Review by XKirby2
"Paper Mario is still kickin it strong."
NOTE TO READER: This is just a review, and the only way to find out if a game is good or not is to play it yourself. I take no responsibility for people's reactions to this review or the game itself. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star is definitely a Paper Mario game in my eyes, but let's look at it from an unbiased perspective, if possible. I will go into many details about how this game plays from my knowledge, as I have NOT BEATEN THE GAME YET. So far, though, I've found it quite enjoyable, although not without flaws or cliches. Let's start with the intro.
-- INTRO --
Anyway, you start off just creating a savefile (as per usual with RPGs), then you're thrown into the usual intro cutscene. From what is shown, you're at the Sticker Fest and a meteor comes down and welcomes Princess Peach. But, alas, Bowser shows up and causes a ruckus (as per usual with Mario games). He touches the meteor and it explodes, putting a crown on Bowser's head and releasing the "Royal Stickers" all over the world. Mario tries to combat it, but ends up getting folded 8 times (literally).
Next off, you find yourself in the rubble that was the Sticker Fest. You jump a few times to fix yourself up and find a talking crown sticker called Kertsi stuck to a sign. She gives you a Sticker Album, and then you go searching around town for all the Toads. Some are in garbage, under carpets, folded up, and generally all over the place. You start getting the feel that the art style just isn't an art style anymore. You eventually do find all of the Toads and unfold the burrito-wrapped town back to normal. A Toad gets trapped underneath the town, but you'll get back to him later. Now that the intro's outta the way, let's check the actual gameplay now.
-- GAMEPLAY (7/10)--
There are apparently stickers littered all over the place, might as well peel those off the walls. You're gonna need them for battling, as they're your main attacks and abilities. Also, once you use a Sticker, it's gone for good. Luckily, you'll be getting plenty of them, they're literally all over the place as well as in shops. So then you meet your first fight. Kertsi mentions some stuff about Sticker Power, but it's just the tutorial battle's story dialog way of saying your stickers are attacks. By now you've probably got some Boot and Hammer stickers from just peeling them off walls. That, and Kertsi gives you a bunch of stickers right off the bat anyway, so you're golden.
Battles are turn-based, practically almost always starting with Mario first. Just select any sticker you want and attack. Just like other Paper Mario games, there are "Action Commands", meaning you press the A button at the right time to land more successful hits or do more damage. Also, there's no Defend option. You HAVE to use a Sticker. Luckily, you can defend by pressing A during your enemy's turns. Just be careful of the timing, otherwise your defensive pose will lower.
After that fight, you realize you don't gain any experience. This can lead to problems of progress, but the game manages to fix that my making rarer, shinier, and more powerful stickers appear in later areas. So for now, you should focus on keeping powerful stickers and using your weak ones on enemies until boss fights. Also, some coinage spews out of enemies. If you're lucky enough to defeat all of your enemies in a fight on Turn 1, you get a "Perfect Bonus", which nets you more coins. You're going to need a LOT of coins, believe me on this.
Later on, you meet some story characters that give you a "Scissors" sticker (looks like real scissors), a "Thing" (3D real-life object), and a Sticker Album page. You also meet some powered-up Goombas that try to defeat you with "Paper" powers. From some of these elements you learn how to "Paperize" to remove and place Stickers and "Scraps" on the landscape, as well as getting the "Battle Spinner", a slot machine mechanic that gives you bonuses as well as Extra Sticker Slots to use attacks with during battle. Be careful though, the Battle Spinner costs coins to use, and making good use of it could easily make you broke.
More on "Things", which were slightly mentioned earlier. These "Things" are able to be turned into Stickers at special vendors, where you "sling your Things" at a wall. The process is free, but most "Thing" stickers are larger than normal, using up more album space than a normal sticker. However, they are extremely powerful and bosses are sometimes weakened to their abilities. You can also buy "Things" at a shady-looking store in the first town, just in case you're too lazy to go find it again in a level.
"Paperization", a special ability that Kertsi allows you to use, makes the world around you turn into a sheet of paper. You can then place stickers or "Scraps" in specific area to change or activate certain things in the area. If one asks for a sticker, I recommend using a weak sticker, because you won't be getting it back. However, some Paperization areas require specific stickers, so be careful trying to figure them out. "Scraps" are used as story elements to unlock areas for the most part.
