleck captures Peach and Bowser within the first five minutes of the game, all to call forth the Chaos Heart and destroy all worlds. Already the game takes a dark turn, and turns darker the further you progress. Definitely has more story depth than what Mario is used to, and I just loved it for that. I don't want to spoil it, but you WILL feel emotion before the game is over.
It wasn't until five years after Super Paper Mario did Paper Mario Sticker Star come out. Let me say this: I frequented this game's board a LOT. I always went there at least once a day to see if there was any new information. We ended up getting any during Nintendo and gaming events in general. Among the first images released was Mario and what looked to be a Chain Chomp partner fighting some sort of King Monty Mole...needless to say they were both scrapped and the end result is this game. We didn't receive any real word on partners, badges, or really anything that made the first two Paper Marios so great...then it happened. We discovered that the game was 100% different. Nothing from the original games were brought back. I will unfortunately be talking about the last three games through this review, simply because this is less of an official game and more like bad fanfiction turned video game. You need to abandon all expectations for this game as a Paper Mario title or you will be disappointed, like I was, not after playing the game, but discovering everything I loved was removed and replaced before the game was even out.
The story, if you can even call it that, is this: there's an unexplained and never expanded upon ever event in...I guess the Mushroom Kingdom called the Sticker Fest-don't close the page just yet, I haven't even gotten to the "best" part. Anyway, this Sticker Fest (ugh) is in celebration for...this somehow important object called the Sticker Comet. It lands, shockingly enough without any problems in a PAPER world on this pedestal, then Bowser appears, touches it, it shatters, and a Royal Macgu-I mean Royal Sticker lands on Bowser, making him into a total ripoff of his far better version in the original. And his very first act...is to vanish and not be seen until the final world. He doesn't talk, or even appear. His two lapdogs Kamek and Bowser Jr. do all of his talking. You will meet them along the way, just to serve as a reminder that the game has story, pitifully pointless as it is. The worlds themselves have little to no story, again, something the games before did very well. You just collect Comet Pieces, get to the Royal Sticker, repeat for ten hours. So yeah, easily the worst story out of the three, but then again it's about stickers. There's a lot to expand upon, but Miyamoto won't allow it, so don't expect anything like the first three games, or heck even Super Mario RPG.
The gameplay however is quite fun. Reminds me a lot of Megaman Battle Network with the method you use to attack: you select a sticker you want to attack or heal with, then follow the action commands for better results. Later on, you discover the use of a battle roulette, which if you time it right you'll find that you can attack with two or three stickers at once and with a bonus on landing three. You can get HP back, more coins, a free use of a POW Block or Fire Flower, a random lightning attack that slightly damages all enemies, or poison yourself and maybe any enemy you attack. Once you use up a sticker, or finish a battle with one sticker after the one you used to win, will be used up and lost. You can also get these real world items called "Things", which you can turn into stickers and use them in battle. I guess they're like the Star Spirits and Crystal Star special moves from the first two, only more annoying as you have no idea what they do until you use them in battle, and that uses them. You can go back to the areas you found them to get them again, or you can buy them as this poorly hidden shop in Decalburg for a rather high price. You can if you've got money to burn, this game increases the money cap to four digits worth of coins. I believe the maximum you can have is 9999 coins, I don't know, I don't have the patience to money grind in this game. As you can guess, stickers are the gameplay. Run out of stickers, which is hard to do, and your only choice is to run. Me I would've had Mario use his hammer or just jump on them. Really, what's stopping him from doing that? You can even run from BOSSES. Yes, you can run from a boss in a turn based Role Playing Game, I am dead serious. You can use the Thing stickers however to make boss fights a lot easier for yourself as well. The stickers are also used for the various puzzles in the game. I dunno, but something about the idea of giving up my only method of attack to get through this paper door is a little strange. Also, am I the only one who thinks the whole "Paperize" thing is just an Okami ripoff? Yeah, you can insert stickers or scraps to create better stickers or solve puzzles. As you can see there's quite a lot the stickers do, but sometimes they do the same amount of harm as good. First striking was kept in aw well, where you can gain an advantage by attacking an enemy outside of battle. While they can no longer do the same to you (Oh for the love of...) you will still lose HP if hit by their attacks. Lose it all and it's game over. However the Piranha Plants can force you to injure yourself by popping up under you, and the Ice Bros are able to predict where you're going when that ice ball hits you. Pretty jerkish if you ask me. Once you reach the end of a level you'll find a comet piece, which will drop coins you can collect. The more enemies you defeat, the more coins will drop down, so the game really encourages fighting as much as you can. As for "leveling up", you earn HP Hearts, which increase your max HP by 5. These can be found in hidden areas, after a miniboss, or by doing a sidequest.
The music is pretty much the standard Mario fare that you would expect from a Mario RPG: catchy, upbeat, and so Mario. In fact, remixes of classic Mario tunes are added into the game during minigame segments or boss fights. Heck, the Starman itself returns and allows you to instantly defeat enemies for a measly 1 coin per enemy. They're just there to...okay, I have no idea why they're back, it's absolutely pointless if the reward isn't much of a reward. Not really much to say about this, the original boss themes are back thankfully, but it's nothing to really write home about. They're okay, but they just sound a little empty at times.
This time there's only ONE TOWN, Decalburg...and by saying that name I imagine some of you are thinking "DINKLEBERG!" Yeah, you weren't the only ones. Anyway this is the town you go to for when you need to "fling a thing" and turn it into a sticker, buy more stickers, or add a new sticker to the Sticker Museum. You will find better shops in the levels of the game which sell much better stickers. You can buy them if you can afford them. It's very easy to overpower yourself, not that the game is hard to start with. It's not Super Paper Mario easy, but easy enough that your first death will likely be standing in quicksand thinking there's something other than death under it. Your second...well, you'll know it when you see it.
All in all, I felt this game did not live up to my expectations, even the small ones. Most people were severely disappointed that this steered as far away from the traditional formula. Now let me make one thing perfectly clear: I don't hate change. The improvements they added in Thousand Year Door changed the gameplay but in a good way: you could have more than 30 Badge Points meaning more attacks and defenses, five enemies on screen in a battle, special attacks were given action commands, and the party member you currently had out did all the talking for Mario, showing they there were more than just an extra person in battle and more like an actual character. This game had nothing like that, and even less and less to the point where it's more of a platformer with RPG elements...no wait, that was Super Paper Mario? So then what is this one?! It's mediocre. That's what it is. Is it unplayable? No. Would I recommend a buy? Again, no. Rent it first and see what it's like for you. If you want mindless battling coming up with new ways to get that perfect bonus by finishing a fight in one turn, try this one out. If you're expecting a proper sequel, don't even bother. This game deviates away from that too much for me to call it a true Paper Mario game. Oh well, maybe the next one five years down the road will bring what this game doesn't have, but seeing as Miyamoto will be watching like a hawk, I doubt that will happen. RIP Chain Chomp partner 2009-2012.
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 11/28/12
Game Release: Paper Mario: Sticker Star (US, 11/11/12)
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