Review by Virtue777
"A mundane, forgettable experience."
Paper Mario: Sticker Star takes our paperized hero into the realm of 3D. With all of the praise its predecessors received, it's difficult to live up to the incredibly high standards set by fans of the Paper Mario series. Regardless of whether or not you've played the previous entries in the series, you'll more than likely find Paper Mario: Sticker Star to be an unforgettable and flawed experience.
The sprites are detailed and the environments clear and sharp. Despite this, no amount of technical power and 3D effects can make up for the uninspired locales. Throughout the journey, Mario will traverse fields, deserts, forests and more. None of these are particularly memorable and the whole experience comes off as one more familiar than it should be. Ironic, considering how hard the game tries to distance itself from past Paper Mario staples.
There's not really much to say here, as the story is pretty much nonexistent. Bowser touched the sticker comet, now Mario must travel the world recovering the royal stickers that were spread across the land. It's not really a driving force for the game.
The music selection is high in both quality and quantity, however none of the tracks memorable. The music flows well together, but like the rest of the game, it kind of all blends into the experience and as a result of that, becomes easily forgettable.
Though this game is labeled an RPG, it is closer to an adventure game. There are no experience points, levels, or character progression. The only motivation for battling enemies is to obtain coins which arguably have little use for the main progression of the game. The combat is turn based with a bit of a spin. Well-timed button presses can reduce damage taken from enemy attacks, and increase damage dealt by Mario's own attacks. All attacks and abilities are based upon stickers. It's a battle system entirely focused around consumables, which can lead to some frustrating situations and makes normal enemy encounters come off as a punishing nuisance.
You go from stage to stage, solving puzzles in order to reach the boss of the world. Then you move on to a different world to rinse and repeat until you complete the game. The puzzles are not very intuitive or well thought out, and usually require you to find and place certain stickers in certain places. Sometimes it feels really random and trial-and-error based. The boss fights are basically puzzles within themselves. They all have a weakness, and if you don't happen to have a particular sticker to take advantage of that weakness, the fight becomes ten times more difficult and twenty times as long.
There isn't much exploration going on in this game, despite it gravitating more towards the adventure genre than the RPG genre. It all feels very isolated and disconnected. There isn't a lot of interaction with NPCs, and the world feels eerie and dead despite the bright colors and cheerful music. There are plenty of little hidden secrets to find, and some of them required to progress through the world. Otherwise the game feels like a fairly mediocre theme park trip, and the rides aren't all that exciting.
It's hard for me to recommend this game. Perhaps if you're a fan of the series, you will find some enjoyment here. Otherwise you will get bored pretty fast, as there is little fun to be had.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 11/29/12
Game Release: Paper Mario: Sticker Star (US, 11/11/12)
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