So far, we have most of the main gameplay elements, so let's talk about actually getting to a boss for a second.
-- BOSS BATTLES (9/10)--
There are Boss Battles in this game, just like in a normal RPG. When you enter one, you get a free spin on the Battle Spinner, allowing you to dish out extra damage right at the start. Be careful though, messing up the spin will ruin your day during these fights. You will be using the Battle Spinner and your most powerful stickers a LOT during these fights. Not only do bosses have a high health value, they have extremely high Defense and some are actually immune to certain attacks. Some of them can also attack more than once, so If you don't have an album full of powerful stickers, expect to either lose the fight or run away to find more, because these guys don't go down easily.
I recommend using stickers with multiple attacks in them, mainly because you do a minimum of 1 point of damage per hit with those stickers unless they're immune to it. Hopslipper and Eekhammer are good stickers just for the occasion, but you'll get better ones later.
-- AUDIO (7/10)--
Now we're on to the game's audio, whether it be sounds or music. I personally enjoy the music I've heard, but it's not completely perfect at all times. The battle music is a little upbeat, but hey, it's Mario, what do you expect? A lot of the music just works.
I find some of the sounds to be a little out of place or silly, but then again this is an E-rated game. E-rated games don't usually have "pain" sounds or things like that. Expect the sounds to be a bit unusual in certain areas until you get used to it.
-- GRAPHICS (8/10) --
Really, it's Paper Mario for this reason alone. The paper-y art style is perfect, like usual. However, they went overboard with the whole "Paper" thing in this game. Everything's made of either cardboard or some other form of paper. I find it to add charm to the game, but I'm pretty sure people will see it like "We get it, it's PAPER." All around, though, the art itself isn't bad. Just like you would expect, though, the "Things", being 3D, kinda feel out of place. Who cares, though, that's the point.
-- GRINDING (10/10) --
Just to make some people mad, I'm going to talk about the GRINDING you have to do. Yes, you have to grind in a game without EXP, and here's why: The Stickers and Coins.
I mentioned how you get powerful stickers later in the game, but because shops also stock powerful stickers at later points you'll be spending a lot of coinage to keep stock of them. Not only that, enemies sometimes drop enemy attack stickers. If you're going to 100% the game you have to get all the stickers you can.
Coins are not hard to come by, until you realize you need large quantities of coins to buy the powerful stickers and "Things". This can lead to a problem early on if you're not frugal. Good news is if you do a lot in a level, after you beat the Level the coin bonus you get increases in size. If it's your first time beating the level, you also get more coins than repeating the level.
Remember that guy trapped under the first town I mentioned a while ago? Once you save him, he asks you to search for both varieties of stickers (Normal and Thing stickers) to add to his Sticker Museum. This requires you to get at least 1 sticker of each type in the game to fully fill the museum. Talk about a grindfest in itself, consider there's around 200 different stickers in the game.
Now you're probably wondering why I gave this a 10/10. I did that because all RPGs have grinding and this game isn't too bad with it from what I can tell. Some stickers and things are hidden behind doors or secret areas, but you can easily access them at any point once you find them. Exploration is a must for these sort of games, and this game does quite a good job, even with the "Overworld" system. Heck, I think the Overworld system makes it more bearable because you can just go to whatever level you want instead of walking through each individual area. You will miss some stuff the first time through each level, but then you can go back into each level with some new items to unlock new areas and find new things.
-- OVERALL (8/10)--
For a game that's barely an RPG in its own right, it still is a good game in my eyes. It fits as a Paper Mario game to me, even without the same thrill as the old games. It's a new experience of a game that should be taken as such. Sure, there are flaws, but they did the best they could with the new ideas, and it works together pretty darn well.
I forgot to mention the lack of battle partners and health upgrades, but those are also part of the game's style, which makes sense in its own right considering they've buffed Mario's damage with the new Sticker system.
For a final tally, the score is 41 out of 50, or rounded down as 8 out of 10. It's not the best Paper Mario, but it's definitely not a bad one to me. Remember that this rating is just an opinion, and to judge each and every game with your own mind. Just reading a review that shuts a game down will ruin your own personal opinion while a good review will probably sway you to buy the game. Just keep that in mind when you want to try something.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/29/12
Game Release: Paper Mario: Sticker Star (US, 11/11/12)
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